Tuesday, March 5, 2013

How to configure Sickbeard

Sickbeard is advertised as "The ultimate PVR application that searches for and manages your TV shows - Automatically finds new and old episodes for you and it works with your current download client!" This is exactly the type of thing that computers were designed for! Tivo and the cable companies have offered pay upgradable DVR receivers for many years now, it seemed crazy that the internet didn't have a similar feature to offer all of you perfectly legal file sharing types...

Before we get into the installation and configuration portion of Sickbeard let me talk for a brief moment about the pitfalls you may encounter.

When I began using Sickbeard I already had a robust library of episodes. Not the type of library that was easily repaired or replaced after making a mistake with a program that would automatically rename and sort my files...

Trust me when I say, "It sucks when you accidentally destroy and entire show's worth of data just by scrambling all of the filenames. It sucks so, so much."

Okay, there are a few keys to making Sickbeard work well. The first is understanding what each post processing option does, and the other is strict German-esq folder organization.

Lets look at the folders that you have already created or need to create in order to set up SABnzbd+

First, you should have a "download" folder and a target "storage folder". To illustrate the basic design I will lay out my folder design. My folders are located on a special drive on my NAS, but yours can be located anywhere you want. For example: C:/downloads or /mnt/hdd/downloads or /home/user/downloads or whatever...

It should be noted that the "show #" folders are automatically created by Sickbeard if they do not already exist.

  •  Device that your files will be located on... For me this is my NAS.
    • /downloads
      • /incomplete
      • /complete
        • /movies
        • /tv
        • /music
    • /storage
      • /tv
        • /show 1
        • /show 2
      • /movies
        • /movie 1
        • /movie 2
      • /music
        • /cool band 1
        • /cool band 2

Post Processing
  • TV Download dir:
    • This is where SABnzbd+ is going to download the files marked as TV.
      • ~/downloads/complete/tv
  • Keep Original Files:
    • Checking this box will tell sickbeard not to delete the downloaded files after copying them into your storage folders.
  • Move Associated Files:
    • Checking this box will tell sickbeard to move all of the extra files besides just the video file to our storage folder.
  • Rename Episodes
    • Checking this box will tell sickbeard to apply new names to all files moved from the download folder.
    • This option is vital to making your automatic downloads work smoothly, but it can also be a curse!
      • If you are asking sickbeard to bulk process a folder full of downloads that you have accumulated, but are too lazy to sort, you are probably going to run into trouble.
      • For example, when I started using Sickbeard I had "The Outer Limits" in my /complete/tv folder. There are two different versions of that show, one old version and one new. Since Sickbeard had to guess, it automatically renamed and moved all of the video files incorrectly.
  • Scan and Process:
    • Checking this box will tell sickbeard to activate post processing. Without this box checked, post processing is turned off.
  • Naming
    • Pattern:
      • This option tells Sickbeard how you want your TV files renamed.
        • FYI. The Air-By-Date option is for naming shows that air daily like "Conan" or other late night variety shows.
      • The current Alpha Master has lost the format that I used in the past, so I use a "Custom" string.
        • Season %0S/%S.N.S%0SE%0E.%E.N.%Q.N
        • Sample: Season 02/Show.Name.S02E03.Ep.Name.HD.TV.ext
        • Multi-EP: Season 02/Show.Name.S02E03-05.Ep.Name.HD.TV.ext
      • I also use a Custom Air-By-Date
        • %Y/%0M/%S.N.%A.D.%E.N
        • Sample: 2011/03/Show.Name.2011.03.09.Ep.Name.ext
  • Metadata
    • This stuff is all about your media center. I use XBMC because it is super awesome. If you want to know about Plex or Blah or Blah or Blah Blah Blah... look elsewhere because XBMC is super cool!
    • Metadata Type: "XBMC"
      • Show Metadata = yes
      • Episode Metadata = yes
      • Show Fanart Image = yes
      • Show Folder Image = yes
      • Episode Thumbnail = yes
      • Season Thumbnail= yes
    • There is pretty much no reason not to download all this stuff. It is all tiny and only makes XBMC look prettier. Sure XBMC will download this stuff for you, but it will look in the show folder first. So just check all of these boxes.
      • As for banners, that is totally up to you. I prefer posters. Some people prefer banners.

That is the basic setup for post processing and making Sickbeard work as a show organizer.


Configuring Sickbeard!

Warm up your thinkin' brain and open the Sickbeard WebGUI to...


So here are the general settings that we are going to set up first. You can see the way that I have my settings configured, and I will explain to you how each of these affects Sickbeard.

Misc: I do not have my programs set to launch in a browser... ever. I don't actually know why anyone would want this to happen. If this is set, your browser window will open whenever Sickbeard launches. This will probably be at boot. If you are running Sickbeard and SABnzbd+ and everything else on a regular desktop computer, then everything will start with the operating system. I run everything on the Raspberry Pi with no monitor and no GUI, so checking this box would be extra stupid for me to do.

Web Interface: Here you need to set the options for the Sickbeard WebGUI. I do not have anything set for  IPv6 because I don't need it. Same goes for HTTP logs and HTTPS support. I connect to my Sickbeard using the basic HTTP and secured with a simple username and password.

API: If you want to control Sickbeard with outside programs, you need to enable this API key. This is not necessary for our the design that I am helping you with.

Config->Search Settings

Episode Search: Here you should set Sickbeard to download propers. These are the corrected versions of downloads. For instance, if a download was missing the first or last few seconds of a show, the providers like to release fixed versions. Sickbeard can download these and replace your old file with the new one.

NZB Method: Set this to SABnzbd. Then put in the IP address and port number that you use to connect to SABnzbd+. See the picture for how this is supposed to look. You also need to plug in the Username and Password that you use to open the SABnzbd+ WebGUI. Lastly the API key! If you want any of this to work, you need to get your API key from the SABnzbd+ Config>General>API Key page. Click on "Test SABnzbd" to see if you did this right. If you didn't, please try again. It is pretty unlikely that you are going to get this part wrong... Comments if you need help.

Torrent Search: You are not going to use this... Sickbeard can be used with torrents, but the automated stuff will not work as well. I strongly, strongly, strongly recommend signing up with Usenet. Seriously. Like Seriously!

Config->Search Providers
Here you can setup the search providers that you want to use to find episodes. For now you can add the Sickbeard index and the Womble's Index. They are free and work pretty well.

Config->Post Processing
This part has already been covered... if you are confused then you haven't been reading along. You are skipping ahead and that is called cheating... CHEATER!

Here you can add all sorts of cool notification features. Personally I would enable the XBMC stuff. Here is the picture of my settings. This requires you to have enabled a few setting in XBMC though. Since I'm not covering that stuff in this post, it's up to you to figure this out.

Yup... pretty simple...

Adding Shows!
There are two different ways to add shows to Sickbeard. The first way is to add new shows, and the second is to add shows that you already have in your collection.

Add Existing Shows: Add the shows that you already have, that way you can be sure not to download duplicates.

This is the Add Existing Shows page. Before anything is going to work right, you need to add the directories where your shows are stored. Below you can see my NAS shares as they have been added to Sickbeard. Add any directories containing TV show folders. My shit is all over the place... yours is probably better organized. Look at all those different hard drives! Wow!

After you have finally finished adding all of your directories, you can then quickly set the default settings for added shows.

Set the initial status of missing episodes to "Wanted".
Sickbeard has several different status levels for episodes.

Wanted: This will tell Sickbeard to look for available downloads for this episode. This is how episodes should be set by default.

Low Quality: This will tell Sickbeard that you don't like the quality of the file that is downloaded. This option is like "Wanted" except that you already have a file. Sickbeard will only re-download this episode in a higher quality. Set by the show Quality settings.

Downloaded: This tells Sickbeard that you already have a super awesome copy of this episode. A copy that you love and don't want replaced.

Skipped: This tells Sickbeard that you have no interest in this episode. It will be ignored.

Back to business...

Once these options are set, you can add any existing show folders. Sickbeard should scan your directories and then give you a list of show folders that can be added.

Add these shows and you will be redirected to the home page. You should see the shows being added to the homepage.

This can take some time. Each show has to be found on thetvdb.com and its info has to be added to each folder.

Next I suggest opening each of your shows one at a time. This sucks like a super duper ton if you have lots of shows.

After opening each show you need to check that the episodes have been detected correctly.
You should check the expected episode in the left column against the detected episode in the right column.

IF AND ONLY IF each of the episodes are detected correctly hit the "Preview Rename" button at the top of the page.

Make sure that ALL of the files are matching and that you like the naming convention.

Then select everything and hit "Rename Selected"

Everything will be awesome when this is done! Now you can do it for every single show you have in your library.

Add New Shows: Now you can finally add new shows!

Welcome to your new life! You have finally arrived!

When you click add a new show, you are prompted with a search box.

Go ahead and type in the name of the show you want to add.

Select it from the list and hit next. Make sure that you are happy with the location for the new show folder and click Add Show. 

The show will appear on the homepage as soon as it has finished adding. New episodes will start to download as they are found by the backlog search or the new episode search. These are both automatic so just chill out and wait.

That's all there is to setting up Sickbeard.


  1. Hey great article. Im having issue setting up sanzbd and sickbeard. Is there way u could give me hand. My email is jbbrenner90@gmail.com. im tapped out at what could be wrong. Id be willing to make a donation if u can get it working. Thanks. Possibly have u remote desktop In and take look. Thanks let me know.

    1. Hey Justin, it should be pretty easy to get everything working in SAB & sickbeard, especially in Windows. Can you give me an idea of what you do have working and where you are having trouble?

      Are you using a single computer to run the programs and store the downloads?
      Are you using windows, linux, osx?

      You should go through one step at a time to troubleshoot:
      1) Do you have a working Usenet account?
      2) Does your SABnzbd work?
      Have you manually added a download and verified that everything works?
      3) Does Sickbeard work?
      Have you tried adding a show?
      4) Does sickbeard talk to SABnzbd?
      5) Does post processing work?

      Gimme some info here and I can help you solve the problem without having to do any of the remote desktop stuff... These programs really are very easy to configure.

  2. If you have larger groups of media files, I must recommend FileBot. I'm unsure as to the sickbeard integration, but I have seen wrapper scripts to run it instead of sickbeard's post-processing with good result.

  3. Gotta love the internet for keeping old information handy for when someone new needs it! Hopefully the author is still monitoring responses on this 7 month old thread.

    I have SABnzbd and SickBeard working wonderfully on a 2007 Mac Mini which is also running Plex Media Server. Downloaded 720p files are moved to the correct directory on an external 2TB firewire drive for each show.

    The question I can't find an answer to is how SickBeard will handle older episodes that have been purposely deleted to free up room in storage? For example, if I am currently downloading/watching the second season of a show and still have season 1 on my device, I want to delete season 1 to free up room for new d/ls. Will SickBeard recognize that old files are missing and attempt to d/l them again or is is smart enough to ignore old episodes unless I specifically ask SB to d/l them again?

    I suppose I could just wait and see what happens when I delete something. But I'd rather alter settings up front if necessary to avoid the wasted bandwidth. Thanks.

    1. Hey Eric, sorry for the delay! I have less time than I'd like to answer all the questions that appear here.

      Yes, as was noted by the next commenter, sickbeard will mark the deleted episodes as "ignore". You can also manually set episode status to ignore when adding a show. That was the backlog search wont fill your storage with episodes you dont want.

  4. Eric, it seems like SB sets the previously downloaded, but now deleted, shows to "Ignored". I guess that's OK.

    1. Correct, this is the way sickbeard functions.

  5. Totally confused as I see no reference to the /storage directory you mentioned at the beginning of the page. What is the point of that directory and how are files placed there? It would also be great if you could update this article with your sabnzbd+ configuration as there are many pages out there suggesting that sabnzbd+ perform the post processing. It sounds like you don't really do that but I'm not sure as you've left out that info.


    1. This guide assumes that you already have a place where you store your media. The "Folders" sections is am example of how my media is organized. If you media is organized differently, this method of setting up sickbeard may not work for you. The guide does not explain how to make the storage locations within your particular OS. In windows you need to make folders to store things in, in linux you can create the directories... then the rest of the guide shows you how to set the sickbeard variables to put files into these folders.

      This post is about sickbeard, NOT Sabnzbd+... I do not use sab to postprocess, I like the way that sickbeard handles all of the files. It makes the process of scraping and maintaining a database of downloaded episodes much more reliable.

  6. This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

  7. Matt, Thanks for the article. I've been using SB and SAB for a few years without trouble. I've added live tv/recordings via FIOS Cable Card and WMC. WMC dumps all recorded shows into one directory with a name scheme like 'Castle_ABC_2014_01_14_20_05'.

    My question is while SAB uses the SABtoSickbeard script for postprocessing, can I check the SB postprocessing box and point that config at my WMC recording folder to allow SB to rename those files to 'Castle - S6E3 - episodetitle' ? Or is there a better way to handle this? I've tried running filebot too, which sort of works.

    1. As long as you aren't pointing both post processors at this directory, then you should be fine. There is no reason that letting SB process these files should cause you any trouble.

      I personally do not have any live tv recordings like this pouring into my nas, but I'm sure that postprocessing them would be handeled fine by the SB scripts set with the correct naming conventions.

  8. I see that OP is still here and well :-)
    I came upon this thread by chance but would like to ask for help.
    here is my situation...
    I am currently running an file server that I am in process of replacing with a fileserver/VM server setup. that is I am building a Linux based (openSuse) server that will be running Xen, and hosting all Hard drives
    using SAMBA shares. (I use samba as I have a mix setup. windows and Linux machines.) since I can not run both Samba and NFS Samba is the poison of choice :-)
    so I have 2x1TB HDD for my system
    sda for "/"
    sdb for "/home"

    I have 2TB (sdc) for my VM datastore and other misc stuff
    2x3TB HDD in BTRFS Raid1 setup Samba shared as "mediaStore".

    I will be adding more drives as they become available but let's just say that I will add one more 2TB to be my scrap share. this is where all my download files will be placed for processing. thus this is the drive I will use as a target for my Torrent and eventually SubNZB point to to place all acquired files onto.
    and this is where the sickbeard and coachpotato will look for file to be processed.

    I will be running a VM with Ubuntu Server 1X.X(not sure but probobly 13.x) where my SB+CP+SubNzb and./or Transmition or Deluge will live.
    the VM will mount a samba share(s) defined above as following:

    the scrap drive as /smb/Scrap/
    the media share as /smb/mediaStore/

    if I understand OP correctly, I need to create "Download" folder on the Scrap share.with structure
    under this I would have

    and my storage location will be my mediaShare
    /smb/mediaShare//tv//show 1
    /smb/mediaShare//tv/show 2

    /smb/mediaShare/movies/movie 1
    /smb/mediaShare/moives/movie 2

    /smb/mediaShare/music/cool band 1
    /smb/mediaShare/music/cool band 2

    any gotchas?

    now since I already have a collection of movies and tv shows what would be the best way to re-process them properly?
    can I add them to the CP/SB and some how tell it to move the files to new location (at the moment the new server is empty ) so when I create the structure can the SB/CP move all the media for me with proper rename file organizing? adding covers subtitles etc.

    other question is if I rip the DVD/CD I usually rip into MKV format unless some one have better idea. do I just plop the riped file(s) into download/complet/movie folder and let SB/CP pick it up and process it? will it?

    thank you all in advance.

    1. You have some questions here...
      Q1)Right? Any Gotchas?
      A1) Yes. No gotchas. You are absolutely correct. That is the best most basic file structure for using sb/cp/hp to manage your media and downloads. You have the file structure absolutely correct.

      Q2) since I already have a collection of movies and tv shows what would be the best way to re-process them properly?
      A1) That is really dependent on your choices. Personally, I chose to move my TV show folders to the correct location on the new server. This means that my shows were already organized along the same lines you have described...


      I simply moved all the "show" folders to the new server and added them via Sickbeard's import function. I chose to check that each show had been added correctly as it was imported, but you may do this in your own way.

      Q3) Can I add them to the CP/SB and some how tell it to move the files to new location?
      A3) Again, this is up to you. I chose personally to move them first and then import and rename in sickbeard. If you do this by asking SB to move files for you, you will need to do some serious prep work. Make sure the shows already exist in SB! This means that SB has made empty folders for each show in the new server. Then make sure that ALL of your old files are named with "show.S##E##" The naming structure must be perfect for every episode. If it is not you will lose episodes, or worse... you will rename episodes incorrectly!!!
      Just be careful! I chose to move the files first since SB shows you what it plans to rename files to. I was then able to look at each show's episode list and decide if SB had it right.

      Q4) So when I create the structure can the SB/CP move all the media for me with proper rename file organizing? adding covers subtitles etc.
      A4) Yes, assuming that the shows are already added to SB and that the files have excellent naming conventions matching the tv.db "show.S##.E##" Else you will need to refer to answer 3.

      Q5+) If I rip (a) DVD/CD, I usually rip into MKV format, unless some one (has a) better idea. Do I just plop the (ripped) file(s) into download/complet(e)/movie folder and let SB/CP pick it up and process it? Will (CP/SB process) it (the file I have ripped)?
      A5+) The ripping of files is tricky. You cant simply drop a file into a folder and expect SB or CP to understand what it is. If I name a dvd rip "001.mkv" there is no way to understand what it is. No human or program can tell without watching at least a portion of the video. This indicates that we must name out rip by standard naming formats depending on your scraper... (imdb.mkv)(themoviedb.mkv)(etc.)...
      Name your file right so that it can be understood by the scraper. If you do this, you are half way to your rips being imported automatically. The second step is to add the file in one of two ways to the software. In SB of CP you must add the files. Either say to SB/CP I "want" these files, please look in the download folder for them. Or... say " I have" these file, please help me import them.
      These are the only two ways to deal natively with rips inside SB/CP.

      Hope this helps. Your setup seems pretty simple save the VMware. If I have it right, this answer should help you get everything working just fine. Just remember that it will take some work to get all your existing media imported. Patience is a virtue.


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