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How long will videos work? Store on hard drive.

Discussion in 'TiVo Home Media Features & TiVoToGo' started by MojoB, Jul 31, 2012.

  1. MojoB

    MojoB New Member

    Jun 1, 2012
    I had copy protected recordings on my computer from Windows Media Center. I had to reinstall Windows and now none of those recordings are playable on my computer. If I transfer Tivo recordings to my computer do they face the same type of fate? I have the following questions:

    1) If I store non-copy protected OR copy-protected Tivo files on my computer can I watch them on it forever without them one day not working due to a computer software/hardware change OR a DRM time limit?
    2) Can I store them forever and then transfer them back and watch them on the Tivo?
    3) Can I do all this while storing them on an external hard drive?
  2. wmcbrine

    wmcbrine Ziphead

    Aug 2, 2003
    To answer your questions: Yes. Yes. Yes.

    You will be able to access encrypted .TiVo recordings as long as you have the Media Access Key (MAK), which is a simple numeric string.

    The TiVo enforces copy prohibition by not allowing you to transfer copy-prohibited recordings to your computer at all. The MAK encryption does nothing to stop copying. (You can also remove it altogether, with third-party software, and I recommend that you do.)

    The only limiting effects of .TiVo encryption are 1) you can't transfer the files to a TiVo with a different MAK (i.e. on a different account), and 2) you can only play back the files on the PC using certain software.

    To emphasize this again: With a TiVo, those recordings you're complaining about -- the copy-prohibited ones -- probably never would've made it onto your computer in the first place. So, although the answer to your questions is technically "yes", you would not necessarily be better off, at all. (The exception is if Windows Media Center is prohibiting copying of files that the TiVo wouldn't -- the TiVo only respects the CCI flag, whereas my understanding is that WMC also responds to CGMS, and that this does in fact result in some files being copy-prohibited by WMC but not by the TiVo. Whether this affects you probably depends on your cable system.)
  3. MojoB

    MojoB New Member

    Jun 1, 2012
    Does each Tivo get it's own MAK or you use the same MAK across Tivos?

    I was able to transfer a movie from HBO from Tivo to my computer that I'm fairly sure has copy protection. Unfortunately it stalled at 99% so I stopped the transfer (don't see how to restart it) and when I tried to play it Windows Media Player stops working. I will try to transfer another file that's probably copy protected.

    What is the MAK encryption and why would I want to uninstall it? I'm confused when you say you can still copy, what do you mean by copy?

    So I'm confused. Because I only have 40 hour Tivo and can't afford another: My plan was to record stuff on Tivo, transfer it to my computer, and store it on an external HDD so I could keep the recordings for years, at least watch them on computer, and hopefully send them back to the Tivo to see on tv. Is there something that will stop my from doing this as the years go by? What about non-copy protected Tivo files?

    Sorry for all the questions. With Windows Media Center I now have dozens of unuseable DVD's I recorded simply due to OS reinstallation that were copy-protected files (don't have any data DVD's that are not copy-protected to test).
  4. lrhorer

    lrhorer New Member

    All the TiVos on a single account have the same MAK.

    Not if it is a Series IV (Premier or Elite) or an un-modified Series III. CCI byte protection is not relevant for a Series II or Series I, but no un-modified Series III or IV TiVo can transfer any copy protected content.

    That would have nothing to do with copy protection. A CableCard based machine (S3 or S4) will not allow a transfer to even start if the CCI byte is greater than 0X00.

    Regardless of the mechanism, if the transfer starts, it is not copy protected.

    Well, "uninstall" is a misleading term, and not the one William used. If you decrypt the file using a utility like VideoRedo or tivodecode, it will produce a plain vanilla MPEG-II file playable by just about any digital video device on the planet. Otherwise, your ability to play the file is rather limited.

    'Seems clear, to me. What part of it do you not understand?

    It might help if you would be more specific. What model of TiVo do you have?

    From Cable TV? If so, and your CATV provider is one that copy protects everything except the local broadcast channels (like Time Warner Cable or Brighthouse), and you have an S3 or S4 class TiVo, then only the local channels can be freely copied to your PC. If your CATV company copy protects nothing, which is getting more and more rare, then you can copy anything to the PC.

    It doesn't matter where you store it, but purely out of curiosity, why an external Hard Drive?

    If you decrypt the files, as William suggested, you can play them on anything, including the TiVo.

    As William already responded, if they are copy protected, then they won't get onto the PC in the first place if your TiVo is un-modified.

    That is just one of many, many reasons I recommend everyone avoid WMC. Don't let Mr. Unnatural hear me say that, though.
  5. lrhorer

    lrhorer New Member

    OK, I just saw another post of yours, and you have a Series II. The CCI byte is not relevant on an S2 TiVo. In short, there is no copy protection. Encryption still applies, however, but as we already mentioned, it is easy to remove using 3rd party utilities.
  6. MojoB

    MojoB New Member

    Jun 1, 2012
    Do I need to retransfer the entire movie that stalled at 99% and won't play?

    I take it that Windows Media Player plays encrypted Tivo files, is there any other programs that do?

    I am interested in burning Tivo files to DVD, is Videoredo the best software for that?

    I don't understand what he means by copy. Does he mean copy to PC or to another Tivo or something else? Because he was saying I couldn't transfer them to PC but I could copy them.

    I have Comcast and in the past I've recorded some non-local channels and been able to burn them with WMC.

    External HDD to keep my computer HDD light on data and in case my older computer HDD fails.

    My main question though, which I'm still unsure of is can I transfer shows from Tivo to my computer (either copy-protected or not copy-protected) and be able to watch them on the computer and/or be able to transfer them back to Tivo for say the next 10-20 years?
  7. jrtroo

    jrtroo User

    Feb 4, 2008
    From the top:

    Yes- if it wont play then it wont play

    No. Not at all. As was mentioned earlier, you need to decrypt the file from .tivo to something else. Lots of different tools to do that.

    VRD is awesome if you want to burn dvds, it is pretty powerful. I could not say it was the best, as I don't really use it- I put decrypted content on my server for future use and no longer burn discs.

    You have had your last question answered, but you did not understand it. You can transfer non-copy protected content to a pc or another tivo, controlled by a flag set for digital channels by the cable company. BUT- you have a tivo that records analog content and so there are not any copy protected flags to set. So, you don't have to worry about copy protection.
  8. MojoB

    MojoB New Member

    Jun 1, 2012
    When I transferred 2 episodes of King of the Hill I was able to play them on Windows Media Player even when just clicking on the files.

    Thank you for help and clarifying that last question.
  9. steve614

    steve614 what ru lookin at?

    May 1, 2006
    Dallas, TX
    That is because Windows Media Player gets the necessary codecs to work with .tivo files though Tivo Desktop.

    Most other software (e.g. DVD authoring program) will choke on a .tivo file. That is when it will be necessary to strip the .tivo wrapper to give you a plain .mpg file.

    If you plan to burn DVDs, I highly recommend VideoReDo TV Suite.
  10. lrhorer

    lrhorer New Member

    Or to tranfer the files to any device other than a TiVo, or to cut out commercials and padding, or to splice two or three videos together into one, or to convert to any other file format. I convert all my programs pulled off the TiVos to h.264 because they then take up significantly less space on the server and transfer much, much faster back to the TiVos.
  11. lrhorer

    lrhorer New Member

    "Best" is a big word, and a highly subjective one. I don't know whether or not there are any other programs out there you might consider better, but VRD is certainly excellent at burning DVDs, as well as quite a few other things. It is an excellent value for the cost.

    No, he didn't.

    It is not an issue of any sort for you at the moment, because you have a Series II TiVo, which is not CableLabs certified, and which cannot record digital content in any case.

    Those people who have Series IV TiVos cannot transfer copy protected videos to any other device, no matter what sort of device. They can stream copy protected videos to another Series IV, but not copy, and they cannot stream the video to anything other than another Series IV.

    Series III TiVos cannot stream videos (outbound), period. Unmodified Series III videos cannot transfer copy protected videos to another device.

    An external drive is no less likely to fail than an internal one, and possibly considerably moreso.

    Since your TiVo has no copy protected content on it, the distinction is moot.

    I doubt your computer or your TiVo will last that long, and unless you back up the hard drive (external or otherwise), neither will the hard drive. If you can keep the devices in question going, however, there is no particular reason you would not be able to play the files on them for an indefinite period of time.
  12. MojoB

    MojoB New Member

    Jun 1, 2012
    Is Windows Media Player the only one allowed to get the codec from Tivo Desktop?

    Yes, I have done some research in the past on burning DVD's of Tivo files with no luck other than buying crappy Roxio Creator or the much better Videoredo or download who knows what converter from who knows where that hopefully doesn't mess up my computer. I take it that it's not even possible to burn Tivo files as data discs?

    True about the external. I guess since my computer already has had a component in it die that I am now less confident in it's hdd and I also like to keep my OS hdd as light on data as possible to keep my computer fast and make scans not take long. Maybe I'm overestimating the benefit of keeping it that way or forgetting some other reason. Maybe I should keep 2 copies of future Tivo files, one on internal and external.

    How come WMC is blocking me from recording copy-protected content even though it's also being fed from my cable box in the same way as the Tivo, hooked to the TV input on my TV Tuner and not the ATSC digital input?

    If you guys were me without much technical know-how, without spending over $100, without questionable programs/downloads, and you merely wanted to preserve your recordings permanently what route would you take? I don't mind recording DVD's because I like that they're less likely to fail than an hdd but I'd also like a streaming option.
  13. ggieseke

    ggieseke Active Member

    May 30, 2008
    Desktop installs the TiVo DirectShow Source Filter (technically it's not a codec) that decrypts the file. After that any video player that uses DirectShow can build the rest of the filter graph to demux, decode and play it. VideoReDo is a perfect example.

    Cross-platform players like VLC don't use DirectShow at all, so they can't handle .TiVo files until they are decrypted.
  14. steve614

    steve614 what ru lookin at?

    May 1, 2006
    Dallas, TX
    You can, but I think it would be a waste as you would be using the DVD only as a storage medium.
    And if you record in HD, you'd probably only average 1, one hour long show per DVD (unless you use dual layer disks).

    I archive many shows by transferring them to the computer and storing them on a seperate internal 2TB hard drive. It's the only way to preserve quality (unless you want to start burning Blu-ray disks). I understand that if the hard drive fails, I will lose my shows. It goes with the territory. But hey, it's only TV, right?

    If I want to permanently archive a show, I will take the hit on quality and author it to DVD where it can be played on any DVD player.
  15. lrhorer

    lrhorer New Member

    No. VideoRedo does, as well, and I think there are a couple of others. Tivodecode is not authoriozed by TiVo, Inc, but it also can transcode a .TiVo file to .mpg.

    No, you can, but there's not much point.

    Well, I do, too, which is why almost all of my PCs have a relatively small boot drive and a large data drive installed. The videos, however, and all other shared data is stored on a LAN server.

    If they are at all important to you, then they need to be backed up.

    Well, I'm not sure, but if I follow your description of the topology correctly, then I suspect Macrovision is involved. The CATV STB is required to deploy Macrovision protection to any protected content. Whatever video capture device you are using does not handle Macrovision crippled content. The TiVo does.

    Unless you are talking about a rather small number of videos, then $100 isn't going to cover it. There are hundreds of different solutions, but all of them involve at least two sets of storage media. The least expensive (new) hard drives one can get at the moment are still about $70 each, and they are not very large. OTOH, for just a moderate increase in cost, one can get much larger drives. Of course one may also be able to get a good deal off ebay, craigslist, or a local hamfest for used equipment.

    That's not really true. Depending on environmental conditions and the quality of the media, a DVD may degrade in less than 3 years. At work we have hard drives that have been spinning continuously for nearly 20 years. No matter what, however, if you want the data to be permanent over even a 10 year span, you need a good backup strategy. Is, say, $30 a year too much to spend to make sure the data sticks around for 10 years? If not, then you need to adjust your budget a bit, I think. If so, then I think you may have to set your sights a bit lower.

    Now, I think probably my solution to this very issue is way, way beyond what you would be willing to implement, but perhaps it can spark some thinking on your part.

    I have two LAN servers built hosting RAID6 arrays of 15T and 18T, respectively, at the moment. Both servers provide multiple services, but one hosts the primary set of videos as well as pyTivo and vidmgr for sending videos to my TiVos. The other server backs up all the files from the main server's RAID array every morning at 04:00, plus the critical OS files from the main server's boot drives once a month. (The boot system on both servers consists of 2 member RAID1 arrays.) Once every couple of months or so I manually incrementally back up the backup RAID array to offline hard drives using dar.

    In the event of up to 2 hard drive failures (out of 8), the main server can continue to serve videos to the TiVos - or anywhere else - without interruption or any data loss. If more than 3 hard drives fail simultaneously on the main array, the data on that system will be lost, but anything stored prior to 04:00 that morning will be on the backup system. Should something, say a fire, cause more than 2 hard drives to fail on both systems, then the vast majority of the files can be recovered from the offline hard drives, which are stored off site. The servers could be rebuilt and almost all the data recovered in about a week.
  16. lrhorer

    lrhorer New Member

    At the moment, he has a Series II.

    Yes, but transferring those videos also probably represents a non-trivial investment in time and effort, especially if you edit out commercials, and replacing them would cost a fair amount of either money or additional effort. Of course, you might just decide to write them off, which is your prerogative. If you are like most people, however, then videos are not the only thing you store on the server. Most people also store treasured photos, important e-mails, financial data, and all sorts of critical data on their computers. This data calls for a backup solution. (Screams for it, actually.)

    Now of course, you are perfectly free to sequester the video data as being non-critical and so exclude it from the backup solution. Doing so will indeed save some money, but the cost of expanding the backup solution to include the video data is not that huge. I recently purchased a refurbished PC from NewEgg for $105. An outlay of $110 could get you another 2T drive. Put the two together and you have a solution that could easily back up all the data on that 2T internal drive for $225. Perhaps you don't consider the videos to be worth that much, but add them to all the personal data you can (or already do) store on that drive, and is it worth $225 to secure?

    The bad news is that is not very permanent.
  17. MojoB

    MojoB New Member

    Jun 1, 2012
    I have a lot of blank DVD's and a 500 gb external hard drive that I can use exclusively for Tivo files. I'm willing to spend up to $100 for the ability to convert the .Tivo files to a format that I can play. I was considering Videoredo as it seems mainstream, doesn't seem to involve much technical work, and also let's me burn DVD's and convert for ipod. But also it may not work correctly on Windows 7 64 bit.

    I would use an Xbox or PS3 to play them over my network or to play the DVDs. I do prefer DVD's at the moment though because it's easier for me to reburn them to preserve them than risk buying a hard drive that can fail. I've had CD's that have lasted fine for almost 20 years and I find DVD's cheaper to acquire than a hard drive. I can get 100 for $20 so I'd have to go over 2 tb to beat that price. As you can tell I have little experience with hard drives and networking, and maybe if I start seeing the benefit of using a hard drive and network I'd become sold on that.

    Thank you guys for all your help, you really know a lot about this stuff.
  18. lrhorer

    lrhorer New Member

    Try it and see. It has a 14 day free, full featured trial. If you can't get it to work or after 14 days decide it isn't for you, all you have spent is the time and effort evaluating it. If it does work for you, scrape together the pennies to buy it.

    Or whatever.

    That's a Hell of a lot of time and effort. My leisure time is wort a great deal more than that.

    A dual layer DVD is 9G, which is too small for the majority of movies on my server, even coded as h.264. If one could completely fill every disk, which one usually cannot, I have the equivalent of over 1400 DVDs stored on my server. I don't have to flip through page after page of DVD sleeves, or spend time searching for a misplaced one, or worry that my AC will fail and the temperature in the media room soar to nearly 50C (which has happened a couple of times) ruining all the vinyl media.

    Instead, the programs are available both instantly and simultaneously to every room in the house via Ethernet, or even a short distance outside via WiFi, sorted by date recorded, date released, alpha by title, genre, actor, director, etc. Pull up the 50 most recently recorded programs? No problem. Pull up all comedies? With the flick of a finger. Pull up all movies starring John Wayne or directed by Alfred Hitchcock? Easier done than said. Show a list of your films from 1967? Child's play. Play the same movie in two different rooms, and then pause it 20 minutes into the film in one room, but let it play in the other? Piece of cake. Show the titles of all your films to a friend coming over for movie night:


    The possibilities are endless.
  19. ggieseke

    ggieseke Active Member

    May 30, 2008
    VideoReDo works fine on Windows 7 64-bit for me. If you want to use batch processing tools like VAP with it, you have to run the main program as Administrator at least once to register the COM functions properly.
  20. jcthorne

    jcthorne Active Member

    Jan 28, 2002
    Last point first, no recorded DVDs are not less likely to fail than a HDD. In fact they are several orders of magnitude MORE likely to fail. Most do after 3 to 5 years due to instability of the dyes used in the recording layer. Optical media is dying for a reason. Let it go.

    As far as recommendation, I think you should look into kmttg for download and decode to an mpg file. Store the files on backed up HDDs or a NAS with back up. Since you are using a Series 2, would not bother with h.264 as the files are not that big to begin with and h.264 is not that great at compressing analog video. Just store them as un-copy protected standard mpg files.

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