Usenet can be accessed from just about anywhere you can find a computer with a connection to the internet. Many Usenet news providers offer web to news gateways that allow users to view Usenet articles directly from a web browser, but most often, a dedicated newsreader is used to access Usenet.
A web gateway is simple to use, and allows you to log in and view newsgroups from almost anywhere using a web browser such as Internet Explorer. Because this interface operates on port 80, the same as regular web traffic, it is possible to browse Usenet articles from work or school where a firewall may be blocking port 119, which is the standard for Network News Transfer Protocol (NNTP). A web gateway is also very simple to use and is good for beginners. A web gateway can be found on most premium Usenet providers, and will often incorporate thumb nailing of images and other added features to make your browsing experience more enjoyable.
Usenet can also be accesses via a dedicated Newsreader. There are many different newsreader applications available and their quality varies greatly. Newsreaders are not as portable or readily available as a web gateway so they often cannot be used on shared computers. They also operate on standard Usenet ports, or other ports that are specified by your Usenet provider, so they are easier to detect from work or school, but what they lack in portability, they more than make up for in power. A newsreader can scan millions of articles a day, while sorting, filtering and storing only the files you are interested in. The best newsreaders will also combine multi-part files, display thumbnails of files, encrypt your data and much more.
Whether you choose to use a web gateway, or a newsreader, is a matter of preference and convenience, but your Usenet experience will still only be as good as your Usenet Provider. There are many free Usenet providers today, and often your ISP will provide free access to Usenet, but these are inferior to the services that a premium Usenet provider can offer. A premium provider dedicates its time to ensuring that the servers are tuned and running properly so you can count on more up time, better retention and better completion. If you are new to Usenet, you may want to have a look at a free provider or ISP account, but you will soon find that to truly experience Usenet as it is meant to be, you will need to subscribe to a premium Usenet service.