SABnzbd – full auto Usenet download

Alright, so you have a Usenet provider (like Giganews) and a means of searching for files (indexing sites like Newzbin and nzbMatrix). Now you just need a means of actually downloading something. Following the same logic as BitTorrent you will need a download client, and there are quite a few of them availible on the net. I’m only going to mention one, and go through how you install it, because I consider it to be the best one.

I’m talking about SABnzbd. It is free, incredibly easy to use and works everywhere. Being open-source, you can install it on Mac OSX, Windows and Linux, it is integrated with Newzbin and nzbMatrix and you can even run it on your NAS (eliminating the need for a server altogether). But what is it, really? SABnzbd makes Usenet as simple and streamlined as possible by automating pretty much everything. All you have to do is add an .nzb file. SABnzbd takes over from there, where it will be automatically downloaded, verified, repaired, extracted and filed away with zero human interaction. Cool!

Let’s just pause here for a second and go over the term nzb and what that actually is, because you will hear alot about it from here on. In short it is just a file, much like the .torrent BitTorrent-file you might already be familiar with. Where the .torrent contains tracker information regarding from where to download the .nzb in turn contains file information and where to download the different parts of the file. In other words, same same but different. Remember that I mentioned earlier a binary file on Usenet is divided up into smaller parts (usually 20MB .rar files), well the .nzb will point to each and every one of those so the download client will know where to get them from (it will also include pointers to any repair-parts if the file gets damaged or broken). Further, any indexing site for Usenet will be able to quickly parse and search through the small nzb-files for file information (the people over at Newzbin were the ones that came up with the nzb concept in the first place).

So, let’s get started then shall we? You can download SABnzbd here.

WHOA. Hold your horses! Standard disclaimer: All this is purely for informative purposes boys and gals. Remember to check the legality of downloads in your area and proceed at your own risk.

I suggest you start by installing SABnzbd on your computer (laptop, home computer, etc) and familarize yourself with the client. In a later post I’ll go over how you actually install it on your ReadyNAS, because this is somewhat too much for the scope of this post (in fact it requires some serious nerding). But first things first.

SABnzbd comes with an excellent online manual and resource, so you don’t need me re-typing all that here. The quick setup guide is easy to follow and with a minimal amount of work you’ll be up and running in minutes. For things to go smoothly, before you begin you need two things:

1. a Usenet account (Giganews)
2. Newbin and/or nzbMatrix account

Proceed with downloading and installing the client to your system. Language and theme options should be no-brainers. Access options is where you want to password protect your SABnzbd interface (yes do that, and no banana passwords), note that it won’t be availible from outside of your home (through internet) unless you port-forward through your router.  Server setup is where you input the account information from your Usenet provider. Indexing site options is where you input your Newzbin and/or nzbMatrix account information. After that it will restart and you can reach your SABnzbd interface from a browser at http://localhost:8080/sabnzbd using the user and password you set up earlier. Finished – you are up and running.

Ok so let’s do some simple manual testing. Logon to your indexing site, Newzbin or whatever, and search for something, anything. Download the nzb-file. Head over to your SABnzbd interface and the home tab. Check under add file and browse for your nzb. Start the download. Check under queue and history tabs and you can follow the download and see information regarding connections and speed. Find the file on disc and enjoy. Simple as that. Most likely you will use SABnzbd in the following way:

1. Search for something on your usenet index site of choice
2. Download the nzb file
3. Feed SABnzbd with that nzb file in a wide variety of ways
4. Wait for SABnzbd to download, verify, if neccessary repair, unpack and file the data on disk

Let’s for a second just focus on a “wide variety of ways“. You’ve already tested to manually feed it the nzb file, but there are other better – more automated – ways. For instance under Config > Directories you can setup SABnzbd to watch a directory and start to download any nzb files that you save to that directory. If that isn’t automatic enough for you under Config > RSS you can setup SABnzbd to listen on feeds. Take Newzbin for instance, once you get familiar with the site you’ll be able to setup rss-feeds from any search and then make SABnzbd listen on that feed. As soon as any new post appear in the search it will be automatically downloaded (you don’t have login and do the search every time, just set it up and it’ll be fully automatic).

Yet another really cool feature with SABnzbd in co-op with Newzbin is the bookmark option. On the Newzbin site you can bookmark anything simply by pressing a small icon. You can then have SABnzbd poll your Newzbin bookmarks and download them automatically. All you need is an internet browser, from work or from your phone, and just search and bookmark – and it’ll be ready for you once you get home. It just cannot get any smoother or simpler than that. Set it up under Config > Indexing sites. At the click of a button, magic happens.

There are quite alot of features availible in the SABnzbd client, like you can control to where different files of different categories will unpacked and how they will be named (useful for automated downloading and XMBC folder scrapers – don’t worry we’ll get into that later…), you can send emails when a download job is done/fails, poll folders, configure and filter rss feeds, etc. You should focus on getting familiar with the client, and all that will come to you later, and further enhance your digital home’s list of features.

Part 2 in the SABnzbd guide will take you through installing it on your ReadyNAS. Until then, stay tuned.


4 thoughts on “SABnzbd – full auto Usenet download

    • While there are many good free services out there newzbin and nzbmatrix are the only ones integrated into the SABnzbd client, making those two sites easier to use in this context. Also they don’t cost more than 6-7 dollars per 3 months, practcally free.

  1. Just a kick followup: and other index sites based on the NewzNab software support SABnzbd. The integration is infact very sexy. By useing your SABnzbd API key in your profile on the index site you will get full integration with your SABnzbd software from inside the website. This makes getting stuff from the index site easyer than anything else.

    • One thing you should be aware of as a user though, when you give away your API key you also give away the ability to see what you are downloading and to download stuff to your server – anyone with your SABnzbd API key can control and watch what you are downloading (doesn’t matter if you are using an encrypted connection). If you are fine with that then by all means go ahead.
      Newzbin and nzbMatrix is integrated into your SABnzbd client without you having to give away your API key. That is a huge difference.
      The indexing site you are using may be as clean as snow, that is beside the argument, and if you get owned in a court of law don’t blame anyone but yourself.

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