.NZB files are a shortcut to finding and downloading Usenet articles and attachments.
To use NZB files, you need:
- A place to get them
- A Usenet Newsreader program that can import the file (nearly all modern newsreader programs can import NZB files now)
- A Usenet access provider that still has the articles in its cache (header retention doesn’t matter, article retention days is the key measurement here)
Traditionally, using Usenet meant you had to use a newsreader program to connect to a Newsgroup access provider, download all the headers for a newsgroup, then choose the headers for articles and attachments, then tell the newsreader program to download them so you could read them. With an NZB file, someone has already done all the work to select the headers for a thread or attachment and build an index that can be used with any Usenet / Newsgroup access provider. For all you geeks out there, the NZB file format is actually XML, and was developed by one of the first Usenet indexing sites: Newzbin.
For simply reading Usenet articles and attachments, NZB files replace the need for headers. If you find an NZB file for the topic you are looking for, it contains everything needed to get the whole thread of article or attachment, using an index code that is consistent across all the Usenet access providers. Just open the NZB file with your newsreader program (some newsreaders are designed specifically to use NZB’s only) and it handles finding the articles and attachments on the Usenet Provider that you subscribe to.
NZB files are also a nifty way to get around the problem that some Usenet access providers have, where they may have the article content for 1000 or more days in their cache, but they only have 500 or so days worth of headers for your newsreader program to download. NZB files replace the need for headers.
Where do Usenet NZB files come from?
- Created by individuals, typically someone who contributed to the thread or attachment, who uses one of the more advance Usenet newsreader programs to tag them from the server they use, and creates the NZB file on their local computer. Then they post just the NZB file to the group the articles are in, OR, they may also post a copy of the NZB to other related groups. By putting only the NZB file with pointers to articles and attachments in extra newsgroups, they save themselves the hassle and stigma of cross-posting the same content in multiple groups.
- Usenet Search Engines: Created automatically by robot programs on servers. There are a number of Usenet Search Engine websites that regularly read all the headers posted to Usenet, look for naming patterns in the headers, and automatically create NZB files of all the articles that appear to be related. There is no human intervention, and the programmers who write these robots have no knowledge of what kind of content may be associated with the articles or attachments. We’re big fans of the “Usenet Search Engine” concept as it respects the original purpose of Usenet – to foster communication, discussion, and sharing of information. We’ve included links to a few of these Usenet Search Engines at the bottom of this page.
- Members only private Usenet NZB Indexing sites. Most of these sites are made up of dedicated Usenet users who individually identify articles and attachments, build NZB files, and often add comments about the quality of the content or links to third party websites that might have reviews or more info about it. These sites typically only follow the activity of specific newsgroups, and are careful about who they let join their group. To gain access to the NZB files, members often must also contribute reviews and do some indexing themselves. While they have been around for nearly as long as Usenet, we believe these purely file-oriented index sites are not true to the intent of Usenet and Newsgroups. Although we are NOT fans of Usenet NZB Indexing sites, we do include links to a few at the bottom of this page.
There are two problems you are likely to encounter with NZB files:
- Missing Articles: Some content in Usenet Newsgroups shouldn’t be there. It’s either not allowed from a legal perspective, or not permitted from an intellectual property standpoint. The major Usenet access providers, particularly the ones in our recommended list on our home page, adhere very closely to the US’s DMCA take-down rules. If an intellectual property owner or legitimate legal body sends a Usenet access provider a properly formatted (and the format is easy) request to remove an individual or group of individual articles, they do so, and do so quickly. What this means to NZB users is that an automatic NZB robot site or private NZB indexing site may be working off an older set of headers that includes articles that have been removed from most Usenet access companies’ caches. This can make it appear that either the NZB is broken or that the access provider has a broken cache, but in reality they are just following the law. In general, you’ll find that if an article is missing from one access provider’s cache, it will be missing from all as they usually are all served with the same removal notices at the same time.
- Index and Search site instability: There are numerous copyright protection groups (RIAA, MPAA) who, in our opinion, just don’t “Get it.” Instead of focusing energies on using technology to develop new distribution channels, they attempt to kill anything that even appears to endanger their old business models. And this means they use their considerable resources to try to attack any component of new media that they feel will not have resources to protect itself. This includes Usenet search engines and newsgroup indexing sites. And so, from time to time a favorite Usenet site will fold under a deep pocket attack.
A few of the Best Free Usenet Search Engine sites:
- binsearch.info – A simple, clean interface that lets you search by words in the header title or in .INFO attachments. Indexes for 1000+ days
- Mysterbin – A very strong search tool that has built indexes based on not only the headers but also some of the content itself. Indexes 1000+ days
- NZBIndex.com – Decent search capabilities but index only goes back 200 days or so
- NFO News – No longer maintained, no new headers indexed since 2009
A few of the Best NZB Indexing sites (Membership Required)
- Newzbin – The original NZB index site. Now accepting new members
- NZBRUS – Accepts new members.
- NZBMovieSeeker – Movie focused usenet search engine that links movie reviews automatically – longer index retention for paying members
- NZBXXX – Porn specific. Accepts new members
- NZBMatrix – Accepting new members