Lexicon for Usenet Terms
Get details for Usenet related terms:


Alt is the shorten name for the alternative hierarchy. The Newsgroups, whose names begin with "alt", contain wide variety of miscellaneous articles. Such groups can contain images, videos, music, software, book and much more - all is mixed together. Example of such a group is alt.celebrities that provide all celebrities related binary file extensions.


Completion is a term that is often used by many Usenet providers for affiliation. Majority of providers promise 100% completion. This term is used to measure the number of articles stored on the server. Completion (expressed as a percentage) stays for the number of all stored articles divided by the total number of available articles. The rule is: as more the compeltion, as better! For example, if a Usenet provider stores 80 % of available articles on it's server, that server has 80 percent completion. Be careful, cause many providers use this term for false advertising - no any customer will be able to verify the completion.


If you study the prices of different Usenet providers, you will find a term "Connections" in the list and the amount of available simultaneously downloads. Under connection we understand a communication between a news server and our Newsreader. Choose a provider that allows multiple connections at the same time - this will speed up your download. As more connections, as faster is the download speed. For example, Giganews offers 50 connections and Astraweb only 20.

NFO File

NFO is a small text file that can provide detailed information about content files like: video and audio quality, tracklist, poster email and much more. NFO files are allowed to contain only plain text, they can be opened and read only by any text editor. These files are often posted together with the binary to describe the contents of the original files. Many NFO files use punctuation characters to create unique grafic design of the text. However, this only works if you are using a monospaced font, such as Courier.

NZB file

NZB is a small text file made in XML format that is needed to identify articles posted to Usenet. The format is a development of the Newzbin.com Usenet Indexer. All usenet search engines use NZB format to provide easy possibility of content search. Files with .nzb extention are needed for Newsreaders to find needed content in posted newgroup fast and to start downloading. There is no more need to download and check headers anymore. In this way content can be found much faster and more bandwidth-efficient than traditional methods.

Each Usenet post has a unique identifier called the "Message-ID". When a large file will be uploaded to a Usenet newsgroup, it is usually divided into multiple smaller segments (or parts). Each segment has its own Message-ID. This technology provides possibility to share large files through Usenet network. NZB file collects all segments information into one XML-based text file and is something like a download instruction for an Nzb-capable Usenet client (or Newsreader). The Newsreader connects with Usenet and transferes single parts to a computer of the customer. After it's done, files will decoded and put into the orginal content file.

Generally NZB file looks like below:


The Usenet network is not sencored and not really structured. The only one structure will be created through Newsgroups. A Usenet Newsgroup can be compared to discussion forums: users are able to view articles posted to any single group or upload their own posts into it.

Newsgroups generally come of two types: binary and text. Text groups are not interested for us, because only text messages can be found there. We will concentrate on binary newsgroups: here users are able to attach large binary files to their articles.

Each newsgroup has a unique name that normally begings with "alt" attribute. Some examples of binary newsgroups are: alt.binaries.dvd, alt.binaries.cd.image or alt.binaries.multimedia. The Usenet, similar to a structure of a discussion forum, is an interests divided network, it means that newsgroups are always topic related. If you unsure which newsgroup is the right one for the content you are searching for then go by name or use our site to browse single newsgroups.


A Newsreader is a software that is able to read articles on Usenet and download attachments. Newsreader acts as a client which connects to a news server using NNTP (Network News Transfer Protocol) and downloads articles. The software reads the requested newsgroup for posts and provides a possibility to upload new articles. Newsreader can be compared to a E-Mail client.

While we speak about Newsreader, we distinguish the clients for text and binary newsgroups. If you are interested in downloading of files from Usenet (like audio, videos and similar content), then you require a binary Newsreader with a possibility to get content through NZB files.

All articles with attached binary files posted to Usenet are encoded. The Newsreader not only downloads binary attachments, but is also required to decode them and get real content files.

Visit Wikipedia to get a comparison of most popular free and commercial Usenet Newsreaders.


The Network News Transfer Protocol (NNTP) is a name for a special protocol that is used for transfering of news articles in Usenet network. It is responsible for a transport of information between news server and computer of the user, and it's needed to establish connection between Newsreader and Usenet.

While we describe different Usenet services, we often speak about an NNTP account. Usenet provider like Astraweb or Giganews offer NNTP accounts for paid Premium. In other words, after payment you will get following details: server name (something like news.astraweb.com together with SSL server), port and your login details (username and password). These NNTP details have to be implemented into configuration menu of your Newsreader and connection can be established.

PAR2 files

PAR2 file is a part of parity archive - a recover system for the postings. When any binary files will be posted, a number of special parity files will be uploaded also. If some of the data can not be transfered because it's incorrect or some parts are missing, the PAR2 files can be used to recover the missing data and create a complete binary file identical to the original. There is special program needed to manage PAR2 files - the most used is QuickPar. Because of PAR2 files inside the post the downloaded amount of data is higher as the original file's size.

RAR archives

RAR is a file format that is widely used to distribute multipart binaries on Usenet. RAR files are archives that store all files in compressed form. After downloading of a RAR archive, it must be unpacked in order to extract original content inside. If the posted file is too large, it's normal way that many RAR sub-archive files will be created. Each of it is limited by size and has unique number in the extension (like r01, r02, r03 etc.). The most popular program used to create and unpack RAR files is WinRAR.


Retention is very important term many Usenet providers use to promote their service. Under Renetion we understand the amount of time for which the new server keeps data. Normally it will be declared in days. For example, if a Usenet provider offers a retention for their servers for 1000 days, it means that all articles that were posted earlier as 1000 day will expire and will not be available for download. Each provider tries to raise it's retention to get market advantages toward the competitors. The biggest rention will be offered by Giganews and Astraweb - more than 2000 days.


SSL (Secure Sockets Layer) is a protocol that is used to provide secure connections over the Internet. The data will be transfered encrypted and then decrypted at the end of the user's computer.


Under yEnc we understand a system that is used to encode binary data to text, suitable for posting articles to Usenet. yEnc also decodes the data back into the original text. yEnc was developed by Jürgen Helbing in 2001. After some time, yEnc became one of the most used binary encoding system for Usenet.