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624 Posts
Discussion Starter · #1 ·
Posting this here and in CE Issues just in case it's software related.

I've got an HR21-100 that's been running with a WD 1 TB external drive in an Antec MX-1 case for a few months, but has developed a new problem over the last two weeks.

At first I'd get some recordings that said "partial" and couldn't figure out why. Then live TV would randomly go to a blank screen (which apparently is what it what was doing to cause the partial recordings).

I've tried two different eSata cables, 3 different WD drives and the problem persists. Sometimes live TV will be OK for a while, other times it goes blank within minutes of a reboot. I can pull up the channel guide, select the channel again and it tunes in again for maybe 10-15 seconds then goes blank.

System is fed by a Slimline 5 with a SWM8. An HR20-700 is also hooked up with the same drive model in the same enclosure and it is not having the blank screen issue. I've tried switching the cables that run to both receivers but the problem stays with the HR21-100.

Both receivers are on the current CE release, but I believe that's not the problem since one receiver works and the other doesn't.

Any ideas? Thanks.

624 Posts
Discussion Starter · #2 ·
I believe I may have discovered the problem but not a way around it.

Each time I have replaced a drive, I have used a utility to copy the old drive to the new drive. (Acronis True Image, R-Drive Image, et. al.) Apparently there is a file system error on the first WD drive to exhibit the problem. With the other two copies, I have apparently been copying the problem (along with recorded shows and settings).

I tried a completely blank drive (using the same Antec enclosure and cables) and it works fine.

Now the trick would be to:

a) Repair the file system error on the original WD 1 TB drive, or
b) Copy only the good data from the original WD 1 TB drive to a new one.

I haven't discovered how to do either a or b, yet. I'm a Windows guy and haven't had any luck with any of the linux utilities that run from a boot CD.

Any suggestions would be appreciated. Thanks.

552 Posts
I don't know whether this will work on the file system created on the HR2*'s, but the standard Linux command for file system repair is "e2fsck partition", where "partition" is the one used for the file system on the unix drive.

I am not sure what "partition" would be on the HR2*, but I would try /dev/hdc first.

Whether e2fsck is even on your boot CD is another question.

If it is, you should also be able to enter "e2fsck -h" to get your systax options.

624 Posts
Discussion Starter · #4 ·
OK, after much testing and experimenting I have a new theory while I think I have solved my problem.

I would let the HR21/HR20 format a new external 1 TB drive and then move the drive to a PC and use one of several utilities to copy data from the old drive to the new drive. I had a 1 TB drive on the HR21 and a 750 GB drive on the HR20. Last night the HR20 started showing the same symptoms with live TV and partial recordings, although the drive showed more than half of the recording space still available.

Theory: Although I let the respective HR21/HR20 format a new drive, I used the same utilities on the PC to copy the data from the old drives (and believed I was just copying data while leaving partition information unchanged from the new formatting). Even though the new drive showed a higher percentage of available space in the list of shows, I now believe the system was actually using the specs of the old drives that I copied data from. So live TV was failing because the DVR thought it ran out of hard drive space.

I have now let the two boxes format blank drives and used the gparted and linux method to transfer data outlined in this thread: How To: Copy and Replace Internal Hard Drive, specifically this part:

Update 9/21/08
This process has evolved since the inception of this thread and continues to get less complex. Beginning with the 0.3.7-7 release of the Gparted Live Linux distribution, all of the data copying can now be accomplished using bootable Gparted Live media.

The original steps 12-20 have been deleted to give the details of the new/correct procedure. Thanks go to daniellee and ntrance for providing this process through trial and error. To complete this process you need to burn and use the GParted Live CD, gparted-live-0.3.7-7 or later. The version of the CD is important because some models of DVR drives power up in standby mode and therefore must be given the "spin up" command by Linux. This command only occurs using GParted Live versions 0.3.7-7 and later.

Step 1 - Let the HR20 format the new ESATA drive.

a) Shut down the HR20

b) Connect the ESATA drive & turn it on.

c) Restart the HR20

d) Confirm that the HR20 is now using the ESATA drive instead of the internal drive.

Step 2 - Perform a "graceful power down"

a) This is achieved by doing a menu reset and disconnecting the HR20's power just at the point when all the LED lights go off. This is a crucial step - the linux mount commands will fail with a "Can't read from Superblock" error if this step isn't taken. It is imperative that both drives experience a "graceful power down" while connected to the HR20.

b) After the HR20 is powered off, turn off the ESATA drive and remove the bare drive from the ESATA enclosure.

Step 3 - Connect the drives to the PC & copy.

a) Get/burn a linux boot cd of GParted Live CD, gparted-live-0.3.7-7 or later.


b) On the PC, connect the new drive to SATA0 and the original HR20 drive to SATA1 and boot up GParted Live CD.

c) You can use qtparted in system menu to verify which drive is which under linux. It is very important that you know the drive letter (a or b or whatever) that linux is assigning to each drive so that you get the sd(drive letter) right in the mount commands below. Normally with the new drive on SATA0 and the original HR20 drive on SATA1 linux will see the new drive as sda and the original HR20 drive as sdb - but you should check it to be sure.

d) Get a linux command line prompt and enter the following commands:

mkdir /mnt/fap
mkdir /mnt/hr20
mount -t xfs -o rtdev=/dev/sda3 /dev/sda2 /mnt/fap
mount -t xfs -o rtdev=/dev/sdb3 /dev/sdb2 /mnt/hr20

(The next line will start the copying process and on my system took about 70 minutes to complete.)

xfsdump -J - /mnt/hr20 | xfsrestore -J - /mnt/fap

(After the dump/restore has finished enter

umount /mnt/hr20
umount /mnt/fap

Step 4 - Check it out

a) Shut down GParted Live CD and remove power from the PC

b) Return the new SATA drive to the ESATA enclosure and reconnect the original HR20's HD power & SATA cables.

c) Close up everything, reconnect everything, turn on the ESATA drive and power-up the HR20.

Step 5 - Enjoy More DirecTV HDTV
Both the HR21 and HR20 booted up fine and continued to display live TV and make full recordings (where with the drives I copied data from - both would only display live TV for a matter of seconds before going to a blank screen and do only partial recordings).

Hope this helps someone else.

624 Posts
Discussion Starter · #5 ·
Quick follow up - after copying the (original) drives correctly using the above method, both are continuing to run fine 100% of the time. No glitches, no missed recordings, no problems with live TV.

(HR20-700, HR21-100, Antec MX-1 external drive cases, WD 1 TB Green drives.)
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