Usenet Terms Explained

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In case you are wondering: Here are the most important terms explained.

– “Retention“: Describes how long a file will be preserved on the server.
Since the Usenet contains so many files, and everyday several Terabytes more are uploaded, data will only be available for a certain period of time, afterwards they will be replaced by more recent content.
(Read more about this on Wikipedia)

These days, retention will be somewhere between 1 and 2 years – Way enough time to find everything you need, since deleted content is also being reposted very frequently.

– Binaries: Files found on Usenet.
(Fun fact: The Usenet is composed of a few ten thousand groups, and the ones which contain not discussions but data usually begin with “alt.binaries.”)

– Max. Connections: How many connections to the news server you can open simultaneously.
May influence your download speed, though with most Internet connections you’ll be able to max out your bandwith using only a few of them.

– SSL: A cryptographic protocol.
Describes the ability to encrypt your connection between you and the Usenet server, which prevents your ISP or potential hackers or spies (like your boss or someone hacking into your WiFi network) to see what data exactly you are exchanging with . Also, it can bypass potential bandwith throttling by your ISP.
(More details about SSL on Wikipedia, if you’re curious. Beware: It’s a long and complicated article)

Most Usenet providers include SSL for free nowadays, and to enable it, you only have to check a box in your newsreader. Cool, eh?

Completeness: Due to the architecture of the Usenet it happens that part of the files available have small “holes” in them. With high completeness it happens less and less. However if it happens it’s usually possible to fix it with a so called par2 repair file.
(Read more about this on Wikipedia)

Quickpar / par2 file / repair block: Because files on Usenet tend to be slightly incomplete sometimes, repair files (known as par2 files) are added to most bigger uploads, for example when posting a movie. They allow to fix the data with a program such as Quickpar.

Modern newsreaders manage this completely on autopilot, from checking your downloads, fetching the repair blocks if necessary to fixing files.

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