Recoverying Recordings by removing the Hard Drive and copying to a PC - AVS Forum | Home Theater Discussions And Reviews
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post #1 of 3 Old 06-19-2019, 11:24 AM - Thread Starter
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Recovering Recordings by removing the Hard Drive and copying to a PC

This is sort of a "review" since I've purchased and use a full copy of IsoBuster.

The IsoBuster DVR support has left the 'Beta' phase and gone real.

The Official IsoBuster 4.4 release is now available and includes the full support for 50+ brands and models of DVD and Blu-ray recorders.

You can now simply go to the primary website and get a copy.

No more trial or alpha version private links.

Its not free, but its also not super expensive.. its actually fairly inexpensive. But behind that cost is a product that has existed for more than ten years as a general purpose data recovery program, and still provides those features if you need to recover files from any damaged or partially erased hard drive.

Basically to use it you open the DVR and remove its hard drive and attach it to a PC, run Isobuster and it automatically recognizes the format of the DVR hard drive and displays a list of recordings in a simple Windows File Manager interface, from there you can copy the recordings from the DVR hard drive to the PC hard drive or any networked destination.. you can back them up to a general purpose file server or PLEX media server or edit them with video editing software and burn them to disc.

The release notes have been updated with a list of "tested with" brands and models but its estimated Isobuster will support many more that were not tested. Support for more DVR "tested" brands and models in the next release is a definite possibility. If you have an older previous IsoBuster license you do not have to purchase a new license again, there is a lower cost Upgrade path for existing license holders to get the new version.

Supporting so many brands and models was not a simple task, but required a lot of development to explicitly understand and support each models file system. No decryption or circumvention of existing copyright mechanisms inherent in the recorders original operation were disrupted or interferred with... So this simply enhances and restores your ability to access your recordings..

Even if the DVR disc burner has failed. Even if the DVR itself has failed, and Even if the hard drive is partially damaged.. Isobuster can probably still access and rescue the recordings from the DVR hard drive. Its a valuable Swiss Army knife for dealing with many potential problems. Even corrupted recordings that will no longer play on a DVR, or that have been deleted (may) still be recoverable using its special (Whole Drive File Scan procedure).

After the recordings have been copied off, the DVR hard drive can usually be returned to the DVR and normal operations resumed. IsoBuster does not by default corrupt or write to the DVR drive while accessing the recordings.. it also does not by default have to scan the entire drive to recover a single recording.. or reassemble lots of fragments.. it quickly and efficiently reads and copies only the sectors required for a recording and is therefore really fast.

A major 'plus' is when copying 'Extra Long' and or high bandwidth 'XP' recordings.. they are not limited in size to what will fit on a single or double sided DVD. You can copy them in their entirety without pausing to edit out commericals direct to your larger faster PC hard drives and keep them 'as they are' or edit them later from your choice of video editor with a full size keyboard and mouse.

DVRs were known for their ability to capture broadcast and camcorder video without Lip Sync problems, and a minimum of thought towards speed and quality adjustments. And they are (unlike PCs) immune to Windows or Mac update issues from one month to the next. And they can run for hours or days recording video without a single hiccup. They make excellent analog to digital video conversion platforms.. but generally require DVD or Blu-ray media and force you to make choices about how to fit that video on various types of discs. Now you don't have to do that.. you can copy the recordings 'whole' in their entirety (no matter how long, without generation loss) direct to a large PC hard drive and make archival decisions later.

DVRs also make you wait until after recording a video, wait until after editing it for content and then wait while it sets up, then burns, and then finalizes a video. Now you don't have to do any of that. Skipping direct to copying videos from the DVR hard drive to a PC drive takes place in real time at the Full speed of the DVR hard drive from disk to disk in much less time. And perhaps best of all.. you don't have to wait for DVD media to go on sale, or buy it online when you run out and have to wait for it to arrive. -- there's a whole lot less waiting involved.

Last edited by jwillis84; 06-19-2019 at 12:13 PM.
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post #2 of 3 Old 06-23-2019, 10:11 AM
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It's a shame this tool wasn't developed 10 yr ago when DVD recorders were in their prime, this forum was vibrant with posts and people were looking for solutions to do exactly this sort of thing. But nowadays, years after DVDR's have left the market, I think your audience is vanishingly small -- the traffic on this forum is witness to that. I think you could count on your fingers the number of people willing to spend $60 on a tool to be used essentially 1 time before they toss their ancient DVDR for good.
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post #3 of 3 Old 06-23-2019, 03:57 PM - Thread Starter
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I'm still astonished at the quality a DVR can produce when recording from Off the Air through a converter, or especially when capturing a VHS signal and producing a video file.

Yes it is 2019 and many people have moved on, but a few people (a few like you say) are looking for a simple and easy way to convert a bunch of VHS tapes to files. - I am one.

When I looked at the options, most pointed in the direction of a USB dongle.. cheap, semi-hard to find a good one, and terrible logistics.. of coordinating the time and space to get a VCR and PC together and working (long enough) to get the job done.. plus I'd need a TBC in most cases.

The DVR turned that on its ear.. simple, records for hours (days) even uninterrupted and produces beautiful full bandwidth MPEG2 files with perfect sound.. no Lip sync problems... nothing like with USB dongles.. or capture cards plus audio cards and TBC with proc-amp plus detailer.. all kinds of things I knew very little about.

The major problem was with DVRs you had DVD media restrictions on resolution and length of program. And you had to wait for the media to burn.. and then it might fail.. the drive might fail.. or the recorder might fail after recording lots of hours of video. And if you used it for editing.. it might corrupt the drive and you loose any video already recorded also.

Extracting the video from the drive direct eliminated all of those downsides, provided a backup plan in case the burner, hard drive or recorder failed, or corrupted.. and transfers at top speed faster than it would take to burn a DVD.

So its 2019.. and I'm still excited.

I think based on a few conversations.. in the US it might be a small issue, but in Canada and Europe.. there seems to be as much or more interest. And its still only a couple months this has been possible. The Official release of the feature is only a few days old, less than a week.. so there is still time before I'd call it wasted effort.

Comparing an mpeg4 vs mpeg2 (yes I know the terms are being misused) the quality is light years different. Those boxes that record in hyper-compressed low color resolution are very different in quality. And many DVRs have a signal clean up section not unlike a full frame TBC, so they are very tolerant of awful signal. Bonus for PAL users is these DVRs often work in NTSC or PAL modes.. so an avalanche of features from a DVR that most people 'think' worthless, that they don't want.. and sells for a song. Digital is Digital.. from 2004 or 2019 being able to offload at the highest speed/resolution and as a recording that ran for hours, even days is not something I think you can get from any recorder currently on the market.

As an archival tool, or archeologists tool.. recorder hard drives can now been opened up like Tombs of information from years past.

I'm fascinated by USB dongles, capture cards and lots of other methods of converting.. but hands down.. the DVRs of yesterday.. still available from auction sites, garage sales and grandmas garage.. are incredible machines.. even if TV Guide doesn't work anymore.

1 time ? hmm.. it is much, much more than a tool for this one task. Its a general purpose file and data recovery tool for any hard drive. It works with nearly a hundred different file systems. And one purchase can be used over and over again across many different DVR makes and models.

Its not a limited "one time use" program. It stays on your PC and and can work with not only hard drives, but compact flash, usb flash drives, sd cards.. anything that that looks like storage to your PC. That's a bit technical for most people.

But if a family has two or three DVRs scattered across several residences. Or a School, Police station or Fire department has a collection of DVRs used for training or video monitoring.. one license can be used to recover video from all of those DVRs. So on a personal level and a group level its got long term uses.

Personally if I invested in a DVR to start with.. they cost about $500 to $1000 in the beginning. A $40 license for a bit of software that is not going to expire or stop working years down the road doesn't seem like a lot of money to me.

The value proposition for buying a $50 DVR from a garage sale and then $40 for software gets a bit more suspect.. if I have never seen it work.. but that's a bit of an extreme case.

Most DVRs I've seen up for sale on line are running $100+ and Magnavoxes with ATSC tuners are running $300 to $500

I could dwell on missing out on the hey day when they could be bought new.. but that's my luck.. I missed out on a new recorder. But the used ones seem to work really well to me, even if their DVD burner is dead.. which drives down the resale price and work perfectly fine for me since I can copy the recordings to a PC.

The extra nice thing is the software supports more than one brand or model of recorder.. so I can go shopping for used DVRs from many different brands or models.. I don't have to hunt for that one specific DVR and turn aside all others.
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Last edited by jwillis84; 06-23-2019 at 05:35 PM.
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