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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
First time poster here, and have been reading this forum since I bought my 531 a couple weeks ago.


Has anybody messed with optimizing their HDD on the new 531? Well, it seems to be buggy or something. The first few times I tried it just for fun it worked without a problem. I hadn't done any editing at the time, so optimization took only a few seconds. At some point I went to optimize, but instead of quickly doing it, the recorder just "rebooted". It seemed to power off, and upon power up I got a note saying to "wait a moment". This happens way more often than not now.


I did some editing for the first time this evening, and went to optimize the hard drive afterwards. By this time I'm expecting it to just reboot. The dialog says optimization will take abou 48 minutes, but after a few seconds the recorder "reboots" and then gives me the "wait a moment". During the time I'm told to wait the recorder is unresponsive. The red symbol that shows a recording is programed for the future goes out for a while, then comes back after a bit (after the recorder is responding again). Just now I tried to optimize the hdd about 5 times. Somestimes the maching reboots right after I press "enter" to start optimization. Sometimes it'll go for a few seconds.


Anyway, I would like to hear from others with this family of recorder. And I'd like to keep my hdd in good order. Thanks for the help!
 

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Optimizing your hard disk after every edit is like changing the oil in your car after every trip - in other words, don't do it. It definitely isn't needed after each edit, and is a big waste of your time. The time to optimize the HDD is after extensive use of the recorder has caused editing to noticeably slow down. Even if you were to use the recorder every day, it would take months for the disk to become fragmented to the point where it's actually slowing things down. By comparison, your typical home PC has a lot more HDD disk activity than a DVD recorder, and can easily go a month or longer before needing to be defragmented. I'd recommend optimizing the recorder's hard disk no more than twice a year, if that.


Like yourself, I've had my 533HS now for a couple of weeks, and I am really enjoying it. My only complaint is it needs a wireless IR keyboard to speed up the editing process. In fact, it would be really cool if the keyboard could perform the same functions that are on the remote.
 

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The time that the HDD optimzation takes on the Pioneer is related to the amount of junk on it's HDD. I don't usually keep stuff on my HDD, so at most I will have several movies on it at the end of the day.

After editing them and HS dubbing to DVD-R, I delete them and then optimize the HDD. It takes only a couple of seconds to do when there are no files there. I look at it as preventative maintenance.


In another case, optimization took 18 minutes with one movie on HDD. I didn't watch it, but I'm pretty sure it rebooted at some point and I think it changed the recording mode(not sure?).


I recommend only doing optimization when there are no files active. That way it can't screw up any important recordings.
 

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Discussion Starter · #5 ·
so, I guess nobody has had any problems?


I know what a proper optimization looks like on this recorder: it optimizes, then says it's done and takes you back to the disk setup menu.


The problem is that it's not doing that. It's supposed to work for about 48 minutes (in this particular case) according to the dialog when optmization first starts, but the machine quickly "reboots". Other times when optimization has worked properly it did only take a couple seconds since nothing was on the hard drive at the time. The "reboot" problem is NOT a normal part of the process.
 

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Looks like you may have played with it too much and broke it. Are you sure optimization doesn't require a reboot? I thought oldmanphil reported that this was normal behavior. The failure to reboot when you did it early on may have been because the drive was not fragmented in the first place. Who knows. Call tech support.
 

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Quote:
Originally Posted by cosmoxl
I know what a proper optimization looks like on this recorder: it optimizes, then says it's done and takes you back to the disk setup menu.
This is just a guess, but it may be that what you're thinking of as the "normal" optimization is actually the behaviour you see when the machine determines that no optimization needs to be performed. Perhaps the machine really does have to reboot when there are enough files to actually require them to be moved around to optimize the HDD file structure.
 

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Sean said it better than me, but that was also the point I was trying to make as well in my second to last sentence.
 

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Quote:
Originally Posted by cosmoxl
The problem is that it's not doing that. It's supposed to work for about 48 minutes (in this particular case) according to the dialog when optmization first starts, but the machine quickly "reboots". Other times when optimization has worked properly it did only take a couple seconds since nothing was on the hard drive at the time. The "reboot" problem is NOT a normal part of the process.
I am starting to see the SAME THING with my 531 purchased about a month ago!!


When I first got the unit... I would start the optimization, it would give me time remaining, a progress bar that would move across the screen and would count down as it did its thing... When finished, the on screen display would go back to the menu.


The unit would NOT "reboot" like it does now.


Right now, I am "backing up" all the recordings on the hard drive to DVD and erasing them from the unit... Once all recordings are off the drive, I'll try to optimize again and see what happens... I wont be done getting everything onto DVD to try this until tomorrow....
 

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Quote:
Originally Posted by Oldemanphil
The time that the HDD optimzation takes on the Pioneer is related to the amount of junk on it's HDD. I don't usually keep stuff on my HDD, so at most I will have several movies on it at the end of the day.

After editing them and HS dubbing to DVD-R, I delete them and then optimize the HDD. It takes only a couple of seconds to do when there are no files there. I look at it as preventative maintenance.


In another case, optimization took 18 minutes with one movie on HDD. I didn't watch it, but I'm pretty sure it rebooted at some point and I think it changed the recording mode(not sure?).


I recommend only doing optimization when there are no files active. That way it can't screw up any important recordings.
Optimization has nothing to do with preventative maintenance. In fact, if it weren't for the fact that the mean-time-between-failure of a HDD is longer than the useful life expectancy of the DVD recorder, one could make the case that excessive optimization (or defragmentation) will cause the recorder to prematurely wear out. As a practical matter, it's unlikely you could actually do that many optimizations, but it does show the folly of the logic "if a little bit is good, a lot must be better". This is why engineers have to be careful what capabilities they avail to the consumer. Give him too much control, and he may eventually harm the unit, or get the unit so far out of whack, that he will need professional help to fix it.


If your really feel compelled to defragment a HDD, do it to your PC, which actually needs it a lot more often than a DVD recorder. Otherwise, twice a year on the recorder should be more than adequate.
 

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Quote:
Originally Posted by Mark_Venture
I am starting to see the SAME THING with my 531 purchased about a month ago!!


When I first got the unit... I would start the optimization, it would give me time remaining, a progress bar that would move across the screen and would count down as it did its thing... When finished, the on screen display would go back to the menu.


The unit would NOT "reboot" like it does now.


Right now, I am "backing up" all the recordings on the hard drive to DVD and erasing them from the unit... Once all recordings are off the drive, I'll try to optimize again and see what happens... I wont be done getting everything onto DVD to try this until tomorrow....
If you stop playing around with the darn thing, you will probably be fine. This is why the engineers should not have made this kind of thing available to consumers, and should have instead designed the recorder to automatically defragment the HDD on an as needed basis when the unit is in standby mode, and there is no other activity.
 

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Discussion Starter · #12 ·
Thanks Mark_Venture for vindicating me here! :)


These hard drives in this line of recorders run all the time anyway, if you've got EPG running like me. I'd like to defrag here and there. I see no reason why it would hurt if the HDD is running all the time anyway.
 

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Discussion Starter · #13 ·
wow. instead of just telling us to stop trying, why doesn't everybody try it themselves? It could be a problem that Pioneer needs to hear about.
 

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Quote:
Originally Posted by cosmoxl
Thanks Mark_Venture for vindicating me here! :)


These hard drives in this line of recorders run all the time anyway, if you've got EPG running like me. I'd like to defrag here and there. I see no reason why it would hurt if the HDD is running all the time anyway.
Yes, the HDD is spinning, but it's not doing seeks unless it is busy, and it gets very busy during a defrag. But the problem you've got yourself into almost certainly isn't hardware related. It's more likely you've corrupted a file structure on disk, or something similar, which prevents the defrag task from completing. My guess is, and it's just that, is the unit is restarting because it has reached an impasse and it cannot continue, or it needs to restart to "fix" the problem. Also, keep in mind that defraging a HDD is a rather complicated thing, which involves some risk, mostly from a loss of power during the process, which could leave the HDD unusable. There is mentioned in the manual of making sure there is power during certain operations. With all due respect, don't subject yourself to unnessary risks by excessively defragmenting the HDD, and get yourself a UPS if you don't already have one.
 

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Quote:
Originally Posted by probepro
If you stop playing around with the darn thing, you will probably be fine.
Well, since you've so nicely ASSUMED that all I do is PLAY, I think its only fair that I tell you that in the just about 5 weeks that I've owned this unit, prior to today, I've only tried the optimization process 2 times. And that was only as an attempt to try and reduce/eliminate the HD chatter when the EPG data is downloading.


And considering you don't know how many recordings, what types/sizes, etc and deleting of those recordings I've done, you haven't a clue what my needs are or might even be.


Today, since it "rebooted itself", yes, I've tried it more than once. In fact, I tried it three times today because of the unit restarting like that which is not what I've seen before. So the 3 times today was more of a "What the heck is going on??" reaction to see if this was a one time thing.


Oh, and btw, when I have the choice of "playing with things" when I first get them so if I find problems I can return it to the store to exchange it, OR wait and if problems are found have to deal with mfg warranty... I'll choose to try and make sure everything is OK and or deal with the store.

Quote:
Originally Posted by probepro
This is why the engineers should not have made this kind of thing available to consumers, and should have instead designed the recorder to automatically defragment the HDD on an as needed basis when the unit is in standby mode, and there is no other activity.
Actually, during the EPG download, and even when the unit is powered off or playing a DVD, I hear the HD chattering away... so when is there really "no activity"?
 

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Quote:
Originally Posted by probepro
...But the problem you've got yourself into almost certainly isn't hardware related. It's more likely you've corrupted a file structure on disk, or something similar, which prevents the defrag task from completing. My guess is, and it's just that, is the unit is restarting because it has reached an impasse and it cannot continue, or it needs to restart to "fix" the problem.
I'm thinking file...


I got down to 1 recording on the HD... Its a XP recording that is 2.5hrs long and about 9gig, so to back it up to DVD would take 2.5hrs as it has to re-encode so Hi-Speed is not possible... Rather than wait to get that one off the drive, I decided to try it again...


With just that 1 recording on the drive... IT WORKS AS EXPECTED... the unit does not reset itself like it was doing... I see the progress bar and the time to complete counts down as it goes. When finished, I am returned to the menu.

Quote:
Originally Posted by probepro
...With all due respect, don't subject yourself to unnessary risks by excessively defragmenting the HDD, and get yourself a UPS if you don't already have one.
I, for one, do know the risks and really don't plan on defragmenting often (probably once every few months at most)... But I would like to know that when I do need to defrag, I'll be able to...


Not sure what caused this, but I would like to know so I can try and prevent it from happening in the future...


Plus there has to be a better way to "fix it" than what I just did....
 

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Quote:
Originally Posted by cosmoxl
Anyway, I would like to hear from others with this family of recorder. And I'd like to keep my hdd in good order. Thanks for the help!
As I am considering a 533H, this thread couldn't come at a better time for me.


I'm curious if you can initialize the hard disk to clear up the problem? (which is what I would do )


One of my final considerations on these hard disk based units revolves around what OS they were using on the drives. My gut reaction is they are most likely using some stripped down distro of an open source Unix/Linux release. I consider it highly unlikely that they would pay for an MS, IBM, or Apple 'base' runtime when they could get one for free.


The problem with "free stuff" in the software world, is that it usually doesn't have the quality control of professional code. One might assume that the defrag utility was written by someone or some group who never considered what might happen if the utility was run on a "clean" drive. The number one programming error I've seen over the years is handling 'null' values where they weren't expected. But, regardless of that, no defrag utility should corrupt a drive unless power goes down.


Of course, the drive is never really 'empty', as system level files and the directory reside there also.


Which was the other part of my question on these units.

Defragging comes in different flavors. Some just defrag files. Some defrag files and free disk space, and some defrag the whole drive including directories and all resident system files. I wonder which flavor the Pioneer units employ?


BTW ... No decent defrag utility would even touch the drive if there was no fragmentation.


Curious to see how this resolves itself.
 

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Discussion Starter · #18 ·
Mark_Venture has probably hit upon the problem here. I copied the files I had to DVD-RW, erased them off the HDD, and then tried optimization once more. This time it went through the progress bar (in about 2 seconds) and sent me back to the menu, as it should.


Surely this is an error in the machines. They have to be able to optimize with programs on the hard drive. What's the use otherwise?


UnWillyn: I read that the HDD can be initialized if it has major errors. However, it's not an obvious option in any of the menus. The type of optimization done is not detailed that I know of.
 

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Quote:
Originally Posted by Mark_Venture
Well, since you've so nicely ASSUMED that all I do is PLAY, I think its only fair that I tell you that in the just about 5 weeks that I've owned this unit, prior to today, I've only tried the optimization process 2 times. And that was only as an attempt to try and reduce/eliminate the HD chatter when the EPG data is downloading.


And considering you don't know how many recordings, what types/sizes, etc and deleting of those recordings I've done, you haven't a clue what my needs are or might even be.


Today, since it "rebooted itself", yes, I've tried it more than once. In fact, I tried it three times today because of the unit restarting like that which is not what I've seen before. So the 3 times today was more of a "What the heck is going on??" reaction to see if this was a one time thing.


Oh, and btw, when I have the choice of "playing with things" when I first get them so if I find problems I can return it to the store to exchange it, OR wait and if problems are found have to deal with mfg warranty... I'll choose to try and make sure everything is OK and or deal with the store.


Actually, during the EPG download, and even when the unit is powered off or playing a DVD, I hear the HD chattering away... so when is there really "no activity"?
Sorry Mark_Venture. My remarks were really for cosmoxl, who asks for help here, and then continues do defend the practice which got him in trouble in the first place. He hasn't had his unit for 5 weeks, but these recorders should run for months without needing to be defraged, regardless of how much editing you're doing. If I'm not mistaken, many HDD based recorders don't even have this capability, or at least it is not available to the user.


I too wanted to make sure my recorder is in good working condition, and so I checked out most of the mechanical stuff. I also verified it works as advertised for the routine things I want to do with it. And I will probably try the optimization at some point, but there's no rush for that. BTW, I'm not suggesting that over optimizing will actually wear out the HDD. The 533HS will be obsolete long before that happens. I mentioned it because cosmoxl thinks he's doing preventative maintenance by frequently optimizing the HDD, and in reality he is actually putting the recorded at unnecessary risk, which is counter to what his intentions were. But I doubt I will convince him of that, since I think he has already made up his mind.
 

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Discussion Starter · #20 ·
probepro,


if you read the posts here I think you'll realize that frequent optimization is NOT what causes the optimization problem.


I don't understand why everybody here is quick to rush to human error as the problem when bugs are the topic for many of the threads in this forum.


The only reason I try it frequently is because it never works!


What's going to happen in the future, when, according to the manual, the machine asks to be optimized because it senses the HDD is fragmented heavily? Are you going to erase all your programs off the HDD so optimization will work? What's the use then? This shouldn't be happening.
 
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