Will I lose WMC if I use Disc Bootup for Windows?

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misterpunn

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Will I lose WMC if I use Disc Bootup for Windows?

#1

Post by misterpunn » Tue Nov 02, 2021 7:16 pm

My worst nightmare has happened...

My computer was being very slow and unresponsive, so I tried to restart it. It spun on the "restarting" screen for about 20 minutes, so I force shut down the computer by holding the power button, which I have had to do many times before without issue.

When I pressed the power button to turn on the computer, I get the initial splash screen for my computer and then it goes to "no bootable device." My computer is (hopefully temporarily) bricked.

I have researched this error and pressed F2 to try the booting screen but there are no options for me to select. I think I need to load a USB stick with Windows 8.1 and put it in a USB slot on the computer to be able to try to fix this (I can't find the boot disc on cd-rom, so a thumb drive will need to be how I do it.)

Therefore, I have 3 questions:
1.) If I boot it using the thumb drive, do all of my Windows settings revert to factory and will I lose the 8.1 pro license that I unlocked via in-computer purchase? (I take it I can't repurchase it if this is the case, right?)

2.) Will all of my settings and programs get wiped? I have EPG123 and RecordedTV HD, and Handbrake, etc... that would be a gigantic pain to remember and recreate, plus all the licensing issues with those.

3.) Is the process of recovering Windows and fixing the "no bootable device" error something that is doable for a moderately savvy person or should I just take it to a repair shop? I'm leery of the repair place wiping everything and then I lose it all.

Sorry for all the questions, but I have around 7 years of recordings locked to that exact computer (thanks DRM!) so I really don't want to lose them or take steps to quickly fix my computer if it comes at the expense of losing licensing and settings, etc... All help is greatly, greatly appreciated!

technodevotee

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#2

Post by technodevotee » Tue Nov 02, 2021 11:38 pm

Booting from a USB stick will not cause you to lose everything on the HDD. However, running tests on the HDD may cause unexpected results depending on what is wrong.

I have seen unbootable systems where the HDD had some corruption that prevented repair working and after running chkdsk on it, it booted up fine. However, chkdsk can also cause problems unless you know what you are doing.

If retaining the contents of the HDD is paramount and you aren't comfortable with dismantling the machine yourself, I would consider taking it to a shop and getting them to try booting the system with the existing HDD disconnected to prove the rest of the hardware is OK.

They should be able to run non-destructive checks on the drive and potentially clone it before trying any repairs.

Space

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#3

Post by Space » Wed Nov 03, 2021 1:00 am

Before working on the disk, you may want to make sure the connection is OK, perhaps try another SATA cable and/or power cable. It might be that the SATA cable or power cable came loose or went bad. This is probably a long shot, but might as well try it.

If your drive had a hardware failure and you have no image backup (shame on you) then you can try to boot off another drive and see if you can access the failed disk and perhaps make an image using the free version of Macrium Reflect.

If you can't make an image, but the BIOS/computer can still "see" the disk is there, then there are disk recovery programs out there, but I haven't used them much and you might want to get professional help or help from other forums that are specific to disk recovery.

The easiest thing to do is if you already have an old image or can make an image, then you can try to image a new hard drive with that old image and boot from that new drive. You can then hopefully copy the DRM file (mspr.hds) from the old disk (if it is still readable) to the new one so that all the DRM recordings made since that image was made will still be able to be played back. If you are unable to retrieve the mspr.hds file from the failing disk, then you will only be able to play back DRM recordings that were made prior to the date of the image backup.

misterpunn

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#4

Post by misterpunn » Wed Nov 03, 2021 2:32 pm

Thanks for the replies thus far!

Unfortunately, I can't even select an option to boot from disc...after pressing F2 during startup to get to the boot menu during startup, the boot options menu is completely blank. I am going to take it to the repair shop and see what they have to say.

Please keep the replies coming, though, because as we all know, knowledge of WMC and how its files work is pretty rare even with repair shops, so all the extra info might help me to prep them with potential solutions. Thanks again!

Space

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#5

Post by Space » Wed Nov 03, 2021 6:04 pm

In general, if your primary concern is being able to play back all your previously recorded copy-once (DRM) recordings, and your existing hard drive needs to be replaced, you have two options:

1) If you have an existing image of the system partitions of the failed HD, then you can restore those partitions from the image to a new HD and boot off of that new drive. Any DRM recording you made AFTER you created that disk image will not be playable unless you are able to salvage one file from the old HD (the mspr.hds file mentioned in my previous post, and also mentioned in many posts in this forum).

2) If you have no existing image, and your failing HD is readable, then you need to recover the system partitions from the failing HD and copy them to a new HD. Hopefully you can still read from the drive and there is no corruption. You can then boot from the new HD and hopefully be back in business.

Note that when swapping out HDs there is a small chance that the system will think "too much has changed" and DRM will still not work (it thinks it is not the same PC as the one that made the recordings), but if you haven't made too many hardware changes to your system over the years, this should not happen (I've made several HD changes with no problem).

If the above two options are not successful, then I am sorry to say that you will probably be unable to play back any of your existing DRM recordings.

If your HD is totally unreadable, there is a chance it can be recovered by a professional, but it will probably cost several hundreds of dollars. For instance if the problem is not the physical disk and is a problem with the electronics in the controller, then it is possible to replace the controller and recover the data.

The most important thing you can do with a WMC machine that makes DRM recordings is to create an image of the system partitions after you have your system set up the way you like. You don't need to do regular scheduled image backups, just have a baseline image that you can restore in case of HD failure. You SHOULD make regular backups of the mspr.hds file, however, as if your drive has a total failure and you are unable to salvage that file, then any DRM recording you have made after the image was created will be unplayable.

misterpunn

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#6

Post by misterpunn » Fri Nov 05, 2021 3:07 am

Thank you! I will share this option with the repair shop (I'm moderately savvy, but I don't trust my ability to do it haha.)

misterpunn

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#7

Post by misterpunn » Tue Nov 09, 2021 4:48 pm

I have two more (probably simple) questions. Sorry, Space, you've been very helpful...I just don't fully speak the technical language, so you may have already answered these:

1.) If I have to start fresh with a news Windows 8, can I still unlock the features to upgrade to pro, and thus get WMC back? I believe I can still find my original product key, but would that work since it was unlocked once? Or, can I just buy a new one via paying within the "additional features" section in Windows?

2.) If I do have to wipe Windows and start fresh AND I am able to get WMC on the machine (meaning the first question is successful,) will I be able to play my previously recorded files on that computer? Or, will the computer think it's a new machine since it is a new Windows or (potentially) a new hard drive? All of my recordings are on an external HD so the files themselves are still intact; I just need to have something on my first machine that "unlocks" them due to DRM.

Space

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#8

Post by Space » Tue Nov 09, 2021 6:50 pm

1) I don't know much about this one, perhaps someone else does, but I would assume you could still unlock it if you still have the key.

2) I'm sorry to say that, no, you will not be able to play any old DRM protected recordings. You would have needed to make an image of the system partitions from the old drive and restore them on the new drive to be able to still play back old DRM recordings.

A "new install" of windows creates a new unique ID for your system that will not match the old ID and therefore Playready will think it is a different computer and will refuse to play back any old DRM recordings.

This is why, if possible, you need to create an image of every system partition on the old HD (note that this can be more than one partition) and then restore those partitions to the new HD. Even if you already have a several years old image (using Macrium Reflect, Acronis True Image, etc.) of your system, restoring that image would still work and allow you to play back any DRM recording you made prior to making that image. If you are also able to recover just one file from the bad HD (the mspr.hds file) then you would be able to play back ALL old DRM recordings, even ones recorded right before the HD failed.

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