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  1. Member
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    I have a bunch of recordings I want to extract from a working Pioneer DVR-550 HDD. I don't want to burn them to DVD because some of the recordings exceed 4gb, plus it's wasteful. I'd like to remove the HDD, plug it into my PC (I have the necessary USB bridge/programs), extract the videos and then return the HDD to the unit. However, I'm hesitant to try because I think I read years ago that some DVD recorders have self-destruct systems set up to avoid people from removing the HDD? Would it be possible to remove the HDD, and then re-install without any causing any 'damage' to the player?

    Thanks!
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    I doubt there's a self destruct mechanism built in. It's plenty effective to just use encryption to prevent copying. That's what pvrs usually do and it's effective. UNless you can get the key the files aren't copyable.
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    I had this situation few months ago and the only safe way was to burn the videos to DVD's and then ripped them to my computer using makeMKV.
    In order to keep the same quality for videos exceeding 4gb, I divided the files to two or more parts. Then merged them later on or just kept them as P1, p2, etc.
    You can try uninstalling the HDD but remember that it has an IDE interface NOT SATA so you need a reliable adapter to connect to your computer.
    I used the same rewritable/erasable DVD so there was no waste at all.
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    I'd say go for it. I have a DVR-645 here. A couple of years ago I pulled out the HDD, used ISOXXXXXX to extract the recordings (IDE to SATA converter thingees work well), then put the HDD back in and put it on the shelf. I have just flashed it up now to test and have done a recording onto the HDD and it works fine (and the original recordings are still on the HDD).

    IIRC, it was a bit of a palava disconnecting and reconnecting the HDD, so not really a viable option for regular use, but certainly it saved the recordings we had on it.
    Innards pic:

    Image
    [Attachment 79568 - Click to enlarge]


    Disclaimer: Do this at your own risk and you are responsible for anything that goes wrong.
    Last edited by Alwyn; 2nd Jun 2024 at 08:57. Reason: IIRC added.
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  5. Member
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    Originally Posted by Alwyn View Post
    I'd say go for it. I have a DVR-645 here. A couple of years ago I pulled out the HDD, used ISOXXXXXX to extract the recordings (IDE to SATA converter thingees work well), then put the HDD back in and put it on the shelf. I have just flashed it up now to test and have done a recording onto the HDD and it works fine (and the original recordings are still on the HDD).

    Disclaimer: Do this at your own risk and you are responsible for anything that goes wrong.
    Did you extract the recordings using Windows or a different OS? Sorry for the dumb question but what is ISOXXXXXX? Is that the name of the software you used to extract the recordings?

    I did a search of the forum and found this post from 2017, which strongly recommends not removing the HDD. I wonder if opinion has since changed if it worked for you?

    Re the hard drive: its too late for you, but for anyone who sees this thread in future: DO NOT remove the HDD from any recorder and attempt to read the files with your PC. Just. Don.t. Do. It. The HDD is usually an encrypted Linux variant, so you can't even read it unless you boot into Linux or use some sort of salvage utility under Windows (forget MacOS: can't do jack with recorder HDDs). Even if you manage to mount the HDD, the video files are almost always fragmented and not easily re-assembled/converted to usable generic MPEGs. More importantly, removing the HDD triggers a reset in many recorders which will cause trouble when you put the HDD back in: the recorder may refuse to recognize it, or insist that you erase it, or in Pioneer's case that you re-authorize it with the hard-to-find Service Remote and Service DVD. For all practical purposes, DVD/HDD recorders are a sealed ecosystem: you're not getting the videos off the hard drive without burning a standard dvd. No way, no how: just forget it, unless the machine totally dies and you're desperately trying to salvage a couple of the videos.
    https://forum.videohelp.com/threads/382430-Pioneer-540-H-harddrive-won-t-start-and-no-...ht#post2476478
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    The HDD has a maximum of 160GB. Assuming you have it full, then that is equivalent to 40 DVD recordings at most.
    As I mentioned, I played it it safe and got all the content by recording to a rewriteable DVD-RW disc.
    Another point to consider is that taking out the HDD and fiddling with the files might corrupt the software. Try to have a backup of the software before doing anything.
    The hardest part for me then was that the remote had sticky buttons which made navigation a nightmare. Ordered a a replacement from AliExpress which made it easier to record after I received it.
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    Originally Posted by Subtitles View Post
    The HDD has a maximum of 160GB. Assuming you have it full, then that is equivalent to 40 DVD recordings at most.
    As I mentioned, I played it it safe and got all the content by recording to a rewriteable DVD-RW disc.
    Another point to consider is that taking out the HDD and fiddling with the files might corrupt the software. Try to have a backup of the software before doing anything.
    The hardest part for me then was that the remote had sticky buttons which made navigation a nightmare. Ordered a a replacement from AliExpress which made it easier to record after I received it.
    Yeah, every single Pioneer DVR remote Iíve used has been a bit crap! They make menu access quite sluggish.

    DVD-RWÖI hadnít considered that. Very good suggestion, thanks.
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    You should use the software IsoBuster. I have extracted files from a Pioneer DVR-555.

    https://www.digitalfaq.com/forum/video-capture/9613-isobuster-supports-pioneer.html
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    Originally Posted by Bogilein View Post
    You should use the software IsoBuster. I have extracted files from a Pioneer DVR-555.

    https://www.digitalfaq.com/forum/video-capture/9613-isobuster-supports-pioneer.html
    Actually, I tend to use this program I found on GitHub to extract videos from broken Pioneers I find! Bit of a hassle but itís free
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    I have also done this with the freeware dvr-recover on a Sony RDR-680 (Pioneer DVR-650 clone). You can do it for one-time use.
    But if you want to do this more often, IsoBuster is much easier and should be worth the purchase as it also supports various other DVD recorders.
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    yeah that bit of warning was valid in 2017, but things changed a lot in the 2 years right after that.

    The IsoBuster author and I started adding and testing extracting videos from a lot different brands and models. He has continued on, but I stopped contributing much after 2021.

    The Pioneers have firmware that is uploaded to nvram on the mainboard, and optical drive and hdd drive are "paired" with the mainboard.

    If your careful and do not cause a static discharge that wipes the nvram or damages the firmware while removing and replacing the HDD its no big deal.

    Also when you attach an HDD to a PC running Windows it will prompt you to "initialize it" <-- never allow it to do this, it writes to track 0 and damages the pairing to the mainboard. Instead decline, say No and then run IsoBuster, that will find the new hard drive and scan it for signatures that say "I am a Pioneer DVR Hard drive and I have video". Isobuster will then create a nice catalog of everything it sees on the hard drive and present it for you to "extract" -- which means -- Copy to your PC.

    People get in trouble when they get over confident and decide to try to "Remove" video files or "restore" or "Upload" video files to the Pioneer DVR HDD.. you can try.. but its not designed to support this.. just do not do it.. you will wipe out your recordings on the HDD and make the pairing with the mainboard unrecoverable.

    People want "more" functionality than is promised by a "Recovery" tool.. IsoBuster is for "Copy off to a PC" [only] nothing more.

    People also "forget" they had the Pioneer DVR HDD attached to their PC .. you really have to be very careful.. like stepping in a mine field to

    1. attach the Pioneer HDD
    2. decline the Windows prompt to "initialize"
    3. Extract (copy video files to your pc)
    4. carefully shutdown your PC and remove the Pioneer DVR HDD and put it back into the Pioneer DVR

    If you do those things, and only those things, everything works fine.

    If you damage the "pairing" with the mainboard by static discharge, or by allowing windows to "write" anything to the HDD.. they are "disassociated". the Pioneer DVR will start up and see the HDD but not recognize it and prompt for wiping and re-pairing.

    Pairing was only supposed to be done at the factory, its not supposed to be done at home.

    You will never be able to access the videos again from the DVR if pairing is damaged, IsoBuster can read damaged or disassociated HDD but it depends on how bad the damage is.. a fully erased HDD won't be usable even from IsoBuster.

    Pioneer pairing was achieved with a Service Remote and a Firmware disk for that model recorder. The Remotes are no longer made, the only websites that still had a copy of the firmware discs shutdown for lack of support years ago. A few people still have the remotes and all the firmware disc images.. and generally share them well meaning.. but have been burned severely .. by a few very vocal people in the past.. so don't often offer help anymore.

    .. thats a short history of the last 5 years regarding Pioneer DVRs

    .. i should add, my experience with IsoBuster was limited to using Window XP and Windows 7 exclusively.. Windows 8.1 and 10 or 11 may do things to newly attached HDD without asking for permission first.. so I would be very wary of using those.

    The IsoBuster author has continued supporting newer and newer versions of Windows 32 and 64 bit.. but I have not kept up with them.

    The thing is you have to use a recipe for doing this procedure found by others and stick to it very rigidly.. if you stray off the path.. you could end up not getting your recordings and "bricking" your DVR.

    Its wonderful when it works.. smooth and amazing.. you can copy the video files off at full resolution.. even better than DVD quality.. but as soon as you get over confident and try to do thing like "delete" recordings by using whatever Windows "can see" or "Wiping the disk" from Windows.. when you put it back into the DVR.. it will be unpaired and useless.

    Let the DVR be your "deletion" tool.. not Windows.. free up space from the menus in the DVR.. don't try to take a short cut while its connected to your PC.. don't step outside the bounds of .. "for recovery only" .. for "copy" only.. never write back to the HDD.

    Isobuster is not an expensive tool.. and there is only one author.. he feeds his family with the proceeds and is very generous with his time. He's a wonderful person. don't take advantage of him if you use his tool. please.
    Last edited by jwillis84; 2nd Jun 2024 at 17:29.
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  12. Member
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    Did you extract the recordings using Windows or a different OS?
    Yes, Windows, with ISOBuster.

    ISO Buster in action a couple of years ago on the HDD from my 645 (this would have been Windows 10, early version):

    HDD in Windows Disk Management:
    Image
    [Attachment 79581 - Click to enlarge]


    ISOBuster:
    Image
    [Attachment 79582 - Click to enlarge]
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  13. Member
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    Originally Posted by dave_van_damme View Post
    Originally Posted by Subtitles View Post
    The HDD has a maximum of 160GB. Assuming you have it full, then that is equivalent to 40 DVD recordings at most.
    As I mentioned, I played it it safe and got all the content by recording to a rewriteable DVD-RW disc.
    Another point to consider is that taking out the HDD and fiddling with the files might corrupt the software. Try to have a backup of the software before doing anything.
    The hardest part for me then was that the remote had sticky buttons which made navigation a nightmare. Ordered a a replacement from AliExpress which made it easier to record after I received it.
    Yeah, every single Pioneer DVR remote Iíve used has been a bit crap! They make menu access quite sluggish.

    DVD-RWÖI hadnít considered that. Very good suggestion, thanks.
    If you need a remote replacement, this is the link to order from Aliexpress where I got mine.
    https://www.aliexpress.com/item/4001338222485.html?spm=a2g0o.order_list.order_list_mai...4e3e5c5ftBsCqo
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  14. Member
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    Just for stamps, I plugged my 645 into a Startech USB3HDCAP digitiser and was able to capture the recorded HDD programs both by HDMI (needed a splitter to defeat the HDCP) and S-Video. If you're into analogue capture, you could compare that quality against burning to DVD and ripping (that is if you don't want to pull out the drive).
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