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What is an “nzb” file?

Updated on August 22, 2011

A .nzb file was created by a company called Newzbin. They have been in the news in the UK recently for their supposed involvement in software and video piracy, but perhaps unsurprisingly the newsmen and women of our fair land simply do not understand the truth and by choosing to block this site they are not really dealing with the underlying issue. Allow me to explain further below (please note, this article will NOT in any way provide information or instructions about how to do anything illegally on or through the Internet).

What is an .nzb file?

An .nzb file is simply a single file that contains all of the “bits” of the file that you are looking for. For example if you were looking to download a version of Ubuntu (a free version of Linux that you can get from their website here) you would do a search on the Newzbin site (or any of a host of other .nzb file providers) for the appropriate file.

Once you have found the appropriate item that you are looking for simply click on it to download the nzb file. This file will tell your newsreader (a great program that I have used successfully over the years is Grabit, although you can also take a look at SABnzb which works really well too – check out my other article here for some more information) where all the different parts that make up the Ubuntu download are located throughout USENET. Each part will be downloaded and stored in a single folder – depending upon the application you have chosen, your final file will be extracted for you (SABnzb) or you might need to use an archiving program to do this step.

What is USENET?

USENET is a vast (vast) repository of information. On USENET you can find almost anything and there are thousands (if not tens of thousands) of different folders available. While the majority of these are text based, there is a significant proportion that includes binary files. Binary files are files that you can install on your computer – like Ubuntu mentioned above; however finding the right files in the right order can be somewhat problematical. The reason for this being that with USENET you are restricted in the size of the file that you can upload. As such – Ubuntu – would have been split up into dozens of different parts and with users around the world uploading different items simultaneously these parts would be separated throughout the folder making it extremely difficult to find what you are looking for.

Newzbin takes all of these separate bits and pieces and creates a single file so that interested users of the site can easily and quickly find exactly what they are looking for. Unfortunately while the government presupposes that shutting down the Newzbin site will stop piracy, it is completely incorrect as the only thing it will do is make it a little bit harder to obtain the files ... they are still on USENET.


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