Restrict Anytime/Reserved partition size?

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Restrict Anytime/Reserved partition size?

Postby Alex Atkin UK » Sun Jan 27, 2008 11:42 pm

I have a Sky+ Thomson PVR3 which regularly crashes if I have Anytime enabled so the reserved partition is completely wasted space. I was curious if the Sky+ box looks at the reported HD size and expected a certain size partition or would it (in theory) be possible to reduce the size of the Anytime partition to as small as possible so long as Anytime is disabled in the options?

I realise that partition may be used for other on-demand stuff in the future but presumably there will still be an option to disable that functionality so reducing the partition size would still be useful to some people.

As we know, the PVR1 and 2 allow various sized hard drive and the reserved space on those varies accordingly. I am not aware if they actually support Anytime on the 1 and 2 models yet, or if they ever will but if they do it would seem that you are not required to have an 80GB minimum partition size as some boxes will only have 40GB assigned. Therefore if it was possible to assign 40GB or even less on a 160GB HD (the Sky+ 80GB standard HD) in theory it would still even function.

I realise the software differs between box revisions so it may be completely different on a PVR3. However I was curious if you had tried varying the reserved partition size to see if the drive still functions.

I apologise if any of my "information" above is actually true. Its been a while since I researched Sky+ HD limitations, well before Copy+ was written so I may be mistaken so feel free to correct me if/where I am wrong.
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Postby pcbbc » Sun Jan 27, 2008 11:55 pm

Thanks for your question.

There is no "reserve partition" on any Sky box. The entire HDD is allocated to a single, full-size partition. This is true of the PVR2 boxes with Anytime, as it is the PVR1 and 2 boxes without it.

The software in the Sky box knows what model it is running on. If it is a PVR3 then it holds back 80GB of the space available and knows only to allow it's use for Anytime shows. The remainder of the space is allocated and displayed to the user as % free. Recordings, regardless of type, can be placed anywhere on the disk. All that is different is that they are flagged as either user or Anytime, and then this adjusts the relevant quotas for each type.

This should be obvious by the fact that you can "move" recordings from Anytime and save them to your personal planner if you want to keep them. No actual moving takes place (imagine the time required to copy a 2GB 1 hour recording from one partition to another!), but rather a simple flag on the recording is changed.

Because of the above it is not possible to change the amount of space allocated to the Anytime service by altering the disk format or partitioning.
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Postby Alex Atkin UK » Mon Jan 28, 2008 4:05 am

Thanks a lot for your quick response.

That is very interesting although with all the content effectively being in a database (planner) rather than relying on filenames it certainly makes sense, no benefits from multiple partitions at all as cluster size is rather unimportant when its a few large files rather than many small ones.

Still, it had always been thought before that the amount of reserved space was determined by the disk size and it was decided at format time via partitioning. Or at least that is how it had been implied. Of course this was before Anytime launched, I haven't kept in the loop since then. I was not even aware you COULD save an Anytime recording and as such never thought to question the above theory. Although it certainly explains why you had not already added the "disable reserved space" feature already. :wink:

It makes it all the more silly that when you disable Anytime it doesn't allow you use the rest of the space though. It could always warn you that you need to free up some space before being able re-enable Anytime, should you not have sufficient space left to do so. Presumably if you save something from Anytime it then deducts that space from your "usable" amount too, very annoying (although at least no adverts wasting space then in the middle of programmes).

Ah well, I guess its all just a limitation of Sky wanting to do on-demand stuff on an infrastructure where its not practical. I do wish they would just go for broke and push a SkyHD box to everyone (my currently in-use box is the HD box) and enable the ethernet port for Anytime via Broadband instead, so we can CHOOSE what we want to take up our precious hard disk space. I'm sick of having movies on my Anytime when I will not get the movie channels as they are not worth £17/month when I can get unlimited DVD rental for less than that.
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Postby pcbbc » Mon Jan 28, 2008 11:40 am

Alex Atkin UK wrote:no benefits from multiple partitions at all as cluster size is rather unimportant when its a few large files rather than many small ones.
Correct.
Although cluster size is kind of important - 32K clusters, the largest possible under official FAT32 specifications are far too small for video. Hence the special XTVFS "extensions".

It makes it all the more silly that when you disable Anytime it doesn't allow you use the rest of the space though. It could always warn you that you need to free up some space before being able re-enable Anytime, should you not have sufficient space left to do so. Presumably if you save something from Anytime it then deducts that space from your "usable" amount too, very annoying (although at least no adverts wasting space then in the middle of programmes).
I'm going to guess that this is:
a) Seen as too complicated for average users by Sky (they like to KISS).
b) A step too far, as most people might opt for the extra space. ;)

...and enable the ethernet port for Anytime via Broadband instead, so we can CHOOSE what we want to take up our precious hard disk space.
I expect that is where Sky would like to end up.
But I expect there will be a compromise between OTA downloaded content for popular/new/preview stuff, and true VoD via broadband.
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Postby Jimbob » Thu Apr 10, 2008 5:06 pm

It's interesting that there is a single partition and Sky uses the software to make sure 140Gig is always free for Anytime instead (Sky HD that is).

Before reading this forum and using Copy+ to uggrade my box I always wondered how you were able to record and keep an anytime recording - but this makes sense now. When you press the record button on an anytime programme as long as you have the space available it moves the programme title across to your planner and you can keep it for as long as you want. I always assumed it must copy the programme from one partition to the other in the background so it could free up the anytime space again. However it must simply mark that programme as a "USER" progam at that point and assign the same ammount of space from the free space back to anytime.

In this way I assume Anytime and normal (User) recorded programmes can be anywhere, and in any order on the hard disk. The Sky software handles which program is anytime or not and has a quota of some kind.. Therefore there is no anytime partition and not even a dedicated 140Gig segmant of the single partition.
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Postby pcbbc » Wed Apr 16, 2008 5:26 pm

100% correct.

All the recordings are actually in the same planner file (JOPA), User and Anytime alike. It's just a case of changing a few flags to move something.

I guess in theory you could move a user recording to anytime by fiddling the planner file, but its highly likely the box will delete "unexpected" recordings in the Anytime partition when it sees them.
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Postby janebush08 » Tue Sep 09, 2008 7:21 am

thanks pcbbc... nice information...
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Postby janebush08 » Tue Sep 09, 2008 7:22 am

8)
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