Torrents and Usenet both have their advantages, but for automated downloading of audio or video specifically, Usenet is better for a number of reasons (discussed below).
- NZB indexes generally enforce standardized naming which means that automated tools, like Sick Beard, work better.
- Index sites with API support allow Sick Beard to download automatically.
- SABnzbd is a powerful fully automated download client for usenet.
- There are private torrent trackers with big libraries, but none offer a way to search them automatically so they’re useless for an application like Sick Beard.
Convenience & Speed
- Doesn’t rely on other users (no seeding involved), the server will max your download speed all the time (even for old stuff)!
- Releases get uploaded to Usenet servers long before they show up on any public trackers, so you can watch your video 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.
- 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 🙂
How it works
Usenet requires an account with a Usenet Service Provider. Account costs vary, and can vary from $10 down to $3/month depending on how much you download. 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.
- If you download ~80GB or more each month I’d recommend UsenetServer.com. 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.
- 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. “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.
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 account option.