This post is also available in: Nederlands (Dutch)
Usenet grants you the ability to download all sorts of content. Often, however, that content is presented as an ‘nzb’, a certain type of file. In order to download those files you need a special download program. SABnzbd is such a download application.
SABnzbd will download and repair your nzb files, after which you can use the content. The program is completely free to download and works with Windows, macOS, Linux and a NAS. But how can you get started with SABnzbd?
To get started, download the program and follow the steps to install it. These are different for each operating system, but pretty simple in almost all cases. After installing, open the program, which opens a new window in your normal browser.
The first thing you will need to do is select your preferred languages. We selected English, but you are free to choose whatever language has your preference. Do note that the rest of the instructions and examples in this article all pertain to the English version of SABnzbd.
Once you have chosen a language and clicked on “Start Wizard”, you will get a new window in front of you. Here you must enter your Usenet provider data.
First of all, you must enter the name of your server (under ‘Host’). This name is obtained from your Usenet provider when you subscribe for a Usenet account. Then enter your username and password if necessary, which are also provided to you by your Usenet provider. Don’t have a Usenet subscription yet? Take a look at our overview of the best Usenet providers to meet your needs.
You only need to select the box ‘SSL’ if you want to make use of a secure SSL-connection when downloading. An SSL connection is a form of encryption, so others cannot see what you are doing on Usenet. Per Usenet provider, it differs whether SSL is offered, so check before you select the ‘SSL-box’.
Under the option ‘SSL’ you will see a gear / sprocket sign with the ‘advanced’ option. Click on it and you will get some additional options. Here you will be asked what port you want to use. If your Usenet provider supports an SSL connection, then it is often port 119 or 563. But you can obtain this information from your Usenet provider. To finalize, you must specify the number of connections. How many connections you can obtain maximally varies by provider and account. So check how many connections you can get with your provider.
When you are finished, click “Test Server” to see if everything works properly. If everything works, click on ‘next’.
The following page gives you an overview of your details. Here you will find a web address where you can easily access SABnzbd. It is therefore advisable to save this address under your bookmarks.
Furthermore you’ll see two folders: one for processed downloads and one for temporary downloads. The temporary download folder contains files that are not yet fully downloaded. In the processed download folder, you find content which has been completely downloaded. By clicking on the gear/sprocket, you can customize the locations of these folders.
When done, click on the green button to continue to SABnzbd.
After having finished the installation wizard, you can now configure SABnzbd. To do this, click the gear/sprocket on the top right of your screen and then go to the ‘General’ tab.
General – SABnzbd Web Server
Here you will see some fields you can fill in. The first field, ‘SABnzbd Host‘, is about the IP address where SABnzbd should be accessible for you. In most cases it is not needed to make any modifications here. In case you want SABnzbd to be accessible by all computers in your home network, you can fill in the IP address of the computer that hosts SABnzbd.
Under ‘SABnzbd Port‘ you can change the port of the program. This could be helpful if SABnzbd conflicts with another program for instance. The new port also needs to be used in the URL in your browser in case you want to access SABnzbd that way. For instance “http://localhost:8081/sabnzbd/”. We changed the port from 8080 to 8081 here to set an example. In most cases, changing the SABnzbd port is not needed.
By selecting ‘Enable HTTPS‘ you activate the SSL connection. This means that your data traffic on Usenet is secured and encrypted. This is an extra safety measure. While not mandatory, it’s highly recommended.
At the field ‘Language‘ you can choose to use SABnzbd in another language.
If you are satisfied with your settings, you select “Save changes” and scroll further down. If you changed anything regarding the HTTPS activation, SABnzbd might need to restart. You will receive an automatic notification if this is the case. If you scroll down a bit you’ll find that section on Security, which we will discuss next.
General – Security
There are several security measures you can take when using SABnzbd. It’s possible to set a username and password for SABnzbd, meaning you will have to log in with the credentials every time you want to use the program. This is not mandatory though, if you want you can just leave these field blank.
The API Key and NZB Key are important if you want to grant third party software access to SABnzbd. For instance, you might be using an automatic download program like Sonarr or CouchPotato. These are programs which automatically download movies or series for you. With an API Key you can give them automatic access to SABnzbd, so they can work their magic.
If you made any changes to your password or username here, make sure to save your changes before scrolling further down.
General – Tuning
At the bottom of the page you’ll find the section on ‘Tuning’. Under ‘Maximum line speed‘, you can tell SABnzbd to take into account a certain download speed limit. By not filling in anything, you will give SABnzbd permission to just download as fast as possible. This will consume a bit more bandwidth but still is the preferred choice for most people. If you want to slow down the downloading process, you can choose your preferred download speed here. It’s also possible to appoint a percentage of line speed to SABnzbd. Once again, just leaving this blank will be okay for most people.
The ‘Article Cache Limit‘ determines how big incomplete downloads are allowed to be. When SABnzbd downloads, the data is temporarily stored in SABnzbd’s cache. So the download will not immediately appear on your hard disk yet. This saves you some disk space in case the download process is interrupted or when it fails for any reason. It also helps in prolonging the life span of your hard disk, as it will be less frequently written on. However, there is also a disadvantage to this feature, since SABnzbd will be taking up additional working memory. This could slow down your computer to some extent, since SABnzbd is taking up part of the work space by temporarily caching download files. Be sure not to stress the working memory of your computer too much by giving SABnzbd too much working memory caching power. It all depends on the capacity and specifications of your computer though, so that should help you determine how big the caching memory should be! In our example we went with 450 MB, which works absolutely fine for our setup.
Click on ‘Save Changes‘ and proceed to the tab ‘Folders‘ in the upper menu of SABnzbd. If SABnzbd rebooted, it might be necessary to click the gear / sprocket again in top right corner. That way you access ‘Folders’.
Folders – User Folders
In this overview you can indicate in which locations (folders) SABnzbd should place downloaded files. The standard setting here is that all downloads through SABnzbd are directed to the default download folder on your computer (called ‘Downloads’). But if you like can change this here.
It might be very convenient to set a ‘Watched Folder‘. You could for instance call this map “downloads/nzb”. Of course you need to first to create this folder before you can select it here. If you set a ‘Watched folder’ and place any NZB files in this folder, SABnzbd will automatically import these NZB files and start the download process.
Click on ‘Save Changes‘ when you are done and proceed to click the tab ‘Switches‘ in the header menu of SABnzbd.
Switches – Queue
In this section you can indicate for a whole lot of actions if SABnzbd should initiate them or not. On the top of the screen you will see the subcategory ‘Server’, but usually we recommend not to bother with these settings, as they are generally fine. So scroll down to the ‘Queue’ section, as indicated in the screenshot above.
The ‘Pre-queue user script‘ allows you to run a script before a download starts. This option is for advanced users, and certainly not required. Our advice: skip it.
If you active the option ‘Check before download‘ SABnzbd will try to assess whether a download will be successful based on the NZB file. If SABnzbd estimates that the download will not be successful, for instance due to incomplete files, the download will not commence. This feature helps to prevent you from wasting valuable resources, for instance if you have to pay per MB you download or if you have a slow internet connection. Downside is that it will take SABnzbd some time to figure out if it is worth downloading a file. Even if the file eventually gets the green light and the download commences, the whole process will take longer.
Then there is the option ‘Detect Duplicate Downloads‘. SABnzbd will check if by accident you added a similar file to your download queue twice, or if you already download a similar file in the past. It helps you prevent downloading the exact same file twice.
The next interesting option is ‘Action when encrypted RAR is downloaded‘. If SABnzbd sees that a RAR-set is protected with a password, it needs to know what to do next. Pause is a good option, as it will prevent you from initiating a download in cases where you don’t have the required password to unlock the file.
‘Action when unwanted extension detected‘ tells SABnzbd what to do when an ‘unwanted’ file extension is detected. In the field below you can fill in what extensions you deem unwanted. This can be helpful in preventing viruses and other malware. A video is not supposed to have a ‘.exe’ extension for instance, but a virus in many cases does contain a ‘.exe extension’. So you can block those extensions here to minimize your risks of downloading something malicious.
At the bottom of this section you can choose to ‘Sort by age‘. It tells SABnzbd whether to download the oldest or the newest files first that were added to the queue. You can also manually sort this out in the queue whilst downloading.
You can choose ‘Direct Unpack‘ if you would like SABnzbd to already start unpacking whilst downloading. Many times a file will require repair, so this option does not always work.
Save your changes and scroll further down to ‘Post processing‘.
Switches – Post processing
On this section there are several things you will need to consider. The first being ‘Pause Downloading During Post-Processing‘. It means that when SABnzbd is busy controlling, unpacking or repairing a file, the downloading process of subsequent downloads in the queue will be paused. This can be helpful if you have a slow computer. But the downloading process itself will take longer. If you have a fast computer, you can leave this box unmarked (like we do).
‘Download all par2 files‘: With this option you tell SABnzbd to download all PAR2 repair files, regardless if they are really needed or not. A PAR2 file allows you to automatically repair a file which is broken or incomplete, but usually you don’t need a complete selection of PAR2 files to repair a file.
With ‘Post-process only verified jobs‘ you tell SABnzbd to only unpack, control and repair files if they have been downloaded correctly. If there are any errors, SABnzbd does not continue the process.
Most other options in this section generally do not require your further attention. Save your changes (if any) and scroll down to ‘Naming‘.
Switches – Naming
Here you can select a couple of convenient options to make file names more understandable and clear. With ‘Replace spaces in folder name‘ the spaces in names of folders are exchanged with underscores. You can select ‘Replace dots in folder name‘ as well to replace dots with spaces. None of these options are mandatory though.
If you are finished, save and scroll down to ‘Quota‘.
Switches – Quota
In this menu you set a download limit for a certain time span or period. For instance, with some Usenet providers you will have a certain download limit per month. Or perhaps your internet service provider has you on a bandwidth limit. Under ‘Size‘ you fill in the maximum amount of data you allow SABnzbd to download in a certain time period. SABnzbd uses G voor Gigabyte, M for Megabyte and K for Kilobyte. Under ‘Quota period‘ you fill in what quota period you would like to set (day, week or month).
Under ‘Reset day‘ you can choose what day and even what hour you would like your quota (i.e. your download limit) to be reset. If you have selected month, then you need to indicate what day of the month the data should be reset (i.e. filling in 15 means that on the 15th day of each month your quota will be reset). If you have selected week, you can indicate on which day the quota is reset (1=Monday, 2=Tuesday, 3=Wednesday, 4=Thursday, 5=Friday, 6=Saturday, 7=Sunday). If you have selected day, it means your quota is reset daily, and you can set a time when you want this reset to take place (e.g. filling in 3:00 means your data is reset at 3 o’clock at night).
An example: Imagine you want to set a weekly quota of 50 GB, which should reset on Wednesdays at 17:00 o’clock (which is 05:00 PM). You have to fill in the following information:
- Size: 50G.
- Quota period: Week.
- Reset day: 3 17:00.
See the following screenshot where we filled in these details:
Also see the explanatory table of SABnzbd:
When SABnzbd reaches the download limit it pauses any new downloads you might add. By checking ‘Auto resume‘ SABnzbd will commence downloading these files once the limit has been reset. If you do not check this box, you will need to manually resume the download process for these files in the SABnzbd queue.
Save your changes and go to the tab ‘Servers‘ at the top of the SABnzbd menu.
On this page you can add a new server to SABnzbd. During the initial installation you already added a first Usenet server. But on the current page you can add more options and if you like you could add several servers / providers.
Make sure to check the box ‘Enable’ to make sure the server will be used. Under ‘Host‘ you fill in the address of the server, which is usually the address of your Usenet provider. Under ‘Port‘ you fill in the port you would like to use. Your Usenet provider will provide you with the server details (Host address and port information) when you sign up. Check the box in front of ‘SSL‘ if you want to use a secure connection (advised).
Fill in your username and password to gain access to the server. Once again, this information is provided to you by your Usenet provider when you subscribe. Under ‘Connections‘ you fill in the maximum number of connections your subscription allows. This differs per provider and package. For instance, if you fill in 20, you allow SABnzbd to establish 20 simultaneous connections when downloading. The more connections, the faster your download speed generally.
The option ‘Priorities‘ is important when you are using several servers at the same time. All servers with priority 0 (zero) are used first to download files. Zero means these servers have highest priority. If a file is not found there, then SABnzbd continues to search the lower priority servers you have enabled. If you have a server which only allows a limited amount of data per month, you could give this server a lower priority. This term is a bit confusing, as 0 is the highest priority, and 100 is the lowest priority in this case. If you have a server with a download limit, you can give this server a lower priority (by assigning a number closer to 100) to make sure this server is only used if your file is not found on the other servers. This helps you save precious data.
Generally you will not need to alter the ‘Advanced‘ settings of a server, although you can select here how strict the SSL-protection needs to be enforced (could be handy).
When you are done, save your changes and go to the tab ‘Scheduling‘.
On this page you can give SABnzbd certain download schedules to adhere to. You can tell SABnzbd to initiate a certain action at a certain time and on a certain day. For instance, you can tell SABnzbd to pause all downloads on Mondays at 06:30 in the morning. Or that SABnzbd should impose a speed limit for a certain time period. There are a lot of custom preferences you can set here. Chances are you will never use these options, but it’s good to be aware of their existence.
If you want you can make a completely automated string of actions you want SABnzbd to do for you. You will see this overview of actions under ‘Current Schedules‘.
You should be finished with the configuration of SABnzbd now!
Downloading with SABnzbd
The configuration is finished and you can get started with downloading. How do we proceed now?
First of all, you will need to find something you would like to download. On an NZB-site (also called an indexer) you can search for NZB files. NZB files contain information on the ‘real’ location of a certain file on Usenet (for instance, the movie or series you want to watch). SABnzbd uses these NZB files to find and download your real file from Usenet.
NZB-files can be found on the following sites (note that some NZB sites require you to buy a subscription):
When you find a suitable file on an NZB site, you can download this on your computer (NZB files are very small, because they simply contain information on where the ‘real’ file can be found on Usenet). You can choose to place the NZB file in the ‘Watched folder‘ on your computer (we talked about that earlier on this page). That way SABnzbd will automatically commence the download. Or you can choose to manually provide SABnzbd with the NZB file. You do this by clicking on the + icon in the top right of the SABnzbd home screen.
A screen will pop up with 2 options: you can add an NZB via an URL (for advanced users) or you can upload it from your computer. Click on ‘Browse‘ to add the NZB file to SABnzbd. After you have selected the NZB file, you have the option to give it another name (not obligatory). If you are content with the name, click on ‘Add‘.
After adding your NZB file to SABnzbd, the download will show up in the queue of SABnzbd automatically. On the main page you will be able to keep track of the downloading process. When downloading is finished, the file can be found in the destination folder you chose earlier. And that’s all there is to it!