Hacking burner's firmware to enable DVD overburning

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Alps
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Hacking burner's firmware to enable DVD overburning

Postby Alps » Wed Nov 09, 2016 11:59 am

Hi everybody!

I'm trying to figure out if it's possible to hack the firmware of a burner in order to enable DVD overburning.
Particularly, I'm referring to the slim IDE DVD writers coming with laptops about 10 years ago (Pioneer DVR-K17A, in my case, but I could get other second-hand models of other brands, if necessary). I've known that the majority of burners doesn't support DVD overburning. But this operation just concerns the writing beyond a certain number of sectors.
So, if the firmware contains a limit of sectors beyond which the burner cannot write, what about finding and raising that limit in the firmware file?
Is that possible, theoretically?

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Re: Hacking burner's firmware to enable DVD overburning

Postby KnightRid » Thu Nov 10, 2016 6:16 am

It may be if the physical mechanism inside would allow for the head to move that far but I doubt anyone really looked into this since overburning relies on the writer and the media to both support it. I also doubt it would be worth while since the overburning of cd's is around what, 6%. With the cost of the media being so cheap it is just easier to split the file/files onto to discs or buy a bluray burner with bluray media.

Is there a specific reason you need to overburn? Movie files a little bigger than the disc? Backup from a hard drive wont fit on 1 disc?
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Re: Hacking burner's firmware to enable DVD overburning

Postby sbohdan » Thu Nov 10, 2016 12:01 pm

I assume the reason would be a certain compilation won't fit entirely on one disc. It happened to me few times that The compilation of music was ex. 83min. and the second half of the last song wouldn't fit, so I had to overburn the disc but for these cases I prefer to buy 90min. CD-R's and than it's no problem :)
Before you call me a dinosaur for listening to CD's, I also listen to vinyl records, since the sound quality of those are the best on good equipment and once you get used to the best, you won't go back to the worse...
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Re: Hacking burner's firmware to enable DVD overburning

Postby Alps » Thu Nov 10, 2016 5:03 pm

Yeah, I got some e-material of courses, movies and other stuff to burn onto DVDs. It often happens that I need more than 4483 MB because the files cannot be split (about 10 up to 100 additional MB). I already have a big DVD+R pack that I'm sure supports DVD overburning. So it would be really annoying to go buy DL DVDs when I know that every time the burning task could be easily solved with the overburning feature. If you use Nero, you'll certainly know that you can enable DVD overburning until 4600 MB (default setting if I'm not wrong because I use Imgburn). But as it's been reported in the past, why can this feature be successfully activated only by a few writers (namely, Plextor and Benqs ones)?

In Imgburn the writing error due to the impossibility of overburning refers to a logical block address out of range: the burner fails to write sectors 2295104-2295135. But do you know what the last physical sector of data area is on a common DVD? Always from Imgburn's media information, it is 2491711, that is nearly 4900 MB!
I mean, no one has never taken advantage of that capacity (even because perhaps it would be impossible) but many have claimed to have reached much more than 4600 MB (often demonstrated by showing overburning test's screenshots of Nero CD-DVD Speed). But most of the times they had Plextor writers (probably models for desktop PCs, not the slim ones for laptops). So, what's the difference between those writers and the rest? Just a different firmware? Or something else like the building logics that no one else has. If the truth is behind this very last point, I'm afraid I could never overburn with any old slim IDE/ATA DVD writer. But if it's not so (and this is what I want to figure out), then a firmware modification MIGHT enable DVD overburning even in no-Plextor burners.
To me, enabling DVD overburning would mean saving time (tedious task to reduce, split, cut...) and money (when forced to buy DL DVDs). Also, I hate wasting a DVD-9 for 10, 20 or so additional MB. It's my nature...

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Re: Hacking burner's firmware to enable DVD overburning

Postby KnightRid » Fri Nov 11, 2016 5:58 am

Manufacturers are probably worried about the instability of the disc after a certain area. Overburning discs works, sometimes, others not so much. I have overburnt discs in the past where everything burnt fine and worked until the next time I pulled the disc out and then there were errors and the data could not be accessed. After that, I gave up on overburning and either re-encoded video, manually split files or used winzip/winrar/7zip etc to split the entire thing but then you would have to unpack it to the hard drive to use it. Now I just use a NAS.

Save money, buy a different burner 8)

You can always get an external one, or put one in an external case, that will allow you to overburn. When you start messing with firmware you can damage the entire drive and then you wont be able to use it at all.

Your theory is sound but with all the different components they use, I would never try it unless it has been proven to work 100%. Oh it would have to be the same manufacturer too I imagine. If there is a model from your manufacturer that has overburning, that would be your best bet but I still would not try it as it will probably brick your writer and then you have to buy another one.
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Re: Hacking burner's firmware to enable DVD overburning

Postby sbohdan » Fri Nov 11, 2016 7:29 am

I never had a Plextor or BenQ writer but I did some overburning with NEC, LG, Samsung writers on both CDs and DVDs with Nero.
Main rig: NZXT Phantom modded case with Danger Den WC, Gigabyte GA-P67-UD4-B3, 2500K@4.7Ghz,1.428V, 8GB GSkill Ripjaws 2133Mhz 10-12-12-31@1.6V, MSI GTX 1060 3GT OC, Asus 24" 1ms 144hz, 2xOCZ Vertex4 128GB RAID0, Samsung 2TB; PC P&C 750W, Win7 Ultimate 64
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Re: Hacking burner's firmware to enable DVD overburning

Postby Alps » Fri Nov 11, 2016 10:10 pm

Actually, at a local shop I would have the possibility to choose among some IDE/ATA slim writers (for laptops).
I already tried an LG GSA-T20N but despite the CD overburning support, it doesn't overburn DVD.
So, second choice was a PIONEER DVR-K17A (still in my laptop at this moment) but the same story.
The owner of this shop (mainly aimed at repairing activities more than selling) is very understanding and doesn't care if I test and bring back the writers. They all are about 10 years, kept in a small box and collected from old laptops probably dismissed. No one is going to ask any of them (except me). The first time he selected 3 writers with cover bezels identical to the original one (an old Sony).
After the PIONEER I could get a PANASONIC (UJ-841), but I've heard that Panasonic writers are not so good, at least not as the others. But I remember that there were other writers over than the 3 selected. They just didn't have the same dimensions of bezel (perhaps even a slightly different shape). Who knows... one of them could be the "soulmate"! Next time I'll make a note of those writers models: perhaps it's worth trying them, although I still have no evidence of DVD overburning support by the slim writers. But supposing that I upload a list of those writers everywhere on the internet, it's very difficult (if not impossible) to find someone who is able (or willing) to say whether and which support DVD overburning. Result: I should try them one by one (obviously, asking before this time-consuming activity is convenient and necessary).

Anyway, with the writers of this shop I could test any firmware modification, since the owner will hardly sell any of them (actually, he's really not interested in old writers that nobody still needs). So, no problem if I mess any writer: I could get another one for free. But I'm not intentioned to waste writers. As you rightly said, I need to know some specific information about firmwares in order to modify them where necessary. People with experience in firmware modding can firstly say whether the DVD overburning feature entirely depends on firmware settings or even (or only?) on building specifications.
If someone tells me that modifying the firmware is enough to enable DVD overburning and that I should change just a few istructions in the firmware file (I should be told which ones, since I'm not an expert in burner's firmware), then I'll do it. To give you an example, if firmware modding for my purpose is as easy as described in this article (http://mingersoft.com/blog/2012/05/hacking-a-burners-firmware/comment-page-1/#comment-49671) for letting a burner recognize a specific brand of discs, why couldn't I try? If successful, I would save time and I would be glad to have learnt something new about firmwares.

If there is a model from your manufacturer that has overburning, that would be your best bet but I still would not try it as it will probably brick your writer and then you have to buy another one.


Here I think you were referring to another possibility, less difficult than getting into the firmware file to modify it. You were talking about the so-called "cross-flashing". But again, it's very difficult (I'd say impossible) to get such information. It's easy to know that all (or almost all) the writers (at least the last IDE/ATA manufactured about 10 years ago before the introduction of the SATA's ones) support overburning. But manufacturers don't tell you if it's just CD overburning or even DVD overburning. So you'll never know if you can safely cross-flash between 2 different models, since basically you don't know whether there is or not DVD overburning feature (I'd add, most often there isn't, as far as it's been reported in the past), unless there is someone (in a whatever internet forum, for example) who can provide this precious information. But trust me, these fully informed people used to hang around forums many years ago. Now there is no interest at all in such issues.

I never had a Plextor or BenQ writer but I did some overburning with NEC, LG, Samsung writers on both CDs and DVDs with Nero.


Good to know! Do you even remember the specific models or just if they were external (so not for laptops)?


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