back to article Stone the crows, Bouncer! BT defends TV recorder upgrade DELETION snafu

BT has dismissed gripes about a recent upgrade to its television recorder box, after the telco giant's update deleted programmes and came loaded with glitches. A reader told The Register that he only got a two-day warning that everything on his BT Vision kit would be wiped when the software was upgraded. Exactly that happened …


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  1. AndrueC Silver badge

    They got notified in advance? Well that's better than Sky then.

    On the other hand it's rare for a Sky upgrade to delete existing recordings so BT have something to learn there.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      I'm no Murdoch fan but...

      rare? I can't remember a single instance! The only upgrade that removes content is when you get a new box or self-swap out the hard drive for a bigger one (and even then there are ways of migrating the content, which is pre-encrypted if it needs to be).

      Business practices aside, one thing Sky do (nearly completely) right is the hardware.

      1. ukgnome

        Re: I'm no Murdoch fan but...

        Agreed - Sky has just totally overhauled the EPG and front screen - the whole shebang...not a single bit out of place.

        Heck, hiding behind DP annoys me somewhat.

        I'm glad I am not a TV customer, and only receive my slightly shoddy broadband from them.

        1. 's water music

          Re: I'm no Murdoch fan but...

          Heck, hiding behind DP annoys me somewhat.

          Probably their focus group wouldn't buy the H&S justification. Maybe try anti-terror legislation next time?

        2. Kane Silver badge

          Re: I'm no Murdoch fan but...@ukgnome

          Sky has just totally overhauled the EPG and front screen - the whole shebang...not a single bit out of place.

          Not quite true, we had the Sky box upgrade pushed recently (about 2 weeks ago?), and since then we have lost access to certain channels that we always had access to. Strangely enough, those channels that have a +1 equivalent we can still watch, just not the source channels (for example, Comedy Central HD/SD we can now only watch on +1). Not that I'm blaming the upgrade (correlation/causation etc), but we noticed the channel loss happened the day after the upgrade.

        3. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: I'm no Murdoch fan but...

          As someone who does Data Protection for a day job I've seen some pretty shonky uses of DP as an excuse but I have to say BT have taken the prize here.

          I cannot possibly conceive that this information is personal data unless the owner of the box is in some of the programmes stored on the HDD. Even then it would only be the programmes they are in that would be affected and in reality how many people would that cover? Probably Jake Humphrey and Clare 'National Treasure' Balding plus one or 2 others!!

          Totally baffling!

      2. Vince

        Re: I'm no Murdoch fan but...

        Yes - "no instances, ever" - I've just had the new UI on HD, and apart from being surprised it's so different, I've got all the 2TB of recordings (or whatever it is you're actually allowed to use of the storage these days) I had before the upgrade.

        Same goes for every time in the past decade...

        Only BT could still be considered "leading" by the majority and still get the lion's share of the business in so many areas and still be so utterly shoddy.

      3. jerehada

        Re: I'm no Murdoch fan but...

        I've had a few sky faults over the years, one engineer visist per year in the last 3. They've had more practice to get the STBs right... Still I had one smoker and another HD one went bad, then the cable, then he Lnb...

      4. AndrueC Silver badge

        Re: I'm no Murdoch fan but...

        rare? I can't remember a single instance!

        I think I had one back when the new EPG first appeared. A few of us started finding bits of programs mixed together I think. Given it was relatively few people I suspect a Planner rebuild fell foul of corruption. I know that historically their file system indexing/offset calculation has been a bit weird because the utility that copies Sky hard disks has to deal with it.

        I can't find anything to confirm that but I did find this (R008.063.49.09P) when Sky withdrew an upgrade

        But aside from their sometimes irritating changes to the GUI (I still wish I could hide the mini TV viewer when using the EPG, and I'm currently getting existing series recordings stacked with future recordings for some shows) it's been a reliable service.

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      "... so BT have something to learn there"

      Yes, but I warrant that it isn't in the area of technical expertise. They're experienced enough to know how to do it right, and I suspect that they simply decided that they couldn't be arsed to expend the effort to come up with a proper technical solution.

      They need to brush up their customer-oriented skills a bit. If it wasn't for their apparent privileged position in the UK, I doubt that they'd survive real competition.

  2. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Which box?

    Is this the original Vision + box or the BT Branded Youview box (The black gloos model) or the new BT Youview box (Same design as the Home Hub 5)? I am still in the trial for the Youview, black gloss box and it does decide to occasionally record Channel 5 shows, not Neighbours, but usually NCIS on an alternative night, as well as the regular recording. I was about to sign up to BT's Infinity with the new box, but maybe I'll hang back and wait a little while.

    1. Conor Turton

      Re: Which box?

      "Which box?"

      The BT Vision+ box, not the Youview ones.

    2. richardcox13

      Re: Which box?

      > to occasionally record Channel 5 shows

      I suspect the C5 EPG data is at fault. I see most series jumping to C5+1 from time to time.

      This seems to have always been the case with C5 on every FreeView PVR I've used. Other channels do not have the same problem.

      Therefore I think this might, for once, not be BT but the data source: Channel 5.

      1. Anonymous John

        Re: Which box?

        It's certainly Channel 5. If I record something, I get multiple copies. 5, 5+1, 5+24, 5*, 5^2, etc.

    3. Lazlo Woodbine Silver badge

      Re: Which box?

      I've got a Talk Talk Youview box and it does the same thing. Last night it recorded NCIS on Ch 5+1, did the same thing a couple of weeks ago.

      Probably down to Ch5 rather than You View as it doesn't seem to happen on any other channel

  3. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    4OD have done this to me

    With their iPad app. I'd recorded a few programmes to watch while travelling on business (outside the UK) and went and deleted them after the upgrade it *insisted* on.

  4. James 51

    It's the old calculation. Is it cheaper to cut corners on costs you can measure like development and testing or the costs you can't measure or come out of soemone else's budget which deal with the fallout when things go wrong.

  5. Aristotles slow and dimwitted horse

    ROFL BT...

    "Our research shows that the vast majority of customers are happy with their service," he added.

    Based on what? The fact that you've not heard from them? That's only because they've most likely given up in frustration trying to get through to your shockingly bad call centre.

  6. DaLo

    "data protection laws protect all recordings"

    Seriously? Worrying that a company like BT don't actually know what Data Protection laws cover - or are they complaining that the actors' privacy might be invaded?

    1. Yet Another Anonymous coward Silver badge

      "data protection laws protect all recordings"

      All BT's billing data was wiped today by an update to DB2

      We can't copy customer's data said IBM so we had no choice but to wipe the database

  7. Smiles


    This is exactly why I don't use the subscription services, the hardware they provide simply isn't up to scratch.

    I paid about £300 for one of the earliest dual-tuner PVR boxes available on Freeview which finally gave up the ghost last year. I'd been shopping around for over a year at that point trying to find something with even half as good a UI and was unsuccessful, but the least impressive in my opinion were Sky/BT. The Sky hardware itself is perfectly good, but the UI is horrific, especially the EPG which gives very little choice in view. I'm now using a Humax box which, while lacking in the premium channels some of the subscription services provide, WORKS.

    Sadly all of these services have the trump card of "If you want these channels you need to use our hardware" combined with a need to provide it at little or no cost. You will always end up with a lesser product than one which has only it's functions to sell itself.

    As options like Chromecast etc get more providers building dedicated apps the idea of the set top box may (hopefully) become redundant allowing providers to concentrate on content.

    1. Rob

      Re: Typical

      You missed a trick, the Sky EPG and services are great when I use my phone to control the box. It's very rare I use the remote or on-screen EPG/Menu nowadays (agree they aren't great), probably the one thing I'll give Sky kudos points for.

      1. Steve B

        Re: Typical

        Used phone and internet to record a program remotely on my Sky- it automatically set it up for the HD channels, which I don't subscribe to but I did get an hour to read the message giving me information on the upgrade required.

        Speaking of SKY does anyone know why fast speed play is unwatchable, is it as I suspect just down to bad programming or is it inherent in the digital switch.

        Before HD I used to watch programs at 6* speed, sometimes faster if a race had turned into a procession. Now any multiple speed just causes jumps - no smooth progression, even though I still watch the SD channels.

    2. Dr Wadd

      Re: Typical

      The best set-up I've found for my own needs is to use a TVHeadEnd server with Freeview (it also works with FreeSAT, and I believe that if you use a tuner card that accepts a CAM it can also work with Sky).

      TVHeadEnd is running on an old Atom netbook I had spare with a couple of USB tuners connected. Playback on my TV is handled by a Raspberry Pi running RaspBMC. It gives me all the functionality that I would need from a commerical vendor with the flexibility of being able to customise the system as I see fit. If I want to record more channels simultaneously I can just add more tuners. Any recordings I make can be copied from TVHeadEnd and saved to my main file server. I can access the recordings from multiple devices, and I can stream the live TV it pumps out to multiple devices.

      Yes, it did require a bit of effort in my part to get everything up and running, but other than not having all the channels I could get on a pay service the end result is far superior than any paid offerings out there.

      1. Lamont Cranston
        Thumb Up

        Re: TVHeadEnd

        I might have to give this another go (tried to get it going on my old Mint box, but the tuner card wouldn't play nice with Linux), as I've been using RaspMC to watch ripped DVDs and it really is a very nice piece of software. Every Freeview box/PVR that I've used has sufficient faults to put me off ever purchasing another one (I really want to like the TVonics box that I bought a couple of years ago, but it's depressingly prone to freezing up).

        1. Chris Parsons Bronze badge

          Re: TVHeadEnd

          Nicely!!! It's an adverb you need there.

    3. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward


      There is quite a large modding community for the Humax pvrs, I've got a freesat model and although I haven't modded it I did consider doing it but couldn't be bothered in the end.

      There are some custom firmware releases that can add a lot more functionality to their kit.

  8. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    The solution ?

    The PirateBay is thataway -->

  9. bill 36

    A much cheaper alternative

    to these expensive picture frames that seem to be so popular is this..

    Minix Neo X7 which comes pre-installed with Xbmc and once its setup properly you can watch anything, anywhere in the world with a wifi connection and an hdmi port to a screen and it's very portable. The browser also gets you access to youtube or facebook or whatever your poison is.

    So it's a smart telly in your pocket if you like.

    I recommend xfinity and fusion, download the addons like Filmon for Uk telly and Icefilms et voila!!

    Costs about 100 quid or so, plus your usb sticks for recordings of course.

    IPTV is the way forward

  10. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Has anyone else noticed

    I find now that TV programs do not start and finish at the time stated. This screws up all timed recordings. It used to be that the adverts on commercial TV occurred at the start and finish of the program, so that you had time to make a cup of coffee. The new pattern seems to be to put the adverts into the middle of the program time and to run from the end of one program directly into the start of the next, but with the end of the first program delayed, so you don't see the ending. I have found this to be a problem with both Tivo in the US and PVRs in the UK. I guess the broadcasters are trying to stop people skipping the adverts! The BBC also appears to suffer from time slip on occasions.

    1. A Non e-mouse Silver badge

      Re: Has anyone else noticed

      They've wised up to your scam. You do know that you're stealing from Sky by not watching the adverts?


  11. terry 15

    This a rebranded humax box? Wouldn't surprised me - great whilst they work but utterly incapable of keeping minor details like scheduled recordings when updating channel lists. They're full of excuses but don't actually care about fixing problems like this.

  12. Anthony Hegedus Silver badge

    I seem to remember that happening with my BT Vision box a year or so ago. The reason the recordings got deleted was that they changed from a linux-based system to a WinCE based system. The new interface was ghastly, and unreliable. I shouted at BT until they gave me a Humax Youview box. The UI is slow and clunky and the BT part of it is ghastly and unreliable. Seriously, this box is far too slow at EVERYTHING!

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      @Anthony Hegedus

      "I seem to remember that happening with my BT Vision box a year or so ago. The reason the recordings got deleted was that they changed from a linux-based system to a WinCE based system. "

      From what I've read on Wikipedia, BT's forum and an article on The Reg, the change was actually from WinCE to Linux. Presumably going either way would zap the recordings, as I'm sure you're aware - I doubt they'd bother with a separate partition for them that would be untouched during an update.

      1. Anthony Hegedus Silver badge

        Re: @Anthony Hegedus

        You're right. I misremembered

  13. Chad H.

    Why do you need to wipe the user data area to upgrade the OS on the device? If it was that there wasnt enough data space to do the install, I'd say fair enough, but that it does it all the time seems to be a very shitty design.

  14. MJI Silver badge

    I have a silver one

    Early one £30 for any BT Internet customer.

    They changed the EPG a while ago and took away the best feature the day skip button (bastards!).

    No recordings have been deleted AFAIK.

    1. Lamont Cranston

      Re: I have a silver one

      If it weren't for its dependance on an approved internet connection, I'd have liked to have kept my old silver Vision box. Much better than everything I've used since. Massive, though!

  15. Steve Evans

    Data protection laws?

    Honestly, this law is used to justify absolutely anything these days!


  16. Matt Black

    Vision Plus box - just awful

    Aside from wanting Sky3 and Sky4, the sheer awfulness of the Vision box is what made me switch to Sky.

  17. jerehada

    fast zapping

    Very difficult on IPTV... not broadcast but uni cast, buffering etc. In the UK we are used to broadcast where channel change is faster.

  18. MrTivo

    TIVO (S1) wins in our household

    Can't comment on the BT Vision experience, but our TIVO S1 (not VM version) is still going strong after 13 years. Great UI and 100% reliable (except for replacement drives every 3-4 years). Switched over to Sky+ as the main recorder, due to their 25th birthday, £25 for 25 months deal, for the full package and most of us really don't like the UI / behaviour of the box.

    TIVO never skipped a beat over the upgrades (many years ago), and aside from the one 'pushed' program from the Beeb, never had any problems with content being deleted unexpectedly.

    Sky+ really offers lots of advantages, dual recording, online content, HD, remote record, over the TIVO (standard build) but it really doesn't have a great remote layout (like the TIVO peanut) or intuitive UI.

  19. Scroticus Canis

    48 hours notice? Luxury, sheer luxury!

    Get zero notice when BT downgrade your hub with a new firmware release or their cable mangling branch, Open Breach, buggers what used to be a functional line to the exchange. In the later case the signal/noise ratio went from +7dB to 3dB (on a good day) and often fades to less than 1 when it grinds to a halt. Not to mention the remote resets of the hub when busy. Who would take TV from them? Roll on the end of the contract period.

  20. Steve B

    So these lock ups are an enhancement then?

    Watching BT Vision, we used to use the 30 second jump or -10 second jump button all the time. Now for much of the time it just displays the +30sec logo and does nothing, then, all of a sudden will shoot forward many jumps. Going backward is worse; by the time the -10 seconds kick in it has gone 30 seconds forward already!

    The standard turn off at the wall sorts it out for a few hours so it is software orientated.

  21. MJI Silver badge

    Since ours is an early one

    Will it be failing completely soon, or will the recording be safe, no one seems to know

  22. Frumious Bandersnatch

    you are quite entitled to make any suggestions or protests at the appropriate time!

    There's no point in acting all surprised about it. All the planning charts and demolition orders have been on display at your local planning department in Alpha Centauri for fifty of your Earth years so you've had plenty of time to lodge any formal complaints and its far too late to start making a fuss about it now.

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