Many files you find in the Usenet newsgroups can be played directly after you have downloaded them – like MP3 music files and JPG picture files. But larger files, like video, must be decoded and require extra drivers to run. We won’t go into the hairy details of how to use each program – we figure you’re smart enough to figure out most of this stuff, and nearly all the programs have tutorials on their web sites.
Here is the 411 on what the extensions mean and where to find programs to use with them.
File types that need re-assembly to use:
- RAR – Rar files are the most common multi-part file type. Look for filenames ending in .r01 to rxx. When selecting parts to download, look out for straggler .r00 or .rar parts – you need them all. Once you have downloaded all the RAR parts, use Winrar to combine them usable.
- .001 – Some people use an different program to break large files into parts – you will see these as sequential extensions .001, .002 etc. Use HJSplit to recombine the parts.
- PAR / PAR2 files are “parity” files. These files are used to rebuild incomplete RAR or HJSplit file sequences when some of the needed files are missing. In fact, it is incredibly important to find a PAR file for .001 file sequences because HJSplit doesn’t check for data integrity when it combines the parts like RAR does. The program Quickpar can use the data in the PAR files check to completeness of the .001 or RAR files and fill in the holes in the other files. WIth PAR files you usually need ALL the PAR parts to rebuild one missing RAR or 00X file, but with PAR2 files you can try downloading just a few of the PAR2 files and see if Quickpar can rebuild it, and if not, keep downloading a few more PAR2 files until there is enough to rebuild everything.
- Automatic Re-assembly – Most newer Usenet Newsreader programs can automatically combine RAR and .001 files, and are even smart enough to automatically download extra PAR files and use those to rebuild damaged / missing file parts before combining the parts. Check out the Anchordudes Usenet Newsreader Reviews.
Playable / Usable File Types:
- NZB files are unique to Usenet. They are actually XML file listings of individual Usenet articles that can be used to find articles on any Usenet server – not just the one they were uploaded on. They are created by the original poster, or can be created retroactively by other newsgroup members. When you find an NZB file, simply save it to your local computer and open it with your your newsreader program (most can automatically open them and start using them) to get all the articles. Check out the Anchordudes Usenet Newsreader Reviews.
- SFV files are checksum files that can be used to confirm that all the articles you have retrieved are unchanged from the way they were originally posted. Use hkSFV to read and create SFV files.
- NFO and TXT files are usually small text files with descriptions of the following files (or parts of files). Download the file and open it with a text editor like Notepad to read it. Note, some later versions of windows see NFO files as a type of registry file, so you must over-ride the file association to open it with a text editor.
- JPG, GIF, BMP, TIF are all picture files. There are tons of image viewer programs. One of our favorite free image viewing programs for Windows is Irfanview.
- MP3, WAV, WMA are all sound files. Most computers come with a music player pre-installed, but Windows users may also want to try out the free version of Winamp. We especially like the fadein / fadeout feature between songs (but then again, we’re easily amused.)
- MPG, AVI, WMV, MOV, VOB, MP4are all video files. If you don’t like the movie player program that came with your computer, give these Windows based movie players a try.
- Media Player Classic (available in 32bit and 64 bit versions – Free)
- VLC Video Player (Great, full features multi-media player – Free)
- Zoom Player (neat feature lets you use the mouse wheel to scroll forward and back)
- ISO, BIN, CUE are all CD image files. You can use just about any CD burner software to make CD’s from them. If your CD or DVD burning program does not seem to recognize the file, try changing the extension to “.ISO”
More Video file type info:
Most video files require a “codec” in addition to the player program. Because it is an evolving standard, there are many codecs competing for dominance. Here is a rundown of the standards and some places to turn for help:
- MOV and MP4 are generally Apple Quicktime. You can get the codecs at http://www.apple.com/quicktime/download/
- MPG files come in many flavors. If you have a DVD player and its software installed, you probably have everything you need already. If not, there is no easy way to run some of the higher quality MPG files, but the low quality version should run with standard video players.
- AVI files come in many, MANY flavors. The most popular codecs are:
- DIVX – http://www.divx.com/divx/ (look for the link to Standard Divx Player – free version)
- Xvid – http://www.xvid.org
- 3ivx – http://www.3ivx.com/download/index.html
- One useful tool for figuring out what codec is needed to run a file is “G-Spot“. Download it from: http://www.headbands.com/gspot
A couple good sites with additional video codec information are:
- Doom9.com http://www.doom9.org/
- DVDRHelp.com http://www.dvdrhelp.com/play
Some video files are sent in 2 or 3 minute segments. To combine these segments into longer files you can use the following tools:
- MPG files: Use TMPGenc (ignore the wizard and use the MPG Tools functions)
- AVI files: Use Virtualdub http://virtualdub.sourceforge.net/
- One final word about downloading files from Usenet Newsgroups. Always use a good virus checking program to scan anything that does not end in MPG, AVI, JPG, or MP3. Viruses and Trojan Horses can hide in all types of “interactive” files, including EXE, WMA, WMV, VBS, and even DOC files. Never launch any suspect file types without running a virus check on them first!