Latest Software Update Ruined my Series 3 - Tivo admitted

Discussion in 'TiVo Series3 HDTV DVRs' started by systah, Mar 2, 2009.

  1. Mar 2, 2009 #1 of 50
    systah

    systah New Member

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    Wanted to send this alert out to everyone.

    My Series 3 has become unresponsive: Hangs at menus, reboots itself, unable to watch HD

    I called TIVO and told them it happened right after a software update. They admitted that the software update has caused problems with some Series 3. DON'T LET THEM TELL YOU IT WAS A HARDWARE FAILURE.

    My unit is less than 6 months old and worked PERFECTLY only 3 days ago.

    They've had to exchange many series 3 for people.

    I hope this information has helped.
     
  2. Mar 2, 2009 #2 of 50
    rainwater

    rainwater Active Member

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    This is nothing new. It's a classic symptom of a hard drive issue. You wouldn't notice it on the previous software since it uses alternate partitions and most likely only the unused partition was damaged.
     
  3. Mar 2, 2009 #3 of 50
    richsadams

    richsadams Well-Known Member

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    Sorry to hear about your frustrating experience but as Rain said, it's really nothing new...has been happening for years and years to a few unlucky folks and is almost always a hardware issue. (If it were a "software" problem everyone would likely experience it and most don't.)

    Once again it seems my wild-eyed prediction is coming true! (See last paragraph.) ;)

    No one's saying it's right or fair or that anyone should have to live with it, but it's the nature of the beast (the beast being computer software and hardware in this case).

    Hopefully your new TiVo will arrive quickly and you'll be back in business.
     
  4. Mar 2, 2009 #4 of 50
    lessd

    lessd Well-Known Member

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    There is a BIOS chip on the mother board of the TiVo-HD that has a version number on it, a new TiVo made in Sept or Oct 2008 has v1.06, the TiVos made in Aug have 1.05, I don't know what version was on early TiVo-HD TiVos but that may play some part in some people having problems with a new software release..or maybe not.
     
  5. Mar 2, 2009 #5 of 50
    Sprk Jonz

    Sprk Jonz New Member

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    I had a similar experience. Very frustrating. But rest assured things get better. After paying $150 I got my Series 3 back (or exchanged) and life is peachy now. I'd even say there is less pixelation than before and it has been very reliable (knock on wood).

    It took two years before my Tivo started freezing up. Considering that the drive runs all day 24 hours a day, it's impressive it lasted that long. I imagine the software updates are especially intense periods for any Tivo. To get a "fresh" Tivo and a guarantee to work right is worth every penny.
     
  6. Mar 2, 2009 #6 of 50
    richsadams

    richsadams Well-Known Member

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    That's a thought. But again, it seems like if that's the case, many, many people would be having problems. So far it seems like the complaints are about average or even less than normal after an update...although I don't know how many units have received it or when the rollout will be complete.

    Our TiVo HD is running fine, but it might be fun to pop it open and see which version of the BIOS chip it has.
     
  7. Mar 3, 2009 #7 of 50
    Omikron

    Omikron Member

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    You guys are talking about the PROM chip, which is among a few other small things, responsible for the first step in the TiVo's chain of trust for ensuring that no files have been modified.

    The version of the chip used in TiVo's requires 12V to be erased, instead of another version that needs only 3V, which means that the code on this chip is fairly static and doesn't require updating.

    In fact, the only reason one would need to mess with this chip is if they wanted to hack their TiVo. Based on changes that I've observed between previous PROM versions (I have an archive of all of them), I would find it HIGHLY unlikely that the PROM version has anything to do with this problem.
     
  8. Mar 3, 2009 #8 of 50
    richsadams

    richsadams Well-Known Member

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    I would agree. I think what Les was saying was that the software upgrade might affect TiVo's differently depending on which chip they have, not that there would be any changes to the chip itself, etc.
     
  9. Mar 3, 2009 #9 of 50
    lessd

    lessd Well-Known Member

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    You are correct that i don't think the chip has been corrupted but each version must have a reason that TiVo made the change from say V1.05 to V1.06. I would assume it was to make something work better (it may have just made the TiVo work (boot) with some WD drives that would not boot up correctly before)
     
  10. richsadams

    richsadams Well-Known Member

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    My take would be that it's more likely just a change in the product life itself and the associated inventory. It's rarely cost efficient to run parallel product lines. Once a new one goes into production the "old" disappears. No empirical proof of that happening here, just a WAG on my part.

    It would be interesting to know which (if either) chip has more or less associated upgrade problems. Let's get everyone to crack the case and report back. Oh wait... ;)
     
  11. MichaelK

    MichaelK Active Member

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    if there was a change made to the code I would vote that it has nothing to do with how the boxes operates but merely makes the locks that much stronger during boot up. I'm no hacker (I bricked 1 of my phillips directivos trying to flash the prom years ago- laughing). But I think basically the prom has code to make sure the first few things that get booted are the approved things and then after that it has little if any interaction with the rest of the box. Is that not what's going on?
     
  12. DeWitt

    DeWitt Member

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    Conversions and upgrades are always challenging for a system that has complex user specific data that must be worked with. It is way too easy to say that if a problem was software related it would affect everyone. Out in the real world it just does not work this way.

    It is also wrong to assume that just because a hardware fix solves a problem that it automatically means that a problem was hardware related.

    Assume if you will that a problem is being caused by corruption in data stored on a hard drive. Imagine that the corruption happened due to a flaw in the conversion code that could not handle a particular unusual set of conditions in the data being converted. Get a new hard drive and a new image and the problem goes away. Does this mean it was not a software or conversion issue?

    Just my two cents after years of managing the development of a complex software product for many years, including regular updates and conversion in place of user data. Problems that effect a large number of users are easily reproducible and generally quickly fixed. In a perfect world these types of issues never make it past QA. Unfortunately the flaws that are not caught tend to be the subtle ones that occur only infrequently. These can be the hardest to diagnose and repair. Once again, just my thoughts...

    Clear and Delete all can be a great fix for a lot of strange post upgrade issues, assuming the system can get to the point to allow it. Unfortunately it seems the only way to get an image fix from Tivo is to return the machine. I have gotten around this in the past with Instant Cake. (Yes I know there is a cost associated with this..)

    Having said that, for me this upgrade went smoothly, even if I still have some unresolved issues with the 11.x series, particularly after channel change announcements.
     
  13. richsadams

    richsadams Well-Known Member

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    Good insight, and thought provoking. :up:
     
  14. symbiosis

    symbiosis New Member

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    Unfortunately, I've also had a problem with my TiVo HD that I thought happened coincidentally after the software update over the weekend. I was gone for the weekend, and when I turned on my TV on Monday, it was frozen at the "Almost There" screen. I unplugged and plugged back in, only to find that it still got stuck at "Almost There". This has happened every time after a few tries. I have an upgraded hard drive, so I switched it out and put in the original hard drive. It booted up, but then it connected to the TiVo service and got the update. When it did the restart, it got stuck at "Almost There", just like before. So, either I have two hard drives with bad sectors in the formerly inactive boot partition (very unlikely), or TiVo's new software update has crashed my TiVo HD. Since I have upgraded my hard drive, I have no warranty, so I don't know what to do. I'm going to call TiVo support tonight, but I doubt that will do any good. I'm sure they'll blame it on my upgrade. Can anyone help? :confused:

    Aaron
     
  15. lew

    lew Well-Known Member

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    This thread
    http://www.tivocommunity.com/tivo-vb/showthread.php?t=416062 will give you some troubleshooting ideas as well as tell you how to test your hard drives in your PC.

    Two bad hard drives is the most likely problem. An issue with the software would affect more then the handful of posters who are having issues.
     
  16. symbiosis

    symbiosis New Member

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    I've been trying to run diagnostics on the upgrade drive (Hitachi Deskstar 7K1000 1TB), but because of the weird SATA chipset on my PC, I haven't yet found a diagnostic program that will recognize the drive when it's connected to my PC.

    Although I haven't been able to run diagnostics yet, I am skeptical that it is two bad hard drives. We would be talking about bad sectors located in the alternate boot partitions of both drives, coincidentally failing at the same time, and only right after downloading TiVo's newest software update. This seems very unlikely to me. Logically, it seems to me that if this happens to both hard drives right after the software update, there could easily be another less obvious problem.
     
  17. lew

    lew Well-Known Member

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    The number of posts regarding software issues is typical for the number of posts after a software upgrade. Logically we'd expect a lot of customers would have issues if there was a problem with the software.

    You want another issue? Maybe your weird SATA chipset is the cause.
     
  18. lessd

    lessd Well-Known Member

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    The idea that one part of you drive goes bed, just the part that the new software loads into I think is bull. TiVo released this version 11b first with a E version than the next day the V11b without the E so you would back to the same partition you had when your TiVo was at V11, so that would kill that theory of a bad disk on one partition. If the hard drive is over two years old it may have problems loading any software but the check sum used on the download would give you a bad load. I feel the problem is small hardware differences between TiVos, the timing of the IC used in the motherboard when added together and new software may put a few TiVos over the top and cause that user problems..this is just a guess on my part.
     
  19. RoyK

    RoyK New Member

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    I agree. I've heard that baloney since I first joined here 4 years ago. I even experienced it on one of my S2s. Got new software. Constant reboot. I got the usual bull about a partition that was perfectly fine when it was switched out on the previous upgrade suddenly being defective when the latest was downloaded.

    But I tested the drive and it was OK! I reimaged it with InstantCake and it's been working fine ever since - through multiple upgrades.

    My theory is that the downloads are sometimes somehow corrupted and either they aren't being properly validated or if they are and are failing validation that there is no effective method of recovering.
     
  20. symbiosis

    symbiosis New Member

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    Thanks for the input from both of you.

    Thanks for making that point, lessd...that eliminates yet another variable.

    I agree that it could be a small hardware difference in the motherboard of the TiVo. Since we're talking about hardware, I will point out that my TiVo HD, which I bought at the end of December, is a "factory refurbished" model purchased directly from the TiVo web site. A user pointed out earlier in this thread that there could be a difference between some chipsets of TiVo HDs depending on when they were manufactured, and this could explain why some can tolerate the software update and others can't.

    Also, lew, as for the "weird SATA chipset on my PC", I should expand on that. It works fine once the chipset's drivers are loaded, both in the mfstools linux CD and WinMFS. However, Hitachi's Diagnostics boot CD and other manufacturers' diagnostics boot CDs don't load the correct drivers for that chipset, or don't communicate properly with the chipset, and therefore they don't recognize the drive. I have tried the tools from Hitachi, Seagate, and WD.

    Not saying that I can rule out my PC as an issue, but again, both drives worked perfectly BEFORE the software update was installed. The freezes occurred on both drives immediately after the updates were downloaded and installed, when the TiVo did its mandatory restart.

    I posted this same issue in the MFSlive forum, and spike has asked me to grab the kernel log file for him. Hopefully he can shed some light on this issue.
     

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