Usenet Guide – NZB Downloading – Guide to SABNzbd

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Table of Contents

  1. Introduction to Usenet / Newsgroups
  2. Picking a Usenet Provider
  3. What is an NZB and an NZB Indexer?
  4. NZB Download Tools – SABNzbd, NZBGet
  5. Automating Media Downloads (Sickbeard, Couch Potato, Headphones)
  6. Pros, Cons and FAQ

4. NZB Downloading – Guide to SABNzbd

So we’ve got our provider, and got access to NZB’s… Now what?

The process of downloading from Usenet has been greatly simplified in recent years through NZB downloading tools. Although software has come and gone in this category, there is a clear defined king of the mountain, and another newer piece of software which is quickly coming up. We are going to cover SABNzbd in depth as it will be necessary for later parts of this guide, and will do a quick look at NZBGet which is quickly catching up with very active development, and may take over as the go-to in the not so far future.

Introduction to SABNzbd and Usenet Downloading

sab2_512The purpose of this software is to manage the download and post-processing of our desired files. We will feed an NZB file into the system either manually or through automated feeds and it will then retrieve the articles for us and piece the files together.

Often, articles are missing, but this does not necessarily mean our file is broken. With each download you will typically find a set of “PAR” files which are essentially “extra blocks” of data which contain parity information of the files and can be used to piece together the missing articles. If this is sounding confusing, don’t worry, SABnzbd will take care of this process for you.

Lastly, SABNzbd will analyze our resulting file and ensure it is accurate with a CRC check. If the files are archived such as in a ZIP or RAR format, it will then extract the data for us and optionally “clean up” the files afterwards to leave you just the intended download content.

And we’re done!

So, let’s get started with our tutorial on how to actually set this up…

Installing SABNzbd (Windows)

  1. Head to the Site…
  2. Download the Windows Installer
  3. Launch our downloaded installer to start the install wizard.
    • (1.1) I recommend having SABNzbd launch at startup. This will be a key part of our automated setup later on to keep it running at all times, and it shouldn’t use up any bandwidth you are not intending as it’s not a P2P program.
    • (1.1) I also suggest associating NZB’s with SABNzbd so that we can more easily launch downloads.
    • Let the installer go with defaults from here. There is no funny business with search bars or unwanted bloatware to worry about.
    • Finishscrewdriver-md
  4. We’ll need to launch it for the first time. Do so from the Start menu or your Desktop icon if you allowed that option.
  5. It should launch a browser window as it starts up.
  6. A Wizard will appear on first run.
    • (1.2) Select Language
    • (1.3) Fill in the details for your Provider. You should have received these in an email or something after creating an account. Note that we can only put in our primary provider at this time, but if you also got a backup, we can get to that in a bit.
    • Test the connection before moving on and confirm it works.
    • SABNzbd runs on a web interface. You can make it accessible from outside your local machine if you desire. If you do, you will probably want to password protect it! Do so here.
    • Step 3 is the install, let it go and when we restart we are ready to go.
  7. (1.4) SABNzbd should launch after the install has completed

Our Target File Structure

(This is pure preference! You don’t need to do this if you don’t want to but I feel this structure simplifies the process as we get into Sickbeard and CouchPotato.)

  • Download\download-151799_640
    • Movies\
    • Music\
    • (etc)\
    • processing\
      • temp\
      • tv\
      • movies\
      • music\
      • (etc)\

The goal here is that Download\[category] will hold our finished product and be nice and easy to access. The processing root folder will be used as a general download space, and the temp directory will be used as a temporary space for SABN or Torrents. Completed category downloads will be moved into their processing\[category] folder to be picked up by Sickbeard / Couch Potato /etc.

This configuration is only necessary if you plan on using automated tools such as Sickbeard. If you are just going to use SABNzbd on it’s own, then skip the processing folders and have the finished downloads go straight to your main category folders.

Initial Configuration

While SABNzbd is ready to go, there are some options in the config file that we may want to tweak. In this configuration guide we will setup our folders and look at some tweaks in the configuration.

  1. Open up the configuration.
  2. General Tab
    1. Here we can change settings for our web interface such as port, enabling SSL or setting the username/password
    2. Change the skin if you do not like the default
    3. API Key here will be used in other applications. One should be generated automatically for you on install. We need this for later so note it’s location or copy and paste it somewhere you can access later.
    4. Additionally, it’s important to protect your API Key as this is essentially a password to access SABNzbd by 3rd party applications.
  3. Foldershardware-tools-workshop-screwdriver-wrench-clip-art
    1. SABNzbd will default everything to run on the C drive under our user account. If you are an “All on C” type user then you can probably skip any configuring here, but if you typically download to a different drive, or to a NAS we are going to need to configure our drives.
    2. It’s important to not just set your completed files location but temporary location as well! The temp folder can grow quite large so if you place this on your OS drive you may encounter issues with it running out of space.
    3. Create a temp directory where temporary / incoming files can be stored.
    4. Move files on completion to our “processing” folder.
  4. Switches
    1. I suggest aborting jobs that can’t complete. This will stop downloads that are obviously failing from wasting time and bandwidth (DMCA takedowns).
    2. You can alternatively check before downloading. This can add a lot of time to your downloads, especially if you throw a bunch of files into the queue at once, but has the benefit of not wasting your backup block account(s) if the file is not completable.
  5. Servers
    1. Do you use more then 1 server to download? Add them here!
    2. If you are adding a block account as a backup make sure to mark it as backup! This will tell SABNzbd to only use it for missing files.
  6. Categories
    1. Assuming we are going to be setting up Sickbeard and Couch Potato, we’ll want to setup a TV and Movies category here and have these complete to our processing folders that we created above. Essentially we need a separate “incoming” folder for each type.
    2. Feel free to go beyond what I setup here and create Music, Books, etc etc categories as desired.
  7. Sorting
    1. TV sorting is great if you are just using SABNzbd by itself. We can have it break our TV shows down into Series/Seasons folders for us. BUT, this is not necessary if we are using another App to manage our TV downloads.


Our basic configuration should be complete!

Go ahead and find an NZB file you want to download and click on it. They are small and should download fast. If, during installation we set SABNzbd to register NZB files then our browser should recognize that and ask how we want to open it. Go ahead and open with SABNzbd and the download will start automatically!

That’s it! Wait for the download to finish and you should find the results in your download folder.


Web-Interface-01-DownloadsNZBGet is an alternative to SABNzbd. The two pieces of software are very similar but some people tend to prefer it a bit over SABNzbd.

Without going into details, I will say that NZBGet is quickly becoming a major player in the game. It has very active development and the feature set is overtaking that of SABNzbd. Lots of people are suggesting that it’s ability to work on NAS devices is far superior meaning faster downloads if you are transferring files over the network while you download.

I chose not to feature this tool in this guide because the compatibility with download managers isn’t there yet. The major players have support for it, but using NZBGet over SABNbd will limit your choices somewhat.

If you want to give it a try, it is available here


Next: Automating Media Downloads (Sickbeard, Couch Potato, Headphones)

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