Network News Transport Protocol: the method of transferring news articles from one machine to another. This is the underlying technology that enables Usenet news groups to function.
The length of time that articles are retained, kept on the server. The longer the better. A server with good retention may keep an article for weeks, whereas another may only have it for days. It's worth paying for a server with good retention if you only download once a while, to avoid the frustration of files you need disappearing from the server!
PAR (short for parity) files provide a way to reconstitue missing parts of a multi-part file. For example; say you have downloaded a file with 10 parts (r00 to r09), and 2 PAR files (PAR, p01 and p02), if any two of the rXX files are missing, you can recreate them using the pXX files.

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