I was recently asked by a friend about how they could go about downloading from Usenet in an efficient and relatively safe manner. Rather than answer them directly, I figured others out there might find this useful as well and posted it here.
The Big Picture
Usenet has a large collection of newsgroups, some of which contain hundreds of thousands of binary articles posted to them. The connect to Usenet is made through a Newsgroup Provider. Examples of these are GigaNews and EasyNews. Once connected a person can browse through the newsgroups manually with a newsgroup reader such as XNews. The files can then be downloaded to the user’s workstation and used.
Finding the Files
While manual browsing can be done, it’s much easier to use a search portal such as Newzbin. They have a pay site for most content, and a free site for the XXX type stuff. At about $0.50US a week, they aren’t a bad deal. The payment lets you download a NZB file. This file is really just an XML document containing information about the location of the files needed. Once this file is downloaded it can be loaded into a program such as NZB-O-Matic.
I have used both EasyNews and GigaNews for many years. Both are quality providers, but I left EasyNews once GigaNews put out an unlimited plan. I personally use their Diamond plan as it provides not only unlimited bandwidth to their high speed servers, but it allows for encryption of the connection too.
The Sequence of Events
- Search for and download the desired .nzb file from Newzbin
- Load the file in NZB-O-Matic by using “Import NZB” under the “Transfer Queue” tab
- Click “Connect” in NZB-O-Matic under the “Usenet Servers” tab to start the transfer
- Once everything is downloaded use QuickPar to verify the integrity of the files and repair damaged archives
- Extract the archives and enjoy your newly acquired files
Configuring the Software
First of all, if using the recomended method of encryption to GigaNews, make sure to install stunnel and setup as described here. Next, you’ll want to select “Add Server” in NZB-O-Matic providing it with “localhost” as the hostname, port 119, at least 10 connections, and your newgroup provider username/password. Your luck may vary, but with my comcast connection I’ve found that 10 connections can sustain approx. 1000 KB/s down.