Last year I installed UnRAID on my NAS in addition to Sonarr/Radarr/Deluge. This setup helped me download media using Torrents (hence why I used Deluge). Read more about how I set it up here:

Recently, I was surfing the web and discovered a completely new way to download media called Usenets! I decided to weigh up the pros and cons of torrents vs Usenets by giving Usenets a go!

NOTE: this article assumes you've already set up Unraid/Sonarr/Radarr, follow the above article if you haven't.

Torrent Setup

You probably know what torrents are and how they work. If not, read more here.

A typical torrent setup using Sonarr/Radarr might work as follows:

  1. Use Sonarr/Radarr to select a media file to download
  2. Sonarr/Radarr communicates with Torrent indexers (RARBG, TPB etc.)
  3. Sonarr/Radarr adds the torrent file to Deluge and kicks off the download
  4. Deluge downloads the media file and once complete, will copy the file over to a completed directory
  5. Sonarr/Radarr detects the file has been complete, renames and copies the file to the Movies/TV directory used by Plex

My take on the pros and cons of using torrents are:

  • + Torrents are free. They don't require any subscriptions to any other services to function!
  • + Setup and configuration to use Torrents is simple and can be automated!  
  • - Torrents are illegal, you may get pinged by your ISP if they notice a lot of torrent activity. Continued torrenting after the warning may result in discontinued service from your ISP
  • - Torrents rely on seeders. Low amount of seeders will result in slow download speeds.
  • - Seeding is usually required while/before downloading
  • - Torrents can have malicious or low quality files. Although, this largely depends on the indexers you use and I've personally found this to be very rare if you ignore all `.exe` files

Usenet Setup

Usenet has a lot of history behind it. In summary, it were originally designed as a bulletin-board service. Usenet eventually became a popular place to store and sort any kind of file. An organisation called Newzbin created the NZB file which pointed to where files existed on the Usenet. A whole ecosystem around Usenet and the NZB file then grew until it became what it is today. Usenets are different to torrents in that files are downloaded from a single server, as opposed to from other multiple other "peers" like you do in Torrents.

Read more about the history of usenets and how they work here.

An automated usenet download flow would work as follows:

  1. Use Sonarr/Radarr to select a media file or wait for a title to be released
  2. Sonarr/Radarr communicates with a Usenet Indexer to find a matching media file
  3. Using the index, Sonarr/Radarr sends the file location to a Usenet Downloader
  4. The Usenet Downloader communicates with a Usenet Provider which serves the media to the downloader
  5. Once the download is complete, it will copy the media file to a "Completed" directory
  6. Sonarr/Radarr detects the file has been complete, renames and copies the file to a Movies/TV directory

My take on the pros and cons of using Usenets are:

  • + Usenets providers have maximum download speeds on content that you download, you are limited by your ISP
  • + Most Usenets providers have SSL ports so no one can snoop on what you are downloading and your IP address is kept private
  • + Usenet Providers, Indexers and Downloaders all have a high amount of support, documentation and automation functionality available as well as having large, active communities supporting them
  • + Don't have to seed (upload) before/while downloading
  • - Usenets require an Indexer and Provider component, both of which usually require a monthly subscription to utilise
  • - In my experience, lots of media content on Usenets that has been taken down by DMCA - it can be annoying/difficult at times to find a healthy copy of media and may require several downloads before a healthy one is downloaded. As such, Usenets are go

In both approaches, there are positives and negatives. As previously mentioned, I decided to give Usenets a go to see if I would like them better than torrents.

Before we get started, we'll need to pick a provider and an indexer to use. There are many indexers and providers out there, I'll just be suggesting a few of them. I would encourage you to do your own research as well.

Recommended UseNet Provider

Usenet Prime (Harvey's Pick)

This provider is my personal choice and what I'll be using for the article. I personally chose the 1TB Block Account as I wouldn't be downloading enough to justify a subscription purchase.

Other providers I would recommend are:

Recommended UseNet Indexers

NZBGeek (Harvey's Pick)

My personal choice, I chose NZBGeek because it was on sale for Black Friday as well as having good reviews and a good reputation for quality indexes.

Other indexers I would recommend are:

UnRAID Setup

Usenet Downloader

Sonarr/Radarr are configured to use a number of download clients. You can see all the supported clients here. Sonarr/Radarr support four different Usenet clients: Sabnzbd, Nzbget, Pneumatic and UsenetBlackhole.

I chose between Sabnzbd and NZBGet (due to both having a high amount of features/support/community). I ended up going with NZBget as I preferred the UI of it slightly more.

In UnRAID, navigate to Plugins and open the Community Applications plugin (assumed to have been installed already). Search for nzbget and click Install:

Use the default port (6789) and make Host Path 2 = /mnt/user/Downloads/NZB and hit Done:

Once the Docker image has been downloaded and container set up, open NZBGet in your browser. You'll be prompted for a username and password which are:

  • Username: nzbget
  • Password: tegbzn6789

Then in the top menu select Settings. Then select News-Servers on the left:

Whatever Usenet Provider you sign up with should provide three essential pieces of information:

  • Server address
  • Username
  • Password

All three of these details were emailed to be after I signed up with Usenet Prime. Enter them in under the correct fields:

Test the connection and then click save all changes in the bottom left and you'll be prompted to restart NZBGet. Restart and NZBGet will be all ready to use!

Note: If you're setting up Sonarr, you'll want to add an additional category on NZBGet. Do this by going to Settings -> Categories -> Add Another Category. Enter TV in the Name field then click Save.

Radarr (and Sonarr) Setup

With our Usenet download client and indexer (doesn't require setup) all ready, now we just have to configure Sonarr/Radarr to use them.

I'll just be going through how to set Radarr up - Sonarr will be identical, you'll just have to repeat the steps.

Add Indexer

Step one is to add the indexer. Navigate to Settings -> Indexers -> Add Indexer (+):

Under Usenet -> Newznab -> Presets, find your indexer of choice (I use NZBGeek). Then simply add the API Key you got from your indexer, click Test and if everything is okay, click Save:

Now if you navigate to any random movie title you have, then perform a manual search for the title - you will see a number of results from NZBGeek:

Add Download Client

Navigate to Settings -> Download Client -> Add new client (+):

Then select NZBGet (first option):

Then in the popup, add:

  • Host: IP of your UnRAID Server
  • Port: 6789
  • Username: nzbget
  • Password: tegbzn6789:

Note: you'll notice that Category has Movies. If you are setting up Sonarr, you need to add Tv which will map to the correct category that we added to NVBGet previously.

Test it and if successful, click Save.

That's it! You've setup your Usenet indexer and download client.

Testing it out

In Sonarr, simply navigate to Add Movies then select a random movie, click Add and Search for movie. After a few seconds, you should see your new movie start downloading in NZBGet:

After the download has complete, NZBGet will move the movie to the /downloads/completed/movies directory. Sonarr will then copy the file over to your Media file automatically. You can then open up your Plex server, refresh your library and watch your new content!