Do you really need that many usenet/nntp connections? How many is too many?

// 15th Jul '09 Do you really need that many usenet/nntp connections? How many is too many?

Unfortunately, as with many things Usenet, there isn't a simple answer to this question. Whether you require more than just a few connections will depend on what you're doing, your ISP, your news provider and many other little things as well. With the news that Giganews has recently upped the connections on some packages to 50, click through to read a more in depth review of the current connection craze.

As Giganews released the news this week that they've upped the amount of connections allowed on their premium accounts to 50 - it does bring a long the question: is there even a need for that many?

"As a Premium Usenet Service Provider, we constantly improve our service to ensure our members have the best Usenet experience on the planet. While increasing connections is a major improvement, in the near future we will announce a new service offering that will truly solidify our premium status." Elizabeth Kintzele

The idea behind connections, especially when being marketed by Usenet providers, is that more connections = faster downloads; and there is no doubt that this is the case but only up to a point. A simple breakdown of how the amount of connections should affect you:

  1. Your net connection - latency can be measured as the time it takes you to send a simple request to a certain server and receive it back again. Depending on the bandwidth and type of connection available to you, having more connections can seriously affect the speed of your downloads (in a good way). For example, on a wireless/satellite link or even on DSL link that is far from the exchange, latency times can be quite high and therefore you if only given one connection, you will be waiting around longer while it does it's thing (saying hello to the Usenet server for example). With more connections you may find that while some are sitting idle waiting to receive a response from the server, others can be downloading therefore lessening the overall download time. A high amount of connections on low latency and high bandwidth links is definitely less beneficial than a the same with a high latency and low bandwidth. Having said that however:

  2. Connections are not free - and we're not talking about the extra money you'll be handing out for them. Connections are not free bandwidth-wise due to the overheads involved in TCP/IP traffic - they are indeed minimal but when you start reaching higher levels of connection or start using encrypted connections which have larger overheads, you will actually be wasting bandwidth by creating unnecessary overhead. Not only that but modern day routers cannot handle an unlimited number of connections, Bit-torrent users frequently complain about crashing their routers/modems by allowing too many inbound/outbound connections at once; increasing the amount of connections causes a rise in the processing required by your router which therefore causes a rise in temperature which can and has been known to crash routers (especially as they're passively cooled). Again, this may be detrimental to your download speed/latency.

  3. Maxing out your bandwidth - due to the nature of Usenet providers and their backbones to the internet - you will pretty much always be able to max out your connection speed as it is unlikely you have a greater bandwidth than the trunks coming out of your provider. There are limited occasions when this can be untrue such as when an ISP may be throttling individual connections to Usenet and therefore using more connections could alleviate the problem; but this is also rare, if an ISP is going to be throttling a certain protocol they are much more likely to be using deep packet inspection or other technologies that cannot be circumvented so easily. Best option in that case is to switch ISPs!


So, should you use more Usenet connections or not?

There is one rule to stick by when deciding how many NNTP connections to use - and it's fairly easy to implement: simply increase the amount of connections until you can't wring any more bandwidth out of your connection. Any more connections are simply a waste. There is one major exception to this rule however, and it's not one that's as frequently carried out these days due to .nzb files but that is header downloads. As each header is minuscule, most of the connections time is spent looking for or waiting to hear back from the server. In this situation, it's a literally a case of more connections the better (and this can in fact be said if you're download lots of small files e.g nfos).

djm posted by djm
This entry was posted in Informative and tagged connections, nntp. Leave a comment. Header image by tjblackwell


  1. irk
    Posted Nov 17th, 2009 at 10:11 a.m.

    A breakdown of #2 would help the itards (assuming you even understand overhead mechanics)

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  2. Posted Nov 17th, 2009 at 11:11 a.m.

    Of course we do :) Wouldn't have written about it otherwise.

    We do feel going deeper would be going over the top for the casual reader though, so if you're interested in how the internet works, feel free to read Wikipedia's article on the TCP/IP stack, handshaking, connection overheads and whatnot.

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  3. Posted Dec 23rd, 2010 at 13:12 p.m.

    irk, using the term 'itards' is obviously an internet gH0d! Bow to his 1337 h4><0ring 5|<illz....

    Us CCNAs, etc. know nothing compared to user irk...

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  4. Posted May 9th, 2011 at 20:05 p.m.

    То come off with flying colours.

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  5. Posted May 9th, 2011 at 20:05 p.m.

    То lay by for a rainy day.

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