Using the External HDD with the PVR
As far as has been ascertained it is possible to use any brand of external HDD (EHD). Much better results are obtained with drives that have their own external power rather than those powered from the USB port on the PVR and the latter type are not recommended even though some users have reported success with them. The drive can be plugged in at any time - ie whether the PVR is on standby or running. The drive should not be unplugged however while the PVR is running - put into standby first. The pause button can disconnect the EHD but is not always reliable.
Some EHDs have a "go to sleep" mode which causes the disk to stop spinning after a certain time of no use. This can mean that an attempt to do a timed recording to the EHD will fail if the EHD has not started up when the PVR wants to access it and the recording will revert to the PVR's internal HDD (IHD). The WD Mybook is such an EHD. These EHDs should not be used if the user wants timer recordings to go straight to the EHD.
When the Recorded Services list is displayed you can change from this list to other lists using the « or » remote control buttons. When first accessing an external HDD list the PVR will detect the presence of the external HDD and require a confirmation OK button press. The list heading indicates where an external list is being used.
The ability move or copy recordings, create folders, rename recordings and delete recordings on the internal HDD equally applies to the external HDD although deleting recordings on the external HDD can take more time. The || Pause button is used to disconnect the external HDD when it is to be disconnected before turning off the PVR.
Moving or copying recordings is initiated using the yellow button with the first press setting the move option and a second press changing this to a copy option. Multiple recordings can initially be selected by using the red select button. The transfer progress display can be minimized by pressing the OK button and vision changed between services using the Channel up and down buttons or the P+ and P- remote control buttons. When the external HDD is used for recording via the Menu option the internal HDD is still used for Time-shift recording when selected.
Copy speeds can vary significantly depending on whether time-shift is On or Off, recordings are being made, a SD or HD service is being shown and the type of external HDD. Speeds between 4 to 20 GB/hr have been recorded with the fastest typically being with no recordings under way, time-shift off, a HD service being viewed and an externally powered drive being used. A Factory Setting reset has been known to restore faster copying speeds.
External HDD Error Correction
If the HDD is not correctly removed from the PVR or the PVR freezes (no response to the remote, audio and video may or may not freeze) the HDD may be left in an inconsistent state. When this occurs recording copies or moves to the external HDD will often fail, with the transfer freezing. After this occurs whilst on accessing the Recorded Services list the remnants of the copied recording will be removed and the external HDD will more than likely be in an inconsistent state.
When the external HDD is in an inconsistent state this can be corrected.
For ext2 formatted HDDs by using the Repair External Storage function in the Installation menu (from 0.99.29 13 Dec 2007 firmware) or by using the Linux operating system fsck function or the PVR can be used to reformat the external HDD, erasing any recordings on the external HDD.
For FAT32 formatted HDDs a repair can be performed by using the Windows command line tool chkdsk. For example chkdsk d: /r where d: is the external HDD.
If you have Linux or the Mac OSX driver for Linux ext2 (ext2fsx) you will have access to fsck (use fsck.ext2 or e2fsck on the Mac). Windows users can access the fsck Linux function by using a Linux rescue CD. You can download a Rescue CD from http://rescuecd.pld-linux.org/ for your computer's processor type: x86 (generic Intel x86 architecture), or x86_64 (generic Intel 64-bit x86 architecture). The download file will have a name like RCDx86_290.iso. The bit after the _ is the version number. The file is an ISO CD image. The x86 download is about 60MB. Use this image to create a bootable Rescue CD. Most CD burning software can create a bootable CD from an ISO image file or suitable ISO image burning software can be downloaded.
Using a Linux Rescue CD on a Windows PC
Place the Rescue CD in the CD drive and reboot your computer after removing all external drives. If the computer does not boot from the CD then you will need to alter the BIOS so that the CD Drive is the first boot device. This will run Linux in a ramdisk on your Windows machine. It will not install Linux on your machine. It won't change your Windows disk drives unless you tell it to. It needs at least 128MB of RAM, an Intel i486 processor (or AMD equivalent), or better (if you can run Windows 2000 or XP you almost certainly cover both of those conditions).
After the Rescue CD finishes loading you will have a command prompt like:
Key in at the prompt:
and then press the Enter key. That is a lower case L then s followed by a space before /dev/sd?
If you computer has one HDD you should see:
If you computer has two HDDs you should see:
Now plug in the external HDD used with the PVR formatted with the ext2 file system and wait a few seconds until it is ready and at the prompt key in ls /dev/sd? and press the enter key again. You should see an additional device shown. If nothing extra is shown wait a few seconds and try again. The additional device is the external HDD. Make a note as to whether it is sdb or sdc etc.
If the external HDD is sdb at the command prompt enter the following, changing sdb to sdc or whatever your external HDD was noted as being:
sfdisk -l /dev/sdb
and press the enter key. That is sfdisk followed by a space then dash lower case L followed by a space then /dev/sdb (or whatever).
You should then see details about the HDD. Look for the line that has Linux at the end. If you had earlier noted sdb as the external HDD the line should start with /dev/sdb1 as the Device (or /dev/sdc1 if you noted sdc etc). Make a note of sdb1 (or sdc1 etc noting that is a one and not a lower case L at the end). If you use the Rescue CD again without adding any internal or external drives or devices to the PC you can skip directly to the next part.
At the command prompt enter:
fsck -y /dev/sdb1
and press the enter key. Change sdb1 to sdc1 etc where necessary and note that after fsck is a space then dash y followed by a space then /dev/sbb1 (or whatever).
If the HDD is OK the function will run almost instantaneously otherwise you will see several Passes being carried out whilst the HDD is being repaired. This may take several minutes and if during this time the screen goes blank then just press the Esc key or press the space bar.
Finally when the repair is completed and you are returned to the command prompt, remove the CD and enter:
and press the Enter key. When the PC closes down you can remove the external HDD, re-attach it to the PVR and then power up the PVR.