Dual Drive Series 3 intrnl drive dying, can I clone it ?

Discussion in 'TiVo Series3 HDTV DVRs' started by vic2r, Apr 6, 2011.

  1. vic2r

    vic2r New Member

    Apr 14, 2008


    I have a 4 year old series 3 and it's starting to shutdown and freeze.

    I couple of years ago I upgraded by adding a 1TB external drive. The internal drive is stock from the factory.

    I ran some tests on it and figured out that it's the internal drive which is going bad.

    I would like to save the recordings on my system. So I'm planning on cloning the failing 250 Gig internal drive, then I will do an exact replica using the exact same WD model drive.

    Finally, I want to put the new drive back in and, being an exact copy, it should still be paired with the 1TB expansion drive saving my 1.25TB of recordings!

    I realize there is a low probability of this working, but is it even possible? Any recommendations for cloning software?

    Any thoughts?

  2. eDbolson

    eDbolson Member

    Oct 25, 2001
    Redmond, WA
    I believe this will work exactly as you wish. I had a failing external drive (badly failing, it turns out) and was able to copy, with a lot of effort, using (I think) ddrescue (or dd_rescue, can't recall which) which will copy a bad drive to a good one block by block. It is smart enough to do large transfers for speed and then go back and do smaller ones when there are errors.

    My bad disk was really really bad, but I kept working with it to find the good sections. Afterwards, I plugged the new disk back into the Series 3, and it was recognized. A bunch of the old shows were unviewable - they didn't leave the Now Playing List until I manually deleted them - but many were still there, and usually complete.

    Cloning your internal disk will work the same, except if there are unreadable portions in the operating system or database, you might be in trouble. If the system is working now, I suspect you will have no trouble.

  3. vic2r

    vic2r New Member

    Apr 14, 2008
    Thanks eDbolson,
    I will try that. I wonder if I have to use the same exact drive or not... I have to look into that dd rescue utility.
  4. eDbolson

    eDbolson Member

    Oct 25, 2001
    Redmond, WA
    You should be able to use any drive at least as large. The ddrescue program (which is on the various Linux boot disks designed to upgrade TiVo's) essentially will duplicate the partition and all other data on the disk. it will look the same to the software. At least that is my experience.
  5. unitron

    unitron Well-Known Member

    Apr 28, 2006
    semi-coastal NC


    There is a program named dd_rescue

    I have used it and know a little about it.

    There is another, completely unrelated program called ddrescue

    All I know about it is that it is not dd_rescue

    The MFS Live CD v1.4 (go to mfslive.org) has dd_rescue

    You download an image of the cd and burn it to a CD-R, then you have a cd from which you can boot the computer on which you're going to do the copying.

    If you intend to copy to another drive of the same size (doesn't have to be the same brand or model, just the same number of LBAs), dd_rescue will work nicely.

    (Actually it will work copying to a larger drive as well, but the larger drive winds up with a boot record and partition table that report the original drive's size, not the larger drive's size, which, in the case of a TiVo, gives you a TiVo with a larger drive that thinks it doesn't have any more room for recordings than it did before)

    Allow me to suggest that you take the failing drive, wrap it in a couple of thicknesses of paper towel, and stick it in the freezer overnight.

    The command string for dd_rescue is command options source drive target drive.

    If I were doing it, it might look like this

    dd_rescue -v -r /dev/hda /dev/hdc

    where dd_rescue is the name of the program and therefore the name of the command that launches the program, v is the verbose option (and is immediately preceeded by a hyphen to indicate that it is an option), r is the reverse option, and in my example the failing drive is attached, as master, to the primary IDE controller, and the new drive is master on the secondary IDE controller.

    Having them on different controllers and therefore different cables seems to help speed up the process, although it will still take quite some time.

    It'll also work with SATA drives attached to SATA ports on the motherboard, or if used with SATA-IDE adapters, provided the adapter is worth a "bleep".

    (Some adapters will work in computers even though they won't work in non-SATA TiVos, but if you get one that does work in TiVos, it's almost certain to work in computers. Look in the Upgrade Center Forum for the now stickified adapter thread for recommendations)

    The verbose option allows you to see what's going on (if the screen blanks after a while, hit the spacebar to restore the display, it's some sort of built in, and as far as I know, unswitchoffable, screen saver thing).

    The reverse option starts the copying at the ends, or bottom, of the drives, instead of the beginning. Problems seem to happen near the front, or top, of the drive most often.

    Doing it in reverse will get most of the copying done before it has to slow down and try smaller "chunks" to try to get a good copy despite problems.

    Any problems the drive has will not be helped by heat, so, the colder the drive is when you start the longer until it heats up enough to get to the point where the heat makes things worse.

    Having it out in the open with good airflow on it during the copying is a good idea as well.

    If there's nothing wrong with the new drive it shouldn't need to spend the night in the freezer as long as you keep airflow on it too, but I don't see how it would hurt.

    The paper towels are to deal with any moisture in the air that would otherwise condense on the cold metal of the drive case, and to let you carry the drive(s) from the freezer to the computer without freezing your hands.

    If you manage to rescue your recordings, get the free version of TiVo Desktop and put it on a computer with lots of free hard drive space, and use it to copy (TiVo calls it "transfer", but the original is not deleted or erased) all of those shows to the computer.

    From there you can watch them on the computer or copy them back to any Tivo on your account (Series 2 or higher) with almost all the metadata intact, and if something goes wrong with the computer you have a much better chance of recovering those copies than if they were on a TiVo.

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