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Downloading movies, MP3's etc ...

Downloading file from the Internet is not always as easy as it seems... where can I get the files? What files should I download? What can or must I do with these files?

Note: Downloading movies and other files (MP3, programs, etc.) might be illegal in your country! You are allowed to make a copy of a movie you own for personal use in some countries. Please read the disclaimer for details!

In short:

Basically these techniques are available for downloading stuff from the Internet:

  • NEWSGUY: Good selection, up-to-date, very fast, unfrotunally not free.
  • eMule/WinMX/eDonkey/KaZaa: Best selection, not always reliable, free, slow.
  • IRC: Very good selection, up-to-date, reliable, can be fast, free, but can also be too complex for beginners.
  • Direct Downloaden: limited selection, free, can be fast, unreliable.

Download movies from the Internet

Mention WEETHET when signing up with NEWSGUY

FlashGet - The ideal companion for LeechGuy

The Sources

OK, so you're looking for a way to download movies, MP3's, ClipArt and/or programs from the Internet, and you're not sure how to do this?

Before you begin you should consider the options.
Two options are basically for free - ie. most peer-to-peer variants and regular file downloads. When looking for movies and MP3, the last one (regular downloads) are most likely not available or very hard to find (usually on private FTP-servers).

The Peer-to-Peer approach

First of all, there are the alternatives like WinMX and eDonkey. These work according to a so called peer-to-peer network. Every clients act also as a server for other users to get their files from.

WinMX  as an example for peer-to-peer

It works OK without to much problems. There are some downside though:
- Security issues (your usually sharing files!)
- Speed (most sources are rather slow)
- Attitude (most participants are of the type that demands a trade with you)

The Security issue is caused be the sharing of particular files and/or folders on your computer. Basically these tools offer disk-access for other Internet users.
This can be solved by a proper setup and maybe something like a firewall.

The Speed issue is caused due to fact that all users, including yourself, are hooked in the peer-to-peer as a server. Most of us do not have a T1 or T3 connection at home so speed is limit. Some (A)DSL users have a very limited upstream, not to mention the speed of ISDN, or even worse, PSTN users. But then again: it only takes longer to download files.

Attitude is one of the issues that bothers me the most. There are a lot of users who start nagging that they require you to offer something in return (ie. movies and other files they are looking for). Rather strange attitude if you ask me.

One advantage of Peer-to-Peer solutions is that one usually downloads the entire binary file in one go. Another advantage is that you can search in a wider choice of files.

If you're looking for this solution, then please read the "How to use WinMX page" for an example. You will most likely not need the information on how to collect, check and finally assemble the seperate files mentioned below.

The Usenet NewsGroups alternative

An alternative is using so called Usenet Newsgroups.

Newsgroups originate from groups setup for the purpose of discussion. In the early Internet years these groups where used for discussions only. In the meanwhile attachements to each message are made possible. This feature allows users to upload large quantities of so called binaries. Binaries are the files we're looking for inidcating that it's not just text but real binary files.

Usenet Newsgroups can be found in basically two formats: NNTP (the old fashioned way) and DNR (webbased, like NewsGuy).

LeechGuy as an example for Newsgroups using DNR - here you see the rar and par files

Most NNTP based newsgroups however are either limited in access, limited in available newsgroups (the alt.binaries.* newsgroups are locked out) or limited in the size of attached binaries (cripple the upload of larger files).
Some commercial NNTP servers offer quite a lot of newsgroups, but are usually rather slow.

The messages (entirely in a text format) needs to be fully downloaded and decoded on your PC (client-side). The downside here is that you will need to download more data than the actual binary file size.

The DNR variants, like NewsGuy, aren't free either (although pretty cheap). However: the download speeds are very impressive compared to most NNTP server (actually: I haven't seen any NNTP server out-preform the NNTP variants).

DNR based newsgroups are intended for access NNTP servers using a web-interface. The advantage is that attached files are serverside decoded. So you're really only downloading what you want: the binary file.

Downside here is that one needs to locate all "parts" of the final binary file. Not only that. So called retention (the time between posting and removing the post from the server) can be rather short. Usually 2 to 3 days .... This means a limitation in the selection you have. However: the selection is usually very a list of very new, hot and up-to-date files. Usually requests for files (just post a message and asking politely for a file) are honored by other users.

LeechGuy helps you select and download the desired files ... See the "Downloading with LeechGuy" page for details on how to set this up. In Particular the use of FlashGet will prove very helpfull in getting the maximum download speed.

Please: When subscribing to the NewsGuy services, please mention "WeetHet" at the referred field.

Collecting the files

Where to get the files in newsgroups? Well, you will find them in the so called ALT.BINARIES newsgroups. For example Alt.Binaries.Movies, Alt.Binaries.VCD, etc. A small list has been included on the page where I explain a newsgroup-listeditor for LeechGuy.

So how are the large files, movies for example, posted to newsgroups?

Movie files, just for example, can be rather large. A VideoCD movie can take up to 1200 Mb (2 CD's) a DivX movie (1 CD) commonly takes about 710 Mb. Pretty large file to download in one go, specially when you loose your connection after being at 99% of the file size.

That's why the files are commonly being archived using WinRAR, a compression tool for compressing files in the RAR format, similar to the well known ZIP format. A file is being stored in a multi-span archive. This means that the large file is being compressed and stored in little fragments. This way a download aborted at 99% of the file, requires you to download only the last 1%. Particular usefull for PSTN/ISDN users.

Let's take an example. We have a move file of say 500 Mb. Using RAR we can divide this in say files of 10Mb. This would make it split into 50 seperate files.

MyMovie.AVI - 500Mb - could split into 50 files of each 10Mb:

MyMovie.R00 - 10Mb
MyMovie.R01 - 10Mb
MyMovie.R02 - 10Mb
....
MyMovie.R48 - 10Mb
MyMovie.RAR - 10Mb

To get the eintire file, we need all these 50 fragments. Notice that all the files start with the same name before the period, in our example "MyMovie".

With the old WinRar version (pre 3.x), usually you would need to look for the files R00, R01, R02 ... R48, and finaly the RAR file. The file count equals the highest Rxx filenumber plus 2 (for R00 and RAR). Ie. 48 + 2 = 50 files.

The highest filenumber usually has a slightly lower size as all the other ones. I have not yet met the first set of RAR files where all files are equally in size.

The news WinRar (3.x and up) uses a different counting system: part01.rar, part02.rar, part03.rar, part04.rar, ..., part50.rar. There appears to be no R00 file. So if the set of files has no R00 file, and filenames have something like ".partxx.rar", then it's save to assume that this is a WinRar 3.x archive.

In our example:

MyMovie.part01.rar - 10Mb
MyMovie.part02.rar - 10Mb
MyMovie.part03.rar - 10Mb
....
MyMovie.part49.rar - 10Mb
MyMovie.part50.rar - 10Mb

What are these PAR files then?

OK, you've seen those too? What are these weird files for? And how do I use them?

Well, for starters, my favorite PAR-program is FSRAID, visit the FSRAID-homepage or download FSRAID from WeetHet, for working with PAR files. For more details on using FSRaid, see the "Using FSRaid" page.

Well the purpose of these PAR files is that they can be used to retrieve missing files. Based on a similar principle as used for RAID disks, so called parity files are created by (usually) the orginal poster of the files.

For each PAR file (including P01, P02, P03, etc.) another file can be restore. If we would have our previous 50 file counting example and we would have only 42 of the required files and 8 PAR files, then we will be able to restore the missing 8 files without the need of downloading them elsewhere.

Example:

MyMovie.PAR
MyMovie.P01
MyMovie.P02
...
MyMovie.P07

Note: PAR files are related to a particular set of files. This means that you cannot restore other files with PAR files. You can only restore files of the set of files where these file haven been created for.

With a total of N PAR files, we can restore N or less other files. Meaning that we cannot restore more files than we have PAR files.

Tip: you do not need all the PAR files. You only need the amount of PAR files as the amount of files you need to restore. The PAR files do not even need to be sequential! So for restoring 2 files, for example, P03 and P06 will be sufficient (or any other set of 2 random PAR files).

Tip: It can be very usefull to download these files, since they are usable to restore (ie. replace) files that are corrupt.

Note: PAR files usually are used to restore RAR files, however they are very usefull for other file types as well.

Merging the files

So you have finally downloaded the complete set of files. In our example we mentioned: MyMovie.R00 ... MyMovie.RAR.

Optionally you downloaded some (or all) of the PAR files (MyMovie.PAR ... MyMovie.P07) in order to verify files and/or restore missing files.

So we now need to extract and merge these files. We do need WinRAR for this purpose. After installing WinRar you will have the context menu in the Windows Explorer called "Extract to ..." and "Extract to MyMovie" when selecting the first RAR file (either MyMovie.RAR or MyMovie.part01.rar - depends on which of these files is available) with the right mouse button. Either can be selected to extract the movie file from the seperate RAR files, to one big file which you can later on burn on CDR. And that's basically all there is to it ...

Summary:

  1. Select the desired source.
    Either direct download, Peer-to-Peer or Newsgroups.

  2. Get your files.
    Usually so called RAR files, with or without PAR files. Binaries can be found in the ALT.BINARIES newsgroups. A service like NewsGuy offers you great access to these groups.

  3. Verify downloaded files and/or restore missing files using the PAR files.

  4. Extract the movie with WinRar.

 


 

 


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