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Power Cut Crashed Hard Drive - Seek Advice to Recover Data

Post by GeorgeB »

I'm hoping someone on the Forum can give me some advice on how to recover TV/Radio programme data from a damaged hard-drive. I've looked through some of the posts here and have got as far as accessing the drive with TopfHDRW/TopfHDDoctor but am confused as to what I should do next. I don't want to take the wrong action and make matters worse!

Some background - I have been using my Topfield 5800 since about 2006 without any particular problems until a few months ago when I noticed that the TV picture would start pixellating quite badly a few minutes after coming out of standby. This didn't bother me too much as I rarely watch live TV on it, using it mainly to record for archiving or later viewing. The odd thing is I noticed the pixellation would disappear and a steady picture return if I accessed the Archive list or the Menu, though it would reappear after a while once I had closed down those options.

The current serious problem happened last weekend when there was a momentary mains power-cut while the box was recording a programme. It froze the screen display and there was no response to the remote or front panel buttons. I had to unplug from the mains, and when I plugged it in again the Archive list was empty and the free space was back to the full 160GB. I had a LOT of programmes so the disk had been just short of full. I tried going into/out of Standby and unplugging in the hope that it might correct itself but with no luck.

A piece of advice I found on the Forum was about replacing some capacitors on the power supply. I hadn't heard about this before and so am still using the original power supply. It may be this has something to do with the pixellation of the picture, though the hard-drive crash seems to be to do with the power cut while it was recording. I guess, if I am to continue using the box, it might be worth getting the capacitors replaced. It seems to have lasted quite well without this modification - can anyone say whether the pixellation is caused by failing capacitors?

Back to the hard-drive problem. Here is what TopfHDDoctor disc scan says on accessing the drive:
Info: TopfHDDoctor V0.21.8
Info: Testing PhysicalDrive1
Info: Test started @ 2020-02-29 12:14:41
Info: Sectors per Cluster: Superblock: 2444, Backup Superblock: 2444, Calc: 2444, Size: 149.05 GB
OK: Superblock - Parameter area
OK: Superblock - Backup Parameter area
Fixed: Superblock - Root Directory reconstructed
Fixed: Root Directory - entries copied from superblock
Fixed: Files - File '\DataFiles\Indy Car Series.rec' is shorter than expected: changed size from 158.72 MB to 0 B

Then follows a list of all the other TV/Radio files, in the same manner - ..."is shorter than expected: changed size from XXX.XX MB to 0 B"

ending with (the file being recorded when it crashed):
Fixed: Files - File '\DataFiles\Sunday Night at the London...-2.rec' is shorter than expected: changed size from 0 B to 0 B
Info: Test finished @ 2020-02-29 12:15:20
Info: Cluster size = 1.19 MB
Info: Used: 1972 files; 7 directories; 172 clusters; 205.3 MB; 0.1%
Info: Free: 127723 clusters; 148.8 GB

As it is suggesting changing the size of all the files to 0B, I guess that means none of them is recoverable but I don't understand the program well enough to know quite what it means. Also, I assume this is only for information and it has not made any changes to the hard-drive. At least it finds them all, which wasn't possible with the drive still in the Topfield so that is encouraging, but I don't want to do something that will make matters worse if there is a chance of recovering some or all of the files. By the way, TopfHDRW couldn't find any of the programmes during a scan.

What would be the next step in the process of trying to fix this problem? Any advice will be gratefully received. Please ask if you need further information. Many thanks.

Geoff Bacon
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Post by Geoff Bacon »

I can recover the recordings for you using my ToppyDiskMedic program (TDM) - click on the link for more info.

I developed this program because TopfHDRW did such a bad job of my own disk (although it's does work with simpler problems)

Basically TDM scans the disk looking for the time signatures inherent in recordings and maps them back to the recording name. In your case, it sounds as though the start of the disk has been overwritten so I would expect the majority (if not all) of the recordings to be recoverable.

Assuming you want me to recover the data, you would have to post the disk to me (I will pm my details). Your only other alternative appears to be reformatting the drive (losing all the recordings) and starting again.

However, irrespective of what you choose, you need to get the PSU i.e. capacitors repaired before the disk is refitted into the toppy. I suggest you pm Andyfras asking him for details of his capacitor service; he used to offer repairing it for you, or a board exchange or providing the capacitors for you to solder yourself. As you were not aware of the caps problem, I suggest you go for his board exchange system (assuming he still does it) or his repair service.

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Post by andyfras »

Geoff Bacon wrote:I suggest you pm Andyfras asking him for details of his capacitor service; he used to offer repairing it for you, or a board exchange or providing the capacitors for you to solder yourself. As you were not aware of the caps problem, I suggest you go for his board exchange system (assuming he still does it) or his repair service.
Yes, I still offer all these services. I received GeorgeB's PSU yesterday. It has the dubious accolade of being the oldest working PSU which has had no capacitors replaced. It is dated 2005, so getting on for 15 years. This is amazing considering that some Toppy PSUs were failing within a couple of years of manufacture. All of the capacitors were out of specification and several had failed entirely, so this was a very timely repair.

GeorgeB should get his PSU back today with some shiny new Panasonic capacitors which should last for at least another 15 years.
Toppy PSU repair service or capacitor kits for DIY available - PM me for details.
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Post by GeorgeB »

Just a message to update this thread and give my thanks to both Geoff Bacon and andyfras for their advice and practical help in solving the problem with my Toppy and hard drive.

Andy replaced the capacitors on my ailing PSU and returned it to me within a couple of days at a very reasonable cost. How it lasted so long before failing I don't know. Hopefully, it will now give a good few more years service. I've reinstalled it into the Toppy and it is working fine. Anyone suffering the failure of their machine should certainly contact Andy for advice and, in necessary, repair. Thanks again for resurrecting what would otherwise have been little more than a dead electronics box.

Geoff has used his ToppyDiskMedic (TDM) to recover the vast majority of the TV and Radio programmes (and there were a LOT). As I told him, I was despondent when the crash happened that I would not see any of them again! His TDM programme has done a marvellous job of recovery, as it has done for many other Forum posters. Now I have the opportunity of copying them off onto my PC as a back-up, as I should have done long ago. Thanks Geoff for doing this so quickly and at no more than a nominal cost.

My Toppy is up and running again, recording without problem, little more than a week after I first posted here. I can say that this Forum has many caring and helpful people willing to offer advice and practical help so quickly to sort out problems. Thanks.

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