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There are several different types of newsreaders, depending on the type of service the user needs - whether intended primarily for discussion or for downloading files posted to the alt.binaries hierarchy. Although Usenet originally started as a message board without any file attachment ability, many Usenet users today do not participate in NNTP discussion groups, as was common during the 1980s and 1990s before the emergence of website forums, and only use Newsgroups for downloading files such as music, movies, software and games. Therefore, their needs call for a streamlined client for quickly grabbing binary attachments, and without the extraneous clutter of text reading and posting features that file downloaders have little use for. As more recently-developed binary downloading clients have dropped header support entirely, for more experienced users the preferred way remains to download all headers in the newsgroups of their choice, when it is done regularly the process is not time consuming if the newsreader has the ability to store older headers and thus only downloads newer ones.
Types of clients
- Text newsreaders – designed primarily for reading/posting text posts; virtually unusable for downloading binary attachments (example: most email clients such as Outlook Express and Netscape).
- Traditional newsreaders – text-capable newsreaders which can also handle binary attachments, although not as efficiently as more specialized types of clients (example: Forté Agent and XNews)
- Binary grabbers/pluckers – designed specifically for easy and efficient downloading of multi-part binary post attachments; limited or nonexistent reading/posting ability. These generally offer multi-server and multi-connection support. Most now support NZBs, and several either support or plan to support automatic Par2 processing. (example: GrabIt, Newsbin, Newsleecher) Some additionally support video and audio streaming. (example: BinTube)
- NZB downloaders – a binary grabber client without header support – cannot browse groups or read/post text messages; can only load 3rd-party NZBs to download binary post attachments (Example: NZB-O-Matic, SABnzbd, Ninan, URD). Some incorporate an interface for accessing selected NZB search websites, although it may require revision when supported website changes its format or even ceases to exist. (Example: Alt.Binz).
- Binary Posting Clients – designed specifically and exclusively for posting multi-part binary files. (example: PowerPost, Sharkpost)
- Combination client – Jack-of-all-trades that fully supports text reading/posting, as well as hassle-free multi-segment binary downloading and automatic Par2 processing. Being the most complex and feature-rich, these also tend to be the most difficult to learn. (example: Usenet Explorer)
Free/open source software