How to format a PVR HDD for Windows

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How to format a PVR HDD for Windows

Postby Bsuds » Jan 28th, 2012, 6:07 am

OK I have 2 Western Digital HDD's out of Bell PVR's. I am trying to get one to work in an enclosure as an external drive with another receiver and the other as an external with a computer.

The receiver will not recognize the drive and neither will a computer. I have tried finding a way to reformat them but to no avail. Keeps giving me an error and won't do it. I have tried a couple of different programs for partitioning as well with the same results.

Any ideas would be helpful?
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Re: How to format a PVR HDD for Windows

Postby NAB » Jan 28th, 2012, 9:39 am

I have no idea what formatting is used or required for an internal installation in a PVR suds, but setting one up for use in an external USB connection drive with Windows should be no problem, although I do know that with my receiver with capability to accept an external USB drive calls up some specific drive specs recommended - particularly with respect to size and speed (should be in the receiver manual as I recall).

That said, in an enclosure the drive has to be set up with a primary partition under Windows management, then that partition formatted NTFS, at which point you should be good to go in most circumstances. Usually found under "Computer Management(Local)">"Storage">"Disk Management".

You don't need any partitioning programs to do it. But how you get there depends somewhat on what Windows operating system you are using. I'll be "doing it" to a badly rogue used HDdrive this afternoon in fact via external USB enclosure.

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Re: How to format a PVR HDD for Windows

Postby Bsuds » Jan 28th, 2012, 10:00 am

Windows doesn't recognize either drive and will not do anything with them. Partition, format, or anything. The partitioning software will see the drive but but won't do anything to them, just says errors. My neighbors Mac won't do anything either
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Re: How to format a PVR HDD for Windows

Postby NAB » Jan 28th, 2012, 10:15 am

Bsuds wrote:Windows doesn't recognize either drive and will not do anything with them. Partition, format, or anything. The partitioning software will see the drive but but won't do anything to them, just says errors. My neighbors Mac won't do anything either



I just looked in my receiver menu, and under PVR it tells me to go to the following web link for info on my particular system.

bell.ca/pvrmax ..from where I see that a hard drive that was set up for use with windows cannot be used as a PVR with your receiver. From that I assume the Sat receiver uses a different formatting/storage structure that it accomplishes itself using a 7200 rpm drive starting from factory default condition, and if I read it right the external drive can only be used with the specific sat receiver it was formatted by. I guess that prevents you from recording on one receiver then playing back through another or transferring drives from one receiver to another? Sounds like in order to do either you would have to contact the drive manufacturer to find out if it is possible to get the drive back to factory default condition first before going any further.

As to your drive not being recognized from an external USB enclosure in Windows, there are steps to get there from Windows, but I cannot just rhyme them off off the top of my head as it can be different things in each circumstance. Does the drive show up in Device Manager? Perhaps with a yellow question mark indicating it is not functional?

And what is your Windows operating system, version, and service pack level?

BTW, depending on the current status of the drive (i.e. perhaps it is "raw"), you cannot format it until you establish a healthy primary partition first so the drive can be recognized by Windows. Then you format that partition (can be time consuming depending on the drive size and speed), but as above don't expect it to work with your Sat Receiver once successful, nor a computer to "see" a hard drive taken from a PVR application.

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Re: How to format a PVR HDD for Windows

Postby OffRoad » Jan 28th, 2012, 11:01 am

The Bell PVR disks are most likely using the Linux file system ext3. I would examine the disk using 'parted' under Linux to try to re-partition and remove the file system before re-partitioning and re-formatting under Windows.

If all else fails, I would try zeroing out the first couple of sectors on the drive using 'dd' under Linux and then try re-partitioning/re-formatting it. This may also trigger the PVR to reformat the drive automatically when plugged in.

Good luck!
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Re: How to format a PVR HDD for Windows

Postby NAB » Jan 28th, 2012, 12:25 pm

?? I thought suds was working with a Windows OS ??

Anyway, what size are the drives, and is the computer / bios new enough that it can fully format drives once partitioned if the partition size is beyond 128 Gig?

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Re: How to format a PVR HDD for Windows

Postby OffRoad » Jan 28th, 2012, 12:43 pm

NAB wrote:?? I thought suds was working with a Windows OS ??

Bsuds wrote:OK I have 2 Western Digital HDD's out of Bell PVR's.
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Re: How to format a PVR HDD for Windows

Postby NAB » Jan 28th, 2012, 1:34 pm

Read beyond the first post OffRoad

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Re: How to format a PVR HDD for Windows

Postby OffRoad » Jan 28th, 2012, 1:59 pm

Oh, I've read the posts NAB and I see you posting things like "I have no idea", "I guess", and "I assume".

Bsuds is looking for ideas. Because he says this:
Bsuds wrote:Windows doesn't recognize either drive and will not do anything with them. Partition, format, or anything.

I suggest trying to read the drive using Linux which has more robust disk tools and because the disks apparently have previously been partitioned/formatted in a way that is not compatible with Windows.
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Re: How to format a PVR HDD for Windows

Postby LoneWolf_53 » Jan 28th, 2012, 2:07 pm

Yeah from what I've read at various sites the disks are definitely Linux formatted.

I just haven't run across anyone that has done exactly what Bsuds wishes to do.

I also noted mention that they needed to be AC self powered, as trying to use USB power would fail, if that info helps in any way.
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Re: How to format a PVR HDD for Windows

Postby rekabis » Jan 28th, 2012, 2:31 pm

LoneWolf_53, all drives use that kind of power, whether they are powered by USB, an external power brick or installed internally inside a computer. Most laptop-sized hard drives can subsist on the power provided by the USB connection itself, but desktop drives need 12v power, which requires a power brick (say, an external USB case that has its own dedicated power) or a molex connection straight from the computer’s power supply.

And as long as the drive can be seen by the BIOS/UEFI, you can use a wiping/zero-fill utility like Darik’s Boot And Nuke to wipe the drive. I would also recommend running Spinrite at level 5 after it’s been wiped (and before formatting it for Windows) to ensure (and guarantee) a flawless drive. Just attach the drive directly (SATA or IDE, no USB) in order for Spinrite to operate at maximum efficiency (a USB connection does not allow Spinrite to access the drive’s S.M.A.R.T. data, which it uses to do a better job than without).
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Re: How to format a PVR HDD for Windows

Postby NAB » Jan 28th, 2012, 2:46 pm

OffRoad wrote:Oh, I've read the posts NAB and I see you posting things like "I have no idea", "I guess", and "I assume".

Bsuds is looking for ideas. Because he says this:
Bsuds wrote:Windows doesn't recognize either drive and will not do anything with them. Partition, format, or anything.

I suggest trying to read the drive using Linux which has more robust disk tools and because the disks apparently have previously been partitioned/formatted in a way that is not compatible with Windows.


You need to read more thoroughly and carefully I think OffRoad, including the link I provided. I said I had no idea what the format would be on the drives ex Sat Receivers, but it doesn't really matter anyway since suds now has the information he needs to decide what steps he wants to take from the point he is at with Windows. But I "asssumed" or guessed at nothing other than I had to question which Windows operating system is in use and what vintage computer (we still don't know) so I could be more specific as to how to go to where I pointed to manage hard drives if he has trouble finding and working it. No need taking this down the road of another Linux versus Windows discussion and just confusing the issue.

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Re: How to format a PVR HDD for Windows

Postby OffRoad » Jan 28th, 2012, 4:04 pm

You're right NAB, it really doesn't matter anymore. The best ideas here so far involve using a Linux based boot disk to wipe the drive or put it in a Linux system and use Linux tools. This is not a Windows vs Linux thread. I pointed out in my first post that the drive had an ext3 file system. The best tools to use to work with a Linux ext3 drive are Linux based.
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Re: How to format a PVR HDD for Windows

Postby rekabis » Jan 28th, 2012, 5:04 pm

Or you could use a bootable drive wiping utility that doesn’t care what the drive was formatted with.

DBAN (the tool I suggested) doesn’t care how the drive is formatted -- afaik it doesn’t even tell you what is on the drive. As long as the computer’s BIOS can see the drive, a wiping utility like DBAN can wipe it clean. It works at a level below that of any partition, using a drive’s own built-in hardware/technologies/features to wipe it clean.

This is also why you use a tool like DBAN when you have a boot-sector virus -- because simply reformatting would not touch the virus. Only a low-level wiping tool like DBAN will wipe *everything*, including the boot sector and reserved space.
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Re: How to format a PVR HDD for Windows

Postby NAB » Jan 28th, 2012, 5:21 pm

OffRoad wrote:You're right NAB, it really doesn't matter anymore. The best ideas here so far involve using a Linux based boot disk to wipe the drive or put it in a Linux system and use Linux tools. This is not a Windows vs Linux thread. I pointed out in my first post that the drive had an ext3 file system. The best tools to use to work with a Linux ext3 drive are Linux based.


Not so OffRoad - try reading the title of the thread for starters. And if suds wants to use one of the drives as a USB in enclosure to use with a Sat Receiver, then he can choose to wipe it clean and raw and let the receiver do it's deed with it as the web site instructions indicate. No need to mess with computer based Linux here ;-)

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Last edited by NAB on Jan 28th, 2012, 5:38 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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