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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32 Comments

gravatar Onigami

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:

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gravatar Onigami

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)

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gravatar Jon 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 🙂

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gravatar Bobby

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) ?

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gravatar Jon 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 🙂

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gravatar Vagus

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?

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gravatar Jon 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…

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gravatar Bob Smith

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

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gravatar Kenski

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?

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gravatar Jon 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

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gravatar ronfineganRon

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

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gravatar Jon 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?

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gravatar Johan

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

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gravatar Jon 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?

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gravatar Johan

Hei.
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

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gravatar Jon 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”

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gravatar Jon 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

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gravatar Eyan

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?

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gravatar Jon 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…

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gravatar James

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!

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gravatar Jon 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

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gravatar James

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.

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gravatar Jon 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.

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gravatar Michael

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.”

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gravatar George

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

setup.py install

Hope that helps.

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gravatar Jon 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?

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gravatar Jon Scaife

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

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