WMC for the next 5 years?

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mls001

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WMC for the next 5 years?

#1

Post by mls001 » Wed Feb 27, 2019 10:29 pm

Hello,
What should I do with Windows Media Center for the next five years?
I know that question has been asked often and frequently, but I have a slight twist that is causing me to ask for your recommendations.

Background:
Like many, I have been running Windows Media Center on Windows 7 for years and love it. The library of recorded TV shows has been a significant aid to marital bliss and happiness! [g]

The problem is that, like many, I have been running WMC for several years. The server I have been running is getting old and creaky and will fail completely sometime in the not too distant future. I have several TB's of copy once programs recorded. [Please refer to previous comment regarding marital bliss.]

I have built a new WMC server running Windows 7 that is running in parallel with the old server. My plan is to see how many of those "treasured" copy-once programs I can re-create on the new server before the old one finally dies.

The question is this: Given that I'm starting over anyway, should I continue with a new Windows 7 server? Move to Windows 8? Or try to move to Windows 10?

Thank you!

jachin99

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#2

Post by jachin99 » Wed Feb 27, 2019 11:32 pm

Why not grab a clonezilla live CD and clone your old hard drive? Your playready key, activation, etc will all be there

Space

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#3

Post by Space » Thu Feb 28, 2019 12:41 am

jachin99 wrote:
Wed Feb 27, 2019 11:32 pm
Why not grab a clonezilla live CD and clone your old hard drive? Your playready key, activation, etc will all be there
Old DRM recordings are unlikely to work on the new system, even if you clone the system drive to the new system. A hardware signature is part of the Playready system, and a new physical system will have a different hardware signature.

One option is to keep both systems and only use the old system for playing back the DRM recordings (until you have watched them all).

I have hundreds of movies recorded that have DRM and I am fooling myself that I will be able to watch them in my lifetime, no less watch them before my system dies and I am unable to watch them.

I personally would use Win7 for any WMC machine, but that is the only thing I've ever used, so I may not be the best person to offer this advice.

jachin99

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#4

Post by jachin99 » Thu Feb 28, 2019 1:24 am

I have never tried this myself as I don't value my drm recordings too much BUT for some of you this may be worth a try https://www.raymond.cc/blog/changing-or ... volume-id/. It might be worth getting the same make and model of hard drive then clone it and if playready breaks then change or spoof the hard disk Id as mentioned above. I cloned my whs hdd and I can swap drives and not lose activation. I would at least try it if I were ever in a tight spot like that

cwinfield

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#5

Post by cwinfield » Thu Feb 28, 2019 2:31 am

jachin99 wrote:
Thu Feb 28, 2019 1:24 am
I have never tried this myself as I don't value my drm recordings too much BUT for some of you this may be worth a try https://www.raymond.cc/blog/changing-or ... volume-id/. It might be worth getting the same make and model of hard drive then clone it and if playready breaks then change or spoof the hard disk Id as mentioned above. I cloned my whs hdd and I can swap drives and not lose activation. I would at least try it if I were ever in a tight spot like that
It's more complicated than just your hard drive serial info. You would need the same cpu, and same sata controller which used to be in controller hub chip which is basically the north and south bridge (this means your almost 100% locked into the same motherboard unless your just changing form factor l(uATX, mATX, or ATX) which are usually integrated in the CPU. same video card, same memory, same hard drive partition including the MBR or GPID partition data. Also you need your system image...

jachin99

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#6

Post by jachin99 » Thu Feb 28, 2019 3:16 am

cwinfield wrote:
Thu Feb 28, 2019 2:31 am
jachin99 wrote:
Thu Feb 28, 2019 1:24 am
I have never tried this myself as I don't value my drm recordings too much BUT for some of you this may be worth a try https://www.raymond.cc/blog/changing-or ... volume-id/. It might be worth getting the same make and model of hard drive then clone it and if playready breaks then change or spoof the hard disk Id as mentioned above. I cloned my whs hdd and I can swap drives and not lose activation. I would at least try it if I were ever in a tight spot like that
It's more complicated than just your hard drive serial info. You would need the same cpu, and same sata controller which used to be in controller hub chip which is basically the north and south bridge (this means your almost 100% locked into the same motherboard unless your just changing form factor l(uATX, mATX, or ATX) which are usually integrated in the CPU. same video card, same memory, same hard drive partition including the MBR or GPID partition data. Also you need your system image...
If its just the hard drive failing then maybe he can just swap drives. Aside from that you have to ask yourself how important those recordings really are. If they are absolutely vital and your willing to give up some time then there are ways to save them provided that original hard drive survives. If he is willing to spend some money then maybe he could get a 360, set it up as an extender, and watch the recordings on that until the drive dies completely. You can then record upcoming shows on the new machine, and switch the extender to the new PC once those recordings have been watched. XB360s are about 60 bucks at gamestop. IDK, thats rough if his wife is attached to those shows.

mls001

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#7

Post by mls001 » Thu Feb 28, 2019 5:03 am

It's not just the HD. I've cloned the c: drive many times over the years. That can be swapped out without problem. Swapping out the drives with the RecordedTV doesn't impact the DRM at all.

As cwinfield mentioned, it's more complicated than that. IMHO Microsoft went way overboard with their implementation of DRM. Once early on I had to replace the motherboard with the exact same type of motherboard - and I lost access to everything that was copy-once. Probably because the serial number changed, but that is just a guess at this point.

No, the problem that the system is experiencing is that when I do need to reboot, it may not come back up the first, second or even seventh time. No BSOD, no error messages, no WMC. The boot sequence just doesn't complete. Eventually, powering off and then back on has worked so far. But it certainly won't keep working forever. I'm being proactive for when it does fail. That's why I have a duplicate server up in parallel trying to re-record as much of the copy-once content it can find.

So the question isn't do I have to build a new server, but rather since I am starting over trying to recreate all of the copy-once content, should I stay with WMC on Windows 7? Or is there some factor that would make Windows 8 or 10 a better choice for the long haul?

cwinfield

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#8

Post by cwinfield » Thu Feb 28, 2019 10:16 am

mls001 wrote:
Thu Feb 28, 2019 5:03 am
It's not just the HD. I've cloned the c: drive many times over the years. That can be swapped out without problem. Swapping out the drives with the RecordedTV doesn't impact the DRM at all.

As cwinfield mentioned, it's more complicated than that. IMHO Microsoft went way overboard with their implementation of DRM. Once early on I had to replace the motherboard with the exact same type of motherboard - and I lost access to everything that was copy-once. Probably because the serial number changed, but that is just a guess at this point.

No, the problem that the system is experiencing is that when I do need to reboot, it may not come back up the first, second or even seventh time. No BSOD, no error messages, no WMC. The boot sequence just doesn't complete. Eventually, powering off and then back on has worked so far. But it certainly won't keep working forever. I'm being proactive for when it does fail. That's why I have a duplicate server up in parallel trying to re-record as much of the copy-once content it can find.

So the question isn't do I have to build a new server, but rather since I am starting over trying to recreate all of the copy-once content, should I stay with WMC on Windows 7? Or is there some factor that would make Windows 8 or 10 a better choice for the long haul?
7 is your best option, if you don't use ceton echoes, 8.1 is adequate but I find the OS not as user friendly. win 10 win with cablecards is not recommended. hard to get it setup and working then you stuck on older version and dealing with hobbling thw OS which wants to update itself.

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#9

Post by DavidinCT » Thu Feb 28, 2019 1:57 pm

mls001 wrote:
Thu Feb 28, 2019 5:03 am
As cwinfield mentioned, it's more complicated than that. IMHO Microsoft went way overboard with their implementation of DRM. Once early on I had to replace the motherboard with the exact same type of motherboard - and I lost access to everything that was copy-once. Probably because the serial number changed, but that is just a guess at this point.
Microsoft went that complicated because of the requirement of Cable Labs when they first added cable cards to a PC. This was not Microsoft alone deicing this.

If the system is dying but, the CPU is fine, you should be able to get by with buying the exact model motherboard. I would go this route if the system spec is up to what you need. Then you could always go the step by step with other gear. As there is other things that could break it. Put everything back, change 1 thing at a time, and test a known DRM affected device and see if it breaks.

DRM is a PIA, no question..
-Dave
Twitter @TheCoolDave

Windows Media Center certified and WMC MVP 2010 - 2012

Alan G

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#10

Post by Alan G » Thu Feb 28, 2019 2:21 pm

The big problem is getting older motherboards and CPUs if you need them. I upgraded my CPU and MoBo last year and lost the two DRM recordings I had during the transfer (both HBO shows). I don't have lots of saved stuff and the other items (maybe 20 or so) all transferred fine. I have a spare motherboard CPU, SSD setup in case the primary one fails at some point. Newer Intel CPUs won't allow Win7 installs without some real tinkering and after support ends next year it's highly doubtful that you can do any kind of install because there won't be any updates to download. Cloning OS drives is mandatory and always has been in terms of having a reliable back up in case of system failure.

Another thing to consider is whether any of the major Internet browsers will be supported for Win7. Right now I use Firefox to stream Prime, Netflix and ESPN+. It's not clear whether this option will work going forward.

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#11

Post by captain_video » Fri Mar 01, 2019 3:14 pm

You should be able to swap hard drives and still be able to play DRM content recorded on the PC. You won't be able to do so if you replace the motherboard or CPU with a different model. If you're really concerned about archiving copy-once content and don't want to have to worry about issues with PlayReady then there are magical means available for obtaining such content. That is all I will say on that subject.

If you have access to Netflix or other streaming services that replay the shows you want to keep then you can buy a copy of the PlayOn software that will allow you to record the streamed content on your PC. I think they may be offering a lifetime license for the software at a huge discount right now. The one caveat is that it only records the shows in stereo.

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#12

Post by cjsacksteder » Sat Mar 30, 2019 2:26 pm

FWIW, last year I replaced the mother board in my WMC system (lightening hit near house and blew out the HDMI and Ethernet ports) and didn't have any trouble with existing recordings and the cable card setup.

Using "Macrium Reflect Free" to image boot drive and I know I can restore that when it fails. Going to soon get an external drive to mirror content of 4TB media drive nightly.

Planning on keeping this running as long as possible with Win7 past MS support withdrawal. Perhaps beefing up firewall settings and adding a 3rd party malware tool. What else will MS do to prevent WMC from working?

Oh, BTW, every year or two it starts running hot and I take the system outside, remove the CPU heat sink, blow out an outrageous amount of dust, and re-seat the heat sink with new thermal grease.

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#13

Post by adam1991 » Sat Mar 30, 2019 3:02 pm

I've been religious over the last 8 years about taking it out twice a year, March and October, and blowing out the dust.

5 years in to my using it, the recording drive began to die. I swapped both the boot and recording drive out for new, mirrored the boot drive using Samsung's utility, copied the recordings over (took quite awhile due to failing source drive), and moved on. That was a couple years ago.

I expect in the next two or three years either I'll do the same again, or I'll just switch to Tivo or Channels. If Tivo actually releases their promised Roku/Fire TV apps and eliminates the need for $150 Mini units at remote TVs, that'll be nice.

Some of what I do depends on what happens to Hulu. Outside of CBS shows plus a few others, Hulu offers me the primetime shows I watch, available next day and commercial-free. That significantly lessens the need for a DVR. But if that goes away, I'll probably tend to stick more with WMC.

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