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Possible reassignment of external HDD

#1
Hello!

THE ACTUAL PROBLEM

Yesterday apparent disaster struck. One of the USB HDDs I use seemed to have 1. renamed itself and 2. lost all content.

It appears as if my BXR-HD have seemed it appropriate to, when entering the recordings list page of the menu system (named VIDEO in my swedish system, on my remote there is a direct button to arrive on this page called MEDIA), only recognizing the empty part of the USB HDD. However, when entering the page where one can see capacity details about the currently connected USB HDD (named Datalagring, which should translate into Storage/Data Storage/Media Storage or something similar), the numbers seems to be correctly identified as they were before yesterday. The name is still the new one however.

Obviously, I do not care what the STB names my USB HDD, but I would REALLY like to have my recordings list back. Any and all help would be greatly appreciated.

BACKGROUND INFO

Forgive me for being a bit lengthy but I feel it may be warranted since my issue is a bit different than most found here. If indeed this info part is unnecessary feel free to skip it. I put it in because I could not determine if the things stated here are self evident to people on this forum who are more knowledgeable than me.

I realize that this question may be a bit out of place in an english forum, but since I cannot find a swedish one which addresses my concerns and the swedish support tech I contacted explained that nothing could be done, I feel I have no other alternative than to contact this seemingly very competent (a bit of initial pandering does not hurt, does it?) forum.

I actually DO NOT have a HD-FOX T2 box but rather a STB called BXR-HD, that according to my online investigation seems to be a derivative of the former device adapted for the swedish (possibly scandinavian) market.

An online version of the manual can be found here:

link to BXR-HD manual (not allowed to post)

I understand that nobody here is likely to understand Swedish, but perhaps it can provide some technical info that could aid in concluding if the devices are indeed similar enough for me to recieve some help here...

The USB HDD in question have about 250 GB capacity of which about 5 GB were free before the possible reassignment. Both this and one of the other USB HDDs I utilise have been used to 100% capacity on numerous occasions so I do not believe lack of free space is a part of the problem.

One could also argue that the USB HDD is old and broken. Well, perhaps, but it is still recognized by the BXR-HD, so it is not totally bricked. At least not in a functional sense, but since I am unable to access any recordings it is all a bit semantic...

One of the differences between the swedish and english versions of the software seems to be that the swedish one is severly severed when it comes to network access. I gather that HD-FOX T2 have a lot more capabilities than BXR-HD:

https://hummy.tv/forum/threads/hdr-fox-t2-in-sweden.477/

Maybe I am a bit conservative when it comes to STBs, but I basically see it as a benefit to have a device that lacks connectivity. This avoids all the hassle and potential problems with updates and security issues, changes in functionality and so forth. This means that I have elected to NOT implement any of the (very few) OTA updates pushed by BOXER (the swedish "cable" company). If it aint broken...

This could possibly be a problem to a possible solution, the custom firmware, CFW. According to:

link to HDD + file system fix (not allowed to post)

The value on the System Information page (I do not actually know if this is the name of the page in question in the menu on the English version but it ought to be if the translation is ok, which it seems to be without having access to the original nomenclature) that corresponds to the FW version values I see in this forum is 1.00.05. If I understand the procedure above correctly it is necessary to use an updated FW in order to use the CFW attempt to restore the list of recordings on the USB HDD. I am hesitant to do this because

1. the FW of the STB seems to be working fine, I do not actually want to tamper with it
2. even a successful update and restoration of the faulty USB HDD recordings list could potentially render my working USB HDDs to be unrecognized
3. maybe problems regarding the national adaptation could arise, like
3a. altering bandwidth ranges to suit UK conditions (if they differ from swedish ones)
3b. changing the menu system to the english one which may not be compatible with the swedish operators broadcasting system
3c. if the national adaptations are separated from the FW, maybe it will not function if the FW is changed
4. any other way that a technical system which undergoes an unforeseen change could cease to function properly

Maybe I come across as negative. That is certainly not my intention, just cautiousness. I am quite keen to resolve the issue. The post does say at one point that the CFW operates beside the official FW. That, to me, seems to indicate that this could indeed be the way forward. Also, perhaps I am overly cautious. I do not actually KNOW if any of my hesitations have merit or indeed if there are others which I have not considered.

Final thoughts. This seems to me to be a similar problem to one that I encountered years ago when I had some issues with the Boot Sector/MBR on a HDD. That worked out eventually, after a lot of forum studying and use of various recovery programs. But that was a FAT32 partition on a HDD used with a Windows XP PC which I was accustomed to and a lot of info readily available online. This situation is a lot more niched. Still, perhaps connecting the USB HDD to a PC with either Windows (with EXT3 capability) or Linux (with native EXT3 support but I have no experience using) using some software to manipulate some partition properties could be an alternative solution to the CFW route.
 

prpr

Well-Known Member
#2
Still, perhaps connecting the USB HDD to a PC with either Windows (with EXT3 capability) or Linux (with native EXT3 support but I have no experience using)
The latter I would suggest. It sounds to me like something has formatted the disk, so the chances of getting anything back are probably rather remote; even more so if you don't know what you are doing with Linux.
alternative solution to the CFW route.
Don't even think about trying to put the HDR-Fox T2 CFW on your box.
 
#3
Thanks for the swift response.

If the disk is formatted, which I´m inclined to think as well, it seems to be of the quick format kind (perhaps I should have written quick formatted rather than reassigned). However, it´s not a standard quick format either since that makes the entire disk/partition available to new content. On Win HDDs an unintended quick format is usually quite fixable providing that you don´t use the recently available space. Maybe it´s not entirely impossible in this case either?

In either of the cases connecting my USB HDD to a Win or Linux PC I would need some additional assistance regardless if the path is to extract the video files to the computer or restoring the original partitioning on the drive (which I would prefer). I simply don´t know how to do it. That´s why I´m here.

Regarding the HDR-Fox T2 CFW: Just to be clear, even if the only aspect of the CFW I´m interested in is to address file system issues, it´s still not parallell enough to the official FW present on the device in order to attempt this? A post on another forum, that I´m not allowed to post a link to here, at least eludes to this being a possibility (not in my specific case having a differently named device of course, but still).
 

MontysEvilTwin

Well-Known Member
#4
If the disk is in ext3 format there are tools to recover deleted files. You could try something like extundelete from sourceforge.net. You will need to be running this under a Linux OS. If you search online there are resources to help you make a bootable CD or USB stick to run, for example, Ubuntu on a Windows PC. You could also run file system fixing tools like e2fsck (included in Linux OS like Ubuntu) which may help you recover files if they have not been deleted.
 

Black Hole

May contain traces of nut
#5
A post on another forum, that I´m not allowed to post a link to here, at least eludes to this being a possibility
The only reason you are unable to post a link is because you are still new to this forum. Post the link, but replace the dots with spaces so it doesn't appear to be a link to the forum software. Then we may be able to positively refute the suggestion (this is the only authoritative forum for HD/HDR-FOX custom firmware). There would be a considerable risk that, if you managed to install the HD-FOX firmware, you would end up "bricking" the unit (ie dead and unrecoverable).

However, with regard to your problem, there is nothing you could achieve by installing the CF that you could not achieve using Linux on a PC. What you need to do is have a discussion with our file system experts in the use of the command line tools available in Linux.

I understand that nobody here is likely to understand Swedish
Yes, it's a good job you have an excellent command of written English.
 
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#6
If the disk is in ext3 format there are tools to recover deleted files. You could try something like extundelete from sourceforge.net. You will need to be running this under a Linux OS. If you search online there are resources to help you make a bootable CD or USB stick to run, for example, Ubuntu on a Windows PC. You could also run file system fixing tools like e2fsck (included in Linux OS like Ubuntu) which may help you recover files if they have not been deleted.
Thank you for the starting point tips. I gather that these are standard Linux PC software? Will they work on a USB HDD formatted and used by a Humax STB?

The only reason you are unable to post a link is because you are still new to this forum. Post the link, but replace the dots with spaces so it doesn't appear to be a link to the forum software.
I understood that and don´t have a problem with it. I even tried to split the links in two at the middle of the domain name, thinking that would result in two non-functional lines, but alas - no dice. Anyway, here are the two links I´ve been wanting to post since the start using the space-method:

The link to a forum post that got me thinking maybe CFW (Black Hole wrote CF - is this preferrable or maybe inconsequential?) could be relevant in my case:
http://myhumax.org/forum/topic/how-to-fix-hard-drive-and-file-system-problems

Link to the (swedish) manual of the BXR-HD STB:
http://www.yumpu.com/sv/document/view/3250985/anvandarmanual-bxr-hd-humax

I hope they can be useful to someone.

However, with regard to your problem, there is nothing you could achieve by installing the CF that you could not achieve using Linux on a PC. What you need to do is have a discussion with our file system experts in the use of the command line tools available in Linux.
OK. Now we're getting somewhere. I'm not married to the idea of using CFW/CF, it was just a suggestion. These file system experts you speak of, I really want to get in contact with them. Who are they (if you don't refer to yourself (that would be odd...) or prpr and MontysEvilTwin who already noticed this thread) and do I need to do something in particular, because I created this thread with that in mind?

you have an excellent command of written English
Thank you! It's all Google Translate... or not. Also, thanks for your help so far.
 
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Black Hole

May contain traces of nut
#7
The link to a forum post that got me thinking maybe CFW
I can't see anything in that thread to say the advice given applies to anything other than HDR-FOX. Indeed, now I think about it, I'm not at all sure the CF disk repair utilities (which are only scripts to run standard Linux tools) work on HD-FOX (with its external USB HDD).

CFW (Black Hole wrote CF - is this preferrable or maybe inconsequential?)
The jury is out on that (meaning there are differing opinions, and no agreement has been reached). "Custom Firmware" obviously only has two initial letters, but there are also examples of conventional abbreviations which use more than the initial letters. Either will do.

af123 and prpr are the obvious candidates.
 

MontysEvilTwin

Well-Known Member
#10
I spent three years living in Uppsala and I understand Swedish quite well so I had a look at the manual. I have since found an English version of this manual: download link here. The unit is similar to the HD-FOX with recording to an external USB drive in ext3 format. My advice is similar to what I said above in post #4. I would add though that if you think the drive has actually been reformatted I would try extundelete first, as the filesystem is likely to be OK in this instance, but it may still be possible to retrieve files that have not been overwritten. If the disk has not been reformatted I would run e2fsck as fixing filesystem errors may make your files accessible again. You will need a PC running a version of Linux to do this.
 
#11
I can't see anything in that thread to say the advice given applies to anything other than HDR-FOX.
The path above the title of the post seems to indicate that the forum doesn't differentiate between the two models at least in the case of using CF.

But I never meant to say that the post was guaranteed to neither be applicable to nor solve my issue. Also, I did state several concerns of my own if this solution would be applicable in my case since I don't even have a HD-FOX. But I don't have a lot of alternatives (at least I couldn't find any online) hence, I signed up to this forum to get help.

I wrote that article and I would say there is no chance that the custom firmware will help you.
Hi Martin!

Thanks a lot, first you're giving me a little hope with your post on the myhumax-forum and then snatching it all away again!

No really, thank you for helping and clarifying this part.

This means both Black Hole and MartinLiddle are in agreement - nothing good will come my way using CF in this case. That's good enough for me. If somebody feels this route is written off prematurely, don't hesitate to let me know.

From what I've gathered so far the remaining idea is to connect my USB-HDD to a Linux PC. This leaves me with (at least) two questions:
1. Is a USB HDD paired to a Humax box similar enough to a standard Linux HDD in order for standard Linux tools to work?
2. Are the suggestions by MontysEvilTwin the general consensus here?

if you think the drive has actually been reformatted
I don't know what has happend. All I can say for sure is that:

1. The recordings list is gone.
2. The USB HDD has been renamed.
3. The capacity of the USB HDD when accessing the (now empty) recordings list page is now equal to the free capacity before the incident.
4. The box correctly identifies the total, free and reserved capacities on the menu page named Datalagring in Swedish (possibly Storage/Data Storage or similar in English).
 
#12
3. The capacity of the USB HDD when accessing the (now empty) recordings list page is now equal to the free capacity before the incident.
OK, I realize that this is as it should be. I actually knew this already. Please don't hold this temporary delusion against me. The only reason I can think of which send me in this inaccurate direction is that before the list of recordings appear, you need to click OK on the USB HDD's name which now actually include the free capacity. This was not the case before.
 
#14
Well, regarding my post #12, please disregard my disregard...

The renaming remark still stands but the inconsistancy regarding the recordings list page is (as I stated previously in post #1 and #3) that:

If the list is empty (as it is now) the available space displayed on this page ought to be identical/similar the disks total capacity (which it's not). This should hold true regardless if the disk has been formatted or the recordings deleted.

One could argue that a strange formatting procedure has taken place making the STB to regard only the available part to be the total disk. This would make the recordings list page consistant. However, this is contradicted by info on the menu page named Datalagring (which should translate into Storage/Data Storage/Media Storage or something similar) which still correctly identifies the USB HDDs actual total, available and used capacities.

NEW IDEA

As I am writing this clarification attempt I realize that maybe neither a formatting, deletion nor file system error event have happened. But rather something concerning a database/log file Humax use/build to keep track of the recordings. I've no clue how this works or if this is even a possibility, but maybe someone here do?

I do know that once your recordings list get to triple digits, it takes a while every time one tries to access the recordings list - especially the first time after the STB's been in standby mode. Clearly something is going on, maybe something has gone awry with this procedure?
 

Black Hole

May contain traces of nut
#15
It may simply be that the file system is broken and needs repair. There's nothing anyone here can do to help until you get it connected to a PC running Linux.
 
#16
OK. I'll try to get Ubuntu on a stick and start with e2fsck as MontysEvilTwin suggested in post #4 since the problem is most likely to be file system related then.

When doing this, are there things and/or steps I need to be adhering to in order to not mess up? If at all possible coming from the people that Black Hole and MartinLiddle proclaimed to be the file system experts here: prpr, af123 and/or xyz321.

For instance, do I need to prepare Ubuntu in any way to prevent it from doing some PnP stuff (or similar if Linux don't use PnP) that automatically alter the disk when it's attached to the system for the first time (risking possibly to overwrite existing recordings)?

I will try to get some info about using e2fsck before I start. I wouldn't now how to differentiate between an excellent, good or bad source to do this. Anybody got any tips regarding this?

I'm starting to get nervous now...
 
#18
Ok. First things first: THANK YOU everybody for responding! Especially MontysEvilTwin for giving the KICK ASS PROBLEM SOLVING tip Ubuntu/e2fsck.

I have written a lot already and I totally understand if everybody just want me to stop, but I will write just a bit more. Maybe somebody will stumble upon this thread in the future and find my concluding statements useful.

Pointers when using e2fsck for the first time

If you believe that you have a file system error and decide to use e2fsck to fix it, understand that it is a terminal command, not a program with a GUI. This is not a problem, just don't be intimidated if you're not a power user. Do run the command man e2fsck first to familiarize yourself with the usage. The most important note is that the drive should be unmounted (according to e2fsck's creator). You could also do an initial run with the flag '-n' to see what e2fsck is about to attempt before letting it do so.

At least in my case running Ubuntu 18 from a bootable USB, my drive was automatically mounted which meant I had to manually unmont it before running e2fsck. This doesn't really matter if your problem can be resolved with this tool. But if the drive is even worse off than mine and you need to use recovery software, automatic mounting could potentially really hurt your goal of retrieving the maximum amount of salvageable files. I don't know how to temporarily turn this behavior off in Linux/Ubuntu, but I'm sure it's possible and should definitely be done before attaching the drive in cases like this.

Constructive criticism

My problem was a faulty file system. I suspected this from the start, I did tag the thread accordingly, but even when I tried e2fsck in the Ubuntu terminal I wasn't sure. I don't know if my description of the problem was distinctive enough for anybody to tell me that the problem I had definitely or at least most likely was file system related, but I felt that the suggestions I got were slightly vague on this point. If my problem description pointed in a specific direction, I would have liked this to be communicated to me. If my description was a bit fuzzy (which I tried hard to avoid), please tell me what's unclear so I get a chance to explain the issue in greater detail if I can.

Please, take this the right way! I'm really grateful for the help I've recieved. Nobody should feel discouraged. If you disagree with my point of view that's fine too.

Richard OUT!