Is my hard drive dying?

rbrian

Member
I had an HDR2000T, whose hard drive died. I replaced it with an HDR-FOX T2 - whose hard drive died. I replaced the hard drive, and installed custom firmware, so I can access recordings on my home network. Then the HDMI port developed a loose connection, so it only worked if it was waggled just right. Then it stopped recording HD, and I thought sod it, I'll buy a new one. Again.

A year and two months (out of warranty) after buying my new HDR1000s, it keeps crashing when playing back recordings, then after restarting, it will play them, but won't pause or rewind, seemingly thinking it's a timeshift buffer, not a recording. Then it stops responding to the remote.

I was fed up of paying for sky, now I seem to be paying nearly as much to replace faulty boxes! Is there anything I can do to recover my recordings?

I've decided to cut my losses, and buy a cheap Zgemma box from Amazon. It's much more open, so if (when) the hard drive goes, it should be much easier to recover. And it's much cheaper, so if (when) it goes wrong, it'll be cheaper to replace. At this rate, I'll end up building my own with a Raspberry Pi!
 

MikeSh

Well-Known Member
Well, you've either been extraordinarily unlucky or your home is hostile to electronics. You don't happen to live in a remote place with overhead lines feeding the house? If so some mains filtering might be a good investment.

(Actually our HDR1010S stopped responding to the remote a few days ago. Also just out of the one year warranty but it was a refurb unit anyway. I thought it was probably the batteries but it didn't respond to the buttons on the front either, so I powered it off and back on at the mains and (touch wood) it's been OK since. I hope it's not going the way yours has.)
 
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rbrian

Member
Nothing else electronic has died! Not even my PC, which is on all day, running BOINC, so working hard, and even a really impressive lightning storm which caused a power cut didn't worry it. No overhead lines, I live in a new build estate.

My original box did move house, I thought that might have affected it, which is why I didn't mind buying another. The next one I started to think maybe Humax weren't all they were cracked up to be, but I bought another so I could watch my recordings on an external drive (which is older than all the boxes, and still going strong).

I saw another thread which says using the remote record app (which I have) could cause this issue, and it's not Humax's fault, it's FreeSat's, which makes me wonder if it's a conspiracy driving me back to Sky - but the problems a friend has had with Sky Q connectivity suggests it's probably just about money. We have the technology to record, and share those recordings with other devices, easily and seamlessly, and have had for years, but DRM and vendor lock-in (which pirates can easily defeat, and harm only legitimate purchasers) cause headaches.

I'd like a simple, flawless system, but no matter how much I pay, nobody seems to make one. Those that SHOULD, don't, and they're locked down so I can't fix them. That leaves me with only one option - cheap, unofficial, ugly, complicated, yet fully functional. It remains to be seen if the EPG is any good, but even if I have to go back to padded timer recordings, at least I'll be able to play them back, and fast forward, on my TV in the living room, my PC in my office, and my iPad wherever.
 

Black Hole

May contain traces of nut
There's no such thing as a flawless system, simply because everything is so complicated. And even if it was flawless at design time, external influences out of the designers control can make it flawed by the time it hits the shop shelves.

Your best hope is to go for an open system, where enthusiasts working for the love of it iron out the flaws, whether as designed or as imposed.
 
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rbrian

Member
Yep, you're right. That's why I'm going for an open Linux based system, with plenty of enthusiasts fixing problems as they go along.

Designers could make better decisions though, this problem with the remote app causing lockups, for instance - I had custom firmware years ago which used a webpage to achieve the same thing, and nothing went wrong, so it can't be that hard to fix. Well maybe it can; it's taken ages to find the issue, but is that due to the design of the firmware? The custom firmware, which as I understand it was mostly about adding existing Linux libraries rather than writing very much new (please do correct me if I'm wrong), had no such issue.

Also, my friend's sky q problems are caused by the 2.4ghz band being congested in his house. Could the designers have possibly guessed that those who are willing to pay a small fortune every month for the top package may have many devices, and made them 5ghz capable? Or added Ethernet ports? Or even allowed them to connect to his wifi, which has extenders, rather than directly to the main box? Of course they could, but that would have cost more. Just because you can buy a fire stick, or chrome cast, or dozens of others for less than £30, or a fully fledged windows 10 PC stick for £100, why should I expect sky to provide something with even a fraction of their most basic capabilities for £100 per month?

I'm aware that my expectations may be unreasonable; I have just enough knowledge to understand the cause of problems but not quite enough to find solutions. It's frustrating. I really should learn to code.

So as it stands, the choice is, pay a lot for something cheap and flawed, unable to be repaired or upgraded, or pay a little for something cheap that takes work to fix, but can be upgraded?

Since there is no no-brainer fully working solution, the second option is the smart choice. It might tide me over until fibre arrives in my street, and I can stream TV instead, bypassing the problem entirely.
 
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rbrian

Member
I am sooooo anti cluttering-up-Internet-bandwidth-with-TV-delivery!
It's not my first choice, but my experiences with faulty set top boxes have driven me to try something - anything! - else. What annoys me most about this is that it didn't have to be that way. I'm a natural optimist; an idealist, and therefore permanently disappointed.
 
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rbrian

Member
Well, it finally died. Not the hard drive, the box. It forgot it had a hard drive, losing all my recordings. I replaced the drive, and it didn't recognise it had one - must be a hardware fault with the motherboard. Both drives work perfectly in my PC, and the recordings are all there - but is there any way to play them on my PC? There are 3 files for every recording: .HTM, .HJM, .NTS. I have Windows 10, but I can use Linux (I had to to access the drive).

The zgemma box didn't work; refused to find any channels whatever I did, so I bought a cheapo £80 Windows 10 mini PC, and a £50 Hauppauge WinTV USB stick - it has 2 freeview tuners, and works fine, although the software isn't up to much - it has metadata on the EPG, but the recordings are just a list of .TS files, with no metadata. Luckily there are other options - a combination of NextPVR and Kodi is the most feature complete, and easy to use... for about 10 minutes until it crashes. But when it crashes, it doesn't destroy my recordings, so it's still progress! The cheap Atom PC is too cheap; it stutters when playing back recordings - but my i7 PC will happily stream (not just download) the recordings over the network with no issues - so now I'm thinking about buying a more powerful one to go under the telly. Perhaps a small tower, so I can fit a 4-tuner PCIe card...

I'm also using my friend's refurb HDR1100S, (he bought a new one while he was waiting weeks for Humax to return it), so I can play around with other options and still watch TV - but it's stressful, wondering when Damocles' sword will fall...
 

Black Hole

May contain traces of nut
There are 3 files for every recording: .HTM, .HJM, .NTS.
Neither of those looks like the actual recording, they are probably just "sidecar" files (containing metadata). The recording itself might be split into multiple files in a folder if it's not there - the recording file should be hundreds of megabytes in size!

But in any case, it is almost certainly encrypted on the disk and useless without the original motherboard to decrypt it.
 

MartinLiddle

Super Moderator
Staff member
Well, it finally died. Not the hard drive, the box. It forgot it had a hard drive, losing all my recordings. I replaced the drive, and it didn't recognise it had one - must be a hardware fault with the motherboard.
The hardware fault with the motherboard causing the hard drive not to be recognised is well known and Humax were offering a fixed price repair for £26. I think that offer has now ended. The current offer is that if the unit is in warranty it will be exchanged; if it is out of warranty then they will supply a refurbished unit for £55.
 
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rbrian

Member
Neither of those looks like the actual recording, they are probably just "sidecar" files (containing metadata). The recording itself might be split into multiple files in a folder if it's not there - the recording file should be hundreds of megabytes in size!

But in any case, it is almost certainly encrypted on the disk and useless without the original motherboard to decrypt it.

Oops, I meant .HTS not .HTM - that's the big one, many of them gigabytes. I think you're right about the encryption; at least that's what I've read everywhere I've looked. Would it work if I copied the files to a USB stick?
 
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rbrian

Member
The hardware fault with the motherboard causing the hard drive not to be recognised is well known and Humax were offering a fixed price repair for £26. I think that offer has now ended. The current offer is that if the unit is in warranty it will be exchanged; if it is out of warranty then they will supply a refurbished unit for £55.

That's why my friend had his fixed, but he lost all his recordings. Also, I don't think it's related to the other intermittent problems, and I've had so many failed boxes that I no longer have any confidence in their products.

All I want is a way to watch what I recorded - but it doesn't look like that's going to be possible, so I'm finally going to cut my losses and use something that records in an open format. The cheap PC was a proof of concept; I'm looking for one with sufficient specs for 4K streaming, but there isn't much available as yet.

It needs a 7th gen intel core processor, and HDMI 2.0. You can get that in a NUC, but there's no room for a PCIe card in such a tiny machine. Ok, I could continue to use the USB stick and external drive, but it's a bit messy, and for £500 I want it to be perfect.

A full tower is too big, but nobody seems to make a miniATX motherboard with all the features I want, but I can wait.

I'll have to wait a while for fast enough broadband to stream 480p, let alone 4K, because Openreach broke their promises again and again. Also, I don't have a 4K TV yet, but I will. It won't have a Humax box connected to it.
 

colin postle

New Member
The hardware fault with the motherboard causing the hard drive not to be recognised is well known and Humax were offering a fixed price repair for £26. I think that offer has now ended. The current offer is that if the unit is in warranty it will be exchanged; if it is out of warranty then they will supply a refurbished unit for £55.

Heard about this fault some say resistor some capacitor, does anyone Know? My box has the same fault.

ta
 

Trev

The Dumb One
Remarkably, I had one go low value a few weeks ago to about 1/10 of it's proper value (and it mattered). I have never had that before, usually finding them gone high ore OC.
 
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