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News servers are a set of software or a computer system that manage the storage and routing of messages as well as control access to newsgroups in a Usenet. It is a primary part of Usenet and is responsible for handling various operations. News servers may act as a reader server or a transit server and sometimes provide both functionalities.
News servers make use of protocols like Network News Transfer Protocol (NNTP) and Unix-to-Unix Copy (UUCP) for transferring news articles across news groups. They can also be made to work according to certain local rules related to the routing path or the information to be shared.
News servers act as a major component of the Usenet, which is a collection of newsgroups where users are allowed to post messages. The messages posted in a newsgroup are stored in news servers and are distributed to other newsgroups by these servers.
The usual operating modes or types of news servers are the transit server and the reader server. Transit news servers use NNTP, which is capable of broadcasting every message to every site. Early models of transit servers used the UUCP protocol. These servers are used in routing messages across the hierarchical structure of the newsgroups. They are connected to multiple peers and hence are able to balance the load effectively. The news articles are routed based on the information found in the header lines.
A reader server allows users to read the articles that are stored in a hierarchical disk directory format or provide NNTP or IMAP commands to newsreaders. A reader server may also work as a transit server. Sometimes the role of a reader server is accomplished with the help of cache servers. Such servers are known as hybrid servers and are most commonly used for smaller sites with limited network bandwidth.
The major concerns of news server operations are the storage and network capacity requirements.
News servers are available as both free public servers and those that are provided by commercial operators. The quality and efficiency of news servers are continuously monitored by special interest groups or the commercial provider themselves and their performance is evaluated as a way for consumers to choose the best news service.