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An NZB is a list of files that Usenet software can use for downloading.

NZB files list a group of posts that you want to download from Usenet.  Most often, they list all of the parts of a single file you want to download.  It doesn't sound as powerful as it is, but imagine a 4 Gigabyte video that you want to download.  If it was uploaded in 1 Megabyte blocks then it is in 4,000 pieces!  Your Usenet software will just combine all of these and show you 1 listing for the single file that it really is, but what if you wanted to tell someone else about that 4 Gigabyte video?  Better yet, what if you wanted to use a web based Usenet search engine, or Usenet Indexer, to find files you like and have your software download them?  That Usenet search engine needs to be able to give you something to help your software find those 4,000 pieces.  That something is an NZB file.

So, your friend sent you an NZB file for a great post, or you found something on a Usenet search engine that looks interesting and you downloaded the NZB file from them.  It's a thin little file that looks almost readable if you opened it (go ahead, it's ok).  You now give this one little file to your Usenet software and it will download everything automatically, and even decompress it.  Sometimes this is done by just double-clicking on the NZB and other times you will need to click on a button in your software to tell it to open the NZB file, this just depends on what Usenet software you are using.

NZB files provide an easy way to tell other people about large files posted to Usenet.  They aren't the files themselves, but a condensed list of them that your Usenet software can use to get the actual file(s).  Once you give the NZB file to your Usenet software, the process is totally hands off and as automatic as if you had double clicked on something to download from a newsgroup.

As you can see, they make web based Usenet search engines and indexers possible, and can make your downloads and sharing your finds with friends much easier.