Recommendations for failing MCE system

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bsieloff

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Recommendations for failing MCE system

#1

Post by bsieloff » Sun Oct 16, 2022 5:56 pm

Hello All,

My windows 7 MCE machine has been failing and I knew I would need to update it sometime. My last fix was to put in a new boot drive which fixed my hard drive not found issue but now the system is dumping out to the BSoD periodically. It's time. So taking quick inventory;

Asus M2N-SLI Deluxe | 4GB ram | 2.8GHz AMD Athlon 64 X2 | ATI DTV Wonder Tuner | Hauppauge WinTV HVR-1600 (2) | Windows 7 Ultimate (which I turned off updates a long time ago) | EPG | Various mce plugins

I'm Looking for some recommendations. As I see it I could replace the motherboard ram and processor with exactly the same ( perhaps up the ram to 8GB ) and move my hard drives over with windows 7 still installed or build a new system on windows 10/11(?) on newer hardware. All of my tuner cards are the old 32bit PCI

If I go with a new MB build and windows 10/11 I will probably not find a MB with 3+ 32bit PCI slots. Are there recommendations for tuners that would work on a more modern MB?

I also understand that my extenders will not work on Windows 8+. That's a bummer but I really do not use them that much anymore, but they are convenient.

Thanks for you help!
-Bob

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Hi-Def_PCs

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#2

Post by Hi-Def_PCs » Sun Jan 01, 2023 8:37 pm

bsieloff wrote:
Sun Oct 16, 2022 5:56 pm
I'm Looking for some recommendations. As I see it I could replace the motherboard ram and processor with exactly the same ( perhaps up the ram to 8GB ) and move my hard drives over with windows 7 still installed or build a new system on windows 10/11(?) on newer hardware. All of my tuner cards are the old 32bit PCI

If I go with a new MB build and windows 10/11 I will probably not find a MB with 3+ 32bit PCI slots. Are there recommendations for tuners that would work on a more modern MB?

I also understand that my extenders will not work on Windows 8+. That's a bummer but I really do not use them that much anymore, but they are convenient.
Bob,

Sounds like your BSOD issues have not been traced to hardware or software yet. Therefore, I'll recommend some steps to take for ruling out software by performing a basic tuneup first. Run the following as administrator from a command prompt, without quotes, "sfc /scannow". Note the space before /. That will check and repair, if possible, any corrupt system files. My Windows 7 Pro 64 install has been running since July of 2009 with updates turned on and has no issues related to updates. Microsoft still provides monthly malicious software removal tool updates. You should turn updates back on and run them, unless you don't have a genuine license. Then run a complete sweep of your computer for viruses and malware. I have a suite of utilities that I routinely install on computers that I support that I have provided to you in a PM link. If the BSOD issues persist, you may still not have hardware failure issues, so max the memory to 8 GB and reinstall Win 7 in 64 bit, if your license allows, to a solid state drive. Win 7 does provide trim support for SSDs, but you'll need Defraggler to perform the optimizations because Defrag does not do SSD trim. Also, I clone my boot drive before a reinstall to have access to hard to find drivers and files if needed, plus I can clone it back if something goes wrong.

If you build a new computer, you will still have to reinstall the operating system, because just moving the boot drive will cause a BSOD due to different hardware allocation layers (HAL). Keep track of everything you add to the OS, I make a folder inside Downloads called Installed Downloads so I can easily rebuild later if needed. I still recommend Win 7 Pro 64 for best stability and total WMC compatibility. I have a Hauppauge WinTV QuadHD which has 4 tuners and uses a modern PCIe buss slot too. Even if you go with Win 8 or 10, you should source a Win 7 compatible motherboard and processor just in case. Windows 11 requires processors that may not be Win 7 backward compatible and would be a total headache trying to support WMC on it too. I recently built a replacement WMC-DVR computer, with that in mind, so I used an Asus Prime B250M-A motherboard and an Intel i7-6700K Skylake 4.0GHz Processor to retain Win 7 backward compatibility. However, I have not put it in DVR duty because my current DVR still runs so well despite its Windows XP Media Center Edition era mBTX motherboard. In my opinion, a WMC-DVR computer should be single duty and use another computer for gaming and surfing and whatever. Both my DVRs are HTPC chassis machines and my other 4 computers are Win 10 laptops, that I can control my DVRs via VNC remote desktop software. No need to corrupt my DVRs with daily other computing duties.

Cheers,
Jeff

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#3

Post by n4mwd » Mon Jan 02, 2023 3:04 pm

I have just recently been having the same sort of problems. In my case, the BSOD were directly traceable to a failing HDD. I'm currently waiting on a new SSD to arrive. At this point, I have to assume its the HDD and not the motherboard.

My system is not all that hot. Its an atom processor running about 1.6GHz on probably 4 cores. I only have 2GB of RAM. When youtube and netflix still worked, there was the rare occasion that it would drop frames, but that has never been a problem with the DVR function which is what I use it for mainly.

However, the situation has given me a reality check in terms of getting replacement hardware. It looks like that is going to be very difficult to do. I have found several fanless mini-PC's that have some nice specs for a low price, but they all want to run win11 or win10 at the very minimum. None of them have the required win7 hardware drivers - That I have found.

I have a genetic hatred of windows 10. I do have one machine that uses it, and thanks to a mandatory windows update, it trashed my computer. The only solution was to reformat and reinstall. So I am not a windows 10 fan and by extension, not an 11 fan either. I understand those who have installed WMC on win10 have had similar problems with updates messing stuff up.

My preference would be to get a low power fanless mini-PC box and reformat it with windows 7 running natively. My second preference would be to reformat it with Linux and either use WINE to run WMC or VirtualBox to run a copy of Win7. My last choice would be to abandon WMC and go with Myth on Linux.

I know I'm not the first to have a problem getting new hardware. I'm wondering what solutions other people have come up with.

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#4

Post by Hi-Def_PCs » Mon Jan 02, 2023 5:26 pm

n4mwd wrote:
Mon Jan 02, 2023 3:04 pm
My preference would be to get a low power fanless mini-PC box and reformat it with windows 7 running natively. My second preference would be to reformat it with Linux and either use WINE to run WMC or VirtualBox to run a copy of Win7. My last choice would be to abandon WMC and go with Myth on Linux.
I am not a fan of mini PCs due to their inherent lack of internal upgrade and peripheral options, because they are designed for networked dumb terminals. However, you may enjoy one of my favorite space solutions which is to attach a business class or gaming laptop to the VESA mounts of a monitor or just hide it in a drawer near by. eBay is full of used Windows 7 compatible laptops that came with discrete graphics cards. Even an older MacBook Pro running Win 7 from Boot Camp is an option. I configure the laptop to ignore the lid being closed and attach a quality wireless keyboard/mouse combo like a backlit set from Logitech. HDMI and headphone out to the monitor. Easy-Peasy! I have such a setup in my garage for music and DIY videos where the monitor hangs upside down under a wall cabinet. The laptop battery acts as a UPS too.

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#5

Post by n4mwd » Mon Jan 02, 2023 5:40 pm

I actually already have a laptop that runs win 7. That might be a good option. Some of the mini-pcs I'm looking at on amazon are less than $100, but simply wont support win7. Some reviews even say they have problems with Linux. Anyhow, if I can't find anything better, then I will go the laptop route.

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#6

Post by Hi-Def_PCs » Mon Jan 02, 2023 6:38 pm

n4mwd wrote:
Mon Jan 02, 2023 5:40 pm
I actually already have a laptop that runs win 7. That might be a good option. Some of the mini-pcs I'm looking at on amazon are less than $100, but simply wont support win7. Some reviews even say they have problems with Linux. Anyhow, if I can't find anything better, then I will go the laptop route.
If you do go with your laptop; max the memory and do a clean Win 7 Pro 64 bit reinstall to an SSD.
Ultimate is overkill and Home does not support network backups. That will give you the best start!
Be sure to leave a good air space between the monitor and attached laptop for necessary cooling.

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#7

Post by n4mwd » Mon Jan 02, 2023 7:11 pm

Thanks, I'm using the 32bit version on my current system. The main problem I have with it, besides the fact that it currently doesn't work, is the fan noise. The laptop is much quieter in that respect. Also power consumption. The box I'm using now uses more power than the UPS could handle so its running(not) without one right now. Like you said, the laptop has a built in ups.
The only problem with the laptop is that I don't know if it has enough horsepower to run WMC. The tuner is a silicondust network tuner so at least it doesn't have to run 3rd party drivers.

The laptop has an Intel Atom N455 cpu running at 1.6GHz with 1GB RAM.

I just attempted to play a video on the laptop in WMC from my network drive and it played fair with only a minimal about of freezing. It would work in a pinch, but I don't think it would play right with 2 shows recording while one plays.

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#8

Post by Hi-Def_PCs » Tue Jan 03, 2023 12:19 am

You will need a laptop with more horsepower than that. 2.5 GHz with 8 GB of RAM and an SSD are my minimum requirements for Windows 7. Like I said before, "eBay is full of used Windows 7 compatible laptops..." You will have to confirm with the seller that the laptop has a Win 7 COA sticker, because most will have a Win 10 upgrade, or Win 11 hacked onto it. This eBay search is an example: https://www.ebay.com/sch/i.html?_oaa=1& ... &_dcat=177

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#9

Post by n4mwd » Tue Jan 03, 2023 4:00 am

I would generally prefer not to buy used stuff since I already have used stuff. I did buy a new $100 mini PC box with 8 GB RAM, 4 cores at 2.8GHz which should have enough horsepower to run WMC with no problem. The only problem is that it comes with Win11. I did see that Garyan had made a working install file that installs WMC onto a win 10 or 11 machine. His comments also seem to indicate that he found a solution to the Microsoft update messing everything up problem. I don't like 10 or 11, so I'm not super happy with it. However, this box does have the ability to run Ubuntu. With that, I think I can run Win7 in a virtualbox and then run WMC.

I did find some high $ mini PC boxes that would support Win7, but they are too expensive.

So I'm going to try to see if I can tolerate win 11. When that fails, its ubuntu with a virtual 7.

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#10

Post by Hi-Def_PCs » Thu Jan 05, 2023 5:15 pm

New stuff will only support Win 10/11, and only old/used stuff supports Win 7, so you'll
have far less options with your aversion to used stuff, but it sounds like you have a plan.

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#11

Post by n4mwd » Thu Jan 05, 2023 5:53 pm

Hi-Def_PCs wrote:
Thu Jan 05, 2023 5:15 pm
New stuff will only support Win 10/11, and only old/used stuff supports Win 7, so you'll
have far less options with your aversion to used stuff, but it sounds like you have a plan.
Thanks, I agree completely. However, the newer stuff is usually better from the hardware standpoint. The new Win11 box does have a lot of improvements on the hardware side, but win11 itself is a clear step down from win7. A really big step down. I got WMC installed, running and then a windows update came in that deliberately trashed it. I could list a bunch of stuff wrong with win 11 and I haven't even had it a whole day.

So win 11 is really great for people who want to raise their blood pressure. I'm going to see if there is a way to disable these updates so it wont trash WMC.

This morning I found the box turned on by itself during the night. The win7 box would do that for the epg, but it would turn itself back off when done. Might be fixable with the power settings, but I'm not holding my breath.

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#12

Post by Hi-Def_PCs » Thu Jan 05, 2023 6:10 pm

It is my understanding that Win10/11 updates cannot be turned off, only delayed. However, it has been
written that Win 11 on a machine that does not have the minimum hardware requirements, won't update.
The two main requirements are a TPM and an 8th Gen Intel CPU, not sure of the AMD equivalent there.

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#13

Post by n4mwd » Thu Jan 05, 2023 7:32 pm

Hi-Def_PCs wrote:
Thu Jan 05, 2023 6:10 pm
It is my understanding that Win10/11 updates cannot be turned off, only delayed. However, it has been
written that Win 11 on a machine that does not have the minimum hardware requirements, won't update.
The two main requirements are a TPM and an 8th Gen Intel CPU, not sure of the AMD equivalent there.
I have had to deal with this problem on win10. One time a win 10 update came in that totally trashed my computer. It was so bad that the only solution was to reformat and reinstall. So I have been trying many things to stop the updates. Most don't work. However, what does work is to set your home router up to block access to the update servers. You do that by going to the parental controls section. If the router wont support that, then a cron job to periodically check the windows update download folder and erase the contents. Those are the only two methods that I can confirm actually work.

Setting the windows built in firewall to block connections to update servers will not work. It has to be blocked externally to windows.

My media center box exists solely behind a firewall. So the only threat to it is microsoft.

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#14

Post by Hi-Def_PCs » Thu Jan 05, 2023 9:38 pm

That is a clever stop-updates solution, as long as no other computers on the network need updates.
I run a command script to purge the Windows Update Cache, or it will grow out of control.
Here is the .bat file's contents, it must be run as administrator if one schedules it as you say.

net stop wuauserv
CD %Windir%
CD SoftwareDistribution
DEL /F /S /Q Download
net start wuauserv

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#15

Post by n4mwd » Fri Jan 06, 2023 3:15 am

That is very similar to one of my scripts. There is another "net stop" update server that needs to be stopped as well, but I forget what it was and I don't have that machine with me right now. You can definitely omit the "net start" line. Win 10 starts both of them up automatically.

You also don't need to run as admin. You can change the permissions of the folder so that admin isn't required. But you need admin to change it, after that, anything can access it and delete the files.

Some routers have better parental controls than others. Some let you block sites for your whole house and others let you apply the block to specific computers.

I tried setting the update policy on the win 11 box to disabled. We'll see if it works.

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#16

Post by n4mwd » Mon Jan 09, 2023 2:34 am

Hi-Def_PCs wrote:
Thu Jan 05, 2023 9:38 pm
That is a clever stop-updates solution, as long as no other computers on the network need updates.
I run a command script to purge the Windows Update Cache, or it will grow out of control.
Here is the .bat file's contents, it must be run as administrator if one schedules it as you say.

net stop wuauserv
CD %Windir%
CD SoftwareDistribution
DEL /F /S /Q Download
net start wuauserv
I tried a new technique that seems to work so far. You might want to try it.
1. Go to search and enter "services" then "run as administrator".
2. Double click the following services and set them to disabled and also click STOP if the button is active:
a. Background Intelligent Transfer Service.
b. Cryptographic services.
c. Windows Update.

I did this with the Win10 machine and it did not attempt to run updates in 24 hours. I haven't had a chance to test it on the win11 machine.

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#17

Post by Hi-Def_PCs » Mon Jan 09, 2023 5:37 pm

I have to try that if I ever build a WMC-10/11 machine, but that would only happen if it was required to support NextGen TV ATSC 3.0 PC tuners and the needed Microsoft .Net framework. My research is incomplete on that, and my area is a few years out before a full change over. Hopefully the community will have a solution by then, because I love the WMC interface.

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#18

Post by n4mwd » Mon Jan 09, 2023 6:14 pm

I have searched, but have not found a substitute for WMC. It runs smoothly even on win11. Nobody else seems to have the fast play feature that plays recordings at double speed, but with normal pitched audio. If they do, they don't do it as good as WMC. M$ forced us all to find alternate means to view Netflix and youtube. I use a firestick for that.

My main WMC win 7 system had a soft crash of its hard drive. Lots of blue screens and such. I was able to back up all the recordings. When I saw this little fanless Win11 box for $100, I jumped at it. It also comes in an i5 version that costs $350. I don't know for sure, but its possible that there might be win7 drivers for the i5 processor. The i5 runs at 4.5 GHz with 8 threads. Its a little screamer. I didn't buy it, but got the $100 version instead.

I switched to network based tuners a few years ago. It solves a lot of headaches. About 10 years ago, I bought a silicondust dual turner/dual F-connector tuner that had despicably poor reception. I sent it back. Then about 4 years ago, I tried them again and the new one has much better reception on a single F connector.

They also have atsc 3.0 tuners, but I have never used one. I' not sure if WMC can handle an ATSC 3.0 stream or not. At this point, I don't see why I would want to go with 3.0 when 2.0 gives me this....
IMG_20230104_233529379.jpg
That is from the antenna and the silicon dust tuner - not cable.

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#19

Post by Hi-Def_PCs » Thu Jan 12, 2023 3:33 pm

I receive 50+ OTA channels myself and no cable TV. I leave the WMC guide set at HDTV, which results in 11 channels. So I played with the EPG123 guide settings to make them all fit on one screen without scrolling. Our Apple TV 4K box feeds us Netflix, Amazon Prime, HBO Max, etc. so we have more content than we could possibly watch. ATSC 3.0 would offer OTA 4K broadcasts and better reception technology, which I need being 60+ miles south from the Portland transmitters with many 5G cell towers in between. I want to be prepared for the ATSC 3.0 rollout, and I hope that WMC can support it with TGB community help.

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#20

Post by n4mwd » Fri Jan 13, 2023 12:43 am

Hi-Def_PCs wrote:
Thu Jan 12, 2023 3:33 pm
I receive 50+ OTA channels myself and no cable TV. I leave the WMC guide set at HDTV, which results in 11 channels. So I played with the EPG123 guide settings to make them all fit on one screen without scrolling. Our Apple TV 4K box feeds us Netflix, Amazon Prime, HBO Max, etc. so we have more content than we could possibly watch. ATSC 3.0 would offer OTA 4K broadcasts and better reception technology, which I need being 60+ miles south from the Portland transmitters with many 5G cell towers in between. I want to be prepared for the ATSC 3.0 rollout, and I hope that WMC can support it with TGB community help.
From what I hear, 3.0 carries a lot more data, but has less range. I think I'll wait until somebody here at TGB gets it working before I get a new tuner. Of course, the nice thing about WMC is that I can keep using the old tuner and the new one at the same time. But with over 100 local OTA channels, I don't think adding a new tuner would help that much. Depends on whats on all their sub channels.

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