Tech – for Everyone

Tech Tips and Tricks & Advice – written in plain English.

Media Center Recordings Filled Disk

Someone called my biz asking for my help with a very slow computer that was also “acting odd”. Nothing unusual there, a lot of my calls start that way. What was unusual was that my investigations revealed that all the usual suspects were not at fault, and I really couldn’t detect anything “wrong” with the machine. That was unusual.

volume_props So I looked further and I found a possible culprit — their rather large hard drive was totally, absolutely, and completely full. Oops. Not good. I won’t bore you with the geek, but I will tell you that Windows needs “free space” in order to function properly.
My caller had none. Zip. Zero. Nada.

My questioning, and looking at the file system, revealed that the caller had set their computer to record their favorite television programs – much like a TiVo or DVR does – and had not really been too good about actually watching the recordings, or deleting them when finished with them. And Windows Media Center had just kept recording and recording…

Tip of the day: Limit the amount of space Windows Media Center can use for recordings, and prevent hard drive fill-up syndrome.

1) Open WMC and scroll the menu down to Tasks, and then left to Settings, as shown below.
WMC1

2) Scroll down to Recorder and then over to Recorder Storage.

3) Use the (minus) sign to reduce the Maximum TV limit number to a reasonable fraction of your available space. And then click Save.

To finish my caller’s story.. I deleted nearly 100 Gigabytes of recordings (some the caller couldn’t even remember setting the schedule for..) which gave Windows the free space it needed, and the machine started behaving like normal again. I then did the above steps so that it would not happen to them again.

Related links: Your hard drive, and the “file system” it contains, needs some routine maintenance to keep performing in tip-top form (often called “optimization”) and your computer comes with the tools (called “utilities”) you need to perform those maintenance tasks. I demonstrate those in this article: Revitalize Your PC With Windows’ Utilities*

Today’s free download: The tool I used to quickly analyze my client’s file system was WinDirStat (Windows Directory Statistics) which provides a graphical image of what size your files and folders are.. so you can quickly find the ginormous ones.

Copyright 2007-9 © Tech Paul. All rights reserved.jaanix post to jaanix

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November 24, 2009 Posted by | advice, computers, file system, how to, Microsoft, PC, performance, tech, troubleshooting, Windows | , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 3 Comments

Use Media Center to Watch TV?

Using Your PC to Record and Watch TV is “Good”. No Commercials Is Better!

Recently, the US transitioned to the transmission of digital signals for over-the-air television; which we are told, went “smoothly” (see A Smooth Transition?).

That “smoothness” is probably due to the fact that the majority of people no longer get their TV from the airwaves, but buy subscriptions to Satellite, Cable, or IPTV providers. Some people simply purchased and connected a analog>digital converter box.

While not widely reported, no doubt some others are still fighting to get their antenna positioned just right.. And still others (such as myself) used the transition as an excuse to simply stop watching TV.

Why have I stopped? Because I have reached a Maximum Threshold of Tolerance. AND, I don’t want to risk a repetitive-stress injury (ala “carpal tunnel”) from constantly reaching for the remote so I can hit the Mute, Skip, Pause, Die You Stinking Commercial, Die !!! buttons. Also, I despise “reality TV”. I don’t think I’m alone.https://i1.wp.com/www.hrrc.org/Image/betamax.jpg

The usual method for defeating commercials is to record your desired program on a Betamax, VHS, TiVo, DVR, or Media Center PC, and then “fast forwarding” (skipping) over the commercial advertisements, which long ago failed to meet the most modest standards of taste and decorum. Or we purchase movies and watch those… a few trailers at the beginning we can tolerate.

There should be a better way, and there is.

Today’s free download: If you use Media Center to record programs, there is a pure genius program, for which I would like to throw the author(s?) a parade, which will automatically strip the commercials out of your recordings. That’s right – remove. That results in smaller files, and more enjoyable entertainment.

Lifextender is a dead-simple commercial-removal application designed exclusively for Windows Vista Media Center users. There is ZERO configuration required, however, there are plenty of options if that’s your thing.

[note: Lifeextender is “donationware”, meaning you can “tip” the author any amount, if you so desire. I “tip” my geek hat, and that’s for sure!]

Copyright 2007-9 © Tech Paul. All rights reserved. post to jaanix

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June 17, 2009 Posted by | computers, digital Video, dtv, how to, Microsoft, PC, performance, tech | , , , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments