What Is an NZB File and How Do I Open It?

There are hundreds of different file extensions that are used for different purposes. Some file extensions are more common than others, while others are more obscure or fading out. NZB files are one such example.

Popularized first due to the rise of the Usenet, NZB files are still used for distributing content on its servers. But, what is an NZB file, where do you find them, and most importantly, how do you open one?

What Are NZB Files?

An NZB file is a Usenet binary newsgroup posting index file. Usenet is a decentralized network of newsgroups that allows users to post and read messages. Newsgroups are organized into hierarchies, and each message posted is given a unique Message ID.

Essentially, Usenet is a global network of servers that allows users to share text-based messages, including articles and posts. When a user wants to download an article from Usenet, they can do so using an NZB file. Likewise, newsreaders like Easynews can be used to search through content on Usenet via NZB files.

NZB files are similar to .torrent files, which are used for BitTorrent downloads. However, there are some key differences between the two types of files. For one, NZB files only work with Usenet servers; they cannot be used to download files from other types of servers.

Additionally, NZB files usually contain more information than torrent files; this additional information helps Usenet clients select the best server for downloading the requested article.

How the NZB Extension Was Created

The NZB file format was created by developers at Newzbin, a British Usenet indexing platform that went out of business in 2012. According to Usenet protocols, you can’t upload messages above a certain file size.

Thus, when posting a larger file, it must be converted to a text-based format. Usenet is a hub for piracy, so many of the files are quite large, such as entire movies. NZB files are used to “split” these files into smaller parts.

These parts can then be uploaded to Usenet servers. Anyone who wishes to download a file must download all of its parts. A software program (Usenet client) is used to reassemble, extract and decode them.

However, it’s difficult to locate parts of one file on binary newsgroups since many servers often purge binaries after specific intervals. The developers at Newzbin solved this problem with the creation of the NZB file extension.

NZB files are encoded in Extensible Markup Language (XML), greatly simplifying the Usenet search process.

How to Open NZB Files

First, you can’t use a conventional program to open NZB files. Instead, you need a Usenet client, and a commonly used option is NZBGet.

Screenshot of NZBGet

NZBGet is an open-source project with clients available for all popular platforms, though paid options are also available. Once you download the program, you can download NZB files from different newsgroups on Usenet.

Interestingly, the popularity of the NZB file format on Usenet is probably what has allowed it to survive for so long. However, people don’t generally use it for exchanging messages or for discussions as much anymore, instead sharing copyrighted content on the platform.

Downloading copyrighted content from any source, including Usenet, is illegal, and we don’t condone it. In fact, the company that created the NZB file format, Newzbin, eventually closed down due to legal action from multiple entities, including various Hollywood studios.

Download: NZBGet for Windows, macOS, Linux, & Android (Free)

There Are Still Many Places to Discuss Events and Share Content

While Usenet is generally quite difficult to access using conventional means (unless you pay for a client), other alternatives exist for those who like to engage in online discussions.

If you want to engage in millennial nostalgia, platforms like Reddit or Tumblr provide an excellent outlet. You’ll come across many like-minded individuals, and there are discussions on virtually anything you can think of! The biggest difference is that with Usenet, you have file downloading and hosting alongside the discussion, something you won’t find elsewhere.

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