Recovery of a Panasonic DVR Recorder Harddisk

By dose | March 4, 2015
Under: Uncategorized

After my pervious adventures with a Pioneer DVR recorder, a user contacted me and asked me if I could also analyze the Filesystem of a Panasonic DVR recorder and sent me an image.
I saw that it uses a custom Filesystem which is called MEIHDFS V2.0. I searched for this term on the Internet and found this thread. It seems that a guy called hkmaly started researching the filesystem and found out the block size. As he obviously already found out some of the structures, I thought that I should contact him and fortunately, he immediately responded to my inquiry. He was kind enough to send me the sourcecode he wrote back in 2012 when he researched the filesystem and found out the description of an inode block. However he didn’t find the inode directory and therefore only managed to collect inode blocks on disk where it was unvertain if they were sctive or inactie as the directory and inode blocks get rewritten after every editing process resulting in multiple copies of the same inode number on the disk making it impossible to recover the current state. Using a Hex editor, I finally found the inode directory and gathered enough information to be able to restore the filesystem of the recorder in case the inode table is always at a fixed position starting from the superblock (which I’m not sure but just assuming).
The recorder basically stores the DVD-Recordings in DVD-RAM format where there unfortunately is no description available, because it’s a proprietary standard. However I found the dvd-vr program where the author managed to gather  lot of information from the format using reverse engineering. Using this as a template, I found out the structure of the Recorder’s .VOB files which are slightly different than the ones on DVD-RAM (mostly they are shorter omitting some stuff that the original DVD-RAM format has incorporated). So I created a modified copy of this program that was able to parse the Pioneer DVD-RAM format used.

So I finally ended up with 2 utilities: extract for extracting the MEIHDFS Filesystem und dvd-vr for extracting movie data from the resulting .VOB files.
Technical information about the filesystem and various other informations can be found in the README file of the project.

You can download the source and binaries >> HERE <<

Hopefully this is helpful for people with failed harddisks to recover their movies. I’d love to hear from you if you managed to rescue your data with it. If you have questions or need adaptions of the program for your recorder, feel free to contact me.

4 comments | Add One

Comments

  1. Ralph - 07/13/2015 at 14:07

    Hi,
    looks like you are doing some very useful work & I hope you can maybe help with my problem.
    I have a Panasonic DMR-PTW530 that has a totally dead 500GB HDD. I have put in a new HDD of the same mak & size but the machine will not format the drive.
    Is there a utility I can use to make the HDD work in the unit. I believe I may have to create a partition and format the drive but I am at a loss – can you help?
    Many Thanks

  2. dose - 07/13/2015 at 15:52

    Hi,

    Unfortunately I do not have a Panasonic DVR Recorder myself. I have no experience in changing harddisks on Pannys, I just did it successfully on a Pioneer recorder. In most cases the problem is that parts of the firmware need to be present on the harddisk. The Pioneer recorders have an ID disc (normally only available to service technicians) that puts it onto a blank HDD. If you know someone with the same recorder and a working HDD, you may try to copy his HDD onto your blank drive and hope that the recorder then recognizes it, but I have no idea whether this works or not, sorry.

  3. Ralph - 07/13/2015 at 23:05

    Okay – thanks for the reply – I will keep looking

  4. Henry - 07/19/2015 at 13:24

    Hi,
    When I saw your program, I was excited to use it to extract files from my Panasonic DMR-XW300. I’ve tested the program on a dump I made of its 250GB HDD. I was hoping it would work, but it didn’t. So I examined the file using a hex editor. It turns out the file system in that particular model is MEIHDFS-V2.1 as opposed to MEIHDFS-V2.0. Additionally, the file formats contain VOB and TS files. I was wondering if you could assist me on extracting the data from this? If not, it’s perfectly fine. I can happily provide a sample (perhaps the first GB?) of the dump.

    Thanks!

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