How to Download Files from Usenet Newsgroups [Guide]

One thing that I’m regularly asked is what are newsgroups, why are they relevant, and how to use it. Well in a nutshell, newsgroups predate the internet where users would post messages on public boards from a range of different topics. With the explosion of the internet, newsgroups fell out of favor to almost obscurity until it was re-purposed into something else and that thing is to store files.

Imagine newsgroups as a really, really big hard drive where you can find almost anything you want. Inversely, you can also upload and share files to anybody. And you can do this at really high speeds, most likely maxing you your internet connection. And most importantly, doing so is very simple.

Still interested? Full guide after the break!

First of all, If you’re familiar with the BitTorrent protocol, the process is almost very similar. You have to find and download a .torrent file of what you want to get, open it up with a BitTorrent client (ie uTorrent) and wait patiently as the download completes. With newsgroups, speeds are much faster since you don’t have to upload anything.

What you will need:

  • Newsgroup Account – The one thing that differs newsgroups with BitTorrent is that you have to pay to access this it. There are many different Newsgroup providers with different pricing models. Some offer unlimited access for a fixed monthly fee while others offer access by the Gigabyte. Not all providers are alike, some have larger retention times (the lifespan of a file before its deleted), and some offer more connections (quicker downloads). There are many premium places that charge a lot so its best to just do a Google search and check user reviews. Personally, price matters for me (I’m frugal :D) so see my post on the Top Usenet Newsgroups Providers for Users on the Cheap.
  • NZB Files – Think .torrent files. These files have the extention .nzb and basically tells your Newsgroups reader where to find the files. One of the premier places to find these is binsearch.info (link) its basically a search engine for NZB files.
  • Newsgroup Reader – Think BitTorrent client. This is the program you will use to open your NZB files. The best one hands down is SABnzbd (link). It supports Windows, Mac, and Linux and you use it straight from your browser. This guide will be using this.

How to use Newsgroups:

  1. First of all, you should have a Newsgroup account from your Newsgroup provider. They should email you with an internet address, username and password that you will need to access their services.
  2. Install SABnzbd and go through the quick start wizard. Select a languag/theme and click ‘Next’.
  3. Next you will be asked for access options, for the time being select ‘I want SABnzbd to be viewbale from you pc only’. Click ‘Next’.
  4. Now you will be in the ‘Server Details’ page, here enter the ‘Host’, ‘Port’ (usually 119), ‘username’, and ‘password’ that was given to you by your Newsgroup provider. Set ‘connections’ to the maximum allowed by your provider. Lastly, enable SSL if your provider supports its. It’s ideal that you use SSL as it will protect others from knowing what you are downloading. Click ‘Test Server’ and ensure you can connect to the server. You won’t be able to proceed until you entered the information correctly.
  5. You will now be at ‘Index Site Options’ which you can just skip. SABnzbd will restart. You should now be able to view SABnzbd by going to http://localhost:8080/sabnzbd/ on your browser.
  6. Now with the Newsreader ready, we just need to feed it a NZB file. So lets go to binsearch.info and do a search. For this example, we’ll do a search for a movie trailer. You’ll notice that you get multiple results. Unfortunately with newsgroups, anybody can upload anything so you have to be very selective. For this example, I selected the first one as the collection size (the size of the trailer) looks realistic and all parts are available. You have to make sure that all parts are available, otherwise your download will never complete since all the data was never uploaded. Select the check box next the file and click ‘Create NZB’.
  7. You’ll be asked what you want to do with the NZB file so open it with SABnzbd.
  8. Now go back to SABnzbd, you should now see the file being download.
  9. Once its complete, you should now see the file wherever you set your completed SABnzbd files to be. **WARNING: Be sure to scan all downloads first with an anti-virus program before opening anything.**
  10. Success! You have successfully downloaded a file off newsgroups.

Hopefully this will serve as a good starting point to the world of newsgroups. Notice that using binsearch.info to find NZB files isn’t the best option because you never know what files you are downloading. It’s best to use other reputable sources for NZB files like NZBsRus (link) which indexes relevant NZB files. If you’re still confused, feel free to leave a comment below.

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