Unnecessary (?) formatting request during boot sequence

#1
Hello!

New issue from abroad. My STB prompts me to format each of my USB-HDDs in order to use recording on any of them since couple of days ago. I do not believe that it is necessary (plus I really do not want to...) since the contents of each USB-HDD are found and can be played with the STB. Still, I also really would like to be able to use both recording and timeshift so - any suggestions?

Thank you in advance for any and all help!

BACKGROUND INFO
First off, my device is called Humax BXR-HD which, as far as I can discern, is rather similar to the model HD-FOX T2 although not identical. I think this was also established by this forum in a previous thread:
https://hummy.tv/forum/threads/possible-reassignment-of-external-hdd.8734/

I apologise in advance that this problem description is a bit lengthy. But I do not know what the problem is which makes it difficult to know what to leave out. I decided to comprehensibly describe what has happened recently. I hope this is helpful rather than annoying.

At first the problem manifested itself by not being able to use timeshift as intended. By this I mean it functioned eratically. Sometimes I would watch something with, for instance 1 hr delay, then suddenly there would be a skip and without my interaction I would watch live TV (as if I would have pressed the stop button). Unlike if you press stop when using timeshift, rewinding would immediately take you 1 hr back, hence the last hour were never recorded. No indication, no warning, the timeshift just stopped functioning while I was using it. Also, I could continue to use the part already buffered even after the timeshift had stopped working. This happened a couple of times but not every time, not after the same amount of time watching timeshift or amount of timeshift utilised.

There were also occasions when timeshift viewing resulted in black screen announcing that the channel is coded and needs a card from Boxer (my TV-provider) as if I had removed my TV-card. Perhaps needless to say but you do need such a TV-card but not only during timeshift plus I have one and it is inserted already. When this happened, it was possible to press stop, rewind or skip back to the time when the problem occured and continue watching but rarely for more than a few minutes before it started to act up again. To add insult to injury, when this happened the STB decided to not respond to more than a couple of clicks of the playback controls on the remote (battery not an issue since each press are indicated on the PVR-button near the top of the remote). Strangely, the stop- and left/right-buttons (on either side of the ok-button) never seemed to be refused. The acting up seemed to me to get worse every time this happened but maybe that was due to my frustration.

All this occured using only one USB-HDD over a period of about a week or so. The same USB-HDD that I had a file system problem with before (see link above). Naturally I suspected that the issue must be with this USB-HDD since it had been the cause of concern the previous time, but since all the contents were visible and working (except for a couple of thumbnails that seems to have gone black - on occasion this happens with new recordings, but I think some have also disappeared over time) at least the file system appears to be OK this time.

Eventually the formatting prompt appeared during a boot sequence. Since then all recording or timeshift has been impossible. On all my USB-HDDs. I use several USB-HDDs, all of which are now being prompted to be formatted if recording are to be possible but I am still able to play the randomly selected already stored programmes I have tested on all of them.

Finally, previously whenever I switched between my USB-HDDs the STB usually prompted if I wanted to use the recently connected one to record and use timeshift. But in case that did not happen or if you changed your mind from no to yes, there is a menu setting to activate this manually. My menu system is in Swedish and I do not know if it is structured the same way as on an English device, but if I translate the path to this setting on my device it would be something like this:
Settings - System - Storage/Data Storage - Change HDD for PVR
This option is now greyed out. On all USB-HDDs. Basically, I think, all that is needed is to reactivate this option again. However that is done.
 

prpr

Well-Known Member
#3
Sounds to me like there is either a problem with the disk itself, or the filesystem thereon, or both.
If this device is like an HD-T2, then you ought to be able to remove the disks, plug them on to a PC, run up a bootable Linux and investigate with tools such as smartctl and e2fsck.
Or you can just backup, format as prompted, and restore, but that probably won't fix anything wrong at the physical disk level - it just recreates the filesystem.
 
#4
Thank you both Black Hole and prpr for replying.

Hard to know how to help, without a CF to facilitate poking around.
Fair enough, but both you and others have already discouraged me to install CF since my STB is not an HDR-FOX T2 which I think is probably reasonable.

Sounds to me like there is either a problem with the disk itself, or the filesystem thereon, or both.
Fair enogh again. This may very well be the case, and eventually I may try to address this. But just to be clear (and please do not take this the wrong way), did you note the part of the background history concerning that all of the recent problems originated when using only one USB-HDD but the formatting request affects all them? How could a flawed disk or file system affect other disks when it is not even connected anymore?

If this device is like an HD-T2, then you ought to be able to remove the disks, plug them on to a PC, run up a bootable Linux and investigate with tools such as smartctl and e2fsck.
Sure, this is possible. I have already used e2fsck using this method which solved my problem at the time, see link in post #1. Before that I was almost a complete novice to Linux/Ubuntu. This is pretty much still the case, what does smartctl do?

Or you can just backup, format as prompted, and restore
This could be a possible solution, not because of the necessity of this procedure but rather since the STB would get a signal that a format has taken place which may get the prompt to disappear and the option to switch which USB-HDD to use for recording and timeshift to be reactivated. This could perhaps even work regardless of which USB-HDD I would backup, format and restore. I am reluctant to implement this solution since I currently have access to all my discs and there is always risk that something goes wrong during any of the steps plus I would need to purchase a new disc to store the temporary backup.

Ok, these are my objections/reflections at the moment. I hope somebody feels inclined to provide further assistance despite the fact that I am not entirely positive.
 

Black Hole

May contain traces of nut
#5
You could try this (not sure it is entirely consistent with your description): maybe the corruption has caused it to mark all USB drives unusable rather than just one. Configure a new drive, and see it that unlocks the others.
 
#6
maybe the corruption has caused it to mark all USB drives unusable rather than just one. Configure a new drive, and see it that unlocks the others.
Well, this is pretty much the same idea as I put forward in post #4 when commenting on the backup, format, restore suggestion but in a more elegant way since the formatting of a working (except for recording purposes of course) drive is avoided.

It does however have the other downside of that idea: I would have to buy additional hardware in order to test if this solution will rectify my problem (which is not obvious to me that it will).

Is this really my best/only option? If so, I will nevertheless try to see if e2fsck will be the magic bullet once again at first. I do not really believe that this will remedy anything (the recorded programmes are visible and working so the filesystem appears to be fine to me) but I am also reasonably confident that the situation will not deteriorate.

I am definitely not in a position to demand anything, but I really implore that somebody - anybody - would ponder a bit more on my current situation and inform me what might have happend and provide a solution that is logical and safe, as well as hopefully free of charge, to implement.
 

prpr

Well-Known Member
#7
How could a flawed disk or file system affect other disks when it is not even connected anymore?
It can't. Perhaps they're all corrupted for whatever reason.
This is pretty much still the case, what does smartctl do?
It reads the SMART stats. off the disk, which tells us how healthy it is.
the STB would get a signal that a format has taken place which may get the prompt to disappear and the option to switch which USB-HDD to use for recording and timeshift to be reactivated.
You're inventing stuff. There are no magic messages or signals. It just reads the filesystem. If it can't write to it, it will probably prompt you to format. It is dim software.
I will nevertheless try to see if e2fsck will be the magic bullet once again at first. I do not really believe that this will remedy anything (the recorded programmes are visible and working so the filesystem appears to be fine to me)
I do. It is perfectly possible for a filesystem to go read-only. This would seem to be what's happened, assuming the underlying physical state of the media is OK.
inform me what might have happend
We (royal) don't know.
and provide a solution that is logical and safe, as well as hopefully free of charge, to implement.
I've given you two already. Stop over-thinking it and get on with implementing one of them.
 

Black Hole

May contain traces of nut
#8
Perhaps they're all corrupted for whatever reason.
That is a possibility, which could be tested by examining them via a PC (preferably using Linux tools).

However: bear in mind that the HD-FOX (which is the only comparison we have) registers a drive internally, so it is not impossible that it has been rendered unable to talk to "good" drives because of a bad flag.

I would have to buy additional hardware in order to test if this solution will rectify my problem (which is not obvious to me that it will).
USB HDDs are cheap, and have plenty of uses. Buying one to test the hypothesis shouldn't be a total loss, and if the hypothesis is wrong you need another HDD if you want to restore recording capability without destroying existing recordings anyway.

Your choice depends on your priorities: do you
  • Spend some time analysing the disks in the hope of working out what's wrong;
  • Decide which drive has the least valuable content and reformat it;
  • Buy in a new drive and get operational again with least effort.
 

prpr

Well-Known Member
#9
That is a possibility, which could be tested by examining them via a PC (preferably using Linux tools).
I know. That's why I said it in post #3.
the HD-FOX (which is the only comparison we have) registers a drive internally, so it is not impossible that it has been rendered unable to talk to "good" drives because of a bad flag.
'Registering' just involves copying the UUID of the filesystem on the selected disk/partition in to flash. It's fairly obvious that doing this on a filesystem which has gone read-only is not going to yield something on which the machine will be able to record, so it disables the option on the menu.
 

Black Hole

May contain traces of nut
#10
I know. That's why I said it in post #3.
I know you know.

'Registering' just involves copying the UUID of the filesystem on the selected disk/partition in to flash. It's fairly obvious that doing this on a filesystem which has gone read-only is not going to yield something on which the machine will be able to record, so it disables the option on the menu.
...which could have the effect I'm talking about. It's only an idea, but easy enough to test.
 
#11
Ok, lots of feedback, I like it! Not all of it perhaps, but still.

First, I really appriciate that somebody (indeed anybody), clearly, read my entire post but a couple of quotes do not reflect my intentions.

You're inventing stuff. There are no magic messages or signals
I never meant to invent any signal nor to imply that it exist at all to be a fact, but rather that if such a signal occured it could have the potential to solve my issue. When I review what I wrote regarding this in post #4 I see now that I seem convinced that such a signal would take place. This is unintentional. I can only ask for some leniency since English is a second language to me (I seem to manage mostly).

It is perfectly possible for a filesystem to go read-only. This would seem to be what's happened
I never claimed that nothing was wrong with the filesystem on the troubled drive, I merely doubted this to be the case. My imagination did not come up with the idea of a filesystem unintentionally altered to be read-only but otherwise functioning.

This sounds perfectly possible, even plausible to have happened, to me too. Now. At least as to why the problematic drive issues a formatting prompt. It is not particularly consistant with the history though this is not really important.

Perhaps they're all corrupted for whatever reason.
The theory that the filesystems on all of my USB-HDDs individually have been corrupted in exactly the same (and to me unprecedented) fashion almost simultaneously is, in my humble opinion, still extremely improbable to have happened.

the HD-FOX (which is the only comparison we have) registers a drive internally, so it is not impossible that it has been rendered unable to talk to "good" drives because of a bad flag
The idea that something has gone awry in the STB seems to be far more probable to me. I do not know if the proposed idea is what has happened, but again the suggestion at hand sounds perfectly plausible to me (granted I know nothing about the inner workings of a Humax device).

'Registering' just involves copying the UUID of the filesystem on the selected disk/partition in to flash. It's fairly obvious that doing this on a filesystem which has gone read-only is not going to yield something on which the machine will be able to record, so it disables the option on the menu.
Ok. I am on pretty thin ice from this point forward since I do not really know this Humax specific part, but I am interested to learn. When you write 'in to flash' do you intend flash in a dynamic, RAM-like, way rather than the static USB-type?

If the STB looses all recollection of a previously connected drive immediately upon disconnection or any power outage I can understand prpr's reasoning that all my USB-HDDs must have corrupted file systems.

Black Hole's thought that a registry inside the STB has been corrupted (which seems wholly consistant with my present experience), pretty much hinges on that this registry (or something else related to this issue) persist in the STB.

...which could have the effect I'm talking about. It's only an idea, but easy enough to test.
I am not entirely sure exactly what test is easy enough to perform. To determine if the registry is persistant in the STB or if the registry has been corrupted? Or perhaps I have misinterpreted something and it refers to something else completely?

In any case, is this a test I can/should perform?

Your choice depends on your priorities
True. It may very well end with me buying new hardware but, regardless of this, if I can learn something from some analysis I am all for it (otherwise I probably would not have come to this forum).

Speculative:

In a dream scenario, fixing the problematic filesystem (which I will tend to shortly pending a reply discouraging me to do so) will automatically also fix the registry upon connection.

Unfortunately, I can also concoct a nightmare scenario where even new USB-HDDs will be immediately flagged as read-only due to the nature of the registry corruption rendering any future purchase futile in order to restore recording capabilities.

I do not find either scenario probable, but a refutal from somebody in the know would be apprecieated.

MY CONCLUSION

I believe my experiece so far pretty much proves Black Hole's idea of a persistant registry in the STB that has somehow had all the entries affected by a single corrupt filesystem.

If the registry is persistant and has been corrupted, is there anything I can do about it?
 
#14
My proposition is that by formatting an old or new drive, the unit will see it has a "good" recording drive and reset the flag. Having reset the flag, it may then restore recording capability on the other drives.
Ok. So yesterday I attempted to do this with one 8 GB UPD and one 500 GB USB-HDD.

The UPD seemed to be recognised just fine (the STB identified a name that appears to be accurate and the size matched the reality too) but it really did not want to be formatted by the STB, neither with a prompt during boot sequence (which was absent) nor manually via the menu since that option was greyed out. I noted somewhere that 32 GB was the minimum size recommended for a UPD, maybe this is the reason why the STB will not format it

The USB-HDD proved to have a really dodgy USB port and/or cable. Mostly it was not acknowledged by the STB and on those occasions that it was, the formatting process usually froze within a couple of minutes or instantly. One time I recieved a fail prompt.

The net result after these efforts is that the drives I suspect have no problem still behaves the same as before (seemingly working except no recording without formatting) but the problem drive now shows up as not formatted (only identified by drive name and size, space used and free both being zero).

Speculation:
This appears to be a bit discouraging. It seems to me to suggest that the possible read-only flag in the possibly persisting registry in the STB is on an per drive basis. This is of course the reasonable way to do it, but I nourished a hope that perhaps there was only one global flag since all my drives seems to be affected. When I attempt to resolve the probably corrupted filesystem on the problem drive, this will probably only restore recording possibility to that particular drive. The others would need to be put through the backup-format-restore process (or left alone with a format prompt appearing whenever attached of course) unless the registry could be accessed and altered somehow.

Thoughts, comments, ideas? Is my reasoning totally off?

I may get access to a different USB-HDD and/or a larger UPD in a few days to attempt a new, hopefully successful, STB-induced formatting attempt. Is this worth doing?

You said: "since all the contents were visible and working at least the file system appears to be OK"
That seems like a claim that nothing is wrong to me.
Really prpr? This is the only comment you wish to give regarding post #11?

Fine. I do not now where you come from, but since this is an English/British forum (if I am not mistaken) I assume that you are British too. I am not. So perhaps that makes your point of view correct by default since we communicate in English. I meant to use 'appear', perhaps incorrectly, in the sence that it means that something is not certain but instead probable.

But I really do not wish to dwell too much on grammar or symantics (unless it is necessary for clarity which is sometimes the case).

Anyway, I do not know if anything in the first part of this post gives any additional input but I am still eager to find a solution.
 

prpr

Well-Known Member
#15
This is the only comment you wish to give regarding post #11?
Yes. Otherwise I would have written more.
I assume that you are British too
I am indeed born and bred in England.

If this device really is like an HD-T2, there is no 'registry' of which you speak repeatedly, so it is another false assumption on your part.
Anyway, I've long since lost the will to live with this thread.
 
#16
If this device really is like an HD-T2
To the best of my understanding, a BXR-HD is pretty much a HD-FOX T2 with regional specific software (mainly different language and no connectivity).

there is no 'registry' of which you speak repeatedly, so it is another false assumption on your part.
I have not assumed this. The idea/statement was brought up by Black Hole in post #8:

bear in mind that the HD-FOX (which is the only comparison we have) registers a drive internally
Since then I have merely argued that the hypothesis of a persistant registry in the STB (which nobody has neither confirmed nor refuted until now) seems to be more probable than one proposing that all of my USB-HDDs simultaneously would be affected by identical filesystem corruption.

I've long since lost the will to live with this thread.
Ok, this would be a pretty good opportunity if one wished to make a really inappropriate remark. But I will refrain and ask only that you avoid to inflict harm upon yourself on my behalf.

I reiterate that I cannot force anybody here to provide assistance to me. If you do not wish to help those who visits this forum, with the intention to remedy their issues with their Humax-devices and perhaps learn something during the process, maybe you should spend your time elsewhere.

Thank you for any and all help you have provided so far.
 
Top