Possible workaround for Media Center guide download error code 20

Our development team has found a possible root cause and workaround for error code 20 that may appear when trying to download television guide data in Media Center 2005.  The guide download error code article I previously published describes error code 20 as a file validation error, possibly caused by a mismatched guide package.  Previously, the only recommended workaround was to try downloading guide data again later.

We got a hold of a machine that was displaying error code 20, and the developer debugged and found the failure resulted from a call to a cryptographic API that is used to decode guide data (which is downloaded in an encrypted format).  For some reason we don't fully understand yet, this API returns a set of permissions that don't permit the guide data file to be opened correctly.

This workaround that we used to resolve this issue is the following:

  1. Log onto the computer as a user with Administrator privileges
  2. Close Media Center
  3. Navigate to the %ALLUSERSPROFILE%\Application Data\Microsoft\Crypto\RSA\MachineKeys folder
  4. Delete the file that starts with 1c93d682e65b0f3af0cd51385becba5e_
  5. Restart Media Center and try to download television guide data again

Error code 20 is being caused by one of the machine keys in that folder, but it appears to be a different key on each computer that hits this problem.

<update date="6/22/2006"> Updated this workaround so that it only includes deleting Media Center-specific RSA keys.  The previous workaround ended up deleting the entire RSA key store, which can impact other products on the system. </update>


Comments (34)

  1. Colin Onspire says:

    Umm… wonder why it needs to access an RSA machine key. Are they watching you.

  2. The Media Center guide download feature needs to access this key because it uses it as part of the process of decrypting the guide data that it downloads from the guide server. Data is stored on the guide server in an encrypted format because it is only intended for use by Windows Media Center.

  3. Ti says:

    Hi. I am still having problems downloading the guide. Everytime it tries to download, ehrec.exe would crashes. May be you can help out? Thanks

  4. Hi Ti – Can you check and see if you have any files named *.crash in %windir%ehome. Also can you check in eventvwr and see if you have any errors or warning in your Application event log? If possible, please send me the *.crash and an export of your Application event log so I can take a look? You can send them to aaronste@microsoft.com.

  5. Eric says:

    I have received error 23 a few times now, seems like since the Rollup 2 was released. I will reboot and then it will work fine.

  6. Dan Shumow says:


    I’m the CAPI1 owner. Aaron, I sent you an e-mail about this problem. Please answer the questions there to help me triage this problem.



  7. Ti says:

    Hi Aaron. I looked in the ehome folder but there is no such file that has .crash extension. I don’t see any errors and warnings related to Media Center either. I do see the information logs from it mentioning about it managed to log suceessfully, when it is going to perform the next update, etc. The problem stills exist however…

  8. Hi Dan – I received your email and I have contacted you regarding this issue. Thank you for your help!

    Hi Ti – could you try to download your guide data and let it crash again, and then choose to send the report to Microsoft. Then could you click the link that says View details of this report and send me the information that is listed there? That should allow us to go look at the crash information after it arrives on our server and hopefully that will help narrow this down. You can contact me using http://blogs.msdn.com/astebner/contact.aspx to send me this information.

  9. Hi Eric

    In regards to your guide error code 23, that’s a different issue than the one Aaron is describing in *this* blog entry. You might want to try the tips that he has provided at another blog entry.

    The link is available here


  10. Ti says:

    Hi Aaron,

    The thing is it does not give me Send Error Report dialog. Visual Studio Just-In-Time Debugger catches it and wants to debug. You can see the screenshot from my blog post…

  11. Hi Ti – I’m not sure why it is not giving you a "send report to Microsoft" option in this scenario. Could you please gather the log files listed at http://blogs.msdn.com/astebner/archive/2005/10/16.aspx and send them to me so I can try to take a look?

    Also could you gather a list of the files and the version numbers for each of them for the files in %windir%ehome on your system? Sometimes this type of crash is the result of mismatched binaries.

    You may want to try to uninstall and reinstall Update Rollup 2 to clear this up as well. You can uninstall by going to Add/Remove Programs, checking the Show Updates box at the top, then scrolling to the bottom and removing Hotfix for Windows XP Media Center Edition 2005 (KB908250) and Update Rollup 2 for Windows XP Media Center Edition 2005.

    Hopefully this will help…

  12. Ti says:

    Hi Aaron,

    I emailed you the logs info. I hope it would be figured out and solve the problem.



  13. There’s quite a few KB articles on permissions for the MachineKeys folder – could be related?

  14. CaptainComic says:

    I get these repeated errors 20, too. Turns out it is the proxy from my firewall software. Once disabled the download worked.

    Any ideas what the connection is here…

  15. Hi CaptainComic – There probably isn’t any connection between the error you’re seeing and the root cause I described in this blog post. Unfortunately, the same guide download error code can occur for multiple different reasons. We have seen other firewall issues with guide downloads in the past (for example the hardware firewall issue described at http://blogs.msdn.com/astebner/archive/2005/11/23/496503.aspx).

    I have added an additional suggested step to my blog post at http://blogs.msdn.com/astebner/archive/2005/11/01/487997.aspx to address AV/firewall/anti-spyware applications.

  16. RobertVP says:

    This worked for me. Thanks for your help!!

  17. Tommy says:

    I can’t do your workaround because it says the access is denied – as if the file was open. But I’ve closed media center. I’ve been getting error code 20 repeatedly. And it says "File validation error – mismatched guide package. Code 20" Can you help?

  18. Hi Tommy – the access denied error may be caused by some other program that is running and keeping those files in use. You might want to try to reboot and then try the workaround again and see if that helps. If that doesn’t work, you might need to boot into safe mode and try to delete them that way. Hope this helps!

  19. Tommy says:

    I’m in shock! I finally got it to work. I’ve been fiddling with it for weeks now and finally got it to work. I booted in safe mode but still couldn’t cut and paste the files, so I just deleted them – and the delete was odd… I tried to delete the whole folder but then one or 2 files would disappear on each delete attempt until finally I got them all. Probably had to tell it to delete the folder 5 times. But then after a reboot to normal mode the guide downloaded flawlessly. Thanks for this post on your website – it is literally the only place on the internet that addresses this issue.

  20. Tony H. says:

    just wanted to let you know that I also was having difficulty in downloading the TV Guide listings on my HP media center PC.  I did a google search using the same error message and foud your site.  your fix worked.  Thnx!

  21. xdcx11 says:

    Posting here in case this helps anyone – fairly unique situation:

    I came across an error code 20 today which did not seem to be solved by deleting the RSA key. I found that I had run out of disk space on my c: drive (small partition – sonic transcoder temporary files 🙁 ). Clearing space and restarting the guide download didn’t work either. I finally went into the c:Documents and SettingsAll UsersApplication DataMicrosofteHomeEPG folder and removed the latest .sdf file only (there were 6 or 7). Again MCE seemed to get rather confused after restarting. I went to fool with which disableing one of my tuners in the devcie manager – I have two tuners, one direct, one hooked to cable box.  I was doing this to basically restart the process of configuring the guide from scratch. However after rebooting with this change the guide came back and downloaded succesfully. I re-enabled the one tuner and everything worked.

  22. AlanRoy says:


    Would this RSS key be country specific? I have this error 20 problem regularly, but cannot find the key you listed in that directory. From the application log, it seems to take three or four attempts and then there is a succesful download.

  23. Hi AlanRoy – To my knowledge, this RSA key should not be country/locale specific.  This error can sometimes be intermittent, and if it eventually succeeds for you, then the RSA key issue described in this blog post is probably not a problem on your system.

  24. This article serves as a central location for all links to troubleshooting documentation that has been

  25. gjr5017 says:

    I tried to go into that folder that should have the keys. Mine does not contain the one that you said to delete. I have no idea what to do. Any ideas?

  26. Hi Gjr5017 – If you don’t have the files listed in this blog post, then you are likely not running into this specific issue.  You may want to try some of the other workarounds for guide download issues that are listed in the Guide Download Errors section of the article at http://blogs.msdn.com/astebner/articles/487537.aspx.  If none of those help, you may want to post a question on the Microsoft.Public.Windows.MediaCenter newsgroup and hopefully someone there can provide some useful advice.

  27. Brian Stettin says:

    I'm experiencing the same problem on vista home premium not win 7 or not xp how do i fix this issue?

  28. Hi Brian Stettin – I'm not sure if the steps in this blog post will help on your version of Windows, but it is worth a try just in case.  If that doesn't help, then I'd suggest posting a question on one of the following forums to see if someone there can help suggest some additional ideas for you to try:



  29. K Hall says:

    Worked like a charm.  Thanks!

  30. MM says:

    This fix worked for me on vista media center

  31. MM says:

    Although on vista the key is located here (hidden folders need to be shown)  C:ProgramDataMicrosoftCryptoRSA

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