In simple terms, Usenet binaries are individual files or raw data, in other words fragmented file attachments in the form of audio, video or picture files. Although the newsgroups were originally designed for text-based messages only, they soon became popular amongst insiders wishing to exchange files with one another.
These files, such as for example film trailers, are not, however, attached to the newsgroup as complete files. They comprise a group of compressed individual files (such as RAR files). PAR1 or PAR2 files are also attached to eliminate transmission errors in the RAR files and to put RAR files back together at the end to form one complete file.
Users previously had to put these individual fragmented raw files back together for themselves, a cumbersome procedure. Today, Usenet software automates this process. In combination with a simplified search function, this has enabled professional Usenet providers to make the Usenet suitable for mass use.
Newsgroups with file attachments, also referred to as binary newsgroups, can easily be identified by their name. The name of the newsgroup mostly includes the designation "binaries". Such a newsgroup would, for example, be "alt.binaries.videos".
Access to these binary newsgroups is, however, only possible via special servers such as those offered by a number of Usenet providers. The advantage of these servers is that the download speed is not restricted by transmission from user to user. Full use can be made of the user's Internet connection due to the fact that the files are centrally stored on a special Usenet server.
The increasing availability of broadband Internet has led to a strong increase in the use of binary newsgroups in recent years, also meaning that more and more binaries are being downloaded. The trend towards the Usenet has been lent further support by the security problems of peer-to-peer networks and by the legal pursuit of those using file sharing sites.