How I fixed the USB hard drive attached to my set top box

I don’t have a digital TV, I just have a blocky old CRT TV fed by a set top box.  In fact, the set top box goes into the TV via a VCR, since the TV only has a coaxial antenna input, whereas the VCR can take the RCA input from the set top box and output co-ax.  I’m not what you call an early adopter… or, perhaps I’m more of an ‘if it ain’t broke…’ kind of guy…

My old CRT TV, showing the latest in video game technology.

My old CRT TV, showing the latest in video game technology.

Well, you know, someone pulled out the USB socket while it was recording, and pushed it in again and did something else that they’re not prepared to tell me about and lo and behold the set top box tells me the USB hard drive with all our shows on it we have not yet had time to watch is not a valid file system, or something.



Plug USB HD into a Windows lap top — does not see it at all.  Plug it into my Linux box — says it is an unformatted drive with no partitions… oh dear. Play with gparted. It says it is non-partitioned space. Let gpart have a look at it but half an hour shows up nothing.

Install testdisk. (It is available for Win, Mac, as well as Linux.)

Run testdisk.

It finds the USB HD and I step through the recovery as per here and I can see all the files. Yay! Write new partition information to the disk and away we go… except that while I can see all the files when it is connected to the computer (Linux or Windows) the set top box now says ‘incompatible file system’ or something.


(1) Copy the files off the HD, all of them, to a temporary directory on my Linux box.
(2) Connect the drive to the set top box and use the set top box’s own menus to format it.
(3) Copy the files back.
(4) Now all is well!

Set top box is a Bush High Definition, HD is a Seagate.

Just FYI.


Back in time.


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About Darren

I'm a scientist by training, based in Australia.

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