Alas, this is something every Usenet user goes through sometime in his career.
You’ve found the file you were searching for, started downloading, and were already imagining watching the movie, listening to the piece of music or otherwise using it, and there it is, the whole, ugly truth: Your download is damaged beyond repair, no chance to do anything about it. Or is there?
First, let us briefly explain what exactly happened here. When a file is uploaded into Usenet, it is split into tiny bits of data which themselves are encoded and posted as a piece of text onto the server. These small chunks then propagate through the network that is the Usenet and get downloaded by your newsreader, which then decodes the text, puts everything together and saves your file onto your computer.
However if some reason one of these file chunks isn’t available on your newsserver, you’re in trouble. This problem has been known for a long time and thus, countermeasures have been delevoped – the par-files which are included by most uploaders in their releases. Par-files are repair blocks which can be used to fix the broken files. Since a majority of your downloads will have had incomplete files and you were still able to get it to your hard disk you can image how often these small errors occur.
Now, if you use a modern newsreader chances are the software already tried to fetch every repair block there is and was unsuccessful. Just 2-3 blocks might be missing. Repair failed! You’re screwed.
Why does this happen?
Here’s a list of causes for this problem:
Reason No.1 : Your Newsprovider Did A Mistake
Known as the “completeness”, some providers are just worse than others with this. If you Google for your provider you might notice that a lot of rumors and opinions are out there. Some will claim that all services powered by the Highwinds group, such as Newshosting, UsenetServer and Easynews suffer greatly from this problem however most of the time everything will work out just fine.
The provider with the best completion is reportedly Giganews and its resellers, but as you might know they’re quite expensive, so switching to them is not an option for everyone. Still, it might be worth a shot. Also Astraweb is said to provide better completeness, though far from perfect.
Also it might be worth to have a look at the support section of your service. Maybe the problem is already known and they’re working on it or they might give you a workaround.
Reason No.2 : A DMCA Takedown
Ouch! That is a though one. For whatever reason the copyright owner filed a claim against your provider and the files you were trying to get have been deleted partially or completely. This can go from deleting just the first RAR file to totally eleminating the binaries. We can only guess why this happened (you were not trying to download anything you’re not allowed to, right? Of course not, we all know this is evil and punished by the death sentence… ), but the truth is, this can happen with every single news service out there. Rumors state that some providers take these requests not as serious as others, but there is no reliable data on that. In any case, you need to either a) with another version of the file or b) try a different newsserver.
Reason No.3 : The Files You Want Is Outside The Retention Of Your News Service (AKA To Old)
After a certain period of time that varies from provider to provider, old files get deleted, as you most certainly already know. So if your download is too old or just getting past the threshold you might get huge parts missing and after a few days, everything will be gone.
Some providers actually only provide retention “up to” a certain number of days which means some groups will have shorter binary retention than others.
In this happens to you we urge you to, again, either find another version of the file or help you out with another provider which provides longer retention (see below).
So, what can you do about it? Four possibilities:
Possibility No.1 : Look For More Repair Blocks.
Could it be that your newsreader has not tried to find more PAR-files? Clients such as SABnzbd+ do that automatically, however some don’t have this feature. Often this data is automatically added to your download when using a Usenet search engine, if not, you may try to locate other repair blocks and restart the whole download, giving your client another chance to get it right. Or do it manually so that you don’t have to download everything all over again, which may also be a good idea since possibly…
Possibility No.2 : Your Newsreader Failed To Repair And Unpack The Files Correctly
Sometimes the automatic file processing most modern newsreaders do something wrong. It’s definitely worth a shot to check it manually. For this you need the free program Quickpar which you can get from http://www.quickpar.org.uk/ . Then locate the folder in which your client saves incomplete or failed downloads, find one of the PAR-files (anyone will do, simply doubleclick on one of them) and look if maybe you can repair the files. In case you downloaded more repair blocks following the last tip you need to copy them into the folder in which the archives are saved. The program is rather easy to use, so it shouldn’t cause problems.
Possibility No.3 : Find Another Version Of Your Download
This should not need any more explanation – Just head over to your favorite Usenet search engine and have a look.
Possibility No.4 : Use A Different Usenet Provider / Get A “Backup” Usenet Account with them
This is what “professional” downloaders like to do. Instead of completely changing your news provider you can setup a secondary server in your newsreader. Most of them offer this option, for example Newsbin, Newsleecher, SABnzbd+, Unzbin.
You don’t need another expensive monthly plan for this, a so called “block account” will do. These are accounts which provide you with a certain amount of GB that you can use whenever you want as the volume doesn’t expire. As soon as your client detects that a file is missing on your main server, the backup account kicks in and the data missing will be downloaded from there.
Hint: Does your provider have more than one server, for example one for EU and one for the US? Then try setting up the one you don’t use as backup server. Maybe one of both servers is experiencing problems that the other one isn’t.
Block accounts are easy to come by and relatively cheap. You might not need a very large package,we recommend you get yourself the smallest package available for testing if you’re unsure. Often recommended are Blocknews.net and Usenet-News.com (see our review here).
Setting this up is easy; we compiled a guide here: “How To Use Backup Servers“
Good downloading and good luck!