A Beginners Guide to Usenet

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A Beginners Guide to Usenet

Post by .:jOe:. »

A Beginners Guide to Usenet
For the sake of simplicity, I am going to concentrate on how to download precompiled NZB files. Creating NZB’s, searching through news servers and uploading your own files will not be tackled in this guide. If you can get yourself setup using NZB’s then you will naturally progress through the other options yourself. ;)

1. [goto=1]What is Usenet?[/goto]

2. [goto=2]How do I get started?[/goto]

3. [goto=3]How do I download?[/goto]

4. [goto=4]Troubleshooting[/goto]

[anchor=1]What is Usenet?[/anchor]

Usenet started in 1979. It started as a huge discussion forum where people could talk with each other about all kinds of different subjects. Later it became a huge file-trading network. Every newsgroup has its own subject/title with a charter. A charter is basically a list of rules for a specific newsgroup and gets posted in that group frequently. For example, if the name of a newsgroup is "alt.food.wine" and the charter says that the group is meant for discussion about wine only, then you're not allowed to post messages about cars, shoes or air planes. You're only allowed to talk about wine.

There are two kinds of newsgroups on Usenet. Text newsgroups and binary newsgroups. The binary newsgroups are the most important ones for file-sharing as those newsgroups contain movies, music, software and games. The binary newsgroups start with "alt.binaries". These groups have rules as well and it's important that you follow those rules. A group like "alt.binaries.mp3" is ONLY meant for mp3 files and nothing else (not even mp3 files that are compressed or zipped with WinRAR). A group like "alt.binaries.movies.divx" is ONLY meant for DivX movies, so you're not allowed to post DVDs or movies in MPEG1/2 format.

There are also so-called "Dump" groups. In these groups you are allowed to post anything you want and in any format. A few Dump groups are "alt.binaries.boneless", "alt.binaries.nl" and "alt.binaries.misc". These Dump groups are also the biggest ones on Usenet.

For practical reasons, news servers only keep files on their server for a certain number of days. This is called retentiontime. If a news server has a retention of 30 days, files which have been on the news server for longer than 30 days will be deleted to make free space for new files. If files were never deleted, the news server would get full very quickly and new files would not be posted. Once the files are deleted from the server you cannot download them any more. Don't worry though, most files often get re-posted.

It is a completely different network from both bittorrent and ed2k, offering the speed of bittorrent (you max out your connection) and the diversity in files of ed2k; offering all the latest releases as well as a huge number of older files.[/td][/tr][tr=,][td=1,row1,]
[anchor=2]How do I get started?[/anchor]
There are only a couple things you need to begin downloading files from a newsgroup.

First you will need an account with a news server, like one of the ones listed below:


Have a look through all the different plans available. All news servers have different setups and plans to suit your particular downloading needs.
Some ISPs offer access to newsgroups, but retention and group access is low as few binary groups are carried. Paying for a premium service will offer much better access.

"Paying" is a word that most file-sharers don't have in their vocabulary, but it's really advisable to pay some money every month to get access to Usenet as in most cases it will save you a headache. ISPs give you access to Usenet as an extra service to communicate with other people (text newsgroups), but the best newsgroups (binary) are in most cases not available.

There are several good reasons for this:

3.1) It costs A LOT of money to have a news server. If people start posting movies, music, etc, then more storage capacity is needed, which is not cheap.

3.2) If people continuously download large files from the news server, then that will put a lot of strain on the network of the ISP. A lot of people will get connection problems, which means unhappy customers. That means that the whole network needs to be improved and that costs a huge amount of money as well.

Second, once you have an account you will need a News Client (or newsreader)

SABnzbd - (Free, browser based not standalone software)
GrabIt - (Free)
alt . binz - (Free)
Newsleecher - (Requires Payment)
NewsRover - (Requires Payment)

A Newsreader is a program that does the downloading for you, just like a BitTorrent or ed2k client. Just like here on STF where you would select a link to download, you can do that through the use of what is called a NZB(or NewzBin) file. Think of a NZB as a newsgroup shortcut. Once a movie is uploaded to a news server, it may have over 50 files associated with it and if you miss one, you can not extract it successfully. A NZB file has a list of all the headers (or files on the news server) you need and tells your Newsreader where to go to get them. NZB files were created to function along with your Newsreader.

A news group can look a little daunting to the untrained eye!

But a good NZB Site is well laid out and easier to navigate
Like NZB Matrix pictured below


Below are some places that offer NZBs.


[anchor=3]How do I download?[/anchor]
Now that you have your sever account and newsreader setup it is time to try out one of the NZB sites and find something you would like to download. Make sure you have setup your newsreader with the settings your news server has recommended.

Most of the time files will be in a compressed format (rar) and will be downloaded to your PC. You can use an excellent free utility called 7-Zip to extract the multiple files to your PC.

To do this, find the .rar file in the set. It would usually be named the same as the rest of the files, but with a .rar extension rather than a number like .r01.


Right click the .rar file and go to the 7-Zip menu. Select "Extract Here" and the whole file will then be put back together and extracted to the directory you are currently in.

Watch a small video on using 7-Zip with multiple files[/td][/tr][tr=,][td=1,row1,]
Assuming you pay for access to a news server, you should have little trouble with incomplete files. However, it is not unheard of that some parts of the messages are missing or have not been copied to your usenet server successfully. PAR2files can be downloaded along with the file that can fill in the gaps.

(Note: You can setup your newsreader not to download PAR2 files but to set them to “paused” That way, unless you need them, you don’t use the bandwidth downloading them)

Depending on the settings on your newsreader, a corrupt file once downloaded, will be named in CAPITALS and will be noticeable because of that.


To use the PAR2 files to repair the corrupt files you need a program called Quick Par Install it and then double click one of the PAR2 files.


Quick par will scan the archive and identfy any corrupt files. Once they have been identified just click repair. It will use the recovery blocks available to repair the damaged archive. Then you can just extract it with 7-Zip and be happy :)[/td][/tr][/table]
Last edited by .:jOe:. on Sun Dec 11, 2011 12:23 am, edited 9 times in total.

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Post by .:jOe:. »

Added a link to alt . binz, a great freeware newsreader. (Thanks to FRASERX for the tip ;))

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Post by Ninja »

Nice guide Joe, i might give this a go. Thanks mate :thumbs

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