Move your DVR files to another drive with Active Disk Image

So – many of you out there are in the same predicament that I am in….  you have a DVR loaned to you from your cable company, and you have an external SATA (eSATA) drive attached to expand your storage.  In my case, Time Warner is my provider and I have an Explorer 8300HD.  Thankfully, Time Warner leaves the eSATA port on the 8300HD enabled, so you can buy yourself a nice SATA hard drive, a cheap eSATA case, and then assemble it and hook it to your DVR to instantly expand your storage.

When I first read that this was a possibility, I built a relatively benign 250GB external drive to hook up.  I wanted to test to make sure that it really worked without dumping a lot of dough in the event it either didn’t work at all, or didn’t work right.

So I originally purchased a Western Digital Caviar Blue 250GB 3.5″ SATA 3.0Gb/s Drive, and an Antec MX-1 External Enclosure and a cheap eSATA cable.  The Antec has a decent appearance, is reasonably priced, and it includes a nice mechanism for keeping the drive cool and happy.   Once the products arrived, I dropped the hard drive into the case, shut the power off on my DVR (disconnected from the wall – the normal power button just puts it in standby), and plugged in the eSATA cable to the DVR and the Antec.

To make sure that the drive was recognized, I powered the Antec first, then I plugged the DVR back in.  Much to my suprise, the DVR booted up and instantly recognized the Antec as supplemental storage.  I happily began using the DVR as you normally would – and then ran into an issue…..

I ran out of space.  Even worse, I had many shows on my DVR that I didn’t want to lose – but I really needed a bigger drive.

Ordering a new drive is no problem.  Replacing the 250 with a bigger drive also isn’t a problem.  Backup of the data, however, IS a problem.  I shut everything down and decided that I would try to use something like Norton Ghost to make an image of the disk, and then would move the image on to the new drive.

Big problem – the file format is proprietary.  Plug the drive into a computer, and it simply shows up blank, unformatted, uninitialized, etc – the “status” depends on what app you use.

So I started to look all around the net.  I knew that somewhere out there had to be a product similar to Ghost that would just do a bit-by-bit dupe of a drive.  After many frustrating

hours of searching, I seemed to have found it.  Called Active@ Disk Image, it looked like the perfect product.  Seems like it will do normal “Ghost” type functions where you can back up known formats to images, restore images, etc – but more importantly – it had a “Clone” feature that looked like it was exactly what I wanted – a bit-by-bit clone of a disk regardless of format.

So, I got a copy.  I will do a full writeup in a future article complete with screenshots, but let me just tell you that it made a very simple task of taking the data from my 250GB drive and cloning it on to a Western Digital Caviar Black 1TB 3.5″ SATA 3.0Gb/s Drive.  I knew the copy was good, Active@ Disk Image seemed like a very solid product – but I really wondered if it would work.  Once the copy finished, I put the 1TB drive into the Antec enclosure, plugged everything in, and Viola – guess what – all of my shows were still there, and the amount of available space had tripled.

Look for the full writeup in a future post, but in the meantime – if you’re looking to dupe any drive of an unknown format – give this software a shot.  They even have a free trial where you can try it out.

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