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Old 01-13-2009, 11:15 AM   #1
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Exclamation Troubleshooting and Repairing Your TiVo: A Few Best Practices from DVRupgrade

Introduction

I want to share with you a few experiences simple best practices we've employed over the past eight years when helping people diagnose problems, repair and upgrade their TiVo DVR units. In most cases, the problems are relatively simple to diagnose and confirm, and if you are somewhat to moderately technical, these practices are well within your means. Additionally, we offer some professional solutions to those who are not technical, or prefer leave it to the experts, so I'll point those out along the way, too.

Warning!

As a precaution, please understand that to accomplish some of the tasks we've outlined, you may need to remove the cover of your TiVo, something that TiVo never intended their customers to do. Doing this will not only void any warranty you have on the unit, but also might represent a risk of shock or electrocution if you are not careful. Please take the necessary precautions by unplugging your unit, not touching the power supply, etc. And keep in mind that if this is not something you are comfortable doing, then don't do it. We'll provide some resources and links as an alternative to doing it yourself.

Also keep in mind that if you are unable to repair your unit on your own, but make attempts to do so, TiVo may refuse to repair it for you (at any price) as a result of your working on it. With that said, there are a few companies out there that can fix TiVo boxes, so if you find yourself looking for 'expert' repair work, that's available.

What's wrong with my TiVo?

If your TiVo has suddenly stopped working, then it could be any number of things that have gone wrong. Most commonly, its a bad hard drive that is causing your problem. Given that there are only two components in your TiVo that are mechanical in nature, the hard drive and the fan, this only makes sense. Of course, not all TiVo failures are related to the hard drive, but without having any additional information, that would be the best guess. There are a variety of symptoms that can point to an even greater probability of it being a defective hard drive, but very few of them guarantee that other than actually diagnosing the problem with tools.

Symptoms of a defective hard drive:
  • loud clicking which can sound like a ping-pong ball
  • unit is in a reboot loop
  • unit partially boots, goes to a "green screen" and either remains there or begins the cycle again
  • unit is stuck on "Powering up..." screen or "Almost there..." screen
  • frequent pixellation or stuttering of video/audio content (particularly if the pixellation is not identical if you rewind)
  • background screens/animations no longer playing
  • inability to record DVDs with integrated units
Note: It's important to understand that even though these symptoms might be an indication of your hard drive being defective, its not a guarantee. The loud clicking is pretty close to being definite, but other than that one, I would never declare a hard drive bad unless I'd actually diagnosed the problem definitively, and we'll get into how to do that in a moment.

If its not a bad hard drive, what else could it be?

If you know that your problem is not hard drive related, then it could be one of the other components in your system - either the power supply, or the system board, your unit. There is also the possibility that your fan is defective, but that is typically not the cause of a TiVo failure. Unfortunately, a bad fan can cause other problems, such as the failure of your power supply, the system board, or even a hard drive.

With all of that said, determining whether or not its your power supply that is bad, or the system board, is not something that is easily done without troubleshooting and tools that are not within the means of normal humans, so we'll defer that topic to a different discussion and make some recommendations on how to deal with that later.

Is there an easy way I can assess whether its a hard drive?

Well, easy is a relative term. What I can say is that the easiest way to help pinpoint the problem you are having is to first consider taking a look at the hard drive if its within your means. If you are able to identify a problem, or rule one out, your options become a lot clearer moving forward.

So, with that said, if you consider yourself to be a PC guy/gal, then the answer would be YES, it's easy! See the next couple of posts for information on removing your hard drive, testing it, and what steps can be taken to replace it.

What if my hard is bad, does that mean it's the only thing wrong with my unit?

Unfortunately, the answer to that is "No, it is not."

The good news is that it is still most likely that fixing your hard drive problem will resolve your problems, but the bad news is that sometimes there is more than one problem, and sometimes, those multiple problems are related. For example, we have seen situations where a failure of a hard drive and a power supply has happened simultaneously; perhaps one caused by the other, or perhaps both caused by the same problem. Unfortunately, there is no way to tell what the root cause of a problem like that is, and there is no clear way to isolate these types of problems without using the process of elimination to find, repair and isolate additional problems.

If its not my hard drive that is bad, or I solve my hard drive problem, and problems still exist, what does that mean?

Now this is where things get tricky because there is no easy, one-size-fits-all answer to that question that can actually find and solve that problem for you. Some would suggest that a bad power supply would be an obvious answer, however that is not the case - in fact, most of the time, it is not.

So with that in mind, if you've determined that you have a problem that is not related to your hard drive, you should consider hiring a professional to repair your TiVo, plain and simple. Whether it is us or someone else, it is your best chance for a successful repair without experimentation and risking your hard earned dollars.

Where Else Can I Turn for Self-Help/Resources
If you don't find your answers here, there are a other online resources that may be updated more frequently than the posts here:

fixmytivo.com - General resource describing many common TiVo problems and solutions
tivopedia.com - TiVo troubleshooting and resource guide
DVRupgrade TiVo Repair and Troubleshooting Guide

Read onward to learn how to identify and eliminate these most common problems and then you will be better able to make an informed decision about your best course of action...


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Old 01-13-2009, 11:16 AM   #2
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Getting Your Hard Drive Out of Your Unit for Testing

First and foremost, to test your hard drive and identify any problems, you'll need to remove it from your TiVo DVR and connected it to your PC for testing with some relatively simple and free tools available from the hard drive manufacturer. Please review the information below to determine whether or not you are even comfortable doing such a thing, and also keep in mind that you would need to open up your PC and connect the drive to it to do this sort of testing.

If you are NOT comfortable with a process like this, you can skip ahead to see how we can potentially do this for you.

Opening your Unit and Removing the Hard Drive

Opening your TiVo unit is a relatively simple thing to do. In most cases, using a Torx T-10 driver will do the trick. A few models require the use of a Philips screwdriver, as well. We recommend you use the printable installations we've developed for our DIY upgrade kits as a guide for opening your TiVo and removing the drive. They are available in PDF on our site here and there is a detailed list of model names and numbers to help you refine your choice. You can also use one of the links below if you know the family of units your TiVo DVR belongs. In general, removing the cover and the drive is relatively simple for those who are mechnically inclined. It is certainly easier than dealing with most PC's.

Series1 Standalone UnitsSeries1 DirecTiVo UnitsSeries2 Standalone UnitsSeries2 Standalone Units with Integrated DVD RecordersSeries2 DirecTiVo UnitsSeries3 / TiVo HD Units
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Old 01-13-2009, 11:16 AM   #3
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Diagnosing a Hard Drive Problem

Diagnosing Hard Drive Problems

Symptoms: TiVo in continuous reboots, Green Screen of Death (GSOD), Frequent pixelation and tiling during recording or playback, reboots while watching live TV, stuck at "Welcome Powering Up..." etc....

These symptoms do not necessarily mean you have a bad hard drive, however a bad hard drive is the most common cause of a TiVo failure, and the aforementioned symptoms are the most common indication of such a failure. With that said, don't make ANY assumptions. Before purchasing a new hard drive, you should run the manufacturer's diagnostics on the drive to be certain.

Major drive manufacturers offer FREE utilities for testing your hard drives and typically, testing with the 'basic' and 'advanced' tests, you can determine whether you've got a bad hard drive. We've found that a few older Maxtor drives will pass the basic and advanced tests, but will fail the much more exhaustive low-level format test, so if you have time, run that too.

Here is a simple guide to the stock drives you'll find in your TiVo and where to get the manufacturer's diagnostics. We recommend you open up your TiVo first, so that you can properly identify your drive.

If you have a Quantum, or Maxtor drive in your unit, you can use the current version of Seatools from Seagate. There used to be separate tools for Quantum drives and for Maxtor drives, but long ago, Quantum was purchased by Maxtor, and eventually, Maxtor was purchased by Seagate. The current version of SeaTools will work with any of these drives, including the current Seagate drives available in the market today.

With all of that said, many of the tools are interchangable. For instance, we've used Seatools to test Western Digital drives, and Hitachi's tools to test Seagate drives. Bottom line is that you can take your pick (for the most part) but if you want to play it safe, use the tools provided by the manufacturer if at all possible.

Although it is possible to almost always correctly guess the manufacturer of the hard drive in your particular TiVo unit without actually looking inside, we think the simplest way to make that determination is to just take the cover off the unit (see the previous post) and take a look. Then you can review the information and acquire the appropriate tool to use.

What is the best way to test my hard drives?

Each of the programs operate differently, and the terminology they use can be a bit different at times, so you will need to be patient when navigating their menus and selecting your testing options. With that said, the concepts here are all the same, and once you understand them, you should be able to effectively test your drives, regardless of the make and model.

The Quick Test

The quick test is pretty much exactly what it sounds like. Its a very basic test that runs some tests on the drives circuity, and also runs some random tests on the media of the drive to see if it can detect any obvious errors. The nice thing about a quick test is that it runs very fast, and if it finds something wrong, you can end the testing there. Unfortunately, if your drive passes the quicktest, you've really not learned much as it certainly doesn't mean your drive is good.

So with all that in mind, run the quicktest, first and you might find out very quickly that you have a bad drive.

The Advanced Test

Any drive that passes the quicktest should have the advanced test run on it, no questions asked. The advanced test is particularly focused on checking every sector of your hard drive to ensure that it is not defective. The good thing about an advanced test is that it is relatively thorough in that it literally marches through EVERY single sector of a hard drive and tests to ensure that the sector is readable. With that in mind, the time that an advanced test takes can vary greatly as a larger drive will clearly contain more sectors than a smaller drive. Set aside an hour or two for your advanced test, especially if you are not testing a stock TiVo drive (ie a larger upgrade drive).

Another thing that is important to know is that the advanced test is not considered to be 'destructive' in that it will not write any data to the drive. This might be an important factor to you if you are considering using any 'drive recovery' tools to save your date (that is not something we highly recommend, but it is an option to potentially explore).

Again, EVERY drive that passes a quicktest should be subjected to an advanced test. There is a very good chance that if there is something wrong with your hard drive, it will fail the advanced test, and although I'd like to say that passing the advanced test is definitive; its actually not. It is highly probable, though.

The Low Level Format

There is actually one more test you can do if your drive passess the advanced test and you are not convinced that your drive is entirely functional. The low level format is considered to be an exhaustive (and destructive) test because it actually tests the writability and readability of every sector on your hard drive. In short, it will erase your entire hard drive by sequentially writing to each sector and verifying that each piece of data can be read back. It is during this test that you can find some things that the advanced test sometimes cannot find, but with that said, it is very rare to find a drive that passes the advanced test and still generates errors when the low level format is deployed.

So with all of that said, when should you attempt to even do a low level format? Well, if you can leave a drive running on your PC overnight, then we recommend doing it, just for good measure. But beyond that, if you are testing a MAXTOR drive that has passed advanced diagnostics, then we highly recommend you do a low level format. We have seen some Maxtor drives pass the advanced tests and get errors during a low level format, so we think its worth testing things out before assuming the drives are good and looking elsewhere for blame.


Free Utilities for Testing Hard Drives

Here are some of the utilities which will work on your respective hard drives. The list is by no means, inclusive and there are certainly some very good (and pricey) alternatives to the free utilities that are available from the manufacturers. But with that said, these tools are fine and a few of them are what we use on a daily basis.


Western Digital Drives

Data Lifeguard tools for EIDE drives (DLGDIAG) can be found on the Western Digital Website at no charge. There are a few versions to choose from, however the version we prefer is linked below:Seagate, Maxtor and Quantum Drives

Seagate Seatools which tend to work on a lot of drives can be found on the Seagate website at no charge. There are a couple of tools to choose from, but we recommend the DOS version which is linked below:Samsung Hard Drives

You won't find a Samsung hard drive in a stock TiVo, but if you've purchased an upgraded TiVo, or upgraded one yourself, then its possible that you have one. We've found that Seagate's tools work fine on Samsung drives, but you may very well want to use the Samsung utilities available on their web site to test these drives:
  • Grab the Samsung HUTIL software for either a CD-ROM or a floppy-disk from this page which contains links and instructions
Hitachi Hard Drives

You won't find a Hitachi hard drive in a stock TiVo, but if you've purchased an upgraded TiVo, or upgraded one yourself, then its possible that you have one.
  • Grab the Hitachi Drive Fitness Test from this page which contains links and instructions. Note that there are many other tools on this page, but for the purposes of testing your drive, the Drive Fitness Test (we prefer the CD-ROM version) is what you want to use.
Important Note for Sony SVR-2000 users attempting to test a drive that has previously been installed in your TiVo:

You may find that your original Quantum 30GB drive is reported to be 10MB by the manufacturer's diagnostics, this is because the firmware of the SVR-2000 will "lock" the drive when the SVR-2000 is booted with the drive in it. Before you can run diagnostics on the drive, you must "unlock" it using a free utility which can be run on the drive in DOS mode on your PC. To use the tool, you'll need to create a bootable DOS floppy and copy the appropriate tools to it. How do you do this?

Use this link (DOS 6.22 BootDisk Creator) to download the program that creates a bootable DOS disk for you. Then grab one or both of these tools and copy them to the floppy you've created:

DLGCHK - http://www.storagedrivers.com/drivers/25/25701.htm
QUNLOCK - http://www.9thtee.com/qunlock.exe

After connecting your Quantum drive to your PC, boot up the floppy and run one of the two programs (usage of the program will be prompted when you run it).

After you have unlocked the drive, you can run the diagnostic programs again and do not need to worry about unlocking the drive again until you've reinstalled it back in your TiVo.


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Old 01-13-2009, 11:17 AM   #4
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Other types of problems...

Other Types of Problems

Fan Problems

Fan problems are few and far between, but every now and then, a fan's bearings will wear out and it will become noisy. It's rare to see a fan simply die and stop spinning, but it is possible that if your fan is not spinning, when the TiVo unit is powered on, it could be malfunctioning.

Before you jump to any conclusions, though, keep in mind that the fan not spinning could also be indicative of a different problem in your unit. It is safe to say that if your unit is operating fine and the fan is not spinning, than there is something wrong with the fan (or it is not connected properly). But if the unit isn't booting at all AND the fan isn't spinning, then it might be time to look at replacing the power supply or having the unit looked at by a professional for a real repair.

Note that on Series1 units, when the boot process begins, the fan in your TiVo will start spinning as soon as power is supplied to the unit, but a few seconds into the boot process the fan will stop and then start again. This is normal, so if you are suspicious of whether or not your fan is operating properly, wait until the unit boots up fully before declaring it dead!


Power Supply and System-Board Problems

Units that are not booting, even after you've verified that you've got a good hard drive, could have something else wrong with them. In many cases, its the power supply that is bad. There are TiVo Power Supply replacements available for most TiVos, and installing them is relatively straightforward. However, if your unit does not power up at all (eg. no lights on the front, nothing on the TV screen), then the power supply may be masking some other problem as well. If you don't want to replace your power supply, or don't want to replace it only to find out that there are other problems, you should consider a flat-fee TiVo Repair service, if it's available.

Modem Problems

This can be a serious issue for some folks, and a minor problem for others. It really depends on whether you even have a phone line in your home, and also depends on the type of unit you have. Using this previous post, you should first determine whether you have have Series1, Series2, or Series3 unit and the type of unit you have. Once you know that, it will very easy to understand your options.

Here's a breakdown of the scenarios, and some of the options at your disposal.

Series1 Standalone Units

These units require a periodic phone call for program guide updates, downloading of advertising materials, etc. These units cannot function for an extended period of time without connecting to TiVo's servers in some way, shape or form, but what many people don't know is that a phone line is not the ONLY way to do so.

If the modem in your TiVo has ceased to function, it is not something you can service yourself. It is possible to have the modem repaired by a 3rd party such as us, however we typically don't recommend modem repairs unless it is your only option. What are the other options? Well, if you have a home network (a DSL or cable modem and a router allowing multiple computers in your environment to access the Internet) then there is a less expensive alternative available that does not involve a repair.

You can use a network interface card, known as a TurboNET card which can be easily installed in your unit. The TurboNET card has an RJ-45 Ethernet jack on it, so you can easily connected directly to your router, or to a wireless bridge (or gaming adapter) which will then give you wireless network connectivity. The nice thing about TurboNET cards is that the drivers for them are already installed as part of the TiVo OS, so it is a simple hardware installation that usually takes only 10-20 minutes, and once you've installed it, you only need to change your dialing prefix to ,#401 so that your TiVo uses a network connection instead of your phone line, to connect to TiVo's servers. Another alternative is known as a CacheCARD; this provides a faster network connection, and also can be outfitted with memory to speed up your TiVo. It also requires the installation of additional software drivers (although our kits come with these drivers pre-configured) so unless you are looking for a weekend project, this may be overkill for a simple repair for your daily call.

Series1 DirecTV Units

These units are very similar to the Series1 standalone units, however it is a little known fact that the program guide data comes from the satellite, not the periodic calls which appear to be required. These units can actually function just fine without the call being made, but you will receive "nag" messages if you do not allow your unit to connect for the other information that needs to be updated. DIRECTV pay-per-view events do require the unit to connect from time to time so that billing information can be uploaded to their servers, and if this is something you require, then a TurboNET card is something worth considering as an alternative to repairing the unit's modem hardware.

Series2 Standalone Units

These units, much like the Series1 standalone unit, do need to make a periodic call to stay updated, however these units are equipped with USB ports that can be easily outfitted with a USB-Ethernet adapter, or a wireless USB networking adapter, which will then give you connectivity on your home network.

Series2 DirecTV Units

These units behave almost exactly like the Series1 DirecTV units. As an alternative to repairing the modem (or leaving the phone line unplugged), there is a tool that can be installed that can be used to supress the nag messages. This does require additional hacking, but it is potentially a cheaper way of dealing with the issue than a traditional modem repair.

Series3 and TiVo HD Standalone Units

Like other standalone units, these models also require a periodic update from TiVo's servers. We've not heard much about bad modems in these units, probably because very few people use them. After all, how many people do you know that still only have a phone line, yet are using TiVo units which record and display high-definition content? Naturally, these units DO have a modem in them, but they are also equipped with an RJ-45 Ethernet jack, AND USB ports. So it is easy to connect to a wired network or a wireless network in a number of ways.

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Old 01-13-2009, 11:18 AM   #5
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Where to go for additional help...

Where to go for additional help...

OK, so let's say you've diagnosed a problem with your TiVo DVR, or at least you've gotten to a point where you've eliminated some variables, and now you need additional help.

Here are some links to a variety of products we offer that can help you to solve your problems, and also some vendors we've worked with over the years that we recommend and trust. Please keep in mind that as sponsors of these forums, we appreciate your consideration when selecting any of our products and services, but also completely respect the fact that you might select another vendor for any other reason.

Bad Hard Drive: Need a Replacement, QUICK?

DVRupgrade created and marketed the very first upgrade kits in September of 2000 and even today, we continue to offer the widest variety of kits and services for all TiVo units. Professional installation services are also available. (TiVo Drive kits)

Broken Series1 or Series2 DVR

If you are not certain what is wrong with your TiVo, just can't figure it out (or don't want to), or if you know that your problem is not drive-related, we offer a flat-fee repair service that we call the LifePreserver, which includes an optional hard drive upgrade at the same time (DVRupgrade TiVo repairs). We will fix whatever problem you have with that unit, ship it back to you, and warrant the repair for 90-days.

DIY Software Products

DVRupgrade does offer several DIY software products which can be used for repair (or upgrading) of TiVo DVR units. If you are somewhat technical, have a PC and have no problems taking it apart to install and configure hard drives, etc. then one or more of these products may be helpful to you.

InstantCake
Building a new hard drive for a TiVo is a relatively simple thing to do using a product called InstantCake. It is not guaranteed to work with your particular PC configuration, but it works for most people and if it does not work for you, DVRupgrade will give you full trade-in credit towards the purchase of a pre-configured kit. (InstantCake information)

PTVnet
This tool was designed as more of an upgrade tool than a repair tool, but it can be used on most Series2 DirecTV TiVo units (all but the R10) to suppress the nag message that shows up if you do not make the periodic call.

As a side-benefit, this tool can also be used to install USB-drivers, a web-based interface and a few other tools that will allow you to connect your unit to your network and do some interesting things. These things are better off discussed in the Upgrade Center, of course, and just a reminder, these tools do not give you the ability to extract video from your units, or provide the same functionality that is available on standalone units. (PTVnet information)

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Old 01-13-2009, 11:18 AM   #6
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reserved for future use

This space intentionally left blank!

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Old 01-13-2009, 11:19 AM   #7
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Conclusions

Conclusions

Diagnosis and repair of a broken TiVo is far from being a trivial endeavor, but for those who are somewhat analytical and technical-minded, it is not the most of difficult of tasks, either.

In the many years we've been dealing with each and every type of TiVo DVR, we've become accustomed to seeing practically every type of problem observed and documented here in these forums and have worked with a variety of tools and techniques to diagnose and repair problems.

To your benefit, we've seen such a large number of these situations that we've been able to filter out a lot of the 'noise' and develop a good sense for the common problems, and the most efficient ways to deal with them. That is not to say that there aren't other types of problems that we've never seen, and certainly aren't other methods of diagnosis and repair, however given the sheer numbers of units we've dealt with, and the requirement to develop a reliable way to diagnose and repair these units, we think these methods are by far the best, and why we consider them to be best practices you should consider.

Questions? Fire away. We'll do our best to respond to your inquires in this thread, or at least direct you to other resources pertaining to your questions.

Thanks,
Lou

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Old 01-13-2009, 12:08 PM   #8
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Great thread. Should consider making it a "sticky" and either move it (or link to this thread) in the underground and/or upgrade forums.

People with older tivos, who don't have lifetime service, should also consider replacing a broken tivo with a newer model. TivoHD handles OTA digital channels and (with cable cards) digital cable. Paying $200 or so for a TivoHD may make more sense then spending $100 to fix a broken unit.
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Old 01-13-2009, 01:16 PM   #9
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Quote:
Originally Posted by lew View Post
Great thread. Should consider making it a "sticky" and either move it (or link to this thread) in the underground and/or upgrade forums.
Thx. Hopefully, it will get "stuck" soon. We'll look at cross-linking as appropriate, but its likely that we'll put some links here INTO the Underground for more advanced discussions. We do want the thread to be visible to the general "I need help crowd..." vs the few that wander into the underground, these days...

Quote:
People with older tivos, who don't have lifetime service, should also consider replacing a broken tivo with a newer model. TivoHD handles OTA digital channels and (with cable cards) digital cable. Paying $200 or so for a TivoHD may make more sense then spending $100 to fix a broken unit.
Definitely an option to consider when its the TiVo itself that is broken (vs just a drive). Fortunately, most of the time it IS just a drive and replacing one is considerably less than the $200+ for a brand new unit.

We are hoping the article does inspire folks to recycle their units in one way or another, vs tossing them and replacing them and the article was inspired by the number of troubleshooting requests we already get, combined with the notion that there are a lot of people out there looking to save as much money as possible, these days.

I will try to keep the article current and roll your feedback into the appropriate sections!

Thanks,

Lou
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Old 01-13-2009, 02:17 PM   #10
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A handy person can probably get a small drive for around $50 and do the hard drive swap out. That make some sense, although the availability of ATA drives is starting to reduce.

I don't want to hurt your business but the cheapest "plug n play" solution from your company is around $100. A reasonable price for a drive that's ready to drop in BUT A couple of threads identified places to purchase a TivoHD for around $210. Tivo sometimes has deals on refurbs. I think a person, without lifetime service, would be better served spending a little over $200 on a replacement unit rather then over $100 to just replace the hard drive. The capacity of a stock TivoHD is more then adequate for SD use.

Your posts, really a tutorial, helps people who may want to try a DIY approach. For around $50 a person can replace a hard drive or a power supply--probably the most common problems. I just don't think it's worth $100 to fix an old unit.



Quote:
Originally Posted by tivoupgrade View Post
Definitely an option to consider when its the TiVo itself that is broken (vs just a drive). Fortunately, most of the time it IS just a drive and replacing one is considerably less than the $200+ for a brand new unit.

We are hoping the article does inspire folks to recycle their units in one way or another, vs tossing them and replacing them and the article was inspired by the number of troubleshooting requests we already get, combined with the notion that there are a lot of people out there looking to save as much money as possible, these days.

I will try to keep the article current and roll your feedback into the appropriate sections!

Thanks,

Lou

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Old 01-13-2009, 03:32 PM   #11
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This is a great thread and should be made a sticky. Maybe I missed it on this thread but didn't you have a post a while back that listed a company or two that repaired Tivos, like mother boards. I always thought that if it wasn't a drive or power supply that the unit was beyond help.
With a high def Tivo and lifetime service I really don't see a reason to upgrade for a long time unless something comes out that beats sliced bread.
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Old 01-13-2009, 08:41 PM   #12
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Originally Posted by lew View Post
Your posts, really a tutorial, helps people who may want to try a DIY approach. For around $50 a person can replace a hard drive or a power supply--probably the most common problems. I just don't think it's worth $100 to fix an old unit.
But would a $50 hard drive be up to the task of being a DVR drive? I recall hearing in the past that "budget" drives tend to fail pretty quickly when in a TiVo.

It's probably worth it to get a drive that has been tested and proven in the TiVo environment.

Plus, for some users that have a Lifetime subscription, it makes sense to replace only the hard drive if they want to retain their Lifetime status without having to worry about transferring their subscription to a new TiVo.

Dennis
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Old 01-13-2009, 09:46 PM   #13
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I already said customers with lifetime service have more motivation to repair an older unit then customers who are paying month to month. Some people may be using the unit as an "anchor" for MSD. Some people may be hoping for a future transfer deal from tivo. Some people don't like to throw out something that can be fixed.

As cable systems are moving more, or all, channels to digital older tivos aren't as useful. Tivo has already said they won't support digital OTA converters with series 1.

A person can purchase a drive for a pure DIY for around $50 or a pre-configured drive from a vendor like DVRUpgrade for around $100. There are other threads in which what drives are good for DVR upgrades are discussed.

My point is many people should consider getting a current unit, before spending over $100 for a repair.

This thread is fantastic for posters considering upgrading a current tivo. It lets them know all isn't lost if their unit breaks and tivo won't repair the unit.


Quote:
Originally Posted by djwilso View Post
But would a $50 hard drive be up to the task of being a DVR drive? I recall hearing in the past that "budget" drives tend to fail pretty quickly when in a TiVo.

It's probably worth it to get a drive that has been tested and proven in the TiVo environment.

Plus, for some users that have a Lifetime subscription, it makes sense to replace only the hard drive if they want to retain their Lifetime status without having to worry about transferring their subscription to a new TiVo.

Dennis


Last edited by lew : 01-14-2009 at 09:22 AM. Reason: edited to get back to the purpose of this thread
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Old 01-13-2009, 11:26 PM   #14
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Quote:
Originally Posted by djwilso View Post
But would a $50 hard drive be up to the task of being a DVR drive? I recall hearing in the past that "budget" drives tend to fail pretty quickly when in a TiVo.

It's probably worth it to get a drive that has been tested and proven in the TiVo environment.

Plus, for some users that have a Lifetime subscription, it makes sense to replace only the hard drive if they want to retain their Lifetime status without having to worry about transferring their subscription to a new TiVo.

Dennis
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Originally Posted by lew View Post
I specifically said my post was referring customers who don't have lifetime service. I wish you'd take the time to read my entire post before commenting.

You heard wrong. People are upgrading TivoHD with 1T drives for not much more then $100. Places like zipzoomfly and newegg have many suitable drives for $50 and less. Drives that are 80-160 Gig. Budget drives used to be slower drives which are actually better then faster drives for DVR use.
Guys... I think you may be missing the point here - or at least have drifted a bit off-topic. The point of the article was to share some of our best practices with the community to provide some clarity, not catalyze a debate of whether its worth it or not to repair vs replace a unit; a worthy discussion, in another thread, perhaps?

Lou

Last edited by tivoupgrade : 01-14-2009 at 08:35 AM.
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Old 01-14-2009, 10:03 AM   #15
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I don't see any references to using kickstarts to help try to troubleshoot for a potential hard drive failure. Since they can be done without opening the box, I would expect them to be a valuable tool in diagnosis. If that is not the case, could you expand on why? If so, is that something we will see added above?
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Old 01-14-2009, 10:58 AM   #16
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Quote:
Originally Posted by CuriousMark View Post
I don't see any references to using kickstarts to help try to troubleshoot for a potential hard drive failure. Since they can be done without opening the box, I would expect them to be a valuable tool in diagnosis. If that is not the case, could you expand on why? If so, is that something we will see added above?
Regarding kickstarts, although I've played with them a bit, I don't see a lot of value in them, for what we do. If you have a reason to believe that your software may be corrupt, without an underlying hardware problem being a factor, that might be a reason to use one. Another reason might be to see if you can put your system on life-support long enough to back it up and restore to a new drive. But in either case, we've not adopted it as part of our best-practices.

I still firmly believe that the best thing to do is pull the drive and run manufacturer's diagnostics on it because most of the time, it is the drive that is the problem, and ruling it out first is what makes sense for us.

Also, keep mind that by the time a system, or drive, winds up in our hands, it is either not working, or never had anything wrong with it to begin with... :-)

[edit] I am open to creating a user-contributed section of the document, but I make not promises about calling something a 'best practice' if its not something we necessarily agree with. If you can convince me, that is another story, of course. I'd certainly be willing to mention things as a 'try at your own risk' if it makes sense though!

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Old 01-14-2009, 11:17 AM   #17
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What is the likely culprit in an HD when the unit's capacity and subscription status don't show in the System Information Screen until a restart? I have to do this about twice a week.
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Old 01-14-2009, 02:30 PM   #18
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What is the likely culprit in an HD when the unit's capacity and subscription status don't show in the System Information Screen until a restart? I have to do this about twice a week.
I haven't seen that one before... When you say "in an HD" do you mean a TiVo HD?

Is it a stock unit? Can you take a digital photo of the screen and attach in your reply?

Any other information or 'strange behavior' or is that the only problem you've had with the unit?

Lou
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Old 01-14-2009, 02:39 PM   #19
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Quote:
Originally Posted by tivoupgrade View Post
Regarding kickstarts, although I've played with them a bit, I don't see a lot of value in them, for what we do. ...

I still firmly believe that the best thing to do is pull the drive and run manufacturer's diagnostics on it because most of the time, it is the drive that is the problem, and ruling it out first is what makes sense for us.

[edit] I am open to creating a user-contributed section of the document, but I make not promises about calling something a 'best practice' if its not something we necessarily agree with. If you can convince me, that is another story, of course. I'd certainly be willing to mention things as a 'try at your own risk' if it makes sense though!
Thanks, your answer sated my curiosity. I don't feel strongly enough to wish to convince you to include it. I think your link is more than good enough for someone that might want to pursue using a kickstart on their own. Thanks for explaining.
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Old 01-15-2009, 10:18 AM   #20
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Quote:
Originally Posted by tivoupgrade View Post
I haven't seen that one before... When you say "in an HD" do you mean a TiVo HD?
Yes, TiVo HD

Quote:
Is it a stock unit?
It has a My DVR Expander (WD). Other than that it is stock. The Expander was replaced about 3 months ago under warranty when the original failed.

Quote:
Can you take a digital photo of the screen and attach in your reply?
I'm at work so will have to get back to you on that. And of course, I'll have to wait till the next time it happens.

Quote:
Any other information or 'strange behavior' or is that the only problem you've had with the unit?
Nothing consistent. Sometimes, it'll freeze when I go in various menus. No other obvious indications of a failing drive like frequent freezing or reboots.

Last edited by janry : 01-15-2009 at 10:27 AM.
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Old 01-15-2009, 11:31 AM   #21
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Quote:
Originally Posted by tivoupgrade View Post
Regarding kickstarts, although I've played with them a bit, I don't see a lot of value in them, for what we do. If you have a reason to believe that your software may be corrupt, without an underlying hardware problem being a factor, that might be a reason to use one. Another reason might be to see if you can put your system on life-support long enough to back it up and restore to a new drive. But in either case, we've not adopted it as part of our best-practices.

I still firmly believe that the best thing to do is pull the drive and run manufacturer's diagnostics on it because most of the time, it is the drive that is the problem, and ruling it out first is what makes sense for us.

Also, keep mind that by the time a system, or drive, winds up in our hands, it is either not working, or never had anything wrong with it to begin with... :-)

[edit] I am open to creating a user-contributed section of the document, but I make not promises about calling something a 'best practice' if its not something we necessarily agree with. If you can convince me, that is another story, of course. I'd certainly be willing to mention things as a 'try at your own risk' if it makes sense though!

Lou

If you read the DVR Expander Troubleshooting article, Kickstart 54 accesses the drive's S.M.A.R.T. tests.
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Old 01-15-2009, 12:55 PM   #22
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Could be a number of things. You might try replacing the eSATA cable to the expander to see if that changes things and/or consider disconnecting the expander (you'll lose some recordings, though) to see if the problem continues. Either way, that will help narrow it down.

I'm guessing its the cable or the expander (or more specifically the drive in the expander), but it just as easily could be the drive in your unit, and least likely, the unit, itself.

Lou
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Old 01-18-2009, 12:47 AM   #23
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Quote:
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If you read the DVR Expander Troubleshooting article, Kickstart 54 accesses the drive's S.M.A.R.T. tests.
Good point. Of course, running the manufacturer's diagnostics does that, too; and also does more comprehensive testing, which is what we prefer to do.

Also keep in mind that these kickstart routines only work on some units, not all of them.

Lou
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Old 01-20-2009, 02:59 PM   #24
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Any suggestions for troubleshooting the power supply? My Series 2 has a new HD and now gets stuck on the Powering Up screen, so I'm fairly confident the drive is OK. The fan spins and a green light is on in front. I can buy a replacement power supply for $49 + shipping, but before I do that I'd like to check the voltage outputs on the power supply to see if that is the problem. I can't find that info anywhere. I'm not an EE, but I have a meter and have taken enough electronics classes to work around 120VAC safely.

I have a lifetime subscription, so if it isn't the power supply I either need to repair the unit, buy a new one, or get a DVR from my cable company.

--- TWriter
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Old 01-20-2009, 09:37 PM   #25
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HELP NEEDED Series 2 Hard Drive Testing

I read all of the Newbbie Post on diagnoesing my dead Tivo TCD 24004A downloaded the Seagate DOS Tools for the Maxtor HDD.It passed the Short Test and the Long Test but the Idle Test failed.Tried to find the Low Level Format Test couldn't find it.On the Advance Test failed 32Gb,Set Manually To Gb failed at any Gb and failed the Max Native Gb test.So from that would you think my hard drive is toast.The only thing that works is the fan and Black Screen is on the TV,none of the Lights on front of the Tivo light up.I'm open to any suggestions as I'm new at working on my Tivo.Thanks fo your time.Keith
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Old 01-21-2009, 08:29 AM   #26
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If you don't get to the "Powering Up" screen, the PSU or mainboard is gone.

TiVo PSU pinouts (from front):
1 Gnd
2 3.3
3 3.3
4 3.3
5 Gnd
6 5
7 5
8 Gnd
9 12
10 Gnd
11 Gnd
12 3.3
13 3.3
14 Gnd
15 12
16 5
17 Gnd
18 32 (can vary a bit)
19 NC
20 Gnd

This is at least for 1x0/2x0/5x0 single tuner DVR only (excluding Sony DVR). DirecTV DVRs, Dual tuner, and DVD combos could vary.

For reference here is the front panel pinout:

Form left of unit:
Pin Rev1
1 Gnd
2 D1
3 Gnd
4 IR-VCC
5
6
7 Nc
8
9 Nc
10 IR_Sig
11 LED4 Grn "On"
12 LED3 Yel "IR received"
13 LED2-Orange "Dialing out"
14 LED1 Red "Recording"
15
16
17
18
19 LED VCC
20 Gnd
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Old 03-04-2009, 09:52 AM   #27
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Quote:
Originally Posted by TWriter View Post
Any suggestions for troubleshooting the power supply? My Series 2 has a new HD and now gets stuck on the Powering Up screen, so I'm fairly confident the drive is OK. The fan spins and a green light is on in front. I can buy a replacement power supply for $49 + shipping, but before I do that I'd like to check the voltage outputs on the power supply to see if that is the problem. I can't find that info anywhere. I'm not an EE, but I have a meter and have taken enough electronics classes to work around 120VAC safely.

I have a lifetime subscription, so if it isn't the power supply I either need to repair the unit, buy a new one, or get a DVR from my cable company.

--- TWriter
Did you get any resolution to your problem? I'm in the same situation as you: I have a series 2 that is stuck at the "Powering Up" screen. I've pulled and run Seatools diagnotics on the drive and it passed. I've measured the outputs from the power supply and they all have the correct voltages. I even tried changing the IDE ribbon cable going to the drive and still got the same problem. I have a lifetime subscription on on the unit and I'd like to salvage it.
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Old 03-04-2009, 07:51 PM   #28
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Hi,Fred I solved my issue with mine being a bad capacitor located on the power supply.It is underneath the heat shield was the 2200 uf 10volt capacitor,if I remember right it was purple colored.The top of it was bulging out I came a cross a thread here in the Tivo Help Center,I can't remember who started it.The capacitor only cost $ 3 or 4 bucks.Ever since it's running fine,hope this helps Good Luck let me know if it was the problem.Thanks,Keith
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Old 03-04-2009, 08:16 PM   #29
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Hey,Fred I found the post it was by Tsar Chasm titled "My Tivo Has Died" on 9-30-2006.I went to advance search and found it, read on down the thread you should be able to find it.Hope this helps.Keith
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Old 05-08-2009, 04:23 AM   #30
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tivoupgrade, i haven't read this entire thread yet, so i'm not sure if it's been mentioned or not....but you may want to post a disclaimer in your "Warning!" section that no one should EVER boot into a Windows environment while the computer has a Tivo drive connected to it.

This can possibly save some people a lot of grief, as even many people who consider themselves "PC guys" can have lots of problems, as they may not necessarily know that the Windows environment can corrupt their Tivo drive's boot sector.
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