Usenet uses Transmission Control Protocol (TCP) to communicate between a client and a server. The Network News Transfer Protocol (NNTP) is used to transport Usenet news articles between news servers. NNTP is also used by client applications for posting messages and reading articles. A news client is a software program that reads articles directly from the Usenet news server's hard disks or through the NNTP.
The default port for normal connections is 119. The default TCP port for secure connections via Secure Socket Layer (SSL) is 563. When a user connects to a Usenet server, the service provider gives the user a choice of ports. If port 119 does not work, or if data transfer is too slow through port 119, the user may look up the list of alternate port options available. The service provider will also have a user guide to assist in configuring alternate ports for communication.
Some Internet service providers install traffic shaping devices or software to block the standard Usenet ports. This will cause a palpable reduction in connection speed with the Usenet service provider. If communication over the standard ports causes slow data transfer, a user can try setting the maximum number of connections to 10 or try using a different port. Changing the port will alter the routing through the Internet and thereby increase a user’s connection speed. Usenet service providers have additional ports available in case the local Internet service provider throttles traffic on the standard ports. Internet service providers can snoop into Usenet packets by performing port based detection and Stateful Packet Inspection (SPI).
So, a user should choose a Usenet provider that offers encrypted secure connections through non-standard ports. Usenet providers also allow NNTP encryption over port 443. Users should contact their Usenet service provider to know the list of non-standard ports supported, the maximum number of simultaneous connections allowed, the list of standard ports and the list of SSL ports supported by the provider. Some providers will list this information on their websites. If a user has a firewall, they must configure it to allow their Usenet service provider to access the computer(s) on which the Usenet client program is installed.
If a user’s Usenet server supports SSL, they can turn on SSL to encrypt all the traffic between their computer and the Usenet server. To do this, all they need to do is configure their Usenet client. They should not turn on SSL for port 119. It will not work. Similarly, port 563 will not work if they turn off SSL. The port selection and SSL settings must be compatible with each other. Users do not have to set up or enable port forwarding for NNTP unless they are hosting an NNTP server.
Usenet service providers allow users to choose from a range of port numbers to enable the user to switch between ports depending on which route offers optimal performance. Users transferring data on non-encrypted ports may achieve better throughput by changing from port 119 to port 80. This is especially true when the reduction in speed is due to port-based bandwidth limiting techniques adopted by network administrators.
Keywords: Usenet, Usenet server
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