Until recently when I needed to download media, either from Usenet or torrents, I searched for it manually. This usually involved either using a web based service or an IRC channel, searching for keywords and sifting through results that include spam as well as resolutions and file-types that were not what I was looking for. After successfully downloading the files, I would then manually sort them into their respective folders in my media collection, and rename them if necessary. This was especially tedious for items released on a regular basis (such as television shows), as the process would have to be done weekly for each item.
I realized there must be an easier way.
I had already been using SABnzbd for a while, as it was the only binary newsreader I could find with support for iPhone remote management, and I have to say, I loved it. SABnzbd has a very clean, intuitive interface, and although it doesn’t have quite the features of applications like Newsbin, it has many addons, such as the chrome and Firefox extensions, and a number of iPhone apps. Also, SABnzbd is free, open source, and available for Windows, Mac, and Linux. All the applications that will be used in this article utilize the extensibility of SABnzbd. Some can be used without it, but much of the functionality would be lost.
Sick Beard is a program that will periodically search for specified shows on various usenet search sites. When Sick Beard finds the episodes it is looking for, it downloads the NZB file, and sends it to SABnzbd for downloading. Sick Beard also comes with a script for SABnzbd post-processing, allowing for automatic renaming and sorting of downloaded media.
Sick Beard also supports downloading of NZB files to a “black hole” folder, rather then sending them directly to SABnzbd. This allows for other applications to pick the files up for downloading. In addition to usenet download support, Sick Beard also provides some torrent support, although there would be no provided post processing script so some extra configuration would probably be required to get file renaming working properly.
CouchPotato is similar in concept to Sick Beard, only it works with movies. Simply search for a movie using the application, and select the movie you want from a list of movies matching your search query that CouchPotato pulls from IMDB. The application will then search for all the movies in your queue at specified intervals, download the NZB file, and then either send the file to SABnzbd for downloading or send the file to a “black hole” folder, similar to Sick Beard.
These programs are the best I have found for the job, but off course these are just a couple suggestions. Episodebutler offers similar functionality to Sickbeard, although I have no personal experience with this one.
Also, a completely different route to go would be simply using RSS feeds. This can cause an issue however, as reposts will be downloaded multiple times.
Written from the ground up in C#, MailBin is a small application that checks your Gmail account for NZB, Zip, and .Torrent files, allowing you to remotely queue up Usenet and BitTorrent downloads at any remote location. It’s a great tool for when you find something you want to download while away from home, but you want it to be ready by the time you get there.
If you are an avid fan of Usenet or BitTorrent, and happen to use a newsreader/torrent client that will auto queue files (Like Newsbin or uTorrent), give it a try!