In general, can data from bad TiVo HDs be salvaged?

Discussion in 'TiVo Upgrade Center' started by timckelley, Mar 23, 2015.

  1. timckelley

    timckelley run of the mill TCFer

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    Brushy...

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    Anyway, we're apparently having an epidemic of failing TiVos in my house.

    I'm in the middle of fixing one of our broken S2's, and hour our TiVo Premier is failing. So 3 of our 5 TiVos are broken.

    The Premier is the most important, and primary TiVo my wife uses, and she's very worried about it.

    Symptoms: it keeps restarting, and alternating between the "almost there" screen, and the TiVo animated video that plays after restarting. I'm guessing, but could be wrong, that this could be due to a bad hard drive.

    So I'm considering running HD diagnostics, and if necessary, replace the HD. But if that's it, it has a giant heapload of shows that my wife has recorded on it. Is there a way, using the MFS utilities, to copy all that from the bad HD to a new good HD? Would it (hopefully) copy whatever it could, but skip over the bad sectors? Or would this even work?
     
  2. L David Matheny

    L David Matheny Active Member

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    The other possibility is that your TiVo's power supply is failing. But in case your hard drive is in the process of failing, you could try cloning it ASAP with Gnu ddrescue as found on the SystemRescueCd (my new favorite rescue CD). You would need a target drive of equal or larger size. Search for threads here that mention ddrescue. And be careful of your ddrescue parameters, since it will happily copy an empty drive over your TiVo drive if you tell it to do so. And you might want to read "How To Clone Your Failing TiVo Drive With ddrescue", which is a sort of TiVo-specific tutorial. I believe you could also use Dvr Backup And Restore Software for Windows (DvrBARS), but I haven't tried it yet.
     
  3. timckelley

    timckelley run of the mill TCFer

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    Thank you for this advice. Magically the TiVo started working later today, so nothing is lost.

    Still I suppose it's possible that the hard drive is in the early stages of failure. I suppose I could try backing it up, but that seems pointless, because what if it doesn't bite the dust until a month from now or something? Having a one month-old backup might not be that valuable to my wife. OTOH, maybe it would, given how much stuff she has on it. Chances are that a sizable heapload will still be on it in a month from now, still unwatched.
     
  4. HerronScott

    HerronScott Well-Known Member

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    How the hard drive and just curious if it updated to the most recent version?

    Scott
     
  5. unitron

    unitron Well-Known Member

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    If you happen to already have burned yourself a copy of the MFS Live cd, it has

    dd_rescue

    which is very similar to

    ddrescue

    and you could use either to "Xerox" the drive to another of the same size, or perhaps larger.
     
  6. timckelley

    timckelley run of the mill TCFer

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    That's good... the TiVo resumed it's bad symptoms this morning, so probably I should not wait until it's completely dead. I assume it has a SATA motherboard, but I'll be opening it up soon to have a look before running a diagnostic and possibly ordering another HD. I'd do it this evening, but my wife wants me to delay work until tomorrow evening, because this evening she wants me to recaulk my son's bathroom. We have an ant problem there, and the exterminator sprayed there a couple days ago, and they're recommended recaulking to help control the pests, and my wife considers this higher priority than fixing her TiVo because my son has to use the master shower until after the recaulking.

    I wonder if this dd_rescue has a built in help screen to assist me with the syntax. I guess I'll find out. I do have a years old copy of MFS live on CD already, so I'll try that. As I recall, it involves linux commands, which is an OS I don't really know how to use.
     
    Last edited: Mar 24, 2015
  7. unitron

    unitron Well-Known Member

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    If you're going to use a GigaByte brand PC motherboard to do the work, don't hook any drives to it 'til we've talked about how to avoid getting them messed up because of the tendency of those boards to slap Host Protected Areas on drives without warning. There is a way around that.

    As far as I know, that's the only brand that offers that particular danger.



    Series 1 and Series 2 TiVos used the older PATA/IDE data connectors for hard drives, but they switched over to SATA beginning with the first Series 3.


    One thing to keep in mind in a Linux-type environment is that something in uppercase letters is probably not the same thing as the same thing in lowercase letters.



    Something like

    dd_rescue -?

    should bring up a help screen of sorts, kind of like DOS files would with

    somefile.exe /?

    back in the command line days.

    In fact, the list of options, which are invoked in the form

    dd_rescue -x

    where x is a letter, will probably show you that you could get that same help screen with

    dd_rescue -h

    the "h" standing for "help".



    As for your MFS Live cd, it should offer 4 choices when it boots and the first choice should work fine. It's the default, so if you make no choice, it'll choose that one and continue booting after 10 or 20 seconds or so.

    Eventually you should get a command prompt that looks like this

    [mfslive:/]#


    but if you have any drives connected by USB you may get that prompt, and then some other stuff related to the USB stuff, and then it finishes and sits, but not at that command prompt.

    If so, hitting Enter should get it to finish up and get back to


    [mfslive:/]#


    Once you're there, entering

    fdisk -l


    (which will look like

    [mfslive:/]# fdisk -l


    on the screen)

    should show you what drives are connected and which one is called what.

    The naming convention is the first PATA/IDE drive, if any, would be

    /dev/hda

    the next one would be

    /devhdb

    and so on through the alphabet.

    The first SATA drive would be

    /dev/sda


    but the "s" was originally, in early Linux/Unix days, to differentiate between PATA/IDE and SCSI drives.

    Nowadays SCSI, SATA, and USB connected drives are all

    /dev/sda

    or

    /dev/sdb

    and so on.

    You'll need to know for certain which drive is being called what by that version of Linux that boot cd loads so that you don't write anything to the wrong drives.


    If there's a cd or dvd drive, that version of

    fdisk

    will probably "choke" when it gets to it, and if it's not last on the list of drives connected, you won't see the one(s) that follow(s).


    But, there's another little program on that cd/built into the OS the cd loads into the PC's memory.

    That program is

    pdisk

    and is similar to

    fdisk

    but what it does is tell you about drives which have been formatted, not with the DOS/IBM Master Boot Record scheme that

    fdisk

    can detect, but with the Apple Partition Map which TiVos use.


    So

    pdisk -l

    can help you find which drives are TiVo drives, which are not TiVo drives, and which are not yet TiVo drives.

    Also, you can, instead of adding a global "list" option to fdisk or pdisk, with

    -l


    you can target either at a particular drive.

    For example,

    fdisk -l /dev/sdd

    if you have 3 hard drives and a cd drive and the cd drive is 3rd (/dev/sdc) on the list and you know it shouldn't stop the list there.

    So, once you're sure which disk is which, let's assume for illustration that your Windows hard drive (which you bypassed when you booted from the cd) is /dev/sda, the cd drive shows up as /dev/sdb, the TiVo drive you want to copy is /dev/sdc, and the new blank drive is /dev/sdd.

    The general form is

    command (options) source target

    so you'd do

    dd_rescue -v /dev/sdc /dev/sdd

    where -v tells it to use verbose mode, which gives info on what it's doing as it's doing it.

    There are other options, including some to specify how many bytes to try to copy at once and how many fewer to fall back to if it hits a snag, but the defaults will probably suffice in your case.
     
  8. timckelley

    timckelley run of the mill TCFer

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    That sounds very informative; I look forward to trying this. Actually it sounds familiar, as it's not the first time I've run some of the utilities (though never have I run dd_rescue), but it's been so long, I forgot how I did it.
     
  9. unitron

    unitron Well-Known Member

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    I had to do some memory refreshing myself before writing that.

    If you don't work with the stuff all the time, the details start getting fuzzy.
     
  10. timckelley

    timckelley run of the mill TCFer

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    I'm finally getting around to doing this, but I'm running into this problem: when I boot to the mfslive CD, i'm prompted to hit enter to load Linux and that works, but then once I get the Linux prompt it's like it doesn't recognize the keyboard; no matter what I type, nothing shows up on the screen.

    In addition it's saying no CD ROM found, even though obviously it's able to read the cd ROM since it booted to it.
     
  11. telemark

    telemark Active Member

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    There's about 3 phases to a linux boot, that have completely different hardware drivers.

    BIOS, bootloader, and linux kernel.

    Differences between the three's version of supported hardware, can lead to scenarios where hardware that was working later disappears.

    Just grab a keyboard from another computer and move one. (If ps2, try USB. If USB, try ps2. If AT, get a new computer)
     
    Last edited: Apr 8, 2015
  12. unitron

    unitron Well-Known Member

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    I seem to recall there being some older, like maybe pre-DDR type RAM era, AMD CPU-based motherboards that the version of Linux on the MFS Live cd had problems with.
     
  13. timckelley

    timckelley run of the mill TCFer

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    Well as an update, the video started acting up again like it used to do, where a bunch of lines were showing up, and the computer would lock up. Before, rebooting would fix that, and now, it did at first, but now it's stuck like that no matter how many times I reboot, and that includes with the Windows boot drive attached. I can no longer get this computer to boot.

    And even when it did boot, I noticed I can't get it to detect the original CD drive that came with (even though I had hopes it would, since at one time I think I had the wrong IDE connecter on it), though it was at least reading the transplanted CD drive I took out of my other computer.

    I'm suspecting hardware problems of a nature that maybe it's time for me to replace the computer. I did look on Craigslist and replied to one of them, but it turns out that one has a SATA motherboard. I'd prefer a computer with an IDE mother board so that it'd be easy to format IDE HDs to for my IDE TiVos.
     
  14. telemark

    telemark Active Member

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    Not recognizing the CD drive is something that might be fixed when using a newer Linux disk.
     
  15. timckelley

    timckelley run of the mill TCFer

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    That's good, but it won't even boot to Windows now, suggesting something else is also at play. I will admit my Linux disk is very old though, so maybe I should make another one.
     
  16. timckelley

    timckelley run of the mill TCFer

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    Update and a question.

    I kind of stopped looking at this because I've been working feverishly to get my taxes done before the April 15th deadline. I've just finished that, and now my wife is leaning harder for me to finish fixing her TiVo.

    Magically my old computer started working again. Even though repeated reboots didn't fix things, letting it rest a whole day did, and now it's been running fin the last few days. (I use it to run pyTiVo, which my wife heavily uses.)

    Anyway, at this point, I'm afraid to use that computer to fix my TiVo because it seems that every time I fiddle with the innards, it starts malfunctioning. Plus I can't get the MFS live CD to work on that computer or have it recognize devices.

    So I thought of buying a cheap used computer that supports IDE drives, as I have an IDE HD ready to configure for the TiVo. But nobody from Craigslist answers my emails. Then I just realized this: My main computer, which is an emachines T3604, and which uses SATA drives, has an IDE DVD drive. That ribbon has two connectors on it, and it looks like the same width as the IDE HD I want to configure.

    Could I hook up my DVD and HD on the same ribbon at the same time, and have it work? If so, which should be primary and which slave? To be honest, I don't remember if the CD drive was primary or slave, but I'd guess primary, since it's the only IDE device that was in there. (I say "was", because it's currently in my finicky computer, as I was going to use it to fix the TiVo. If this works, I plan on returning the DVD drive back to its original computer to assist with the TiVo repair.)

    So if this works, I guess I could boot to the the MFS CD, then eject it and insert an image CD in it's place, and start doing a transfer of that image onto my IDE hard drive.
     
  17. timckelley

    timckelley run of the mill TCFer

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    Well I hooked up the hard drive and windows seems to detect it because it said some driver was installed. (Hopefully no harm was done by that since I plan on replacing the entire contents of the hard drive with a TiVo image.)

    I've then booted to the MFS live CD and in the process it told me "to proceed press the enter key" but pressing enter does nothing.

    Could that simply mean the CD is bad and I should burn a new one? I hope that's all it is.
     
  18. timckelley

    timckelley run of the mill TCFer

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    Burning a new disc helped. The keyboard works using the new Mfslive disc. I'm now researching the proper syntax to copy an image onto the new hard drive.
     
  19. unitron

    unitron Well-Known Member

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    An IDE/PATA ribbon cable is right at just about 2 inches wide.

    If the one in your eMachines that goes to the DVD drive has a blue connector plugged into the motherboard, and on the other end a black connector and near that a gray connector, it's the newer 80 conductor 40 connector type, which is strictly Cable Select when it come to figuring out which is Master and which is Slave, therefore both the DVD drive and any IDE hard drive you connect need to be jumpered CS.

    The black plug on the end is the Master, and the gray plug about 6 inches away from it is the Slave.


    If you're using WinMFS or the MFS Live cd, it probably doesn't matter whether the DVD drive is Master and the hard drive is Slave or the other way around.

    The old Instant Cake cd's, and maybe the old PTV cd were fussy about that, but you probably shouldn't need either of those for anything these days.

    If you need to use a cd-r with a TiVo image on it while running the MFS Live cd, you should first copy the image to a partition on the computer's main hard drive (the SATA one it boots Windows from) and then mount that partition while on the command line after booting with the MFS Live cd and point the restore command towards that.

    The main hard drive will be referred to as

    /dev/sdX

    (Probably /dev/sda)

    and the other hard drive, being non-SATA, will be

    /dev/hdX

    with X depending on stuff, like is it the first SATA port or is it the Master or Slave on the IDE cable.

    First port or Master would be "a", second port or slave would be "b", etc.

    (If you were using a SATA drive with a SATA/IDE adapter connected to the IDE cable, the computer, and therefore the version of Live Linux the MFS Live cd boots into, would still see it as an IDE device and therefore as a /dev/hdX)


    Are you sure you wouldn't rather do all this in WinMFS?

    I can probably hook you up with the needed image.
     
  20. timckelley

    timckelley run of the mill TCFer

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    I'm having trouble getting the mount command to work, but I was trying to mount the CD rom for the image. Now that I see your idea to put the image on my SATA drive, maybe that will work. I think I do have the kind of connectors you describe, but I actually jumpered the IDE drive as a slave. I guess I should change to cable select like you said. As for winmfs, I could never get that to work, but that was on my other computer. Maybe I should give winmfs a try on this computer. I guess I'll try that now and see what happens.
     
    Last edited: Apr 13, 2015

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