67 Easy Steps to a W7 Media Center Reinstallation
I started this blog posting back in February, and about the same time took over the management of the start-up I was working for, so while the blog post lingered, I continued to use it for my own purposes to track the changes I made to the system. There are definitely a number of useful nuggets in here, especially if you want to use an SSD for recording and then move them to a NAS device. I know some people on this site believe this is a bad idea, but I’ve been doing it for two years now without a problem, so I figured I’d finally clean it up and post what I had. The last thing I wanted to do is create and maintain a complete inventory of all the software on the machine as I was doing here. I found a very slick free program called WinAudit which generated a nice CSV file for me which I then had to pivot in Excel (not using the pivot function, which doesn’t handle text well 🙁
Time to Re-install
As of Feb 2011, my Windows 7 installation on my HTPC is just over 2 years old. I’ve switched video cards twice, added and removed a capture board, installed and uninstalled various plugins, encoders, drivers and software. The install and uninstall of Spdifier and PowerStrip made me particularly nervous. All of this has led to one or two questionable audio and video behaviors that point to registry corruption. But the final straw was running the Windows Experience Index and seeing my SSD disk performance had dropped down from a 7.3 to a 5.9. Poking around on the Corsair site, I found this posting which explains in details how to reformat the SSD back to it’s original performance. Most of that post is a tutorial on how to back up your system, but since all my TV recordings are on the NAS and I’m itching to do a reinstall, what I need to do is write down what software I have/want installed and backup all the current configs. Quite a project, but I think the results will be quite valuable for other folks starting off their 7MC installs, or going through a similar process as I.
So first made a list of all the software configuration I wanted to preserve as well as software I no longer need (or never really needed). No longer needed:
- Spidifier – DirectShow filter to pass encoded audio to your receiver. Not useful in Media Center since it doesn’t use DirectShow.
- PowerStrip – Extremely sophisticated video driver clock override. No longer needed since getting the NVidia card
- Virtual Clone Drive – Best free ISO disk emulator out there, but I never actually used it, though it confused TMT and AutoRip&Compress. I’ll wait till I have a real need for it. Easy enough to uninstall/reinstall.
Configuration to preserve/backup:
- Media Center
- Recording Schedule back up/restore instructions from Hack7MC
- Video, Music, TV Directories
- Hulu AutoHotKey Launch
- Media Center Studio
- DVRMS Toolbox
- processing pipelines
- resolution control
- remote button override
- task to stop/start DBT Filewatcher
- ShowAnalyzer config
- NVidia Custom Resolutions
Files to preserve
I’ve included my complete software config at the bottom of the post.
- (March 2011) Ran Parted Magic erase, when prompted for the “Enhanced Secure Erase” supported by the drive, I clicked “Yes”. It said allow 30-180 minutes, but seemed to exit after about 5.
- Started Windows install expecting the custom mode to allow me to format the disk as NTFS/32K. Unfortunately, it didn’t give me that option, but it did create the 100Mb recovery partition, so I stopped the installation and went back to gparted and ran “mkntfs -Q -c 32768 /dev/sda2” to get 32K sectors as recommended on the Corsair site. Note at 32K, the base install of Windows 7 with SP1 was about 16G. Since I didn’t do a fresh install with the 4K setting, I can’t tell you the difference.
- Installed Windows 7 Ultimate.
- Finally set up a home group password. Never actually used this feature before.
- Rename Administrator (standard security practice)
- Started to pushing Windows Update through the download and update process and realized this would be a horrible inefficient way to get to SP1 since it should be cumulative. So I stopped Windows Update after the first round of 4 (the next was 62) and just downloaded and ran SP1. After running SP1, there were only 13 updates (4 optional), so I think this was definitely a win. So how many reboots due to updates (no third party drivers installed)?
- 4 updates
- 13 updates
- Installed Crystal Disk Mark again (I’m no longer a big fan of this utility since it comes with a two crapware components you need to uncheck packaged via OpenCandy which is spyware (it searches your disk and hits the net without asking you at install time) even though they swear it’s not. MSE identifies it as well. That said, I’d used it for all my base line benchmarks, so it was easiest to just use it.
- Install MSE to remove any crap that CDM left around…
- Installed NVidia 260.99 (version supported by TMT). A little shocked no reboot was required…
- Create “tv” account and configure for auto-login via netplwiz
- Tips from TheReaper on TGB to fix a hang problem I was experiencing with dwm.exe (Desktop Window Manager)
- Right click on desktop -> Personalize -> Theme -> Windows 7 Basic
- WinBauble -> type: advanced system settings -> view advanced system settings -> advanced tab -> Performance settings button -> Visual Effects tab -> adjust for best performance -> recheck the few effects you want on the bottom like smooth scrolling/font smoothing/use styles
- WinBauble -> type: services -> (right click runas admin) Services -> Desktop Window Manager -> properties -> Startup type: Manual
- WinBauble -> type: turn windows features on or off -> Turn Windows Features On or Off -> uncheck Windows Gadget Platform (Restart required)
- Install the Hauppauge Colossus
- Install Silverlight (optional Windows Update)
- Run TakeOwnership registry hack to allow right click from explorer
- Install gvim (a text and binary editor)
- Install MissingRemote RDP Hack. Enable multi (see step 66 below). There are some trade offs. If you use RDP for installing software, then logging in as the default TV user is good because some software installs in the user’s directory (Chrome for one) and if you want it to appear on the big screen, you need to be the same user. The downside is Media Center will auto start on the RDP session as well, unless you use the fix below.
@ECHO OFF IF NOT "%SESSIONNAME%"=="Console" EXIT /B
REM Launch Media Center
I actually put this in a file called wmcstart.cmd and launch this via the
registry key entry, using a clever little utility called hstart, so I don’t see the DOS window. Just to be complete:
C:\bin\hstart /NOCONSOLE "C:\bin\wmcstart.cmd"
- Change to static IP address (the reason why #17 didn’t work 🙂
- Install Hauppauge Drivers (Waiting on WinTV. not 100% sure I need it for VCR capture)
- Installed Arcsoft Showbiz. Came for free with the Hauppauge drivers. Seems to have a problem with audio sync when capturing in MP4 format. Not a problem with TS.
- Autohide task bar for TV user
- Disk Space Savers
- Hide Recycle bin and reduce size to 500K. This insures no TV shows end up there. See AndyVT’s HTPC basics page.
- Disable Hibernate (once you’ve determined that S3 sleep works for you)
powercfg -h off.
That was worth 3GB.
- Change File Explorer folder and search settings to my liking
- Copy back saved ProgramData directories for Slysoft, DragonGlobal and AutoRipAndCompress
- Move HTPC back to stereo cabinet (now that RDP is working)
- Configure desktop to DVI only (for now)
- Run Media Center setup. Enter zip code and Digital Cable Product Key (sticker on machine), Comcast, download PlayReady, etc, etc…
- Immediately I experience the debounce problem with my Marantz Universal Remote. Quick regedit for that:
Set the EnableDebounce DWORD to 0.
- Add reboot shortcut to task bar for RDP reboot:
- Using RDP, fix up media libraries to point to NAS device and record on SSD
- Install DVRMSToolBox 126.96.36.199 and DBTAddIn 188.8.131.52. Don’t forget the trailing \ for DBT when you specify the commercials XML directory.
- Try to restore my DVRMS dcp files from backup (forgot to copy them). Turns out that my backup is a sparse file (ReadyNAS is samba underneath) and fails when Windows tries to mount it as a virtual drive. Need to copy the 32G file back to the SSD before mounting (ugh)
- Meanwhile, install Firefox so I can listen to RadioParadise HD. (Update: IE 9 now supports RadioParadise HD)
- RadioParadise needed the Firefox flash plugin.
- Restore scheduled recordings as described by Hack 7MC
- Install ShowAnalyzer. Thank you for the license key recovery page.
- Finally got the backup image mounted. Recovered DVRMSToolbox profiles and copied them to the new install directory. Set up the process conditions editor to generate the commercials file then move the .wtv file to the network drive.
- Login as Administrator and set up Task Scheduler to start and stop the file watcher in the middle of the night.
- Check ShowAnalyzer config (think it’s all good). Just using the spocker’s settings from the Dragon Global Forms.
- Install My Channel Logo’s. A little bling I’ve never done before. I actually don’t use the channel guide that much, so the value here is pretty minimal for me, but I figure an incoming link is worth $3. 🙂
- Install TMT 5.0 + 184.108.40.206 update. Never bothered to see if it would work without AnyDVD. Just don’t care at this point. I’m not happy with Arcsoft as a whole and I do not recommend anyone try to use their HTPC as their primary Blu-Ray player.
- Install the latest autohotkey. This is very cool software.
- Install HuluDesktop
- Run msconfig and disable startup of the useless Arcsoft support and iPhone remote servers. Also delete the desktop icon
- Configure 59.97 and 23.976 resolutions
- Eeek, what’d I do? Suddenly I only get 16bit color @60Hz… Ahh System Restore – ILY! Go back to step 42.
- This time, switch to HDMI before trying to configure 23.976… Happy adaptor
- Install MCStudio. I really hate this application launcher crap…
- Patch the dSM ownership so the menus can be edited
- Add Hulu launcher to autohotkey script
- Install AutoRipAndCompress. Restore backed up settings
- Install Amazon Unbox. Sigh, it creates a new computer each time it’s installed. I now have 5 devices on Amazon for two computers at home…
- Watch “The Social Network” via a free Amazon coupon.
- Realized that the Unbox player doesn’t use exclusive mode on the playback device, hence the 6 channel WMA track was being down-coded to stereo. The work-around is to use Windows Media Player (and definitely not Media Center)
- Emailed Amazon support and they cleaned up my machine list. Seem the trick is if you remove the Unbox software properly, it will remove the host from your list of devices on Amazon.
- Noticed the machine wasn’t sleeping, and remembered I needed to Allow Sleep w/t Remote Opens. You need to apply a registry change to expose the GUI in the Power Options menu. Couple others I typically set:
- No password on wakeup
- Sleep after 1hr
- Turn off display after 45 min
- Turn off disk after 20 min (does it matter with an SSD?)
- Disable USB Selective Suspend (ATI DTC’s don’t like this)
- Power Button -> Sleep
- Using a MC Studio, create an entry point for Radio Paradise HD using IE in Kiosk mode. Full info here.
- Install Avidemux so I can adjust the frame-rate on the videos captured by Arcsoft Showbiz with the Colossus. Unfortunately Avidemux seems to crash on the TS files created by the Colossus. 🙁
- Disable SMB 2. This is a MUST to achieve 40MB/s performance with the ReadyNAS NV+. Run “cmd” as Administrator:
sc config lanmanworkstation depend= bowser/mrxsmb10/nsi
sc config mrxsmb20 start= disabled
And/or set the following registry value
- Set the NIC MTU to 7936, which is the same Jumbo Packet size supported by the ReadyNAS NV+ (note the latest ReadyNAS NVX and others support up to 9K or more?).
- Downloaded and installed the latest RealTek driver (Dated 6/22/11)
- Edit c:\Windows\system32\drivers\etc\hosts and hardcode the NAS hostname and IP. This was one of many attempts to solve a problem copying large files to the ReadyNAS. The problem was solved in the next step
- The following are needed to avoid “The specified network name is no longer available.” and “Error 0x8007003B: An unexpected network error occured.” when attempting to large files from the HTPC to the NAS.
- HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINE\SYSTEM\CurrentControlSet\Services\LanmanServer\Parameters Add or modify IRPStackSize to the maximum setting of decimal 50 see http://support.microsoft.com/kb/106167 for details
- HKLM\System\CurrentControlSet\Services\LanmanServer\Parameters Size – change to decimal 3 http://technet.microsoft.com/en-us/libr … 10%29.aspx
- HKLM\SYSTEM\CurrentControlSet\Control\Session Manager\Memory Management LargeSystemCache – change to decimal 1
- Installed HandBrake 9.5. Handy for cropping the 1-2 scanlines I get at the bottom of the screen when scanning a VCR via the Haugpauge.
- Install VLC 1.7 (used by HandBrake)
- Install ffmpeg to convert .TS files to .mp4 since the Colossus seems to have an audio sync problem with mp4 and HandBrake crashed on the .TS file. Hopefully the latest Colossus driver has fixed that.
- Schedule monthly complete system backup!
- Disable Windows Media Player Network Sharing Service. I don’t have any extenders, and it was trying to index all the media on the NAS and sucking up all the bandwidth. Probably wouldn’t be a problem with a faster server (IE: the NVX).
- Latest version of CrystalDiskInfo. Says the drive is 98% happy after 2 years. Don’t see any need to replace it until I get a new motherboard that supports the new SSD SATA controllers.
- Download the Intel MB driver for the missing Simple PCI Communications Controller on my ancient P35 motherboard:
- Add two more menu items via Media Center Studio to switch between my DVI and HDMI video inputs. I do this because when listening to music, I use the S/PDIF Zone 1 & 2 outputs on the SC-07 to run audio to the other amplifiers in the house (I pulled Optical S/PDIF along side Cat 6 when wiring the house). Obviously, I want to use HDMI for BD playback. After spending a half hour trying to grok some complicated autohotkey scripts, I stumbled upon a posting explaining the options to DisplaySwitch.exe, which ships with Windows 7. In a nutshell:
- DisplaySwitch.exe /internal – Switch to Primary only
- DisplaySwitch.exe /external – Switch to Secondary only
- DisplaySwitch.exe /clone – Clone desktop on both screens (Not HDCP compliant!)
- DisplaySwitch.exe /extend – Extend desktop to both screens
- And, after I even listed it in the beginning, I forgot to fix time synchronization. Didn’t figure this out until I started missing the Daily Show opening monologue 4 months later. The easiest fix is to disable the time sync job in the Task Schedule, and use the built in Windows Time service. It’s a well known problem described on the GreenButton, which is now Windows Experts 🙁
- Install the latest TMT beta with auto-resolution switch. This seems to be the most stable version yet IMHO.
- (7/13/2011) Reinstall the Missing Remote RDP hack and disable multi. It turns out there are a couple odd side effects of logging in via RDP as the same user which is on the TV screen. Occasion, the TV user screen lock will trigger, forcing you to enter the password to watch TV again. This wasn’t a huge inconvenience, but there wasn’t tremendous value in the multi login support, so I eventually backed it out.
Only 3 reboots. Really nothing to whine about.
C:\Windows\System32\shutdown.exe /r /t 0 /f
(and reboot 🙂
With the above settings LanSpeedTest show 62MB/s write speed. When copying a large file, I actually see 14-20, but without disabling SMB 2, the test showed 2MB/s write & 4MB/s reads. The Jumbo packet change only affected write speed and boosted the results from 40MB/s to 62.
For those, I have one ReadyNAS Forum posting to thank. Also, be sure NOT to disable sparse files on the NV+ (RAIDiator 4.1.7). Although this fixes a problem mounting Windows backup images, it also seems to cause errors copying large files.
Creating the menu items was trivial. See the RadioParadise posting if you need help with Media Center Studio. I would just run in Clone mode, but if you play any DRM cable channel like ESPN while in clone mode, WMC will shut you down due to HDCP violation.
Well, you can’t have much more fun than that. Here’s the final software config from WinAudit:
|Adobe Flash Player 10 ActiveX||10.3.181.14||Adobe Systems Incorporated|
|Adobe Flash Player 10 Plugin||10.2.153.1||Adobe Systems Incorporated|
|Amazon Unbox Video||220.127.116.11||Amazon.com|
|ArcSoft TotalMedia Theatre 5||18.104.22.168||ArcSoft|
|AutoHotkey 1.0.48.05||1.0.48.05||Chris Mallett|
|CrystalDiskInfo 3.10.0||3.10.0||Crystal Dew World|
|CrystalDiskMark 3.0.1a||3.0.1a||Crystal Dew World|
|Feedback Tool||1.2.0||Microsoft Corporation|
|FileZilla Client 3.4.0||3.4.0|
|Haali Media Splitter|
|LAN Speed Test||2.0.5||Totusoft|
|Microsoft .NET Framework 4 Client Profile||4.0.30319||Microsoft Corporation|
|Microsoft Antimalware||3.0.8107.0||Microsoft Corporation|
|Microsoft Security Client||2.0.0657.0||Microsoft Corporation|
|Microsoft Silverlight||4.0.60531.0||Microsoft Corporation|
|Microsoft Visual C++ 2008 ATL Update kb973924 – x86 9.0.30729.4148||9.0.30729.4148||Microsoft Corporation|
|Microsoft Visual C++ 2008 Redistributable – KB2467174 – x86 9.0.30729.5570||9.0.30729.5570||Microsoft Corporation|
|Microsoft Visual C++ 2008 Redistributable – x86 9.0.30729.17||9.0.30729||Microsoft Corporation|
|Microsoft Visual C++ 2008 Redistributable – x86 9.0.30729.6161||9.0.30729.6161||Microsoft Corporation|
|My Channel Logos||1.22||My Channel Logos|
|NASA TV for Media Center||22.214.171.124||Yammm Software LLC|
|NVIDIA 3D Vision Controller Driver 275.33||275.33||NVIDIA Corporation|
|NVIDIA 3D Vision Controller Driver||275.33||NVIDIA Corporation|
|NVIDIA 3D Vision Driver 275.33||275.33||NVIDIA Corporation|
|NVIDIA Control Panel 275.33||275.33||NVIDIA Corporation|
|NVIDIA Graphics Driver 275.33||275.33||NVIDIA Corporation|
|NVIDIA HD Audio Driver 126.96.36.199||188.8.131.52||NVIDIA Corporation|
|NVIDIA Install Application||2.275.80.0||NVIDIA Corporation|
|NVIDIA PhysX System Software 9.10.0514||9.10.0514||NVIDIA Corporation|
|NVIDIA PhysX||9.10.0514||NVIDIA Corporation|
|NVIDIA Stereoscopic 3D Driver||184.108.40.20633||NVIDIA Corporation|
|PlayReady PC Runtime x86||1.3.0||Microsoft Corporation|
|Realtek Ethernet Controller All-In-One Windows Driver||7.46.610.2011||Realtek|
|Security Update for Microsoft .NET Framework 4 Client Profile (KB2446708)||1||Microsoft Corporation|
|Security Update for Microsoft .NET Framework 4 Client Profile (KB2478663)||1||Microsoft Corporation|
|Security Update for Microsoft .NET Framework 4 Client Profile (KB2518870)||1||Microsoft Corporation|
|System Requirements Lab|
|TotalMedia Theatre 5||220.127.116.11||ArcSoft|
|Vim 7.3 (self-installing)|
|VLC media player 1.1.7||1.1.7||VideoLAN|
|Windows 7 x86 DTB Addin||18.104.22.168||babgvant.com|
|WinPcap 4.1.2||22.214.171.1241||CACE Technologies|
|Wireshark 1.4.4||1.4.4||The Wireshark developer community, http://www.wireshark.org|
Thanks for the steps–love
Thanks for the steps–love seeing people’s process.
Note for anyone reading this that isn’t…do NOT disable SMBv2 unless your NAS manufacturer recommends it or you know what you are doing. In general SMBv2 is a good thing and removing it will kill your file copy performance between Windows systems that support it (Vista or higher).
For instance, between my Windows 2008 R2 Server and my HTPC I get 120Mbps. If I disable SMBv2 that drops to 55Mps. A big change.
Excellent point. Also DO NOT
Excellent point. Also DO NOT disable SMB2 if you have an NVX or other more recent NAS product which runs Samba 3.5 or greater. This is only for the NV+ which runs an old version of Samba which Netgear is no longer releasing updates for.
That said, I’m currently beta testing an early release of Samba 3.5 build frumps.org to see if the SMB2 protocol gives a speed improvement on my old NV+ hardware. I think he’s dropped the project though, and I may just use his instructions to build Samba 3.6 once the release stabilizes.
Just out of curiosity, why
Just out of curiosity, why are you upset with ArcSoft. I have TMT 3 and have never been totally enamored with it, but would be interested to hear your complaints.
Easiest way to answer this
Easiest way to answer this question is to cut & paste from one of my previous postings:
Oye. You’re opening up some old wounds here, which I wish I had the time to go into in detail. At a uber level, it comes down to your definition of “recommend” . Many HTPC enthusiasts build systems because they like to understand the technology and enjoy the problem solving process. I certainly fall into that category, but the whole BD playback thing became a bit of timesync for me. Granted, I started before HDCP bitstreamed playback was available, so I had a few more hurdles to jump than someone starting today. Unfortunately, 1 OS upgrade (+1 complete reinstall), 2 TMT upgrades and 3 video cards later, I still don’t have a painless BD playback experience. Quick highlights:
So now my current status is that BD playback is still a bit of a push & pray experience. On a typical BD, I’ll see 3-4 lockups during playback where the screen will freeze for a few moments, and audio will take 10 more seconds to sync back up with the video. I’ve actually grown tired of trying to isolate the issues. Could be I just need a newer BD drive or motherboard since both are > 3yrs old now.
That said, I probably already spent > $500 in software and hardware, just for the BD playback capability (my WMC DVR experience is great). For that price, you can get a pretty nice standalone BD player which will also play Vudu and Amazon movies in HD (remember current studio licensing deals do not allow HD playback on a PC for movie downloads)
So for those reasons, it’s difficult to “recommend” using your HTPC as your primary BD player, but I didn’t say you can’t have fun trying.
Now with the latest 126.96.36.199 beta, I’ve noticed much better behavior when pausing/ff/rr and audio coming back online. It does seem to have a quirk where bitstreaming won’t work unless you switch the audio to mixed and then back to bitstreaming. This problem has come and gone with various releases and has been reported by multiple people on the Arcsoft forum, but Jason@arcsoft says support can’t repro that problem.
So upset is probably too strong of word, but as I explain above, it’s not something I can “recommend” based on my experiences.
(OK, I’ll admit I have found AnyDVD handy to rip a BD or DVD or two, but that’s not the point)
Hi, thanks for the post!
Hi, thanks for the post!
I was wondering what the deal was with #37, “Login as Administrator and set up Task Scheduler to start and stop the file watcher in the middle of the night.” What does that do?
Ah yes. I should of expanded
Ah yes. I should of expanded on that. The problem is I have DBT configured to run ShowAnalyzer, and then copy everything from the SSD to the NAS device. I have plenty of CPU to run ShowAnalyzer and watch a show at the same time, but the problem is if DBT starts moving the file while I’m trying to stream from the ReadyNAS NV+, the poor little Sparc V1 gets overwhelmed and playback becomes unwatchable. The simple solution was to change DBTService to manual, and schedule two simple batch jobs at 3AM and 6AM respectively
It usually clears all the recorded shows in less than an hour.
Interesting Thanks for the
Interesting 🙂 Thanks for the reply.
BTW – I agree with you about not using your HTPC as your primary blu-ray player. When I first built my HTPC, I added a blu-ray drive but I ended up not using it. I prefer to rip everything onto the HTPC and play it through the native Media Center movies menu. I recently upgraded my AVR to a model that supports DTS-HD and Dolby TrueHD and after reading about all the hurdles involved in getting bitstreaming to work I decided that I am way better off just buying a dedicated blu-ray player. Considering that a good blu-ray player is cheaper than buying the blu-ray software and a new video card or motherboard to support bitstreaming, the choice was simple 🙂
I didn’t read the article
I didn’t read the article since I’m a SageTV user, but your TMT question had me go search for that part. I’m confused, too. I use TMT3, launched from SageTV, to play back all my Blu-rays prior to ripping them and it works great. I have all the shortcuts mapped so the remote works with it. I automatically transfer control between the programs and it flows quite nicely.