DMR-BW780 Hard Drive HDD Replacement


Novice Member
Hi all thought I would pass on my experience of replacing a faulty HDD in my DMR-780.

My HDD failed. Tried various options to try to get the data off but no luck. :thumbsdow

One option was to replace the main controller board. Most of the time the fault is with the main board so
if you can get one from another HDD then swapping the boards can work.
Tried to obtain new or second hand HDD same make/model etc still no luck.

A new HDD costs about £40 but as these are old models you cannot seem to get them.

Only choice left was to phone Panasonic direct and check the cost !!

Cost all in was £140 !!!! :facepalm:

So Panasonic charge £100 to format/partition it and put their special bit of code on the first
partition !!! How to make money !!!

I had no choice but to buy from them as the format/partition/ is a custom Panasonic one. It arrived. Connected up and my DMR now works as it should. :thumbsup:

So be warned if your HDD stops working you will have an expensive repair bill !!!!


Active Member
I have nothing good to say about these Panasonic recorders at all, Panasonic seemed to have gone out of their way to make their bluray recorders as expensive as possible and as limited in functionality as possible, and very un user friendly.
theyn a rip off for spare parts.

I have seen lower branded manufacturer units built just as good and with an easy to use feature rich multi tasking interface, and able to put any hdd in, unlike these Panasonics.
I just wish twin tuner BDR recorders were made by these lower branded manufacturers.

i won't buy Panasonic again


Novice Member
Hi all,

It's been a while but I have successfully copied ALL the data from a Panasonic HDD to another HDD!!

:rolleyes::rolleyes::rolleyes:>>>PLEASE BE CAREFULL AS YOU COULD LOSE ALL YOUR RECORDINGS AND/OR END UP WITH NO WORKING HDD<<<:rolleyes::rolleyes::rolleyes:
>>> You should make a backup of your recordings to DVD/Bluray before continuing. <<<

What I did was to purchase a HDD that was the same model as the one already used in the Panasonic. Luckely some eventually came up for auction on e**y for £20
In this case it was an Hitachi HCS5C1025CLA382 You could try another make/model but it needs to be the same size and I cannot say if another model would work. Also you cannot convert the 250GB to a larger sized HDD.

Next thing I needed was to setup a PC that had Linux installed or in my case Ubuntu.
You need Linux as a windows pc will not recognise the Panasonic format.

You will also need a SATA interface to allow the Panasonic HDD and the new HDD to be connected to the Linux PC.

Now you will NOT be able to view the HDD data or copy the TV recordings onto a PC HDD to view/play on a PC

All you are doing is to make another whole HDD copy so that if your original Panasonic HDD goes dead you will have a cheaper way to replace it instead of paying £140 plus to Panasonic !!!

Now remove the Panasonic HDD and connect it to the SATA interface on the Linux PC. Also connect the new HDD to the PC.

Boot up the PC into the Ubuntu desktop.
Select 'system settings' then select 'hardware' then select 'disk utility'
This will show various items and also the 2 SATA HDD's. Click on one of the HDD's. One should show '250GB unknown format'

this should be the Panasonic HDD. To check you are looking at the correct one ensure the serial number matches the Panasonic one. Note the HDD designator ie sdb the s stands for SATA. ( hda should be the Ubuntu Hdd )
The other one may also show '250GB unknown format'but check the serial number. Note HDD designator ie sdc

Now this is the most critical part. You must be 100% certain that you know which HDD is the original Panasonic HDD and which one is the new one. Do NOT guess as you will end up with a non working PVR !!!

Now select 'Applications' then select 'accessories' then select 'terminal' Repeat this again so you end up with 2 terminal windows.

In one window type

sudo dd if=/dev/sdb of=/dev/sdc bs=32M ( it will ask you for the Ubuntu user password )

if means input file. sdb should be the Panasonic HDD <<<<< ensure this is the correct HDD
of means output file. sdc should be the new HDD
bs=32M will use a block size of 32meg.
( if you suspect your Panasonic HDD is a bit flakey then 'noerror' could be added. This means dd will not stop if it finds a bad sector )

So you are copying from the 'if=' to the 'of=' so ensure you have the HDD correct.

dd is the command to do a disk to disk copy. It will not display any information as it copies but

In the 2nd terminal window type

sudo pkill -USR1 dd ( you can repeat this as many times as you like while dd is still copying )

This will make the dd command in the other terminal window display information on how far it has copied. It may take a little while to show some info.
The dd command will take about 3-6 hours to finish the disk to disk copy!!

When finished you will have 2 HDD's that are both exact copies of each other. Put the new HDD into the Panasonic PVR and re-connect the power. 'Please wait' will be displayed on the PVR display for a while. You should then be able to use this drive.

It has been stated on various forums that if you change the HDD the Panasonic PVR will see this as a new HDD and will request you to format the HDD. I did not see this. The HDD worked straight away no format was done.
I then re-connected the original Panasonic HDD and still no format was requested by the PVR.

If your PVR does ask you to format the HDD I think it would only format the area on the HDD where the TV recordings are stored. Therefore you would still have a working HDD and a backup but you will lose your recordings!!

Hope this helps you and saves you buying a new expensive HDD from Panasonic.


Active Member
Interesting stuff @smarty62 and thanks for posting that write up. Out of interest did you try making any new recordings on that copied HDD?


Novice Member
Hope it will be useful.

Yes used the copied HDD and all worked as it should. I see no reason why it shouldn't.
The only thing I was worried about was what people had said that if you changed the HDD the Panasonic would force you to re-format it!!
I would guess any HDD could be used as long as it is at least the same size as the original Panasonic one. You would just end up with say a 500GB HDD that would end up as only a 250GB one.


Standard Member
Hello smarty62,

I have used your method to make a non-panasonic hdd recognisable to the machine (a DMR-BW850).

I zeroed my original HDD (flakey) in a PC, only to find out that Panasonic write a propriety filesystem to the drive to make it a "Panasonic drive". Now the machine wasn't even recognising the original drive. With nothing to loose I pulled the HDD from my 250gb (DMR-XW380) and dd'd the drive over to the new HDD.

Upon booting the BW-850 up, it rejected the new drive. But I put it into service mode by holding rec + CH^ + open/close whilst in standby, and proceeded to format the disc, and to my amazement, it formatted!

But when it rebooted, I cannot make any new recordings. Maybe its because I used a drive that is not fast enough to do the recordings.

Anyway, I signed up to say thanks, I have gotten further than I have gotten with talking to Panasonic (useless).

I will let you (and everyone else) about my progress..... And screw Panasonic!


Novice Member

Glad my info was usefull.

Shame you had to 'zeroed my original HDD' as you may have been able to get the Panasonic special sector off the old one onto a new one! I suspect the special sector is specific to each model of PVR.

I guess it should be possible to copy the special partition from a working HDD and email/post this to someone else who could then put this onto their own HDD ?
Not sure if the Linux DD command allows this.Will check when I have some time.

Also I don't think the make/speed of the HDD should be a problem as long as it meets the min spec of the original HDD.

Best of luck.


Standard Member
I did retrieve the Panasonic "special sector" from my 250GB DVD recorder. I Cloned the drive using your method, I have also found a drive that it will record to. :D

I can now confirm that I have rescued my BD recorder by cloning my 250GB DVD recorder's HDD onto a Seagate pipeline HD 500GB drive (the original drive was a WD). I then put the newly cloned drive into my Blu-Ray recorder, and formatted it as a 500GB drive. It has now been recording for 24hrs straight.

I wish there was a way of finding this "special sector" so it makes the cloning process quicker. But I guess Panasonic don't want us to find it, I guess when someone does, they will change it slightly so our process doesn't work any more.

I just wonder how many different Panasonic machines can be cloned from and to. I am just happy that I could rescue my Blu-Ray machine with my DVD recorder.

To me, the machine was more important than the recordings on it, with the process above, it means you don't have to send it to Panasonic when your HDD completely crashes. You just need to clone a drive from a working recorder (Panasonic of course), and put the new drive into the broken recorder and format it. Well at least it worked for me, I would like to know if anyone else has any success.


Novice Member
Great info Smarty62
I'm looking to clone a working Hitachi hard drive from a Panasonic DMR-EX98V.
Which version of Ubuntu did you use please?


Novice Member
Hi Smarty62, I used a Diskjockey parallel disk copier to copy mine and works o.k. Did the same with a SATA diskcopier for my 3 X BluRay recorders.


Novice Member
Using Smarty's method with Ubuntu Version 10.4 I managed to clone spare HDD's for several older Panasonic recorders.

It worked with DMR-EH80V and DMR-EX98V DVD/HDD/VCR combi units and also with DMR-BW780 and DMR-BW880 Blu-ray HDD recorders.

In each case I used like for like (both manufacturer and model) HDD drives sourced from eBay for each unit. I did try more modern SSD alternatives but although they appeared to clone ok none of the Panny machines listed above would recognise them.

The method takes a long time, typically about 8 hours, but the system does work and I know have spare backup drives for each unit for when they do eventually fail

Thanks again to Smarty for a great post


DMR-BWT735EB - I successfully used Smarty's method (above) on this recorder with an ebay HDD of the same make/model/spec as the Panasonic's original. The following might help others.

I used the dd command in Linux Mint's Terminal window, as shown on the line below (the spaces are accurate).
sudo if=/dev/sd£ of=/dev/sd$ bs=32M conv=noerror status=progress

The £ and $ symbols represent the alphabet letters assigned by Linux Mint to the Panasonic HDD (the Input File if) and the new HDD (the Output File of) respectively. This was checked (and much rechecked) in Disc Management/Hardware. The status=progress command causes a line in the Terminal window to show continuously the bytes transferred and the time-elapsed. It is the simplest way of assuring that something is happening. It took about 500 minutes (just over 8 hours) to clone the 1TB disc. (See the computer screen image at the end of this message.)

Panasonic's service manual advises that, on powering up, an HDD Error window will show on the TV screen; and it gives the following procedure.

Power-off the recorder at the remote. [It should have added - then do nothing until the 'Please Wait' message on the display ceases; it takes some time.]

Now power-on by pressing the 'Guide' button on the remote. The Programme Listings Menu displays on the TV. Press 'Return' to view the channel to which the recorder is tuned. Then follow the handbook procedure to format the HDD - (press the Function button; then on the screen select Others, Setup, HDD/Disc/USB-HDD, HDD Management, Format HDD, etc).

My recorder kept freezing at the Format HDD choices screen.

After many attempts I changed tactic. As before, I powered on using the 'Guide' button on the remote, got the Programme Listings Menu, pressed 'Return' to view the channel, BUT then followed the handbook procedure for a factory reset - (press the Function button; then on the screen select Others, Setup, Others (another one), Initialize, Shipping Condition, etc). After formatting (fast up to ~96%) the recorder automatically (after a short delay) went into the new-out-of-the-box setting up procedure (tuning etc). When all that was done, I formatted the HDD using the steps listed earlier. (Formatting does not affect the all-important software/etc that Panasonic in their inconsiderate wisdom have put on the HDD. It will remove all/any programmes on the HDD. I did not check whether formatting was necessary.)

I hope this helps. It was quite a trip!


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