My S3 hard drive might be failing

Discussion in 'TiVo Series3 HDTV DVRs' started by buscuitboy, Dec 22, 2011.

  1. buscuitboy

    buscuitboy Member

    755
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    Aug 8, 2005
    Atlanta area
    I have a Series 3 Tivo (w/ lifetime) that has been running great for the most part. Occasional lockups occurred, but a total power down (pulling the plug) has always helped solved it.

    Well, today I was transferring a video file over my home network (totally wired) with PyTivo and it stopped in the middle of the transferred and locked up the unit. I unplugged it, waited a few seconds and plugged it back in, but it got hung up on the welcome screen for over 20mins. Unplugged it again, waited and plugged back in. Hung up yet again on the welcome screen.

    Decided to unplug it and let it sit for a while. Came back about 2hrs later and plugged it back in. This time it appeared to boot up normally & it got back into all the channels. I thought all was good, but about 15mins into watching an HD channel, I started getting occasional audio & video breakup a bit. Changed it to a SD channel and wasn't having any issues. Haven't tried transferring another video with PyTivo yet either.

    I'm not sure if there is anything to really worry about here & maybe I am overeacting, but bottom line is I'm wondering if the hard drive might be failing. If so, I decided I need to maybe look into and learn as much as I can about installing a new hard drive in this S3 if needed.

    I feel pretty comfortable about doing it myself since I have custom built desktop PCs on my own and installed hard drives in computers MANY times. From what I have learned so far from here, I can basically use WinMFS (http://www.mfslive.org/winmfs/) and then have to have a TiVo ISO image of some kind.

    Is this correct? Or is there an easier way? Or can someone maybe point me to a better place that will lay out how to change/upgrade a TiVo drive?

    Also, what are some better brand of hard drives for putting in this Series 3? Seagate, WD, Hitachi, etc?
     
  2. unitron

    unitron Well-Known Member

    16,576
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    Apr 28, 2006
    semi-coastal NC
    So you still have the original hard drive in there?

    Is your TiVo an original S3 (TCD648250), an S3 HD (TCD652160) or an S3 HD XL (TCD658000)?

    Considering what the recent floods in Thailand have done to hard drive prices let's start with do you have any spare drives lying around anywhere?

    This is as good a place as any and better than most to get TiVo drive replacement advice.
     
  3. buscuitboy

    buscuitboy Member

    755
    2
    Aug 8, 2005
    Atlanta area
    Yea, hard drive is still in there & its a S3 TCD648250B (HD with front clock and LEDs). Not sure if this matters, but it has the original drive in it too & hasn't been upgraded at all.

    Now, about 30 mins after I wrote that last post (after a 2+hr cool down period), it locked up again. Was responding slow to the remote just before it totally froze up (& all lights on the front lit up). Therefore, I am now really thinking its the hard drive that is going. Or could it be something else? I would think if its a power supply, then the unit would not have any power going to it (& I wouldn't have seen all the front lights come on), right? Maybe not though.

    I unplugged it again and let it sit over night. Plugged it back in this morning and all apears to be working fine (for now), but I probably need to do something here.

    I think I do have some extra hard drives laying around that can be spared so I can essentially practice on one here and prep it to be put in as needed. Get the hang of what needs to be done.

    What kind of drive does this unit take? IDE or SATA? I have more spare IDEs laying around, but do also have some SATA ones that can be spared as well. A 500GB Western Digital (SATA) that will probably be the best since its not currently full of much right now.

    Where should I then begin & get info on how to prep an original S3 TiVo drive?
     
  4. mchief

    mchief Morey

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    Sep 10, 2005
    Alexandria, VA
    Look at the sticky in this forum for instructions to upgrade drive. Get the current drive backed up NOW, if it will back up at all. Then follow the directions in the sticky.
     
  5. WO312

    WO312 Well-Known Member

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    Jan 24, 2003
    Finger...
    To be a little more specific:

    1. Yes, use your 500 GB SATA if that is convenient.

    2. Yes, use WinMFS. That is all you will need. It's been a while since I have used it, but I believe you will have the opportunity to do a backup (do it), and then an option to copy your recordings. The backup image will come in useful in the future if you have a total HD failure. You can restore a drive to Tivo but you will have lost your recordings.

    3. Do it ASAP. If you lose your HD, you will be forced to spend $40 on InstantCake.

    4. Read the sticky on top for a lot more information.
     
  6. dlfl

    dlfl Cranky old novice

    8,882
    700
    Jul 6, 2006
    Dayton OH
    Or you can get a pre-imaged plug-in HDD from DVR_DUDE on eBAY, which doesn't cost a lot more than buying a bare drive plus Instant Cake -- and is a lot less trouble.
     
  7. unitron

    unitron Well-Known Member

    16,576
    41
    Apr 28, 2006
    semi-coastal NC
    What you have uses a SATA drive.

    You can take the drive inside and that 500*, hook both to a computer, boot it from the MFS Live cd, and do a byte for byte copy.

    dd_rescue -v /dev/sda /dev/sdb

    where sda is the source drive and sdb is the target.

    *or another SATA drive 250GB or larger

    That'll give you a safety copy.

    After doing that, run the manufacturers diagnostic long test on the TiVo's original drive.

    While you've got the TiVo opened...

    Read the wikipedia article on "capactitor plague"

    Check this thread

    http://www.tivocommunity.com/tivo-vb/showthread.php?t=479176&highlight=broken

    for an excellent picture of how subtle the visual clues to bad capacitors can be.

    Then carefully inspect your power supply.

    It can be working, but not 100%, and that can cause all sorts of symptoms.
     
  8. buscuitboy

    buscuitboy Member

    755
    2
    Aug 8, 2005
    Atlanta area
    OK, this S3 unit wound up freezing up on me again shortly after my last post so I am gonna go the full route of replacing the hard drive. When it froze, I simply unplugged it, pulled it out of my entertainment center and set it aside so its not running at all right now.

    For now & since I had a lot of family members coming in for the holidays, I just went to my local Comcast office and picked up a HD box to use for now. I will have to take care of this S3 unit when things calm down a bit in our household.

    From what I have read and understand it, I essentially have 3 options for hard drive replacement in this S3:

    option #1 = use my spare 500GB WD drive along with WinMFS to essentially make a clone of the current drive. Requires BOTH drives be put in a PC and the cost is free

    option #2 = Use InstaCake and basically build a new TiVo drive from scratch onto my 500GB WD drive. Only requires the one drive in a PC and cost $40.

    option #3 = Buy a preformatted hard drive from the guy on ebay (DVR_dude) that is prepped and ready to simply be swapped out with what is in there now. Cost varies depending on drive size.

    Are these assessments about right? I will probably start with option #1 for now and hope I can get through the process (& the drive isn't too bad to actually be able to do it). If unable, I'll have to move to either option #2 or 3.

    If I do purchase InstaCake, is it useable for any TiVo? I ask cause I have a Series 2 DT that is working perfectly fine, but I might like to upgrade it in the future (or if/when the S2 drive might fail as well) & was hoping one purchase of InstaCake will cover both my TiVos (& maybe even if I get a Premiere down the road)
     
  9. unitron

    unitron Well-Known Member

    16,576
    41
    Apr 28, 2006
    semi-coastal NC
    Option 1 is also do-able with the MFS Live cd v1.4

    If the drive actually does have trouble, you can use dd_rescue on that cd, set it to copy fewer bytes at a gulp, and possibly rescue what you can't otherwise.

    Instant Cake, if they haven't changed it, expects to go onto a drive that's larger than the original drive, the image for which it has and starts with.

    If you get the IC for the TCD648250, you can use that cd to make new, larger than 250GB drives for original S3s from now until nearly forever, but you can't use it for any other model TiVo, and IC for any other model won't have the correct image for the OLED S3.

    I can hook you up with S2 DT images, but if it's working now, slip the drive out and make your own truncated backups with WinMFS and/or the MFS Live cd. They aren't interchangeable, so I recommend making both so you can restore with either product in the future. WinMFS requires a computer running Windows, MFS Live only requires one that can boot from a cd.

    Go to mfslive.org and start reading, and read everything, then come back here so I can tell you which parts to not worry about, which parts to change, and which to follow to the letter.

    And don't forget, you want to be sure that power supply is okay before you blame the drive.
     
  10. WO312

    WO312 Well-Known Member

    1,411
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    Jan 24, 2003
    Finger...
    Very good, and thorough, advice unitron. :up::up:

    Many years ago, I was able to salvage a drive with dd_rescue that was dead to everything else I tried. Very long process, but better than the alternative.

    More recently, I have had some success with SpinRite 6.

    But dd_rescue is free. Can't beat free. :D
     
  11. aymanme

    aymanme Member

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    0
    May 8, 2001
    Austin, TX
    One more item, if you can image / backup your current drive to the new drive -AND- have it work, it will save you the hassle of dealing with the cable company. If you create a new drive, you will lose the cable card pairing information (which is on your current drive). If you can salvage it, it might save you some time.

    also, pm sent.
     
  12. jbernardis

    jbernardis Active Member

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    Oct 21, 2003
    Princeton NJ
    Not necessarily the case. It depends on your cable company. I just replaced my series 3 HD with a brand new drive from weakness and I didn't have to call comcast - all channels worked fine upon startup.
     
  13. aymanme

    aymanme Member

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    May 8, 2001
    Austin, TX
    Possibly true and maybe things have changed, but I thought from some time ago OP was in Atlanta, and as I recall, they offer self install but you must call to do the authorization.
     
  14. buscuitboy

    buscuitboy Member

    755
    2
    Aug 8, 2005
    Atlanta area
    Funny you mention this. I was gonna generate a different forum post concerning this matter & wasn't sure if I would be affected or not. Recently, I was having some billing issues concerning my 2 S-cards from Comcast. Its a long story, but basically, a person in my local Comcast office suggested I bring in and swap my two S-cards for two M-cards.

    With this recent S3 drive issue and the unit sitting on a shelf right now, I'm thinking I should just pull the S-cards out of them and turn them back in (so i don't keep getting charged). Then, when I'm totally ready to try and get this S3 going (hopefully within the next month depending on my schedule), get two new M-Cards from my local Comcast office & put them in the S3 after I have replaced the drive. Will this be OK with a new drive in the S3?

    Or should I really just try to keep the current S-cards in the S3 while replacing the drive (with either IC or WinMFS)?
     
  15. aymanme

    aymanme Member

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    0
    May 8, 2001
    Austin, TX
    If you are going to swap the cards anyway, then it doesn't really matter how you do it. You can ask for an image in the image begging thread (for which you could use winmfs or mfslive) or you can purchase instantcake. Note that instantcake, while nice, is not perfect. There are lots of folks that have had issues with it finding a SATA cd drive -- it works if you know a bit about your way around Linux.
     
  16. buscuitboy

    buscuitboy Member

    755
    2
    Aug 8, 2005
    Atlanta area
    Well, I am not familiar with Linux at all so that concerns me a little. I've seen some mention good things about 'DVR_Dude' on ebay and I guess that could be an option too.

    I also saw somewhere how only certain hard drives are recommended for upgrading. I'm not sure if my 500GB WD drive is on the list so will have to check. Or does it not really matter and some drives are just more suited for DVR use than others for durability, but any can really be used?
     
  17. aymanme

    aymanme Member

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    May 8, 2001
    Austin, TX
    The basic issue is that the instant cake doesn't know about SATA CD/DVD drives, so you have to monkey with it to get it to work. You can find some descriptions of how to do it on this site. If you want to save some coin and use your existing drive, just ask for an image on the image begging thread and you should be good. I've even got an image for your system. Most drives work fine, there are some that need some adjustments for acoustics and sleep, however I don't think yours is one of them.
     
  18. mitchr

    mitchr New Member

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    Sep 20, 2011
    Which 1TB drive models are currently available that will work in a Series 3?
    Seems like the approved list is way out of date, but the upgrade services have drives, so something reliable must be out there.
     
  19. GoEagles

    GoEagles Member

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    Dec 2, 2006


    This sticky at the top of the forum is pretty good. WD Green drives are pretty much the standard to use and the same drives that TiVo uses in their devices.
     
  20. mitchr

    mitchr New Member

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    Sep 20, 2011
    I did see that. I thought the newer WD Green drives don't work. Then I saw that the intellipark feature can be disabled.
    I ordered a Seagate 1TB drive that was on the list and still available. I'll see how that goes.
     

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