What is a NZB file? In the simplest of terms, an NZB is an XML-file that points to a particular binary file/post on Usenet. Using NZBs definitely makes using newsgroups easier and faster. We will go into more detail later but first let’s take a look at how the Usenet community searched before NZB search engines came along.
Times have changed when it comes to how one downloads articles from Usenet. Before NZBs, if a Usenet user wanted to download a file, they had to pull down all the headers for a particular binary newsgroup and search through them to find what they were interested in. When selecting articles for download the user had to select each and every part of the binary file/article and then download it. If they missed any part of the file it would be incomplete. As you can imagine this method was very cumbersome and tedious as many large binary files have up to 100 parts. In addition to the number of parts of a binary file, many Usenet providers have very long retention. Imagine downloading headers for 2,400+ days of retention in a particular binary newsgroup. Now imagine going through millions of headers in each group and the fact that there are 100,000+ newsgroups.
Using a NZB file will prevent you from doing all the work described above and makes downloading from Usenet easy. The purpose of the NZB is to point to the location of a particular file. To be more specific the NZB points to the file set defined in it. The binary file is made up of several parts/articles. Each article has a unique identifier, called a message-ID. This number will help you identify articles across all servers on Usenet. The NZB is a collection of all the message-ID’s of a particular file. For example, if I created an NZB of a binary file that was uploaded to Usenet, that NZB file will automatically find and download all the article/parts of the file set (.NFO file, Par2 Files, RAR files, SFV, etc). Also since the NZB file format is small it allows users to share the NZB as it can be emailed or uploaded elsewhere.
There are quite a few NZB newsreaders available. Most newsreaders support the use of NZBs. If the Usenet browser supports NZBs, you can use the client to open the NZB file. Your newsreader will then automatically log onto your news server and download the articles associated with the NZB. Many newsreaders will also automatically import the NZB when they see it on your computer.
Because NZBs have made using Usenet much easier, it would only be appropriate to look at the history of the NZB file. The NZB protocol was invented by the development team over at Newzbin. Newzbin also happens to be a popular NZB search engine or as some call it, a Usenet search engine / Usenet indexing site. Using an NZB search engine, a user would not have to download headers since NZBs are a more efficient method of accessing those files.
As you read above, locating specific binary files are not that simple without the help of Usenet search tools. To search for a particular binary file on Usenet with Newzbin’s NZB search engine, one only has to enter the search term. The search engine will then pull up a list of several indexed articles/messages. You can then click a button to create the NZB file. If you are using an NZB supported newsreader, you can use that program to open the NZB file. The NZB will then point the newsreader to the set of requested files on Usenet. The message-ID’s are then loaded into the download queue of the newsreader to be downloaded.