HDR-FOX T2 HDD Replacement


My Humax has had 2 significant issues this year related to HDD and fault count increasing
So time to think about replacing.

Assuming that Seagate Pipeline is no longer available - (is it?) do I get a Skyhawk or are there others to consider.
I have a 1TB ... but suppose might as well put in a 2TB.

I have done a little looking .... Skyhawk 2 TB SATAIII and WD 2TB Purple both come in at same price ...... is either better for a PVR, both are surveillance drives.

Fo Skyhawk ... do I need 64MB cache ST2000VX008 or the 256MB cache ST2000VX015
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This thread is nominated as the master thread for discussing HDD replacement (there are many existing threads).

(work in progress)
As usual, please comment corrections and I will incorporate.

Replacing the HDR-FOX Internal HDD​

As the population of HDR-FOXes ages, the forum is seeing more and more enquiries how to go about replacing the HDD (Hard Disk Drive) - the HDD is the most likely part to fail or show indications of imminent failure. Particularly perplexing is that the original part as fitted by Humax is, near enough, no longer available as a new retail part.

Much has already been discussed in various forum threads and the wiki, but commonly new threads are raised when newcomers are not adept at searching for existing information. This results in the extra effort of rehashing, decentralisation, potential for error, and the overhead of locating and maintaining information repeated in multiple posts and threads.

Thus, this is an attempt to gather all the information into one place.

As a preface, let me assure you: actually replacing a HDD in a HDR-FOX is very easy - only requiring a cross-head screwdriver, a little patience and courage, and the ability to follow simple instructions (and please allow for the fact that simple instructions are bound to be lengthy, and it's often the case that it is quicker to do something than explain how to do it).

Backups and Archives (but it's only telly)

The first thing to be aware of is that any data storage mechanism can fail at any time. Unless the data on it is disposable, it needs to have a current working backup - all too many "backups" can be found to be worthless when the crunch comes. You should always test that the backup creation was successful and complete, that the backup medium can be read, and that any automated restore process you rely on actually works.

Backup media can also fail, or be destroyed (for example in a fire), so data is not considered secure unless it exists in at least three different places. Writeable CDs/DVDs, or even solid state storage, do not have a guaranteed data retention period, so archives need to be periodically refreshed - and the more data there is in the archive, the greater the overhead of ensuring its integrity. A physical drive, disc, UPD, (whatever) might be covered by warranty for replacement, but that warranty never includes loss of data.

Over the passage of time, formats change and old formats cease to be readable by currently available consumer hardware. If you came across a 3½" floppy disk at the back of a drawer, would you be able to access it? Optical discs are going the same way.

Sometimes data can be recovered from a totally failed drive, but that usually involves specialist equipment or service, at considerable cost. The user has to consider the value of the data against the cost of recovery.

All that said, when dealing with a PVR's recording drive, "it's only telly". The problem really starts if you choose to store precious family video on it. If you're a squirrel and building up a definitive set of favourite movies (which you'll possibly never actually watch, or if you really wanted to could buy the DVD very cheaply second hand), maybe you need to let go (hmmm... there goes my 10 years of Strictly).

Diagnosing a Failing/Failed Drive

Failed Drive

A failed drive could prevent the HDR-FOX working at all (depending on the nature of the failure), or it could have no obvious symptoms other than recording not working, no playback of recordings, and no live pause. If the HDR-FOX isn't working properly (in so far as it won't boot, or is mis-operating even displaying live TV), a failed drive can be diagnosed by disconnecting the data and/or power cable to the HDD. For access, see HDR-FOX Commissioning, Disassembly, Repair (click).

Be aware that a faulty PSU or motherboard might also produce symptoms incorrectly attributed to the HDD.

Failing Drive

Assuming the HDD has not actually failed completely, symptoms of a failing drive may include:
  • Picture breakup, even on live TV;

  • Extreme sluggishness responding to commands;

  • (with Custom Firmware) WebIF reports of increasing reallocated sector counts.
The reason for the first two is that when a HDD is struggling, the operating system attempts to compensate by retrying operations which return an error status, and the retries impose an additional overhead on the system which slows down everything else. But again, these symptoms need not be conclusive.

An increase in the reallocated sector count need not be alarming, but the WebIF reports it so that the user is aware of it. Reallocated sectors are a normal process in the working of a modern HDD - defects are expected, and there is a pool of spare sectors available to take over by being swapped in ("reallocation"). The problem is that the pool is not unlimited, and when the pool runs out there is no more self-repair capacity and data will be lost.

A rapidly increasing reallocation count not only means the pool will run out faster, it also indicates a physical problem with the drive might be causing sectors to fail (instead of the occasional random failure). For example: contamination trapped under the head, or even the head itself, rubbing the disc surface.

The HDR-FOX benefits from a periodic fixdisk operation (Custom Firmware), whether or not there are reports of increased reallocation count. File system errors can build up, which are nothing to do with the HDD itself but simply small issues with the database that controls how the operating system accesses files. These errors are likely as not the result of interrupted database updates, the interruption being a system crash or a power loss. Less robust file systems might just fail, whereas the Ext3 system has sufficient built-in redundancy that it can continue to operate despite a few inconsistencies, and can have those inconsistencies flushed by the occasional fixdisk - see Quick Guide to Disk Recovery (click).

However, fixdisk is also a means to access self-repair mechanisms built into the HDD itself. Modern HDDs include self-monitoring and self-test, reports being the "SMART" statistics available using the CF: WebIF >> Diagnostics >> Disk Diagnostics. In the Attributes table, "Reallocated_Sector_Ct" is the stat used to generate WebIF warnings. This, and the figures for "Current_Pending_Sector" and "Offline_Uncorrectable" are the ones to watch. You might find temperature figures highlighted in red and marked as failing, don't worry about that unless the figures are excessive (70º+) - the "normal" HDR-FOX runs the HDD hot (which can be improved by use of the CF fan package).

If there are still problems after running fixdisk (possibly several times), then it is worth getting advice on the forum. However, you should also prepare yourself for the possibility that your HDD is ripe for replacement. Persisting with a potentially failing HDD decreases your chances of recovering data from it, to be transferred to a new HDD.

For information about running fixdisk, see Quick Guide to Disk Recovery (click). For a general introduction to CF (Custom Firmware), see Quick Guide to Custom Firmware (click).

Increasing Storage

Of course, a failed or failing HDD is not the only reason to replace it – you might want capacity for more recordings. I'm not saying you can't, but I urge consideration. If the cause of running out of space is simply poor housekeeping*, then you will run out of space in a larger HDD too.

* Poor housekeeping: recording more hours of TV than you have free time to watch and/or not deleting recordings after they've been watched even though the likelihood you'll ever watch them again is very small.

Don't kid yourself a larger drive will give you more leeway. Sooner or later your leeway will run out, and the bigger the drive is the harder the task of sorting out the recordings. "Do I need that? Not sure, better keep it just in case."

But, there are also circumstances which make a large drive desirable and convenient. A particular one is a multi-user situation, where several people might be performing time-shift functions: eg Dad, Mum, and the Kids.

Choosing a Replacement Drive

The OEM (original equipment manufacture) drive was the Seagate Pipeline. At the time of writing (end of 2020), these are now only available as remnant stock. New old-stock does turn up, but unscrupulous sellers have cottoned onto the idea that the Pipelines are in demand (as like-for-like replacements; they were commonly used in PVRs including Sky boxes) and are hawking second hand units as "new" on the likes of Amazon Marketplace and eBay. They are gambling on the buyer not being sophisticated enough to check the SMART stats (which includes a log of the time a drive has been powered up for - a factory-fresh drive should be close to zero), or (worse) could have wiped the SMART stats before dispatch. That's fraudulent, like "clocking" a car to conceal its true mileage.

Almost any 3½" SATA2 drive will work, but not necessarily be optimal. For example: drives designed for general computing are required to have fast random access and high burst transfer rates. That means they will have high spindle speeds (noisy), high power consumption, and run hot. Drives designed for portable applications, where there is a risk of shock or drop, park their heads at every opportunity and might cause glitches in sustained data transfers.

Drives optimised or suitable for PVR use have a relatively slow spindle speed (low noise and power), and do not need a high burst transfer rate, but require a reliable sustained average transfer rate. These are typically characterised as "PVR" or "surveillance" (ie security camera) drives. Lower power = less heat, which is a significant consideration for the HDR-FOX with modest internal cooling capability, even with the fan running full blast (which is also noisy).

Summary: 3½", SATA2, 5900rpm, "PVR"/ "surveillance" / "CE" / "AV".

2½" drives can work, but will require the drive caddy is adapted by drilling new mounting holes (or fitting a commercial 2½"-3½" adapter frame), but typically 2½" drives are "portable" (see comments above). See below regarding SSDs. SATA3 should work (being backward compatible with SATA2), possibly needing a jumper link fitted to force the drive to operate as SATA2 (check the instructions).

  • 5¼" drives (these won't fit inside the HDR-FOX, but in any case don't really exist any more);

  • SATA1;

  • Greater than 5900rpm spindle speed.
From a somewhat outdated article on the wiki:
https://wiki.hummy.tv/wiki/2TB_Disk_Installation_Blog said:
Whichever drive is chosen, it should be one specifically designed for use in a PVR. These drives are known as CE or AV drives and are optimised for AV content. They generally run cooler and quieter than desktop drives as well as consuming less power. They also behave differently as regards error detection, correction and reporting. A single read/write error when recording AV content usually matters a lot less than a pause while the drive or application stops, waits for the disk platter to revolve again then retries the read.

I selected the Seagate Pipeline HD 2TB Drive (ST2000VM002/3) for a number of reasons:
  • The existing factory-fitted disk is a Seagate Pipeline;
  • It spins at 5900rpm which is a compromise speed offering slightly more performance (most CE/AV drives are 5400rpm);
  • It is qualified for operating temperatures up to 75°C;
  • Like all 2TB drives, it is an Advanced Format (4K sector size) drive. However, unlike other 2TB drives, it uses a technology called SmartAlign to handle partition misalignment conditions in the drive firmware without impacting on performance. Most other drive manufacturers have realignment tools which should be run following partitioning of these drives. I intended to create aligned partitions anyway but this was extra insurance in case it proved impossible.
  • The WD drives (the realistic alternative) will apparently attempt to park the read heads once every 8 seconds for the life of the HDD which is just horrible!
On the down side, I couldn't find any reports of anyone using one of these drives in their Humax. The drive that has most often been used by others is the Western Digital AV-GP (WD20EURS). I considered that drive too, not least because it is 10% cheaper than the Seagate, but I read some reports of it being noisy on spin-up and spin-down (although quiet in operation) as well as the known head-park issue which can only be disabled if power saving is disabled globally on the drive. The Seagate felt like a better bet.

As of now, with the general unavailability of Seagate Pipelines, the current front runners as alternative HDDs seem to be:
  • Western Digital Purple (see Spoiler 1)

  • Seagate SkyHawk
At least one member of the forum reports one of these in use, but note:
If you can get one, go for an AV drive.

The Red and Purple drives are designed for RAID use and so have TLER (an error recovery option) enabled which can cause problems if there are problems with reading or writing to a sector. AV drives usually have this parameter disabled so that a failed write is just ignored and recording moves on. It can also cause problems with dealing with any problem sectors in the future as it causes some problems to be hidden from the host (the Humax in this scenario). A quick web search shows up a fair number of warnings that say using a TLER/ERC-enabled drive without a RAID controller is advised against. Bear in mind that this doesn't really matter if the drive is completely healthy.

I would actually recommend avoiding the WD Purple drives. They have a surprisingly low workload rating (around 60TB/year) which I suppose is a consequence of their intended use in large surveillance arrays.

From the spec sheet:

1 million hours MTBF
Best-in-class reliability for mainstream
3.5-inch form-factor surveillance

* Based on a surveillance usage of <60 TB/year transferred at 25°C
ambient environment with up to 16 cameras

That's one hell of a footnote, in light grey too!

They also have a load of other specialised features in their firmware which may cause problems that we can't predict. If going for a WD disk which isn't an AV model, choose a Red. It still has TLER enabled but otherwise it's a good fit and has three times the workload rating.

With any non-AV WD disk, watch the disk stats to check if the load/unload count grows quickly and if so look for the wdidle3 utility to disable the head parking, which will involve connecting the drive to a SATA bus on a different computer somewhere. I think that's unlikely to be happening on a surveillance disk but you never know - it /is/ usually set to 8 seconds from the factory on the reds though.

As standard, the HDR-FOX can only utilise or format up to 2TiB (see Spoiler 2) however large the actual HDD might be, and will require the drive to be prepared as MBR (not GPT - drives over 2TiB will be delivered prepared as GPT). Sticking to a 2TB (or less) drive makes replacement effectively "fit and forget"; over 2TiB requires work. Adding Custom Firmware enables GPT to be used, and storage up to 4TiB (over 4TiB the HDR-FOX has difficulty tracking disk utilisation).

For more information about formats etc, see Things Every... (click) section 12.
To understand the difference between TB and TiB, see Glossary (click), entry "KiB".

SSDs (Solid State Drives)

There is no reason an SSD can't work in the HDR-FOX. It used to be the case that SSDs didn't have the write endurance satisfactory for PVR use, but the technology has improved enormously (particularly incorporating "wear levelling") to the extent that I recently (at the time or writing) purchased a 240GB SSD with a 3-year/80TiB warranty* for a "mere" £30 (for experimental use as an external recording drive on a HD-FOX – I have worn out an old-school SSD in the past, in a matter of months). A 2TB Seagate Skyhawk internal HDD currently costs about £50... byte for byte that's cheaper by a factor of 6.

* 3 years or 80TiB of write data, whichever comes first.

The main demand for writes to the drive in a HDR-FOX (be that HDD or SSD) is the time shift buffer, which (to all intents and purposes) is continually buffering the current active TV service to the drive. If you primarily view HiDef, that's about 2GiB per hour (or half that for StDef). The larger the SSD the greater its write warranty, but taking the 80TiB example: that's 40,000 hours (roughly 4 years) continuous buffering of HiDef.

It is the general experience on the forum that those of us who keep our HDR-FOXes (fitted with HDDs) running 24/7 have a much lower failure rate than users who repeatedly take their units in and out of standby. The main cause of this is temperature cycling, which creates differential expansion and contraction and ultimately stress-fracture in some mechanical joint (eg the soldered electrical contact between a component and the PCB). This applies to all electronics assemblies.

When using an SSD however, the overriding factor becomes the amount of data being transferred. Consequently, if you fancy going SSD, you might want to keep your HDR-FOX in standby, tuned to a non-video service (eg BBC Red Button) when idling, or use CF to turn off the timeshift buffer when not needed. I shall continue to run my HD-FOX 24/7 without any such consideration just to find out how long the new SSD really lasts! Update, 3 years later: still running.

For users of HDR-FOXes with custom firmware, in particular, there is a major benefit to not returning the unit to standby after use: the CF can't run in standby, so all the network access convenience and processing (such as decryption and advert detection) cannot operate in standby.

Note there are two main types of SSD. Fitting an SSD in a HDR-FOX requires the type with SATA data and power connectors, and as these are typically 2½" form factor a little bit of mechanical ingenuity will be required (which, being light, can be as simple as securing it to the drive caddy with double-sided foam tape). What you don't want is the "M2" type SSD, which is designed to fit into a special connector on a PC (or other) motherboard in a manner not unlike a RAM module. These are not suitable.

Advantages of SSD over HDD:
  • Silent;

  • Lower power (less heat);

  • More robust, doesn't "mind" being power-cycled so much (or dropped).
Advantages of HDD over SSD:
  • Much cheaper per TiB (at time of writing);

  • No maximum write endurance;

  • No "fudging" required to fit (if 3½").
Purchasing Online

It is possible to walk into a shop (eg PC World / Currys) and buy a HDD, but frankly the choice will be limited and those available most likely aimed at general purpose computing. It is much more realistic to select and purchase on-line.

If you are wary about ordering on-line you should stick to well-regarded retailers with known bricks-and-mortar establishments (but even then you have to be careful to check you are not fooled into clicking on a bogus site), and use a mainstream payment method with independent dispute resolution (see Spoiler 3). Religiously following a few simple rules should keep you pretty safe however:
  1. Does the advertiser display proper contact details on the website (phone number and postal address)? If these don't appear on the page itself, check the "About Us" or "Contact Us" pages. Be very cautious if they only want to be contacted online.

  2. If this is a trader previously unknown to you, google for any queries about reputation. Dissatisfied customers will let their feelings known on forums and review sites. You shouldn't automatically believe everything you read, but is it worth saving a couple of quid by ordering from a seller with a bad reputation, with the risk you might end up dissatisfied yourself?

  3. Does the advertised product meet all your requirements? Too many people fail to check all the details. Assume nothing. If a specification is not stated, you can't complain if that requirement is not met.

  4. Is the price realistic? Be very suspicious if a price is too low... or too high (some people will buy an expensive item because they think it must be better!). If the price is "too good to be true" it could mean a trap - they're off-loading outdated or duff stock perhaps.

  5. Check the delivery charges and the expected delivery date. Make sure they don't suddenly change when placing the order.
Never ever give your bank details to somebody you don't know. Payment by debit or credit card is reasonably safe, but make sure the payment processing goes via your card issuer's payment system - be wary of entering the three-digit CCV anywhere else, and absolutely not if the web page isn't encrypted (make sure the actual URL starts "https://", the padlock icon in the address bar can be faked!). I prefer credit card, because then payment is processed via your credit card issuer and not automatically taken from your bank account, which provides an extra layer of protection.

Credit card issuers are jointly liable with the supplier for the satisfactory conclusion of the deal, provided the bill is £200 or more (if the goods are not supplied, or are not satisfactory, and you can't get the supplier to sort it out, the credit card issuer is legally obliged to compensate you). Debit card disputes are handled by your own bank, with no joint liability (although the banks are under a lot of scrutiny at the moment to treat the customer fairly and accept some liability for on-line fraud, with compensation through "charge back" where money is reclaimed from the payee).

PayPal is an alternative payment processing agent, with their own process of dispute resolution, and reasonably trustworthy because their multi-million pound business depends on it. eBay used to run on PayPal, but has now separated from it so if you use PayPal to pay an eBay bill you then have to deal with PayPal for resolution not eBay (eBay now has its own means to pay directly). Amazon also have their own payment processing system, and their own dispute resolution, but by linking Amazon (or eBay) payments through your credit card you have two layers of protection to appeal to (should it become necessary). TBH they are all unresponsive when it comes to complaints resolution, and not necessarily within reach of UK law... whereas your credit card issuer is!

Fitting a Replacement Drive

Something to note is that (disregarding Custom Firmware for the moment) the HDR-FOX only stores recordings (and other media) on the HDD. Everything else (user settings, recording schedule, etc) is stored in non-volatile memory. Therefore replacing, or disconnecting, the HDD has no effect on the remaining functionality.

Full details for opening up the HDR-FOX and removing the HDD are provided here: HDR-FOX Commissioning, Disassembly, Repair (click). Fitting and reassembly is the reverse of removal.


The following describes the process of complete disassembly down to individual components. For any particular job it is only necessary to disassemble as far as the component concerned, and an unnecessary risk to disassemble anything that is not necessary. For example: to replace the HDD, the drive caddy must be removed (the HDD cannot be accessed any other way), but it is not necessary to disassemble the fan or any other component described later in the procedure...

Once fitted, powering up the HDR-FOX should result in it recognising there is a blank drive and offering to format it. If not, go to MENU >> Settings >> System >> Data Storage >> Storage = Internal HDD, then Format Storage.

However, with CF installed, the standard software can't get exclusive access to the HDD to be able to format it, and because it was never programmed to expect such an eventuality it puts up the misleading error message "Cannot format the hard disk. The capacity is too large." (or words to that effect). The solution is to is to enter Safe Mode first: WebIF >> Diagnostics >> Safe Mode (or use the Telnet menu).

Alternatively, the standard formatting can be bypassed altogether by using the Linux command line via Telnet (assuming CF is installed):
Details are on the 2TB Disk Installation Blog (ignore the partitioning bit):
humax# mkfs.ext3 -m 0 -O sparse_super /dev/sda1
humax# mkfs.ext3 -m 0 -O sparse_super -T largefile /dev/sda2
humax# mkfs.ext3 -m 0 -O sparse_super /dev/sda3
making sure you only have the hard disk connected (no USBs).

Thereafter, everything should be back to normal (minus the problems which led to replacement in the first place).

Access to the Existing Recordings on the Old Drive

As standard, recordings are stored in an encrypted form (with the intention of discouraging piracy, particularly of HiDef recordings). The HDR-FOX itself encrypts the recordings when made, and decrypts them in the process of playback, and the user is unaware of it. However, the consequence is that if a HDD were transplanted from one HDR-FOX to another, recordings would no longer play because the new HDR-FOX doesn't have the right decryption key.

There is no such problem swapping drives and recordings within the same HDR-FOX - the decryption key is carried by the HDR-FOX itself (and is unique to each HDR-FOX), not the drive.

Presuming the old HDD has not actually failed, chances are there are recordings on it you wish to retain – if not as "keepers" then because they are still in the queue to be watched. There are a number of ways to achieve this, according to circumstances.

1. Export to a USB Drive

Recordings (and other media) to be retained could be exported to a USB drive (HDD or Flash) before removing the old HDD from the HDR-FOX. This is performed using the Move/Copy option on the OPT+ menu, from MEDIA. Multiple files and/or folders can be selected/deselected using the red button.

Use Media >> Storage (blue) >> USB to select multiple recordings/folders listed on the external HDD (red button to select/deselect), and OPT+ >> Move/Copy to copy them to the internal HDD.

With the recordings on the USB drive and the new HDD installed, the recordings can be stored and played directly from the USB drive, or copied onto the new HDD by the same process.

Be aware that:
  • If the USB drive is formatted FAT32, recordings will be truncated to 4GiB without warning (4GiB is less than an hour of HiDef);

  • If the USB drive is formatted NTFS, the Custom Firmware ntfs-3g package will be required to write to it (as standard, the HDR-FOX will read from NTFS but not write to it);

  • The HDR-FOX menus can be used to format a USB drive as Ext3, but this is not compatible with Windows (if that matters);

  • SdDef recordings copied to or from USB are decrypted in the process, but not HiDef recordings (which remain encrypted as standard) - this does not matter for playback on the same HDR-FOX;

  • Copying is slow: the HDR-FOX USB port can only manage approximately 200MiB/min, and transferring the recordings onto the new HDD (instead of just leaving them on the USB drive) involves copying them twice.
2. Fit Old HDD as a USB Drive

This obviously sidesteps having to export the content and issues with the drive format (the HDR-FOX drive is Ext3), but throws up some problems of its own. The HDR-FOX does not have a spare SATA port (or power), so using the old HDD as a USB drive requires a SATA-USB adapter, and a source of power (USB-connected "portable" hard drives are 2½", which only require the 5V power supply available from a USB port).

To connect the old HDD to USB, you will require either:
If you happen to have one of those available, that's great, but a USB-SATA adapter is also handy to have in the toolkit. Bear in mind that a USB-SATA adapter is "bare bones" - the HDD itself remains exposed to the environment and is not suitable for long-term use (especially if there are little fingers about). A caddy protects the bare HDD by fitting it into an enclosure.

Having fitted the old HDD by USB using a caddy or adapter, the recordings can be stored and played directly from the USB drive, or copied onto the new HDD from the OPT+ menu (see above). Transfer speed remains limited to approximately 200MB/min (as above), but at least you don't have to do that twice.

3. Copy from Old to New HDD Externally

If you are able to connect both drives into a PC (possibly by disconnecting the PC's existing drive), this is the best way to avoid the slow transfer rate when copying recordings across by USB on the HDR-FOX. This will also work if one or both drives as connected to the PC by USB adapter, because a PC's USB ports should be much faster than the HDR-FOX's.

Unless you are an expert (and at your own risk), do not attempt to do this using Windows. The PC should be booted with Linux, which is able to understand Ext3 natively. Even a Windows PC can be booted into Linux using a bootable download burned to DVD or USB drive.

The exact procedure for doing this will vary from system to system, but the general process is:
  1. Remove the old HDD from the HDR-FOX and fit the new HDD;

  2. Format the new HDD using the HDR-FOX (this ensures the correct disk formatting);

  3. Remove the new HDD and fit both to the PC;

  4. Boot the PC to Linux (or MacOS);

  5. Use the system tools to locate the media stored on the old HDD, and copy it to the equivalent location on the new HDD;

  6. Fit the new HDD into the HDR-FOX.
4. Copy Across Network

With the old drive fitted to a Linux PC, files can be copied onto the HDR-FOX using FTP (as standard) or by SMB/NFS (using Custom Firmware). For FTP, the FTP server must be turned on: MENU >> Settings >> System >> Internet Setting >> FTP Server = On (unless the Custom Firmware betaftpd package is in use, in which case the standard server must be turned off).

For some, this could be a good compromise between speed and convenience: only one drive needs connecting to the PC, and the transfer could be up to three times as fast than by USB import. Note, however, the requirement not to use Windows.

5. Recovering Recordings for Use Not on the Original HDR-FOX

There are a few problems to be addressed if recordings are being recovered from a HDD for use not on the original HDR-FOX (such as if the HDR-FOX failed for reasons other than the HDD):
  • All recordings are encrypted when recorded;

  • UK Freeview programmes are transmitted in TS (Transport Stream) format, but recorded by the HDR-FOX in M2TS format (and misleadingly labelled ".TS");

  • The .HMT and .NTS "sidecar" files which are created by the HDR-FOX with each recording hold metadata for the recording, which only the HDR-FOX can make use of. The metadata provides the info synopsis for the recorded programme, its title (as opposed to filename), any bookmarks set by the user, and key index points to aid forward and backward skip etc, amongst other things.
Users of Custom Firmware can arrange that all recordings (StDef and HiDef) are decrypted shortly after recording (or even simultaneous with recording). This eliminates the problem of encryption when exporting recordings for use elsewhere (or on a different HDR-FOX). The CF can also be used to alter a different HDR-FOX's encryption/decryption key to match the original HDR-FOX's key, given a few easily-derived parameters (see Spoiler 4). Recordings can also be decrypted using a PC (Windows or Linux). For details, see Decryption Guide (click).

The key is contrived from the MAC and serial number (which are printed on the product label) - whatever you do, don't lose that information.

The key is constructed from the six eight-bit fields from the MAC expressed in hexadecimal (12 characters), followed by the ASCII representation (in hexadecimal) of the first ten digits from the serial number (20 characters, making 32 characters in total). This might sound like gobbledygook if you're not a computer scientist, but really it's easy:
  1. Take the letters and numbers from the MAC and remove the colons;

  2. Take the first ten digits of the serial number and insert "3" before each one (this only works because the hex ASCII code for the characters 0-9 happens to be 30-39 respectively).
If the MAC address is AB:CD:EF:FE:DC:BA and first 10 digits of serial number are 1234567890, then the encryption key would be:
Substitute to suit.

General purpose media players are not very good at playing recordings, even if you can get them past the TS/M2TS confusion. The problem is that the broadcast TS carries video and audio streams that are not of constant format, and a typical media player will expect the formats to remain constant throughout. Nonetheless, VLC does a decent job.

Implications of Changing the HDD for Users of Custom Firmware

As noted above, users of Custom Firmware for the HDR-FOX can choose to fit an HDD in excess of the standard 2TiB limit, by using GPT. To install a drive in this way, you must follow the proper instructions (do not accept the HDR-FOX's offer to format, or its complaints about the HDD). Instructions are here: https://wiki.hummy.tv/wiki/Very_Large_Hard_Drive.

Other than that, the implications of changing a HDD in a HDR-FOX which is running Custom Firmware are that a proportion of the "firmware" is stored on the HDD (unlike the standard Humax firmware, which is all in Flash on the motherboard). The user configuration of the packages is also on HDD.

If the old HDD has failed, there is no choice but to rebuild the CF. This does not involve restoring the Flash, but accessing the HDR-FOX's IP address from a web browser will produce the download page. This is not arduous and a clean install is the preferred option.

To restore the CF installation from the old HDD (without downloading it and reconfiguring it from scratch), copy the mod folder from the recording partition on the old HDD into the same place in the new HDD. Under the circumstances, with the old HDD connected by USB, this is most easily accomplished using Linux command-line commands via Telnet:

cd <folder containing mod on old HDD>
cp -R mod /mnt/hd2

Do not attempt to do this using Windows or via a FAT32 or exFAT drive. The copy process must preserve file permissions, and a direct Ext3 to Ext3 transfer using Linux is the easiest way to ensure they are preserved.

For information about Telnet: https://wiki.hummy.tv/wiki/Telnet. Note that Telnet is not available unless CF has been installed (it resides in Flash, not the HDD).

Note also, with the Telnet command line, it is possible to copy media content as well as the CF:

Take out old disk. Insert new disk. Switch on and let it partition and format (I would reformat partition 2 after that - see 2TB blog - but you don't need to).
When it's done all that, telnet into the box and select command line option.
Install rsync - opkg update; opkg install rsync
Connect the old disk in a powered USB caddy. Then rsync -av --exclude Tsr/ /media/drive2/ /mnt/hd2/

Index to Existing Information

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Assuming that Seagate Pipeline is no longer available - (is it?)
To summarise other discussion threads: only as remnant stock. New old-stock does turn up, but unscrupulous sellers have cottoned onto the idea that the Pipelines are in demand (as like-for-like replacements) and are hawking second hand units as "new" on the likes of Amazon Marketplace and eBay. They are gambling on the buyer not being sophisticated enough to check the SMART stats, or (worse) could have wiped the SMART stats before dispatch.

do I get a Skyhawk
Yes, probably

I have a 1TB ... but suppose might as well put in a 2TB
2TB is the easy option, it should slip straight in, but CF confers the ability to go bigger than that by using GPT instead of MBR.
I have ordered new drive ... are there any tips ( or is there a guide) how to copy across recordings onto new disk, I’m sure someone cleverer than I, has worked it out.
I have ordered new drive ... are there any tips ( or is there a guide) how to copy across recordings onto new disk, I’m sure someone cleverer than I, has worked it out.
You need an enclosure to stick the old drive in, I lucked out having an external drive which I opened up and substituted my old drive in it, and plug into the front usb and copy away. My 500gb took about six hrs in first stint then another say 10 hrs
I have ordered new drive ... are there any tips ( or is there a guide) how to copy across recordings onto new disk, I’m sure someone cleverer than I, has worked it out.

If you have a PC with two spare SATA ports (the quick way)
  1. Remove old HDD (see Commissioning an HDR-FOX - click);

  2. Install new HDD, let HDR-FOX format it;

  3. Prepare a Linux boot for the PC - can be booted from DVD or USB as a "Live Linux";

  4. Remove new HDD and connect both to the PC;

  5. Boot Linux, then copy the old HDD contents of the My Video folder to the same folder on the new HDD;

  6. Reinstall new HDD into HDR-FOX.

Alternatively (the slow way)
  1. Obtain a USB to SATA adapter (with power supply);

  2. Remove old HDD;

  3. Install new HDD, let HDR-FOX format it;

  4. Connect old HDD to HDR-FOX via USB to SATA adapter;

  5. Use Media >> Storage (blue) >> USB to select multiple recordings/folders listed on the external HDD (red button to select/deselect), and OPT+ >> Move/Copy to copy them to the internal HDD.

The quick way is an order of magnitude faster than the slow way.
Defn got B .... have to open up PC and look if I have spare SATA ports. Never booted up in Linux, not sure if learning curve will be too high but I'll check on ports first.
I should mention that you only need to transfer "keepers". Watch-and-delete stuff can be watched from the external drive.
HDD arrived .... got the 2TB Skyhawk.
Decided it would take me too long to figure out Linux ... so longer but simpler route..

To check on above ... remove old HDD and plug in new one ....no need to set any jumpers on HDD ?
On boot up it Humax will automatically format it, and install file structure.
Then once done, copy files across ... can you copy at a folder level .... I.e. select a folder of a series and it will move creating copy of folder and copying files into it ?

I know that’s basic Q .... but never done this on PVR.
Not unwrapped .. so maybe it’s doesn’t have jumpers.
i agree do in chunks makes sense ... current HDD has about 760GB used ....
USB supposed to be good for 480MB/s but in reality guess it will be much slower.
Swapped out old HDD .... got options on screen to format, completed that.
Shows I now have 1802 GB. So new disk seems fine.
Plugged in old disk via a powered SATA to USB converter.
when I go Media (button) > storage (Blue on screen button)
I only get 2 icons on screen ..... HDD and Network
Should I Also have icon for USB ?

in case relevant .... if I go to Yellow on screen button (media) ... I see 3 icons ... Video, Music, Photo
Should I Also have icon for USB ?
Yes should be a UB icon. Most likely problem is that you are using a USB to SATA adapter that doesn't provide the 12V supply the hard drive needs (many USB adapters are intended for SSD or 2.5" drives that don't need 12V). If that is the problem you want something like link to eBay