You can access the Usenet newsgroups for free through two different roads: using public servers or using open news servers. Free/public servers are provided by various sources: governments, educational institutions, individuals interested in specific groups, or generous companies. Descriptions of public and open servers follow below.
Public news servers are servers that intentionally allow access to their newsgroups by any user, and they will advertise this fact. Some public servers use the web to allow access, negating the need to use a newsreader. Most of those news servers use strong anti-spam techniques, and are watched closely by the system administrators for breeches of article content rules (thus they are moderated). You can find public servers by using a search engine. The use of phrases in quotes, i.e. “public news server” will probably return the best results.
Open News Servers
An open news server is a server that allows anyone access to its newsgroups – either intentionally (publicly) or unintentionally. Unintentionally means that the news server administrator has either not set up the security/NNTP configuration correctly, or is currently setting up the server and is in the process of testing it out (this can take a number of weeks), or has set up the server to allow access to any user for convenience – however access is only supposed to be by people who have been given the servers details (this particularly applies to university type networks).
Another possibility is that the administrator might have set up the server to allow a pre-determined percentage of non-member access to open news servers that are open unintentionally. Those servers do not normally stay open for long, or they change their address – to reduce the amount of unauthorized access/posting.
Both types of servers can and do just disappear at any time. Searching for public servers that are really public and that one can connect to is a rather complicated procedure that takes quite a bit of time. This is due to the fact that according to research only approximately 1% of the world’s news servers are either open or public.
Where to Find Free Usenet Servers
Please note that public/open news servers sometimes restrict the number of users able to connect at any one time, so as not to greatly reduce the running speed. If you find that a once reliable server is timing out or refusing you access, that is probably why.