The first thing you need to be able to access newsgroups is access to Usenet. Some ISPs offer access to Usenet but most of the time you are better off with a good specialized Usenet provider because the ISPs’ Usenet servers are usually very slow, have low retention and completion, and do not carry all existing newsgroups. The same applies to some of the free, public servers that are available. You might save a few bucks a month but that can come at the price of frustration and dissatisfaction with the service. You can easily avoid that problem by singing up with an affordable, paid premium Usenet provider, such as FastUsenet.org
How to Access Newsgroups
Newsgroups can be accessed in several different ways. The most common way to access newsgroups is probably through the use of a newsreader software program. An easier and more user-friendly, but slower way to access newsgroups is by using the web-based Usenet surfing capabilities of your Usenet provider (so-called Web Gateways or Web Interfaces). Not every Usenet provider offers such capabilities to their customers. FastUsenet.org is one provider that does offer very good web gateway access to their members who prefer using this method rather than the newsreader.
Accessing Newsgroups through a Newsreader
To access Usenet via a newsreader, you need to have a newsreader application installed on your computer. Some computers come with a specific newsreader installed on them but most do not. In such cases, you either need to purchase a newsreader program or download one of the free applications that are available on the web. One of the most popular, feature-packed newsreader applications for Windows is Newsbin Pro. Thoth is a powerful multi-server newsgroup reader for Macintosh: www.thothsw.com/thoth/www.thothsw.com/thoth/. MT Newswatcher is another good newsreader for Mac that allows connections to multiple servers: http://www.smfr.org/mtnw/.
Most newsreader software packages have 30-day free trial versions for you to try before you decide whether to purchase one. For information on newsreader packages, you can go to: https://www.fastusenet.org/tutorials.html
Accessing Newsgroups through the Web Gateway
It is beneficial to use the Web Interface when you are away from home and do not have access to a machine with newsreader software on it, or when you want to do a quick content search in Usenet. In addition, Web Interfaces are the only means of accessing Usenet for WebTV users as they cannot use newsreaders.
They are certainly easier and simpler to use but they are also slower and do not allow you to do all the things you can do with a newsreader, as their functionality is quite limited. Therefore, we recommend Web Gateways mostly to beginners who are not yet comfortable with the use of a newsreader. Once you learn how to access newsgroups through the web-based interface, you should consider getting a newsreader as it lets you take advantage of the full benefits Usenet offers.