Usenet is a very popular way of exchanging messages and downloading all sorts of content from the Internet. In recent years, it has become more and more mainstream. It is now considered by many to be a better alternative to torrents. One of the main drawbacks of Usenet is the relative difficulty of finding actual content. Fortunately, a number of NZB search engines exist. With the help of the NZB file format, they offer a great way to locate and download content.
In this article, we’ll start by briefly discussing what Usenet is. We’ll then have a look at the problem of locating files on Usenet and how NZB search engines and the NZB file format offer a solution to the problem. After that, we’ll let you know about what we consider to be the 5 best NZB Search Engines available for free today. We’ll have a closer look and each one and discuss their pros and cons. Finally, we’ll lay down some factors to consider when selecting an NZB search engine.
Usenet in a nutshell
Created back in 1979, a full decade before the web, Usenet is arguably the first distributed information network. It was built to facilitate information exchange between universities and government research facilities. It quickly grew into a general-purpose file and message exchange system. Usenet was widely available for free and therefore enjoyed lots of popularity in the 80’s and early 90’s.
Usenet was sort of hijacked by unscrupulous users in the mid-90’s causing it to become the place to find all sorts of pirated and otherwise-illegal material. Many providers of free Usenet servers consequently decided to drop the service and it quickly fell out of favor.
Usenet never ceased to exist although it eventually shrunk dramatically. It has recently become more popular as an alternative to torrents to exchange all kinds of files. Several companies are now offering paid subscription service to their Usenet servers.
For more details on Usenet, we suggest you read our recent article: What is Usenet? Is it Legal? How to Get Started With.
For the best Usenet Experience, We Recommend Newshosting
If you want to get started with Usenet, the first thing you’ll need is a reliable Usenet service provider. With so many suppliers available this can be a daunting task. We’ve reviewed several of them for you Trying to find the best one. The one we recommend is called Newshosting.
Newshosting offers 256-bit SSL encryption to protect your privacy, a built-in, full-featured newsreader so you don’t need any extra software, one of the longest file retention of any Usenet provider so you can find more content and many more excellent features
Take advantage of AddictiveTips special pricing offer and consider the yearly plan so you can get both a good monthly rate and their VPN service include.Enjoy unlimited Usenet and VPN from just $8.33/month with our discount.
Finding Content on Usenet
While Usenet is a great place to store content and, consequently to get content, locating interesting content can be a challenge. The Usenet is primarily organized in Newsgroups. There are hundreds if not thousands of them. They are organized in a hierarchical fashion. For as much as we’re concerned, most interesting content will be under the alt.binaries.* hierarchy. This is where most files are located.
Although your newsreader–the software you use to browse newsgroups and upload and download content–will allow you to peruse the messages in each group, finding a specific file can be a difficult task. This is especially true when you consider that, due to message size limitations, most files are split into several smaller parts. Locating all the parts and making sure they’re all downloaded a very difficult task.
Search Engines and the NZB File Format
Back in 2004, a site named newzbin.com started indexing the files that were available on Usenet. They would scan Usenet servers, find all parts of each file and build a file in a specific format they created for that purpose: an NZB file. Their website was a search engine where you’d look for specific content and then download the corresponding NZB file.
The NZB file is just a plain XML file containing the message ID of each part of any given file. Most Usenet clients–also called newsreaders–understand NZB files and, using the message ID information they contain, will proceed to directly download all relevant parts of a file. The process is fast and efficient as the newsreader doesn’t even have to parse message headers and only reads actual content data.
The best Free NZB Search Engines Available Today
Newzbin.com went down in 2012, in the wake of a lawsuit in the UK by Hollywood movie studios. Just like torrents, Usenet is often used to store and distribute copyrighted material and, for that reason, news servers and indexers are often the targets of such lawsuits.
There are still many good NZB search engines available today. We’ve searched the web to find the best ones that are available free of charge. We’ll talk about each search engine’s best features and give you our first impression. Some NZB search engines are freely accessible to all while others do require users to register. We’re introducing them in no particular order.
Binsearch is a freely accessible NZB Search engine. It doesn’t require registration and it works well. If you want plain Usenet search functionality, this might be for you. It is the most popular NZB search engine.
Its user interface could hardly be easier to use. You simply enter your search term, specify the number of results per page that should be displayed, and the maximum age of the retrieved posts. One can also opt to search only the most popular groups or in other groups (which we assume to be the less popular ones). You then click the Search button to get your results.
As an example, we searched for the recently released Captain Underpants movie. Here are the results we got.
To get the sought-after NZB file, you first need to check the box next to the file you want. If the file has many parts, make sure you check them all. Then, you click the Create NZB button at the top or the bottom of the list. You’ll be prompted for a location to store the NZB file. As soon as the download is completed, you simply open the file in your newsreader to download the actual content. Most newsreaders will allow you to do that by just double-clicking the file.
Binsearch is the only NZB search engine that won’t automatically select all the parts of files, making using it a bit more difficult. And if you mistakenly create an NZB file that’s missing some parts, the resulting downloaded file won’t work.
nzbindex is another freely accessible NZB search engine. It is similar in functionality to many other such sites. Its home page looks simpler and somewhat more modern than Binsearch’s. It allows one to enter a search term, specify the maximum age and number of results per page and hit the Search button.
The search results are presented in a very similar way to Binsearch’s. You need to check whatever file you’re looking for and click the Create NZB button to start the download of the NZB file to your computer.
A few features we love about nzbindex is the possibility of flagging some results as spam or requesting the takedown of some copyrighted material. Both can be done by simply checking the file and clicking the appropriate button at the top of the screen.
nzbindex also has an advanced search feature that lets you specify even more search parameters to narrow down your results. You could, for example, limit your search to only certain newsgroups or hide crossposts. Overall, nzbindex is a very capable search engine.
Our next entry, nzb, is different from the two previous options in that it requires users to register before using the service. The registration is free but will require that you give them your email address. Once you’ve filled the registration page, you’re taken straight to the search engine homepage.
It is obviously very different from the previous search engines. The interface is much more graphic and has some very interesting features, well beyond a simple search. For instance, right there on the homepage, you have thumbnails for files recently added in the movies and TV shows categories.
Clicking any thumbnail will take you to that movie or show page where you’ll find a list of all the available files on Usenet. In the case of TV shows, you’ll not only see the latest episode but also all the available past episodes.
Searching is also very easy. All you need to do is type in your search term in the box at the top right of the screen. Optionally, you can also use the drop-down list to restrict your search to a certain type of files such as movies or TV. you then click the Go! button to see your search results.
Once you have your search results you have two options: you can either click the box at the left of the listing and then click the Download NZBs button. This is very useful if you want to download several files at once. The second possibility is to click the title of any search result. You ‘ll be taken to the properties page of the file where you’ll find all sorts of information about the file. At the bottom of the properties page, a button allows you to download the corresponding NZB file.
If you prefer a more graphic presentation, nzb will certainly appeal to you more than the previous options. And if you don’t mind giving out your email address, there’s no reason why you shouldn’t use this NZB search engine.
The next engine we have for you is called nzbgeek. This one also requires that you register. There is a “need to register?” link right on the login page making the registration process easier. After you register, you’ll be taken to the nzbgeek homepage.
This is another graphical user interface. Right there on the homepage, you have the top 10 searches from the last 24 hours in the TV shows and movies categories. They are presented using thumbnails and clicking any one reveals that show’s or that movie’s details page which includes a list of the search results on Usenet. For example, we clicked the Legend’s of Tomorrow thumbnail and got to the shows details page.
Unfortunately, what we found next was a big disappointment. When we tried clicking on a download NZB button or link, we got a popup that this operation needed a VIG membership. Upon further researching the site, it turns out that there are fees associated with this VIG membership. It is cheap with prices ranging from $6 for a six-month membership to $30 for a lifetime membership. But as cheap as it may be–and even considering that a free 14-day trial is available–this article is about free NZB search indexes so we can’t really recommend this one.
Last but not least on our list is nzbplanet. It is another of these NZB search engines that do require registration. That is as simple as clicking the Register button from the login page and filling the registration form. As usual, you’ll need to enter a username, a password, and an email address. Upon registering, you’ll be taken to the nzbplanet homepage.
Of particular interest with this NZB search engine is the menu on the left side of the screen. It allows one to browse files by category rather than searching for them. We’ll get back to this momentarily. For now, we’d like to bring your attention to the little status box at the top left of the screen. In particular, there is a line that reads “Daily DL : 0 of 5“. This tells you that the free registration only allows a user to download 5 NZB files per day. It is the main limitation of this search engine which, otherwise, has a few great features.
Browsing categories is very easy. There are three different movies sections with each offering a somewhat different selection of movies. There are also two TV shows sections, one in alphabetical order and one in the form of a calendar. The latter is very useful to quickly locate the last episode of any show. If you’re looking for fairly recent content, chances are you won’t even need to use the search feature.
But if you do need to search for something, a search engine is, of course, available. After entering your search term and an optional file category, clicking the Go button quickly reveals the search results.
The search results are quite similar to those returned by the other NZB search engines reviewed. One feature of nzbplanet we particularly liked is the presence of a “download nzb” button at the right of each result line, make it even easier to quickly download your files.
Which One to Choose?
So, we’ve told you about what we found to be the top five NZB search engines. Now, the question you must be asking yourself is: Which one is the best? Well, as usual, there is not one single answer to that question and it all depends on what you’re looking for. For instance, NZB is probably the best looking so, if looks are important, use that one. On the other hand, if you prefer functionality, nzbindex could be the best choice. And if you want a mix of everything, perhaps nzbplanet would be your best bet. This last one is the author’s personal favorite but it might not be yours.
More than anything, it is up to you to try them and figure out for yourself which one best matches your needs and your personality. No amount of testing and reviewing we’ll do can replace your own personal experience. And considering their costs, there no reason not to try at least a few of them.
DISCLAIMER: AddictiveTips.com does not condone or recommend the use of any means to access copyrighted content to which you have no right. We’re not responsible for what you decide to do with the contents of this article. Piracy is not something we support or approve, and we strongly advise users to only access content they are legally entitled to. You must always take steps to ensure you are not in breach of any copyright or other law.
With many NZB search engines available, there has to be one that’s exactly right for you. They’ll help you find the files you’re looking for quickly and easily and will hide most of the complexity of using Usenet. With a good Usenet service provider such as Newshosting(If you’re thinking of signing up we’d recommend taking advantage of the free trial) and one of the great NZB search engines we’ve reviewed here, your Usenet experience should be great.
Are you a Usenet user? What NZB search engine do you prefer? What do you like most about your favorite search engine? Why do you prefer Usenet to other downloading methods? Share your thoughts with us using the comments below!