Usenet is still one of the best sources of binary files on the web, it's proven in longevity what other P2P networks can't seem to accomplish, you could say Usenet is Old School, but the tools and resources to get the job done have come a long way. You may be a die hard torrent fan, but heed my warning if you haven't received notice already, they're not safe. The major usenet providers don't typically keep logs for longer than a few minutes and they have a good track record of not giving up their users information at the drop of a hat, additionally you're dealing with a service provider that's not going to compromise their business reputation and sell out it's customers. This tooltorial is going to give you a good set of tools and service providers, in addition to directions on downloading, checking parity, and extracting binaries from usenet.
Get a Usenet Account
First things first, you need a Usenet provider. There are tons of providers, you want to look for good retention, unlimited bandwidth, high number of connections, and a good price. Yes, sorry to say you do need to pay for a provider, even if your ISP provides a newsgroup login to you. ISP's a infamous for giving up their customers in a heartbeat and cutting you off if they feel like your downloading too much data from their newgroup server. I use and recommend Usenetserver They have an unlimited account for $14.95/mo, with 10 allowed connections and 101 days of post retention. For those with a little more paranoia and a lot deeper pockets, Giganews is a good alternative, in fact if you want to just try all this out before you decide, Giganews offers a free 3 day trial.
Download and configure Usenet Downloading Tool
You need a client tool to connect to your usenet server and download binaries, I've found the easiest to use with the features you need is Newsbin Pro There's a 10-day trial available, which gives you time to either find another client that you like, or unlock this one. So download and install Newsbin Pro, just like any other application double-click, next, next, finish....
Once Newsbin Pro is installed you can click the servers tab, right click in the tab and Add Server. On the Basic tab add the server name, ex. news.usenetserver.com, and the login information from your usenet account. On the Advanced tab change the connections to 10.
Download and install Winrar
The majority of usenet binaries are rar'd and split over several posts, you'll need winrar to decode and reassemble the file once they're downloaded. Download and install Winrar and allow it to associate .rar files with the program during installation.
Download and install Quickpar
Since binaries are split and uploaded in multiple posts, sometimes a post will be corrupt or missing altogether. To correct this problem most posters will post parity files along with the binary files, these parity files allow a client program to reassemble the missing or corrupt parts to allow the rar to be extracted. Download and install QuickPar
Search for the File you want
This is the best kept secret on the web, and the gem of this article. For those that don't know, an NZB is a file that contains a file list that Newsbin Pro and other binary downloading tools are able to import and find all the posts necessary to download a complete file. Go to Merlins Portal and sign up for an account. Once signed up Search, Filter, and Browse for a file that you'd like, click Thank and Download on the post your interested in downloading. When it prompts you to download the rar, choose Open it in your browser and Open it with Winrar. Doubleclick on the nzb file in Winrar and choose to Open it with Newsbin Pro. Newsbin Pro will start downloading the files immediately.
Test and Decode the file
Newsbin Pro has a built in utility called Autorar that interacts with Quickpar and Winrar to reassemble the files. Click on the Autorar tab, choose Pick Unrar folder and choose a folder where you'd like the final assembled file to be decoded, you only need to choose the folder the first time. You should see the final filename listed in the Autorar tab, right click the file and choose Test Files and QuickPar should run and test the parity of the files, this may take a while depending on the size of the file, when complete choose repair if necessary or if no repair is necessary just close quick par. Right click the file and choose Decode Files and wait while the files are decoded.
Use the final file
Open the folder that you chose previously as your Decode folder, you should either have a file that you recognize or an image file such as a .iso, .img, or .bin and .cue. If you want, you can use an application to burn the image to a DVD for viewing or using, applications such as Nero or Alcohol 120% should do the trick. If you want to mount and use the file on your computer I recommend mounting the file with Daemon Tools
I think you'll be pleased with what you find and the $14.95/mo cost for the usenet subscription is a small price to pay. Enjoy