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Upgrading the HDR-FOX T2′s internal 500GB hard disk

It looks like blogging is easier and faster than authoring pages in the wiki, so I will start here and learn wiki authoring later…

Recently, my internal HDD on the HDR T2 was getting full, especially because I was recording more programmes from the HD channels than the SD ones. So I decided to upgrade the internal drive for more recording capacity.

WD15EADS

Western Digital WD15EADS 1.5TB HDD

I was ready to purchase and upgrade to a 2TB HDD, but after a bit of researching, I found that the HDR-FOX T2 can only deal (internally format) a drive up to 1TB in size. I also read that the 2TB hard disk technology is a bit roppy and the 2TB size of HDD is still waiting to be proven on reliability (at least 6 months ago – see here).

So I opted for a compromise – a 1.5TB HDD. This size drive should last me until a 2TB or 3TB become standard ;) So I went for Western Digital WD15EADS from scan.co.uk for about £60. Even though I really ought to have sourced out a drive designed to be used in a PVR – a ‘CE’ hard disk.

Next thing to do was to disconnect the HDR T2 and pop off the lid and install it…

Underside of HDR

Humax warranty seal

Warning! Of course the HDR T2 is protected by a warranty seal on the bottom of the unit, so the warning is: Do not open up this box to replace the hard disk as this voids your warranty! And remember your warranty last for 2+ years!

Nevermind I say, I have two other Humax PVRs (the 9200T bought in 2006, and the FOXSAT-HDR bought in 2008), both have had their internal HDD replaced and they are still going strong…

3 screws hold lid in place

Make sure you unplug all the cables from the HDR, especially the power and aerial before opening. Also make sure you earth yourself to remove static electricity on you body.

So there are 3 screws holding the lid on and they are at the back (see pic). A Philips screw driver will uncrew them. Slide the box back and lift up.

The inside of the Humax FOX-HDR T2 is wonderful sight – with shielded twin tuners, heat-sinked processors, standard SATA and power connectors and the enclosed HDD with fan.

There are 4 screws holding the HDD enclosure to the motherboard. Disconnect the fan power connect from the motherboard by squeezing the clip, before unscrewing the four screws and lifting the enclosure up slightly.

Inside the HDR T2

With the enclosure lifted slightly, undo the HDD’s SATA and power interface, before removing the enclosure completely.

The 500Gb internal HDD is a Seagate Pipeline HD2 hard disk – a special ‘AV’ or ‘CE’ disk designed to be used in a PVR. If we were smart and had enough money, we would replace like for like. Ideally we would put a 1TB/1.5TB/2TB Seagate Pipeline HD2 drive in place of the 500Gb. But instead we thank Humax for using a stardard 3.5″ HDD (some PVR makers use 2.5″ ones which cost twice the price to replace) and that we are able to use any 3.5″ in the HDR T2.

My replacement is the WD15EADS and others which are known to work in the HDR T2 are: Samsung HD204UI SpinPoint F4 and WD20EARS – both are 2TB.

Undo the four screws holding the HDD in the caddy, and then replace it with your chosen 3.5″ disk. Notice the blue vibration dampening gromets…

1.5TB HDD hooked up

From the picture, you can see that I’ve just hooked the 1.5Tb disk instead of putting it in the caddy and replacing, as I needed to test whether it would work with this disk. It is known that the HDR can not format a 2TB drive, but maybe it can a 1.5TB drive… After hooking it up, I booted the HDR and it informs me that it can see the drive and I ought to go to the Data Storage menu to format it…

HDR T2 detects the 1.5Tb drive

Formatting the internal HDD

Unfortunately, I think I did not leave it long enough to find out whether the HDR could format the drive or not. Maybe this is the same mistake others who’ve installed a 2TB drive made too..? This thought is with hindsight, because I stopped the formatting process thinking it was taking too long. I then plugged this 1.5TB drive into my Ubuntu Linux PC to format the drive, only to realise that the format process does take a long time, as the drive it so big!

Screengrab of ubuntu desktop with original 500GB HDD

I also plugged in the original 500GB HDD from the HDR T2, to inspect the partitions. Above is a screengrab of the desktop with the 3 partitions of the hard disk and dmesg log. The HDD is partitioned into 3. The first partition is 1GB for the EPG. The third partition is 10GB for streaming applications (such as iPlayer, I suspect) and the second is the size of the rest of the disk and is for the recordings, photo, music and buffer…

I need to partition my 1.5TB HDD in the same way.Three partitions: a 1GB, a 10GB, and rest of HDD partition. I’m going to use the gparted paritioning utility included with ubuntu to do this. The first partition has to be the 1Gb one and the last parition has to be the 10Gb. The middle partition will be the rest of the HDD, and this will be the usable storage for  your recordings, photos and music.

Partition new HDD using gparted

Doing this using Gparted will be in a wiki article I will post, as you can use this for formatting a drive in EXT3 to be used on the FOXSAT-HDR or HD-FOX T2.

It was at this formatting stage that I found partitioning 1.2TB of space in EXT3 format takes a long time – over 20 minutes! So this fact left me wondering if I had left the HDR-FOX T2 formatting my 1.5TB replacement HDD, it might have done so without me having to plug it into a Linux PC to manually format…

  1. avatar
    John
    April 15th, 2011 at 13:59 | #1

    Hi there, thanks so much for this blog. I’m very keen to go through it with a open mind to ubuntu AND the humax pvr- a real result thanks.

    A question if you don’t mind, goes to anyone, can I buy a humax set top box without a hd installed & then install one? Anyone know if the firmware is the same, caddy inside? looks like sata connections. Anyone know please.

    • avatar
      son_t
      April 25th, 2011 at 10:57 | #2

      The Humax HD-FOX T2 set top box has its firmware update and can record to an external USB drive. There is no space inside the box for a hard drive, and the USB interface means you don’t need an external caddy system.

  2. avatar
    Clive
    May 9th, 2011 at 13:32 | #3

    Thanks for the interesting article regarding upgrading the HDD in the HDR Fox T2.(I have the 1TB version).
    A couple of questions please.

    1. If I wanted to just replace the existing 1TB HDD due to it failing, presumably I could just put a new HDD in the “box” and the “Box” would format it by itself without the need to use my PC?

    2. I use Ubuntu. I was interested in your “grabs” using gparted. Usually when you partition a drive it asks how you would like to mount the partition(ie. Root, or Home or something else).
    Could you clarify this area please.
    Thank you

  3. avatar
    son_t
    May 9th, 2011 at 15:05 | #4

    1. The HDR-FOX T2 certainly supports the formatting of any HDD 1TB and under.

    2. When I use GParted it does not ask me how/where I would like it mounted. I have used GParted versions 0.4.3, 0.6.2 and 0.7.0 (with libparted versions 1.8.8, 2.3, 2.3) on Ubuntu versions 9.02, 10.10 and 11.04 respectively – maybe you need to upgrade GParted or Ubuntu?

  4. avatar
    Clive
    May 10th, 2011 at 12:03 | #5

    @son_t

    1. Thanks for confirming that. You also mentioned that(thankfully)an ordinary HDD would be sufficient for the job. Do they last about the same time?

    2. My Ubuntu is up to date(11.4)and so is my version of Gparted.

    I can see from your grabs(having looked again)that I had gone one step further in my thinking than would be required in manually “setting up” a new HDD for the Humax box.

    I was thinking of an installation on a Laptop or PC where you need to create different partitions for your hard drive. Home,Root and maybe swap(If you are using Linux). This step would not be required from what I can see.

    Thanks again for a great “How to”. I found it VERY interesting.

  5. avatar
    Alan
    July 16th, 2011 at 08:56 | #6

    Hi. Your instructions were very helpful. I bought a 2TB Seagate Pipeline HD2 from ebuyer for ~£70. The Humax couldn’t format it. The ‘processing’ icon was on screen for over an hour and there were no read/write sounds coming from the drive. So I put the drive in my Ubuntu 11.04 PC and partitioned it as recommended: three partitions 1: 1GB, 2: whatever is left available : 3:10GB, all ext3. It took about 45 mins to partition. I put the drive in the Humax and hey presto, instant recognition. About 1.8TB available for recording! The warranty sticker was the only issue. It’s early days, but initial recordings worked fine. Let’s see how well things work in the longer term. Many thanks. Alan.

  6. avatar
    son_t
    July 18th, 2011 at 10:59 | #7

    Thanks for leaving the comment Alan :)

    I’ve also gotten someone to confirm whether the box could or could not format a 1.5TB Seagate Pipeline HDD, and alas, it can’t. So the HDR can only format up to 1TB.

  7. avatar
    Wilson
    September 30th, 2011 at 10:13 | #8

    @Alan
    Hi

    Could you email me the instructions, as I want to upgrade my humax to a 2TB. donor4u@hotmail.co.uk

  8. avatar
    jacqui chesterfield
    April 26th, 2012 at 00:26 | #9

    my humax foxsat-HDR hard drive seems to have stopped working, media does not work so cannot now watch the programmes i have recorded. please can someone advise me what to do. much appreciated jacqui

  9. avatar
    super-admin
    May 3rd, 2012 at 13:47 | #10

    Post in the forum for general help: http://myhumax.org/forum/

  10. avatar
    Andrew
    August 1st, 2012 at 10:33 | #11

    You could also clone the original drive over on to the new one. I cloned my original 320GB drive over to a new 1TB one, using a SATA to USB dongle and a copy of Acronis True Image Home 2011.

    Just remove the drive from the Humax, hook up to the SATA connection in your PC. Connect your new drive to the SATA to USB dongle, and they boot up Acronis off CD. Use the “Clone Disk” option, wait 30 mins and then once Acronis has done it’s thing, just fit the new drive to the Humax.

    This means you don’t even lose your recordings or schedule. You just instantly end up with much more space.

    I used a spare 2.5″ Samsung M8 1TB drive, and fitted using a cheap 2.5″ to 3.5″ bay adaptor.

  11. November 21st, 2012 at 19:24 | #12

    Andrew

    Just read your post here and was wondering how easy it’d be to do as you suggest and use Acronis TIH. I’m a fairly confident PC user but would never describe myself as being terribly-tech savvy. I’ve never used Linux, for example. Would I need to buy a SATA to USB dongle or does Acronis come with one? Is reasonably Acronis user-friendly (or even better idiot-proof!)?

    I really want to upgrade my Humax as it’s an awful lot cheaper than buying another box altogether.

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