Home > Media Center > Troubleshooting Corrupt Recording Data in MCE 2005

Troubleshooting Corrupt Recording Data in MCE 2005

All too often I’ve had to help someone out on the newsgroups in fixing a corrupted guide or recordings file in Media Center. 

Symptoms:

  • “Unable to start recording due to an unknown error” message.
  • Unable to incorporate new guide data.
  • Recordings not appearing in the guide as they should.
  • Unexplained TV guide or recording problems

Background:

Windows XP Media Center Edition maintains an XML file called “Recordings.xml” which contains information about the televisions shows that you have on your hard drive, information about shows that you’ve watched in the recent history, and information about shows that are scheduled to record in the future.  Sometimes this file gets corrupted and makes your life generally difficult – causes for this could be a power failure, hard disk failure, or just bad luck. 

Step 1:  Try to fix the file

I’ll be honest, this method works in a minority of cases but because it’s so easy and retains your data I always recommend this as your first step.  We will reset your guide data within MCE, which will in turn cause MCE to recalculate some portion of your recordings file (mapping the series you have scheduled to record to your new channel lineup).

Navigate using the MCE user interface to the “Set Up Guide Listings” wizard.  This can be located by pressing the green button, then settings, then television, then guide.  Clicking on “Set Up Guide Listings” will run through the same process you did when you first set up your computer, asking you for your zip code, provider, etc.  Once you have completed this wizard, retest your system to determine if the problem has been fixed.  If not, move on to step 2 below.

Step 2:  Rebuild the recordings.xml file

The next step is to completely rebuild the recordings.xml file.  The file contains a computed value to ensure that it is not tampered with, so don’t bother trying to edit the file by hand.  No, we will have to delete the file and start again from scratch.  Note that this process will remove any scheduled recordings that you have on the system, and you will have to re-build all of your series settings.  The good news is that MCE will be able to automatically re-import the metadata about any shows you’ve already recorded so that won’t be an issue.

  1. Stop any recordings that may be happening and close down the MCE application.  If MCE is running, it will automatically recreate the corrupted data, which is obviously not useful at this point.  Ensure that there is no red “recording” dot in the Windows XP system tray.
  2. Click on “Start, My Computer” to begin navigating to the offending file.  Note that some of the files we’re trying to navigate to may be hidden on some systems, so you’ll need to tell XP to show you those hidden files.  To do this, click on the Tools menu at the top of the My Computer window and select Options…  Locate the checkbox titled Show hidden files and folders and ensure that it is selected (pictured below).  Hit OK to return to My Computer.

  3. Navigate to c:Documents and SettingsAll UsersApplication DataMicrosofteHome (pictured below).  Notice the Recording folder, this is the one that we want to remove.  Past newsgroup postings may refer to deleting the recordings.xml file, but I prefer to remove the entire directory to ensure that there are no lingering bits left behind.  Specifically, Microsoft has implemented a recordings.bak file which will automatically rebuild the corrupt xml file if it is accidentally deleted – we want to avoid that.  Right-click on the Recording folder and select Delete.  You should no longer see that folder in the eHome directory – wait here for about 2 minutes to see if there are any lingering processes that might be attempting to rebuild that file, it should not reappear until you go to step 4.
  4. Start the Media Center application and click on My TV.  At first the screen will be empty, but after a few seconds you’ll heard the hard drive churn and you will start to see the list of recorded files appear – MCE is rebuilding the recordings.xml file for you.  You will now need to go into the guide and re-create all of your scheduled recordings.
  5. You should now have a working MCE machine again, but if not please come seek additional help from the user community at the MCE Community site.
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