9.4, S3, external drive - did Tivo poison-pill us?

Discussion in 'TiVo Series3 HDTV DVRs' started by AbMagFab, Aug 16, 2008.

  1. Sevenfeet

    Sevenfeet Gentle Giant

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    Jun 24, 2000
    Nashville, TN

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    I don't think it's a failing drive. Recently I decided to do a test to see if a MacAlly FW400+USB 2.0+eSATA enclosure would be good for an external Tivo drive. I had one that I removed from a server in my house. The hard drive is a Maxtor 500 gig drive meant for enterprise server applications, so it's not the quietest around and I felt I was likely going to have to replace it with a better suited drive. But it was good enough for this test. Also, the drive had only been in use for about 4 months.

    After powering down the Tivo Series 3 I have in my bedroom, I connected the drive via eSATA and powered the enclosure up, then powered the Tivo up. The Tivo recognized the device as a external drive (but non-certified) and asked me if I wanted to use it. After several minutes, it added the drive and everything seemed OK.

    But several hours later I turned on the TV to discover that the program guide for the show that was being broadcast was mysteriously on the screen. I asked the remote to clear it, but no response from the Tivo, other than the red light indicating that a remote signal had been received. The Tivo wouldn't respond to any signals at all. At this point I had to chase my kids into their bedtime routine, so I ignored the Tivo for a while. When I came back after probably 20 minutes, I discovered the Tivo had actually followed my remote commands, just extremely slowly. A single command might take 10 minutes to complete. And of course, often it wouldn't do what I wanted at all.

    I rebooted the Tivo to see if it would clear the problem, and it did...at first. But after a while, it was doing the exact same symptoms. Divorcing the external drive from the Tivo was the only thing that set my Tivo's behavior back to normal. I've since gone back and asked my Mac to do a thorough examination of the drive (via Firewire). No problems found with the drive at all.

    Given the fact that others seem to be having this issue since 9.4, I'm betting this is a Tivo software issue that must of escaped the beta process.
     
  2. saeba

    saeba Active Member

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    Oct 12, 2004
    Atlanta...
    Rick,

    Thanks for the detailed information! This is very helpful :)!

    If I could ask an additional question... I haven't been following the progress on this... but is it the case that the latest release can pair with any external drive? Seems that I remember originally you had to go with the DVR Expander or go through a unsupported process. Your response seems to indicate that this has changed.

    The reason I ask is that I'm considering moving the drive to my Windows Vista system to check it out... but I'm concerned that I won't be able to reconnect it to the TiVo if I do.

    Thoughts?

    Thanks!!
     
  3. ZeoTiVo

    ZeoTiVo I can't explain

    25,527
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    Jan 2, 2004
    I can agree it is very UNlikely a hard drive issue but consider results from google hard drive study before putting too much faith in spinrite and all
    I disagree with this statement completely. There were some major re-writes of MRV and other things in previous releases that added some major issues that have nicely settled down in 9.4.

    The drivers for the eSATA drive were indeed worked on. TiVojerry posted about that in pointing out the problem can lie in the communication between the enclosure and the TiVo DVR. I highly doubt a poison pill but more a rework to help some issues that leads to others. That is most likely where the problem lies for you. Ubstability there for unsupported drives there for sure, but that does not translate to a blanket statement of 9.4 being a very unstable release.

    my data point - I have a TiVo HD with myDVR expander and it handled the 9.4 update just fine.

    if I was in your situation I would have gone with an internal upgrade versus a second try at external with unsupported drive. Now I would be definitely be taking the external drive and making it the internal drive only.
     
  4. ZeoTiVo

    ZeoTiVo I can't explain

    25,527
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    Jan 2, 2004
    Why would TiVo be testing unsupported drives?

    I understand you all jumped quickly on S3, paid a premium and added external drives before any mention of what was officially supported. This becomes an early adopters pain point. TiVo has clearly stated and the UI indicates the drive is unsupported. To expect any kind of real testing or priority on issues if tested is not really getting a handle on the word "unsupported".
     
  5. saeba

    saeba Active Member

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    Oct 12, 2004
    Atlanta...

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    Ehm... As I stated, I have the "supported" solution.. the DVR Expander purchased from TiVo.com. And since 9.4, I'm having problems after 10 months of reliable service. I can't say conclusively if it's a 9.4 issue or a bad drive... thus my post. Given others are having problems... I am very suspicious of 9.4.
     
  6. Sevenfeet

    Sevenfeet Gentle Giant

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    Jun 24, 2000
    Nashville, TN
    I had thought about doing a DVR Expander a very long time ago but had held off since I have a history of Tivo hacking and I thought it would be better to do a larger HD like a 750 GB or 1 TB drive. Doing the MacAlly case + Maxtor 500 GB drive was primarily for testing purposes. If it worked out, I might have left it since it was for my bedroom system and not the main home theater. But since the test was unsuccessful, and I didn't care about the data on it.

    The big problem with putting your drive against your Vista system is that I'm afraid that Vista may rewrite the drive header once it sees it, totally ruining your ability to ever successfully hook it back up to your Tivo and still retain the old shows you had on it. Some hard drives in the old days had jumpers that made them read only devices, but since this is a drive + enclosure, that's not an option.

    The best non-destructive approach is probably booting your Vista system from a CD from the Western Digital that is designed to test the drive non-destructively. Most HD manufacturers have some sort of utility like this. But I would not boot it onto a system with Vista as the boot OS. Heck, I'd be paranoid enough to disconnect the Vista boot HD from my system before even starting.
     
  7. lessd

    lessd Well-Known Member

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    Jan 23, 2005
    CT
    Vista or XP will never harm any TiVo drive unless you start the disk management program built into both Windows XP and Vista. A TiVo disk looks blank (new) to any Windows system and will not show up using Windows explorer.
     
  8. Sevenfeet

    Sevenfeet Gentle Giant

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    Jun 24, 2000
    Nashville, TN
    That's true. Thanks for reminding me.

    That being said, I'm STILL PARANOID. :):):)
     
  9. ZeoTiVo

    ZeoTiVo I can't explain

    25,527
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    Jan 2, 2004
    good thing I was not replying to you post in my previous post then ;)

    What kind of problems are you seeing? Could it be some issue with the internal drive instead? the 9.4 update may just have not installed 100% correctly for you.


    My data point stated in another post is Tivo HD with supported DVR expander both on 9.3 and then 9.4 and not having a problem. If it was software then what is different between our systems that the software glitch is not hitting my DVR ?
     
  10. saeba

    saeba Active Member

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    Oct 12, 2004
    Atlanta...
    You might then be more specific in your post than stating "I understand you all jumped..." otherwise it sounds like a sweeping dismissal of everyone in the thread. English. Learn it. It can be your friend ;-)!

    For three straight mornings my TiVo HD has been hung when I checked it. Either no screen display at all or stuck on "Powering up". Additionally, there are several programs on the unit that were recorded in 2 parts which would signify that it was glitching and recovering during recordings.

    Powering off/on the unit would sometimes result in a successful reboot, but more often it would get to "Just a few more minutes", go black and then never finish booting. The only way I could reboot it then was to turn off the unit, turn off the external drive, then reverse to start it back up. That's why I was suspicious of the external drive... arrived here to find others complaining about issues with 9.4 and external drives.

    I've divorced the external drive and am now seeing how it goes with just the internal. With the new season starting... not good time to have an unreliable system :(. I'll post once I have a full 24 hours on it without the external drive.

    As to why you're not having problems... not all TiVo's are equal. Could be slightly different hardware. Or it could be my drive has gone bad in less than a year.
     
  11. saeba

    saeba Active Member

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    Oct 12, 2004
    Atlanta...
    The system recorded shows and made it through the night without hanging or rebooting. That's pretty significant given recent performance. We'll monitor it through the weekend.... but it looks like it was either a bad drive or 9.4.

    I guess we can contact TiVo or WD and see what they want to do as the drive should still be in warranty. I'm a bit concerned that if it is related to 9.4, a new drive won't do much for us.
     
  12. davedonohue

    davedonohue New Member

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    Oct 20, 2004
    Charlottesvi...
    Unfortunately I've just joined this sad club - my external won't show up after about 10 months of flawless service. I'm hoping that the eSATA cable went bad (I did have a bad cable once before). Will run to Best Buy in the AM to pick up a new cable and hope I don't end up having to go back for a new drive. There's a lot of programming on that external :(
     
  13. ZXTT95

    ZXTT95 New Member

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    Oct 31, 2007
    Hillsboro, OR
    Boy, saeba's story could be mine! I have two TiVo HDs, both with the WD Expander. One of them has rebooted once since 9.4, but no other issues.

    The other started rebooting last weekend, and got worse right about the time I was trying to watch the Thursday night NFL game. Luckily I'd set it up to record on both TiVos. So I divorced the Expander yesterday evening. The TiVo has been fine since, although we have less than a day.

    I took the Expander and hooked it up to my PC. I have two ways to do this: extern JMicron e-SATA ports and an e-SATA port on the case that goes to one of the internal ICH9R e-SATA connectors - this ICH9R method doesn't seem quite kosher since the we have internal SATA to a case port, then e-SATA, but I've used it successfully with a Thermaltake BlacX holding a couple of different internal drives. I also have Vista and XP installed, so I can run the diags under either.

    I've had trouble with the Expander, including my PC freezing under Vista/ICH9R and losing connection to the drive and not shutting down the PC under XP/ICH9R. Under XP, the WD diags were failing, with both too many bad sectors and a lost connection to the drive (after which I could not shut down). I've had some issues with the JMicron e-SATA before, so that's why I started with the ICH9R, but now I decided to switch to the JMicron (newer drivers than when I had trouble) and run the zero test (full erase) and then I'll run the other tests again. I have three e-SATA cables to try, so I can pretty much eliminate that.

    The zero test is running now. I'll have to finish my tests before I come with a theory. At a minimum I believe the data the TiVo was writing to the Expander was corrupt. Perhaps the drive went bad, the cable went bad, the TiVo e-SATA port went bad or the TiVo was corrupting the data because of 9.4. Hopefully I can eliminate some of these possibilities.

    Now, a quick note about e-SATA and drivers. If you look through change logs for the JMicron, you'll see how they've made changes to the driver to solve problems, including freezing, with particular e-SATA devices. This supports the theory that it is possible for driver changes to cause previously working devices to no longer work.
     
  14. davedonohue

    davedonohue New Member

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    Oct 20, 2004
    Charlottesvi...
    Unfortunately, after a couple of trips to Best Buy today I was able to eliminate the eSATA cable and my Antec MX-1 enclosure from the equation. My Seagate Barracuda 7200.10 500GB drive died one year and two weeks after being deployed. I got an RMA from Seagate and will be sending it back on Monday. The Seagate Web site indicates that some RMA's get the option to upgrade capacity and I thought I might be able to get a 750GB or 1TB upgrade option during the process, but no such luck.

    My Now Playing screen looks pretty bare :(
     
  15. ZXTT95

    ZXTT95 New Member

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    Oct 31, 2007
    Hillsboro, OR
    After completing the zero diag, I'm having trouble getting the Expander to work with my PC, with either e-SATA controller and different cables. I'm going to have to conclude that the drive is failing. 9.4 off the hook in this case, I would say.
     
  16. saeba

    saeba Active Member

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    Oct 12, 2004
    Atlanta...
    OK, after 3 days of running minus the external drive with no issues, it's obviously something with the drive. Given I'm getting near the end of the warranty, I'm going to ship it back to Western Digital for a replacement.

    Thanks!
     
  17. ZigZagZiggin

    ZigZagZiggin New Member

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    Nov 27, 2007
    Exact same boat. It HAS to be related to the 9.4 update. Why else would SO MANY people's Tivo supported drives just go bad at the exact same time? Coincidence? :rolleyes:

    My HD Tivo (with WD's My DVR Expander) had ZERO problems until the update. After the update, the screen would just go black and there would be no signal going to the TV. I rebooted a million times (most of the time it would hang on the 'Powering Up..' screen). When it did reboot, after a few hours, it would go right back to the black screen. I got fed up and divorced the external drive, and everything was instantly fixed. Went an entire week without any problems. So, I decided to try to re-install the external drive and give it another shot. A few hours later, it was back to the black screen. Rebooted it multiple times and it would hang. When it did finally reboot, after an hour it went to the black screen again. So, I once again divorced the drive, and everything has been working again for days without any problems.

    This is OBVIOUSLY related to the 9.4 update and how it is related to the external hard drive. Even if I got the drive replaced, I'm sure it would happen again. So now what? Am I just out the $200 I spent on the external hard drive 9 months ago (plus all the extra drive space)? After dealing with Tivo during my trouble getting my cable card working, I have a feeling they won't even acknowledge that there is a problem.:mad:
     
  18. ZeoTiVo

    ZeoTiVo I can't explain

    25,527
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    Jan 2, 2004
    When I learned english we diagrammed the FULL sentence to learn all the specific parts such as subject and these cool little things that modify a subject to provide more specific info on the subject. So how about reading the full sentence for comprehension of the specific subject matter. In doing this you would learn that if you did not buy an S3 early on then the sentence clearly does not apply to you. :rolleyes:


    PS - you might want to read the Subject for this thread as well.
     
  19. saeba

    saeba Active Member

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    Oct 12, 2004
    Atlanta...
    The thread has grown beyond the subject line. If you read the entire thread before posting, you would have discovered this along the way. That was the real point in my response to you. The correct English for your intended response then would be: For those of you who jumped quickly on S3, paid a premium and added external drives... See! Clarity is really not that difficult to achieve :p!

    I do agree with the concern that a replacement drive could still have issues. There does seem to be something in 9.4 that contributes to this issue. I have had zero issues in over 10 months prior to 9.4 and now find myself with an unusuable drive. And we have a large number of recordings occurring on an ongoing basis. So perhaps there were prior drive problems, but it seems that 9.4 brought these to the "surface" (so to speak ;-) )!
     
  20. saeba

    saeba Active Member

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    Oct 12, 2004
    Atlanta...
    Thanks for this info! I was thinking of trying to re-add the old drive, but decided not to do so (very concerned about reliability as the new TV Season launches :) ). Interesting to know that this didn't resolve the problem in your case.

    I'll let you know how the replacement drive works for me.

    Thanks!
     

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