Information about how usenet works and why it's the preferred
option for Sick Beard users (over torrents).

Torrents and usenet both have their advantages, but for automated downloading and TV specifically usenet is the clear choice. Usenet works significantly more smoothly with Sick Beard for a number of reasons discussed below.


  • nzb indexes generally enforce standardized naming which means that automated tools like Sick Beard work better
  • SABnzbd is a powerful fully automated download client for usenet
  • index sites with API support means that the SB backlog can easily find thousands of old episodes from your favorite shows. There are private torrent trackers with big libraries but none offer a way to search them automatically so they're useless for an app like Sick Beard.

Convenience & Speed

  • doesn't rely on other users, the server will max your download speed all the time (even for old stuff)
  • releases get uploaded to usenet long before they show up on any public trackers so you can watch your TV minutes after it airs on the East coast or before it airs on the West coast
  • unlike torrents on private trackers, every usenet account is created equal. No need to find an invite, keep up your ratio, etc. just to get good downloads

Privacy / Safety

  • usenet doesn't involve uploading so you're not "sharing" the media (which is illegal in many countries where simply downloading is not)
  • unlike torrents nobody can see your IP and nobody can tell what you're downloading
  • usenet servers use standard SSL ports and encryption so even your ISP can't tell whether you're downloading from usenet or doing your online banking ;-P

How it works

Usenet requires an account with a Usenet Service Provider, which you generally have to pay for. Once you have an account then you need to find an NZB Index site to provide you with an NZB file, and that NZB file allows your download client to download the actual file from your Usenet Provider.

There are many guides that explain the intricacies of usenet, like this Lifehacker article.

The Downside

For usenet you are buying an an account from a company, so unlike torrents usenet is not free. It can vary from $10 down to $3/month depending on how much you download.

If you download ~80GB or more each month I'd recommend It's $8/month if you pay for a year or $10/month if you pay monthly and is a full service unlimited account. This is the exact service & account I personally use for all my downloading.

"Block" accounts don't have any monthly limit, you just buy a set amount of data and then use it as fast or slowly as you want. If you use it up very quickly it's cheaper to buy an unlimited account, but if you use it slowly the block account is significantly cheaper.

If you download less than 80GB/month it's not worth it to pay for an unlimited account, it's better to get a block account. Assuming you buy 200GB+ blocks your monthly payment can be the equivalent of $7 to less than $3 depending on your usage (25GB/month is less than $3/mo). Lots of people don't use 80GB/month, especially if your ISP caps your bandwidth or you download mostly SD stuff. The block provider I'd recommend is BlockNews, they have the best/cheapest accounts I've found.

Note: Both of the above are affiliate links which means if you sign up at UsenetServer/BlockNews the SB team will recieve a portion of your payment. I really do think they're the best deals around though, I'm not just linking them here because they're affiliates - I've turned down many other affiliate offers. For reference, here are some other options:

I use:

Other providers:

  • AstraWeb ($8-$11/mo unlimited accounts, slightly more expensive block accounts)
  • NewsHosting ($9-$10/mo unlimited accounts)
  • FastUsenet ($10/mo unlimited accounts)
  • UsenetNow ($12/mo unlimited accounts)
  • SuperNews ($12/mo unlimited accounts with lower retention)
  • FrugalUsenet ($6-$8/mo unlimited accounts with very low retention)