SickBeard alternative: Sonarr aka NzbDrone vs SickBeard

SickBeard has been the king of automatic Show downloaders, but in this post, I am going to introduce SickBeard alternative called NzbDrone (nka Sonarr) and present a basic feature comparison of NzbDrone vs SickBeard. As you may know both SickBeard and NzbDrone are PVRs for newsgroup users and can releases and automatically download your favorite TV shows, rename, and organize them for you. Both have a wonderful web interface that allows you to add and manage TV Shows and episodes. So let me go ahead and briefly introduce the NzbDrone, the SickBeard alternative, and then the details of my NzbDrone vs sickbeard comparison. Remember that both require a good unlimited Usenet plan to download HD content. [Read: SickBeard vs SickRage โ€“ a better SickBeard alternative?]

NzbDrone, the SickBeard Alternative

As you will from the table below, the purpose and the core features of NzbDrone are very similar to that of SickBeard, making it a great SickBeard alternative.

Sickbeard Vs NzbdroneNzbdrone Vs Sickbeard
Sick Beard is a PVR for newsgroup users (with limited torrent support). It watches for new episodes of your favorite shows and when they are posted it downloads them, sorts and renames them, and optionally generates metadata for them. NZBDrone is a PVR for newsgroup users. It can monitor multiple RSS feeds for new episodes of your favourite shows and will grab, sorts and renames them. It can also be configured to automatically upgrade the quality of files already downloaded if a better quality format becomes available.


  • automatically retrieves new episode torrent or nzb files
  • can scan your existing library and then download any old seasons or episodes you're missing
  • can watch for better versions and upgrade your existing episodes (to from TV DVD/BluRay for example)
  • XBMC library updates, poster/fanart downloads, and NFO/TBN generation
  • configurable episode renaming
  • sends NZBs directly to SABnzbd, prioritizes and categorizes them properly
  • available for any platform, uses simple HTTP interface
  • can notify XBMC, Growl, or Twitter when new episodes are downloaded
  • specials and double episode support


  • Support for major platforms: Windows, Linux, OSX
  • Automatically detects new episodes
  • can scan your existing library and then download any old seasons that are missing
  • can watch for better versions and upgrade your existing episodes. eg. from DVD to Blu-Ray
  • fully configurable episode renaming
  • full integration with SABNzbd
  • full integration with XBMC (notification, library update, metadata)
  • full support for specials and multi-episode releases
  • beautiful UI
>3000 days, unlimited, SSL, VPN$9.99 $99.99 ($8.33 / month)
Editors Pick
>3000 days, unlimited, SSL, VPN$9.99 $99.99 ($8.33 / month)
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For more plans that may fit your needs please read our Usenet plan selection guide.

NzbDrone vs SickBeard

Most people still use SickBeard over NzbDrone. I mean, how often do you login into the web interface? SickBeard for the most part does not have any issues downloading and organizing TV Show episodes. But people can get bored after a while and may look for a change or just want to see what else is out there. And trust me, NzbDrone does have some awesome features that can leave SickBeard in the dust. [Read: Video: Install SickBeard on Ubuntu 14.04 in one step]


The coming episodes section of NzbDrone vs SickBeard, in my opinion is better. You can see all your upcoming episodes in one convenient location.

Nzbdrone - Calendar Of Coming Episodes
Nzbdrone - Calendar Of Coming Episodes

Manual Search

Spoiled by CouchPotato? No problem. NzbDrone allows you to find all the releases, choose the one you want and send it right to your download client. This one feature could make it a better SickBeard alternative for many users. [Read: ]

Nzbdrone - Manual Search
Nzbdrone - Manual Search

Automatic Failed Episode Handling

There is no SickBeard vs NzbDrone comparison here. SickBeard, at this point, does not handle failed episodes automatically. NzbDrone makes failed downloads a thing of the past. Password protected releases, missing repair blocks or virtually any other reason? no worries. NzbDrone will automatically blacklist the release and tries another one until it finds one that works. In my opinion, this makes NzbDrone, at least a SickBeard alternative if not better than SickBeard.

Best Standalone Bittorrent Downloaders:

To some, appearance is everything

Both SickBeard and NzbDrone interfaces have come a long way. But based on a quick survey, many people seem to prefer NzbDrone's interface.

Nzbdrone - Interface
Nzbdrone - Interface

Feel like moving from Sick Beard to NzbDrone, do not worry. NzbDrone automatically imports shows and configuration details from Sick Beard. If that's not icing on the cake, I do not know what is.

Where Sonarr / NzbDrone fails

One of the major complaints from some of the users is on how NzbDrone manages wanted, skipped, or ignored episodes. At least right now, you cannot modify the status in bulk. You will have to change the episode status one at a time. But to my python-ignorant brain this looks like a simple thing to do and may be it will be implemented in future. But I still think NzbDrone is worth trying as a SickBeard alternative. Another area where NzbDrone vs SickBeard, fails is in its lack of torrent support (at least yet). [Read: How to migrate Shows library from SickBeard to SickRage?]

SickBeard vs NzbDrone, which one should you choose?

SickBeard is still in alpha, and NzbDrone is still in development. So both definitely have minor issues and bugs. But recently, I have seen a shift towards NzbDrone. Now whether that is due to a new face being out in the market or because NzbDrone is truly better than SickBeard is yet to be understood. Like most choices, comparing yourself is the best thing to do, in my opinion. With NzbDrone automatically importing SickBeard's database, it should be quite easy to compare them yourself side-by-side. Or if you like SickBeard, try SickRage, which basically SickBeard with more features.

So there you go, a basic comparison of NzbDrone vs SickBeard. If you think NzbDrone is a good SickBeard alternative, go ahead and try it. Please do share your experiences with NzbDrone vs SickBeard in the comments section to help others.

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Anand is a self-learned computer enthusiast, hopeless tinkerer (if it ain't broke, fix it), a part-time blogger, and a Scientist during the day. He has been blogging since 2010 on Linux, Ubuntu, Home/Media/File Servers, Smart Home Automation, and related HOW-TOs.