NZB Files Explained in Plain English

An NZB file contains a list of pointers to the parts of a file that you can download from your ISP’s Usenet “news” server. You open the NZB file with a program like SuperNZB, and then it will download each part. When it is done, it puts all the parts together and creates the file. NZB’s are popular because they download very fast. To find NZB files, use a Usenet search engine like Easynews.

NZB files were invented by for use with their searching service. For example, suppose you search for a file and NewzBin finds it. Now you want to download it, but NewzBin is not a news provider, only a search service, so you need to download the file from your ISP’s news server. You could use a “news-reader” program to go into the appropriate newsgroup and look for the posts. Or you could have NewzBin create an NZB file for you (using the “Get Message-IDs” button), and then use SuperNZB to open the NZB file and begin to immediately download the file. In a newsgroup that contains millions of posts, this will save you a huge amount of time.

When browsing a newsgroup with your news-reader program, you will also see NZB files posted along with their associated files. In this case, you can download the NZB file the traditional way, and then use SuperNZB to open it. Sometimes these files will be useless. The reason why is that some news servers will change the Message-ID numbers of the posts. The posting software assigns a Message-ID to each post, and those are the same ones that go into the NZB file so that everything matches. The news server can change the message ID, though there is usually no need for it to do so. If the posting software had a bug that caused it to format the ID’s wrong, or if it created non-unique Message-ID’s then those would be good reasons for the server to change them. However, some servers just change them all the time. If you see a news server doing that, you should complain to the ISP or NSP that runs it. You will never see this problem with NZB files downloaded from NewzBin because they obtain the Message ID’s from the posts as they arrive on their system – after they have been officially “stamped” by the poster’s server.

Some news servers do not allow posts to be retrieved by Message-ID’s. If this is the case with your ISP, then consider subscribing to a third-party news service such as Easynews.

NZB files are plain text and can be viewed with a word processor. The data is in XML format, which is sort of like HTML, but designed to format data rather than web pages.

If somebody emails you an NZB file, and you really, really want to look at it, open it with a bare-bones program like Notepad that comes free with Windows. If you open it with a word processor that can run macros such as Microsoft Word, a virus in the file could harm your computer. Importing an NZB file into a program like SuperNZB is safe since such a program would ignore any macros in the file.

Click here for a list of NZB indexing websites.

Click here to read about the limitations of NZB downloading.