So called nzb files have been created to make the downloading of files from the Usenet (often referred to as newsgroups which is technically not correct) easier and more comfortable. Files are uploaded in parts to the Usenet, and while Usenet software did a good job at recognizing and merging those parts to file names, they did not offer the capabilities of downloading large file sets easily. All rar files of an Ubuntu Linux upload for instance needed to be selected separately for download in the client.
The invention of the NZB format changed that. An NZB file contains information about all files that are part of an upload. This means that it was possible from then on to load the NZB file to initiate the download of all files of that package.
Even better was the fact that it was also the birth of Usenet indexers, who crawl the Usenet for files and offer on the fly nzb creations (check out our list of Usenet indexing sites)
The Usenet client had to support the NZB format, which nowadays most clients do. You may remember from previous posts that we are really fond of Newsbin, a commercial Usenet software, that supports nzb files and a lot more.
Those users who prefer a free bare bones alternative might find find a suitable program in HelloNZB, a NZB newsgroups downloader. The free program specializes in NZB files, which makes it very simple to use and configure. The specialization has a few disadvantages as well, more about that later in the review.
The Java application needs to be configured prior to usage. The first step is the configuration of a Usenet server under Server Settings in the preferences.
We recommend the premium Usenet provider Giganews, but there are cheaper alternatives available as well, and some Internet users may even be lucky enough to have free access to a Usenet server, courtesy of the ISP.
The program accepts NZB files after the initial configuration, which can be loaded from the program interface. There is unfortunately no drag and drop support at this point in the development.
All NZB files are loaded into the NZB queue. The files are displayed on the right and the connection information at the bottom. A click on the start button initiates the downloads.
HelloNZB is a very basic Usenet software. It lacks many features that experienced users require, including the ability to configure multiple servers, the ability to browse groups manually, different download directories, thumbnail previews, speed limitations or an option to automatically process downloaded files so that they are unpacked to a directory.
Still, users with an Usenet account who only download files occasionally may want to give HelloNZB a try. It is easy to use which makes it suitable for users of all experience levels.
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Ghacks is a technology news blog that was founded in 2005 by Martin Brinkmann. It has since then become one of the most popular tech news sites on the Internet with five authors and regular contributions from freelance writers.