I hate proprietary disc formats

I’m testing a PVR on which you can apparently record to external hard disk drives as well as internal one. So I plug in a 1TB hard disk to test it out. Unit won’t recognised it.

Plug it into the computer. Computer (XP) won’t recognise it … or will it? The ‘Safely Remove Hardware’ dialogue knows there’s a mass storage device attached, but no disk drive number is appearing in My Computer. I open Device Manager, and there it is. I work through the ‘Troubleshooting’ items, and nothing at all useful appears.

Googling around gives a hint. Right click ‘My Computer’, select ‘Manage’, choose ‘Disk Management’. And there are the three hard drives: two internal 500GB SATA (C: and F:), and one 1,000GB one with no drive letter and no listed ‘File System’ (the other two are shown as NTFS).

Why no file system? Last time I used this drive, it was with a TV that allows you to plug in a hard drive to use for recording. But these, presumably for copyright reasons, reformat the hard disk to some weird proprietary format in order to stop people from copying the recordings back onto a TV computer. [corrected 5 March 2011]

Solution: right click the drive and choose the only option: ‘Delete Partition’. Once that was done I could click in the relevant box showing the disk drive, right click and choose ‘Format’.

Slow process (since I started typing this post, it has progressed from 1% to 9%), but hopefully the drive will be usable again when it is complete.

Moral: the PVR function on some new TVs is a useful feature indeed. But use an external disk drive that you can afford to leave dedicated to the task.

(Incidentally, I haven’t mentioned the TV brand, because I can’t remember which one it was.)

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4 Responses to I hate proprietary disc formats

  1. treblid says:

    XP (and Win7) unfortunately supports FAT and NTFS (and maybe some others) file system. Linux on the other hand support a lot more file systems. Suspect the PVR in question uses some variant of Linux?

    Linux tools like gpartd (http://www.sysresccd.org/images/sysresccd-001-640×480.png)will be able to identify what file system it is.

  2. Stephen Dawson says:

    That is indeed possible, but I suspect that even if its based on a Unix/Linux format, it is still likely to be incompatible with a regular Linux system (although someone clever would be able to work out a hack). They take pains to say that the content can’t be copied.

    It would be nice of Windows, though, to report that the disc is working at the hardware level, but does not recognise the format and would I like it to reformat the disc?

  3. James gifford says:

    The beyonwiz H1 is the same. Single tuner and no inbuilt HDD. You can attach one via USB but it has to be re formatted and registered to the unit. It will play back files from any attached HDD but will not record etc without the registration and essentially dedication to the one unit.

  4. Stephen Dawson says:

    Hi James. A bit silly that, really, since with the H1 you can send your recordings over the network to your computer. But maybe all this isn’t so much for copyright protection, but to assist in reliable recording. They may figure the unit needs to have tight control over the disk, perhaps to reduce file fragmentation or other possible problems.

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