32sickbeardDownload TV episodes automatically with SickBeard

As TV and movie con­tent gradu­ally moves, kick­ing and scream­ing, onto the Inter­net, the demand for ways to man­age all the media we con­sume con­tin­ues to grow. Whilst the major­ity of TV is still not avail­able from legit­im­ate sources online, there are now some series which are, includ­ing Pion­eer One — a Bit­Tor­rent only TV series. Good lists of leg­al tor­rent pro­viders are avail­able from gigaom here and here. Pub­lic Domain Movie Tor­rents also provides links to movies which are now free of copy­right. In some jur­is­dic­tions it may also be con­sidered legit­im­ate to down­load con­tent you already own in anoth­er format, or to down­load con­tent instead of record­ing it on a set-top box. Either way, the time for improved auto­mat­ic down­load ser­vices is now here. Below I detail the easi­est way to auto­mat­ic­ally down­load TV epis­odes that I’ve dis­covered so far.

Once upon a time there was TED (Tor­rent Epis­ode Down­load­er), but sadly TED has­n’t been updated for over a year and does­n’t func­tion very well any­more. There are a few oth­er Inter­net-PVR ser­vices, but each of them has lim­it­a­tions: Couch­Potato only down­loads movies; TVShows, Auto­mat­ic and Series are MacOS only; Nzb­Drone & Epis­ode but­ler only work with paid-for news­groups. Into this mix we can intro­duce Sick­Beard — an open­source mul­ti­plat­form sys­tem based on python. Sick­Beard is mainly focused on news­groups but sup­ports tor­rent sites too, and thanks to its open source nature there are mod­i­fied ver­sions with enhanced tor­rent site support.

The instruc­tions below are focused on a mod­i­fied ver­sion of Sick­Beard called Sick­Rage which is only avail­able as python code. This will require installing python on your com­puter, but instruc­tions for that are included below. The instruc­tions are inten­ded for users of Win­dows, but large parts are prob­ably rel­ev­ant to oth­er plat­forms too. Finally, you will need a tor­rent cli­ent, this guide is based on uTor­rent and includes setup instructions

Update — Septem­ber 2014. The art­icle has been updated to reflect the change from Sick­beard alpha thePir­ate­Bay to SickRage

Stage 1: Install Python & libraries

  1. Down­load Python 2 (not 3). Down­load either the Win­dows installer, or if you know you have 64bit win­dows install the Win­dows X86-64 installer.
  2. Install python, using default settings
  3. Down­load Chee­tah for Python
  4. Extract Chee­tah
  5. Open a com­mand prompt, switch to the folder you extrac­ted chee­tah to and run setup.py install
  6. You can now remove the folder you extrac­ted Chee­tah to

Stage 2: Install SickRage

  1. Down­load Sick­Rage (using the but­ton which says “zip”)
  2. Extract the zip file. If you are using Win­dows 7 or vista I recom­mend extract­ing to C:\Users\{your user­name}\Sick­Rage. If using Win­dows XP or earli­er it does­n’t really matter.
  3. Run the file SickBeard.py
  4. If everything is cor­rect the Sick­Rage admin inter­face will load in your browser at http://localhost:8081/home/. If you get a fire­wall prompt allow access.

Stage 3: Install uTorrent

  1. Down­load uTor­rent and the latest WebUI
  2. Install uTor­rent. Once it has loaded close it.
  3. Rename the down­loaded webUI file to webui.zip and move it to %appdata%\uTorrent
  4. Rerun uTor­rent and open Options: Preferences
  5. Expand advanced with the + sign and select WebUI
  6. Tick “Enable WebUI” and enter a user­name and password
  7. Go to the con­nec­tion tab and make a note of the port used. Make sure “ran­dom­ise port each start” is disabled
  8. Click ok, and min­im­ise uTorrent

Stage 4: Con­fig­ur­a­tion (Updated 30-Aug-2012)

  1. Go back to the Sick­Rage admin inter­face in your browser (http://localhost:8081/home/).
  2. Click on con­fig (the gears icon) and choose “search settings”.
  3. Click on the “NZB Search” tab and untick “Search NZBs” if it is ticked.
  4. Click on the “Tor­rent Search Tab” and tick “Search Torrents”.
  5. For tor­rent meth­od select “uTor­rent”.
  6. For “uTor­rent host” enter http://localhost:{uTor­rent port num­ber you noted earli­er}/
  7. For the user­name and pass­word enter the details you choose for uTor­rent earlier.
  8. Click save changes.
  9. Click the Test Con­nec­tion but­ton — you should receive a mes­sage “Suc­cess: Con­nec­ted and Authenticated”.
  10. Click on the “Search Pro­viders” button.
  11. Tick ThePir­ate­Bay and drag it to the top of the list.
  12. Untick the oth­ers — or leave them enabled if you wish to use them. I find some gen­er­ate errors so I don’t use them.
  13. Click “save changes”.

Stage 5: Usage

  1. You are now ready to use Sick­Rage as normal
  2. To add TV shows go to Home: Add shows
  3. You can add new shows or shows you already have epis­odes for — Sick­Rage will index them and use theT­VDB to work out which epis­odes are missing
  4. There are lots of extra options — e.g. only search­ing for HD epis­odes, skip­ping epis­odes etc. To learn more you’ll have to experiment
  5. Head to the offi­cial Sick­Rage site for the Wiki and Forums

Stage 6: Run­ning on start-up

  1. You may well want to have Sick­Rage run on start-up — but its a python script — so it’s not as simple as usu­al. Here’s how…
  2. Click on start and in the search bar type “task sched­uler” and press enter
  3. Expand the Task Sched­uler Library
  4. Click “Cre­ate Task”
  5. Give your task a name — “Sick­Rage” is prob­ably a good one 🙂
  6. Select “run wheth­er user is logged on or not”
  7. Click on the “trig­gers” tab
  8. Click “New”
  9. Change the pull-down box at the top to “at star­tup” and click ok
  10. Click the “actions” tab
  11. Click “new”
  12. In the program/script box type the path where you installed python fol­lowed by pythonw.exe (e.g. “C:\Program Files\Python\pythonw.exe” or “C:\Python27\pythonw.exe”)
  13. In the add argu­ments box type the path to the SickBeard.py file (e.g “C:\Users\Jon\SickRage\SickBeard.py”)
  14. Click ok
  15. Click on the Set­tings tab
  16. the 1st, 3rd and 5th boxes should be ticked — the oth­ers unticked. I.e. “allow task to be run on demand”, “if task fails, restart…” and “if the run­ning task does not end when reques­ted force it to stop” should all be enabled
  17. Change the “if task filas, restart every” value to 1 minute
  18. Click the main OK button
  19. If Sick­Rage is still run­ning in a com­mand win­dow close it by press­ing Control‑C
  20. wait for it to close
  21. Start the sched­uled task by select­ing it and choos­ing “run”
  22. The status should change from “ready” to “run­ning”
  23. Point your browser back to the admin page (http://localhost:8081/home/) to check that all is present and correct

Final troubleshoot­ing tip

  • If you can­’t access the Sick­Rage web inter­face this is prob­ably because your sched­uled task is being blocked by win­dows firewall
  • Either give pythonw.exe per­mis­sion manu­ally in win­dows fire­wall, OR run the fol­low­ing com­mand to run Sick­Rage once, and click approve on the fire­wall prompt
  • "C:\Program files\Python\Pythonw" C:\Users\Jon\SickRage\SickBeard.py. You will need to adjust the paths to match your install­a­tion and username

Oth­er Use­ful Info

  • For an altern­at­ive setup guide for Sick­Rage try this PDF which has been made of a google cache of a now-deceased site
  • This guide should be used for legit­im­ate pur­poses only. Please check the laws in your jur­is­dic­tion and ensure you aren’t viol­at­ing any copy­right. Thanks.

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Hey! First of all thank you for the tutori­al! Unfor­tu­nately I have an issue with the Stage 4: Con­fig­ur­a­tion when I go to the “Tor­rent Search Tab” and tick “Search Tor­rents” it does­n’t ask me what I want to use. I’ve made a screen­shot here:


Okay I solved the issue, the pro­cess of the reg­u­lar Sick­Beard was run­ning in the back­ground so I just killed it and that solved the issue ( I can­’t find how to delete my comment)

gravatarJon Scaife

Don’t worry — it’s a use­ful com­ment — if someone else gets into the same situ­ation they’ll see how you solved it! Thanks 🙂


Hi, what can I do to auto­mat­ic­ally move the fin­ished down­loads from the down­load dir­ect­ory (C:\Users\Bobby\Download) to my series dir­ect­ory (D:\Series\Series-Name\Season) ?

gravatarJon Scaife

I’ll be look­ing at the latest ver­sions of uTor­rent and Sick­Beard soon. Per­son­ally how­ever I use Media Cen­ter Mas­ter to auto­mat­ic­ally move all of my downloads 🙂


When you run sickbeard.py I get a com­mand prompt win­dow that stays open, any way to run “silently” so I don’t need to have a com­mand prompt running?

gravatarJon Scaife

Did you do step 6 — run­ning it as a ser­vice? I don’t get any com­mand prompt win­dow when I run it that way. I don’t remem­ber doing any­thing else to make it silent…

gravatarBob Smith

thanks. I am going to try this. The best explan­a­tion I have seen. Thanks so much.


Great Art­icle.

Can you add a step for post pro­cessing of files? This is great for snatch­ing files but you still need to manu­ally unzip/unrar files (if rared ver­sion is down­loaded) and then move to TV series/Season folder and rename. 

I know it can be done using the NZB side of things, but what about tor­rents using this ver­sion of SB?

gravatarJon Scaife

I use Media Cen­ter Mas­ter for post pro­cessing, so I don’t actu­ally use any­thing built into sick­beard. I will look into it when I get chance though


Great thread Jon got everything work­ing except Tor­rent Search for some reas­on the page wont save can you shed a little light on it for me please

gravatarJon Scaife

I’m not sure — I think I had the same issue once and figured it out, but I can­’t remem­ber how — I’ll have a look this week­end. None of your files are read only are they?


Hi. this was work­ing just fine until i down­loaded a new ver­tion of Utor­rent and now i cant get it to work…
the ver­tion i have now is 3.2.1 utorrent

gravatarJon Scaife

I’ll have a look at the week­end. I’m using uT 3.2.2 and haven’t had any par­tic­u­lar issues, but i don’t use all the fea­tures that hook the 2 togeth­er. Can you give me some more details of how it’s not work­ing? What isn’t it doing?


the files in sick­beard just nev­er got down­loaded to utorrent,
i tried to rein­stall everything and rein­stall utor­rent aswell.

but utor­rent nev­er star­ted to download

gravatarJon Scaife

Do you have the latest WebUI installed? Have you def­in­itely got the cor­rect user­name, pass­word and port set in sick­beard? uTor­rent by default changes the port each star­tup (via the option “ran­dom­ise port each start”) — either dis­able that, or try what I use — I have the option selec­ted to provide an “altern­at­ive listen­ing port”

What hap­pens in sick­beard if you go to set­tings, search set­tings, tor­rent search and click “test con­nec­tion”? You should get “Suc­cess: Con­nec­ted and Authenticated”

gravatarJon Scaife

A fol­low-up — Sick­Beard alpha Pir­ate­Bay was updated 10 hours ago (at the time of my writ­ing this com­ment), and appar­ently has had an issue with tor­rent files fixed


On step 4.5, when I enter in the address it just brings me to a blank page that says “inval­id request”.
Can you help me?

gravatarJon Scaife

Where are you enter­ing the address? Don’t enter it in the browser address bar!
The Sick­Beard UI has been updated since I wrote this guide so the pro­ced­ure has changed a little bit. I’ll update the guide to reflect the new­er version…


On step 6.13 when I put in my folder “C:\Users\James\SickBeard\SickBeard.py” as the argu­ment (tried both with and without quotes) and con­tin­ue on, I get An error has occurred for task Sick­Beard. Error mes­sage: One or more of the spe­cified argu­ments are not valid.

Any ideas? Thanks for the help Jon! Great Tutorial!

gravatarJon Scaife

When you tried it with quotes did you copy and paste it from here? I use fancy look­ing quotes (via a plu­gin) which aren’t the same char­ac­ter code as plain quotes so that might be mess­ing it up?
Also — did you rename the sick­beard folder so it is called just “sick­beard”? Mine has a longer ran­dom-look­ing name
I have quotes around both the argu­ment and the com­mand — do you?
Not sure I can think of any­thing else to suggest


Could nev­er fig­ure out how to make it work, but instead figured out how to turn it into a ser­vice! Just in case you want to add it to your tutorial:

1. Down­load Win­dows Serv­er 2003 Resource Kit and extra instsrv.exe & srvany.exe to the root drive. Open cmd and type:
instsrv.exe Sick­Beard c:\srvany.exe
You should get a mes­sage say­ing: The ser­vice was suc­cess­fuly added!

2. Open reged­it and browse to [HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINE\SYSTEM\CurrentControlSet\services\SickBeard])
a. right click on the key Sick­Beard and cre­ate a new key called Parameters
b. inside the Para­met­ers key, cre­ate the fol­low­ing String Values
Value name \ Value Data (notes)
App­Dir­ect­ory \ C:\Python27 (the dir­ect­ory where you have python installed)
Applic­a­tion \ C:\Python27\pythonw.exe (the full dir­ect­ory path of the pythonw.exe)
AppPar­a­met­ers \ C:\Program Files\Sick-Beard\sickbeard.py (full dir­ect­ory path to where sickbeard.py sits)
c. then under the Sick­Beard key (not Para­met­ers) add a string value called Descrip­tion. Set it’s value data to:
Sick­Beard is the ulti­mate PVR applic­a­tion that down­loads and man­ages your TV shows.
d. close regedit

3. Go start the Sick­Beard ser­vice via the Ser­vices snap­in and define your pre­ferred Star­tup type.

gravatarJon Scaife

Fant­ast­ic info James, thanks. I don’t know why it did­n’t want to work for you — I’ve just recently rebuilt my serv­er with Win­dows Serv­er 2012 and used these instruc­tions ver­batim to check I had­n’t made any errors — it worked spot on.
Regard­less — its great to have an altern­at­ive way to do it. I’ll edit the art­icle and link your com­ment rather than re-write it. Cheers again.


In stage 1 step 5 what are the exact com­mand prompt com­mands that i need to type in?

I nav­ig­ate to the folder with com­mand prompt and when I type setup.py it says “not using setuptools, so we can­not install the Mark­down dependency.”


I had the same prob­lem. You have to tell setup what you want to do, in this case:

setup.py install

Hope that helps.

gravatarJon Scaife

Sorry, my mis­take. The ital­ics got lost some­how which made the instruc­tion a bit con­fus­ing. You need to run “setup.py install” (without the ” marks). Hope that sorts it for you! 🙂

Thanks for your advice George. I hope the rest of the instruc­tions worked flawlessly?

gravatarJon Scaife

Does the fork also include the same range of tor­rent sites? If so sounds good. Altho I do like uTor­rent myself.