Usenet and Binary Files

Usenet Background

Since Usenet newsgroups were originally used to exchange text-based messages between their users (like Internet forums today), it is not designed to handle (big) binary attachments and data. If a user wants to share a binary file with other Usenet users, for example the archive of the last holiday pictures, he has to split this large file into hundred or even thousand of small pieces, so called segments. Every of these segments is posted to the Usenet newsgroup within its own new article (or newsgroup posting). In order to download the whole file, one has to fetch all these segments and re-combine them again in the correct order.

NZB Index Files

Of course this process of segment downloading and re-combination is not done manually for every single newsgroup article. Usually the original poster of the file or archive also creates an index file, the NZB file, which lists all segments that were created during the upload process. This NZB file can then be loaded into a binary Usenet client that can handle such NZB files, as for example HelloNzb. The client then connects to the Usenet server and downloads all the segments/articles listed in the NZB index file. Usually this client also handles the re-combination of the segments into the final output file automatically. If you are aware of the bittorrent file sharing technology, you can theoretically compare the NZB files with torrent files.

PAR2 Checksum Files

One thing to note is that the Usenet is not managed by one central instance, it is built of many thousand different Usenet servers. If a user uploads a file, it is of course only saved to the user’s Usenet server in the first place. Afterwards, the Usenet servers automatically synchronize their content (newsgroup articles). During this synchronization process it may happen that some few articles (file data segments) become corrupted, which would then lead to problems when the whole file has to be re-combined after download. To overcome this problem a file poster usually includes additonal checksum files (so called PAR2 files) that contain pieces of the original file data. That way downloaded data that is invalid can be repaired automatically in most of the cases (if not too much of the original data is lost or corrupt).

Usenet Providers

Often you will get access to the world of Usenet via your Internet provider’s Usenet (News, NNTP) server. Unfortunately, in many cases those servers will contain text-only newsgroups only, because saving all binary data available via Usenet requires loads of storage. Thus there are special Usenet providers that provide access to their dedicated Usenet servers including all binary newsgroups. Of course there are different offers out there: monthly payment plans, pre-paid amount of data, one single or multiple concurrent connections (the latter usually result in faster overall download speed), etc. pp.

If you are looking for Usenet newsgroup access, we recommend Newshosting. They currently offer a 21 day free trial with up to 30 GB of access.  Cancel anytime and no charge will be made. Of course this service is fully configurable to HelloNzb. Other features included:

– Free SSL
– 30-60 connections
– 99% completion
– Server farms in the US and Europe
– Unlimited download plans

You can save some money by visting their site via this link instead of their official web site!

Of course you can use HelloNzb with any other Usenet provider too :-)

More Information

You can find more information and a comparison of different Usenet providers, as well as other download clients, on usenetreviewz.com.