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The Ultimate Guide to NZBGet

From performance hacks to full automation.

What is NZBGet?

NZBGet is the latest and greatest in Usenet downloaders.  In the tradition of SABnzbd, it runs in the user's browser offering a slick, minimalist interface that is remarkably easy to get the hang of.  New users generally have no issue feeling their way through the process of installing and setting up the software.

On the other hand, it also offers a number of advanced features that improve upon SABnzbd.  If you have not already chosen your software, be sure to see NZBGet vs. SABnzbd for a full comparison of the two Usenet Downloaders.

While SABnzbd remains the most popular choice for Usenet enthusiasts, NZBGet is the rising star.  Not only does it offer the same cross-platform functionality that SABnzbd offers, but it also runs much lighter than SABnzbd.  In other words, it uses far fewer resources, making it the perfect choice for older laptops, Raspberry PI rigs, and any other devices on which RAM and CPU speeds are in short supply.

This is due to the fact that NZBGet is written in C++ while SABnzbd is written in Python.  As an interpreted language, Python runs a bit slower than a compiled language like C++.  Programs written in C++ have faster runtimes and eat up fewer resources than an interpreted language like Python would.  This has made NZBGet a more versatile piece of software than in its older predecessor.

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You might be inclined to think that because the software runs lighter and eats up less CPU, it's not as feature-rich.  But the opposite is true.  NZBGet, while clearly inspired by the design of SABnzbd, has built on the rich tradition of open source Usenet downloaders.  It provides its users with several slick features that SABnzbd simply does not have.  Perhaps the best thing about NZBGet is that it's in active development, while SABnzbd is currently in maintenance mode.

These are just a few of the reasons why so many users have begun transitioning from SABnzbd to NZBGet.

The purpose of this article, then, is to help both new users and those that want to fully explore what the software has to offer.  We will cover the very basic topics such as installation and configuration and some of the more complex topics such as automation.  Hopefully, you'll find what you need here and be well on your way to making great use of this phenomenal Usenet downloader.

NZBGet's Unique Feature List

NZBGet does everything that your standard Usenet downloader should do.  On top of that, it has several performance upgrades that make it stand out from the pack.  Much of the bottleneck when downloading files from Usenet can be attributed to the repair process necessary to piece data across several threads into one large file.

As most Usenet aficionados know, the process of downloading from Usenet is slightly awkward.  Files are often split across multiple messages due to restrictions on file size per message.  This creates a situation in which larger files are split into several pieces and must be stitched back together.  If some data is lost, the downloader itself must repair the damage, if it can, in order to bring you your download.

Obviously, this isn't as simple as merely copying a file from one place to another.  Even though Usenet boasts download speeds that are far in excess of many file transfer protocols, there is going to be some bottleneck when it comes to repairing and piecing the files back together again.  Although a great deal of computation is necessary, the situation is not as dire as Humpty Dumpty's.

It is Faster than Other Usenet Downloaders

NZBGet is written in C++ and compiled directly into machine language.  Interpreted languages like Python, in which SABnzbd is written, need to be translated into machine language.  This creates one extra step, putting more pressure on the CPU, and eating up more resources.

In addition, it is efficiently designed to optimize the process of repairing and piecing files together.  In fact, it has been designed with efficiency as a key objective of the design.

Rapid Deobfuscation

You'll notice when downloading from Usenet, that a great many file names appear to be gibberish.  These files have obfuscated names in order to hide their content.  This creates a layer of protection between the content itself and unintended recipients.

Obfuscation is a great way to hide content, but it also creates one more task that the CPU has to perform in order to bring your file to you.  In other words, it slows everything down.  The software optimizes the process of deobfuscating filenames with a native routine that forgoes the use of an external tool that is generally used by many Usenet downloaders for the purpose of file renaming.

This lets downloading from uncensored newsgroups still result in content that makes sense.

Quick Par Verification & Multicore Par-Repair

Par2 extensions exist in case some of the files are missing or damaged when you go to download them.  Par2 files simply contain extra, redundant information.  The information in these files can be used to repair the missing data.  Once again, your typical Usenet downloader relies on an external program for verification and repair.  NZBGet streamlines this process by using its own native procedures.  This prevents a significant bottleneck when a file needs to be repaired.

The external program that typically performs the repairs is called par2cmdline.  This program is great, but it was written several years ago before CPUs were being built with multiple cores.  A multicore variant came out, but this program only works on machines that employ Intel architecture.

NZBGet uses native code to avoid using either of these external programs.  This modernizes the code to employ multithreading.  It can also work on multiple CPU architectures.  In other words, no matter what kind of machine you run, the par2 routines will be using all of your computer's processing power.

RSS with Duplicate Checking

For those that are interested in automating downloads, the software provides RSS support with a duplicate checking algorithm that is capable of sensing whether or not you've already downloaded a certain file.

In addition, if one download fails, it can search for and download another similar title from a different thread.

NZBGet is Awesome

The software modernizes many of the features that have caused issues for users in the past.  Because the code is entirely native, it does not have to chain outdated third-party software in order to complete the basic tasks that Usenet downloaders need to complete.  For users, it is very likely going to be the future of Usenet downloading.

Installing NZBGet

Installing it on any device is not especially difficult.  The download can be found on NZBGet's main page.

Installing on Windows

  1. Download NZBGet from the main page.
  2. Run the setup program.
  3. NZBGet can be started either via a desktop shortcut or through the setup tray located in the lower right-hand corner of your screen, near the clock and date.

Installing as a Service

For those that are interested in installing it as a service, you'll find a batch file (.BAT) in your folder called nzbget-command-shell.bat.  Run it as administrator, then type:

nzbget -install

To start the service:

net start NZBGet

To stop:

net stop NZBGet

Installing on Mac

Installation on Mac is remarkably simple.  Unpack the app, and then run it.  That's about it.

Installing on Linux

NZBGet's download page provides pre-compiled executables that will run on the majority of machines including NAS, WLAN routers, and media players provided they are running kernel version 2.6 or later.

As an alternative, you can try:

wget https://nzbget.net/download/nzbget-latest-bin-linux.run

Installing on FreeBSD

NZBGet's download page has precompiled binaries for x86_64 architecture.  Simply download, unpack, and run.

As an alternative, you can try:

wget https://nzbget.net/download/nzbget-latest-bin-freebsd.run

Installing on Android

You can install NZBGet on Android devices as well.  You will need to manually download the APK from the releases page.

Some Android devices have a default setting that disables installations from sources outside of the app store.  If so, you'll have to find that under security settings and disable it.

Once you launch the NZBGet app, you'll need to install the daemon.  Click Install Daemon, and choose Latest Stable.

Just be aware that post-processing scripts written in Python cannot be executed on an Android device.

Dependencies for Post-Processing Scripts

You will need to download and install Python 2.x in order to execute post-processing scripts.

Setting Up NZBGet

The next thing you will have to do is set up your news server credentials.

Setting Up NZBGet

This simply entails entering the name of your news server and whatever login credentials are necessary in order to access the server.

Simply click on the Settings tab at the top of the screen and then find the News-Servers frame.  In the host field, type in the name of your news server or one that was provided by Usenet Storm.

Setting Up Server on NZBGet

It has a simple way to test if your login credentials work.  You will then need to restart NZBGet, and you'll be good to begin downloading.

Downloading with NZBGet

Downloading with the software is not an overly difficult process.  Nonetheless, for some folks who are very new, much of the information out there assumes that you have some basic familiarity with how Usenet works.

For the sake of thoroughness, we will not make that assumption.

Torrents and NZB Files: The Similarities and Differences

To say that NZB files are like Torrent files is not a bad comparison.  The trouble with the comparison is that NZB's on Usenet have a more complicated set of options.  Firstly, it's how you get them.  You can find NZB's that have been posted alongside the files they represent.  This gives your news reader software a good clean way of knowing if it has everything it needs to download, instead of guessing.  Although this works perfectly fine, it can be time consuming as some alt binaries newsgroups are absolutely massive.

To make finding content easier, the way many users access requires an extra step and a 3rd party that organizes and makes sense of the content on Usenet, many times producing NZB files for content that doesn't have them.  This lets someone simply do a search in their web browser, download an NZB, and give it to NZBGet to process.  It's a much more hands-off approach.

You call these 3rd parties Usenet indexers, and a great example is the Usenet search engine NZBIndex.

Usenet Readers and NZB Indexers: Understanding the Difference

Usenet readers primarily exist for the purpose of browsing newsgroups.  Good software will also have an integrated search feature, but the main reason for using the software is to actually browse the content in the newsgroups that interest you.

NZB Indexers, on the other hand, are intended for searching for something you already know you want.  You can't browse everything in its raw form, but everything shown to you is listed in nice little packages called NZB files.  All that you have to do is give this to your software to start your download.

Each option has its advantages.  Searching and downloading with something like NZBIndex can be a lot faster and more user friendly, but you could miss content.

For example, if you have an interest in airplanes and did a search on an NZB Indexer for "jet fighter".  You might miss a post in alt.binaries.multimedia.aviation that is titled "F-35 Test Flight" because it doesn't have your exact search term in the subject.  It's exactly what you want, but unless you are browsing manually, you may never see the file.

Browsing newsgroups can be slower, but you are more likely to find more content that is of interest because newsgroups have names like alt.binaries.pictures.automobiles and are named according to the subject that they cover.

Start Downloading with NZBGet

Once you've found a nice NZB file that piques your interest, you're going to want to download it.  You can generally do this by simply clicking on the download button that is located somewhere near the NZB and save it to your computer.

Now that you have your NZB file, you're going to want to load it into your NZB downloader.  If you're reading this guide, we're going to assume it's NZBGet.

How to Download with NZBGet

You'll find an Add button in the upper left-hand corner of the interface.  This is where you can add NZB files.  For the sake of clarity, it will be assumed that you've downloaded the NZB file onto your local hard drive.

Click the Select Files button.  Find the file in the Downloads folder (or wherever you sent the NZB file to).  And there you go!  You are now downloading from Usenet.

Options in the Download Window

Download from URL

NZBGet Download Window Options

Another option some users might be interested in is adding a file by URL.  This keeps you from having to download the NZB first and takes one step out of the process.  If the NZB that you want to use is on a website, just copy the URL and paste it here.

If an NZB is password protected, for instance, clicking on the icon next to the text entry will allow a user to specify a filename and password.

Priority

NZBGet allows you to assign a priority to incoming files.  By default, your NZB's are processed and your files are downloaded in the order that you added them.  If you add a lot of things to your download list, eventually you are going to find something you really want immediately and some other things that you want but they can be downloaded whenever the downloader has the time.  Fortunately, you can move your pending downloads up and down the list to your liking even after they have been added to the queue.  One more option that a user has is to assign it a priority.  The higher the priority, the higher up the list it goes.

Category

There are all kinds of files that a person might be interested in downloading from newsgroups.  Users can assign individual files a category in order to keep them separated and organized nicely.  Simply choose a category when downloading, and the software will ensure that it's sent to the proper folder.

This can be useful for separating work safe content from your more private files.

Options

There are two options in the form of checkboxes.  These are both useful for those that add files automatically through scans and searches.

With Add Paused, instead of adding the file for download directly, it will be added to the queue but the download will be paused.

Disable Duplicate Check prevents the software from checking to see if the file added is the same as another file that is already downloading or in the queue.

Add From NZBDir

For users that have set up scripts to automatically download files with a certain search key from an indexer, the NZB's are sent to a specific folder.  Conversely, all NZB downloads can be added to this folder and it will automatically see them and add them to the queue for you.  This a great option for those that want to save themselves several extraneous clicks.

The Ultimate Guide to NZBGet