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"Searching Binary Newsgroups" 
  01/01/2002

Introduction to Binary Newsgroups: Searching

Binary newsgroups provide access to a wealth of information and tools. In the next few weeks, we’re going to look at binary groups in some depth beginning with basics such as how to search them and moving on to downloading files, uncompressing them, repairing them and burning them to a CD. In this first article, we’ll look at how to search the binary newsgroups and why a commercial service is beneficial to individuals that download binary files.

If you use ISP provided USENET access, chances are that you are missing many posts. While a single post in a thread of 1000 messages about a celebrity visiting Europe is probably not a great concern for the vast majority of individuals, a binary article that is incomplete can cause many problems. For instance, suppose you spend 10 hours downloading hundreds of file2. If a single post is missing, you have just wasted a great deal of time unless someone is kind enough to post it again for you. Then, you are required to hope and wait for the post, and with some luck, your ISP might actually receive it this time.

Let’s suppose that you have one of those rare ISP’s that manage to get the vast majority of posts. You are probably still being limited by what you have access to as ISP’s will typically remove the high traffic binary newsgroups. With all of this in mind, you can quickly see the advantages of a commercial news service like Newsguy that offers USENET access and provides all of the binary groups.

Even with a commercial service, you will still occasionally miss a file or a post. This is especially true if you are using a standard Newsreader which downloads the messages and requires you to manually search through them for the posts you are looking for. If you are using a commercial service, they might provide a web based interface to their newsgroups. This allows you to search through all the newsgroups for particular posts. For instance, suppose you downloaded 60 files that were 10 MB each. After the 600 MB finished, you realized that you missed file number 50 named “abc-123.r50". Now you could read through all the binary posts to find if someone reposted the file. This is a very cumbersome approach and can be difficult to say the least. Instead, if your service offers it, you can do a search inside your web browser and query all of the newsgroups for file “abc-123.r50". This will allow you to see if others have already requested a repost or if you perhaps simply missed it while downloading the other files.

If you have many interests, it might be difficult to manage the volume of newsgroup postings, especially if you have access to a commercial service providing thousands of binary groups. That’s where a binary index website might come in handy. They allow you to quickly search newsgroups for recent uploads. Instead of reading thousands of posts, you can now simply search for a keyword or look at recent uploads to find exactly what you are looking for. For instance, if you are interested in the newest Freeware program called FreeSoft, you could simply do a search for it to see if it was available. Additionally, if you are just interested in a particular category, like MP3, you could just browse the uploads to MP3 newsgroups.

As you can see, commercial newsgroup access is almost a must for those interested in binary groups. In the next installment of this series about binary newsgroups, we’ll look at how to download files using popular newsreaders or a web based interface.

 - by Clayton Crooks

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