Questions about the "MY DVR Expander"

Discussion in 'TiVo Series3 HDTV DVRs' started by jeffw_00, Jan 25, 2009.

  1. jeffw_00

    jeffw_00 Member

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    ciper - It's real easy to debug, you disconnect it and if things start working you know it's the drive. So you can fix/replace the drive at your leisure and the TiVo keeps working, no muss, no fuss. I know you lose some programs, but that's not important to me. However, if the INTERNAL drive fails, and you "pop in the old one" you have to reprogram the season passes, deal with SW updates, etc. sounds a lot more painful to me.

    we're not going to agree on this, but I'm not going to sling FUD. I agree that one point of failure is better than two, but my point is that the consequences for the 2nd point of failure are an order of magnitude less painful than of the primary point of failure, so it's a fair compromise. Please don't keep hammering until everyone agrees with you, not everyone will.
     
  2. singletb

    singletb New Member

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    Wow, it looks like mine is failing right at the 14 month mark too...Warranty was up on 11/18/08. While I am not happy about, glad to finally find that I'm not the only one experiencing this issue.
     
  3. akash2008

    akash2008 New Member

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    machine uptime is more important to me than lost recordings so I look at it this way - if the ext. drive dies, TiVo stays up. If int. drive dies, no worse
     
  4. bkdtv

    bkdtv New Member

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    Technically, that's not entirely correct.

    If your external drive dies, the TiVo reboots and sits on the confirmation screen asking you to reconnect the external drive...or remove it and delete all recordings split across that drive.
     
  5. ciper

    ciper Active Member

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    I'll bite.

    I agree that the TiVo can function once the failed drive is removed, but with only 22 hours of HD recording. If you had a need for the expander in the first place I can safely say the reduced capacity is not enough for more than a single person. I also feel it's not so easy to troubleshoot since there is no simple error message saying the external drive failed. Many drives fail in a gradual matter so the user would have to suffer through random freezes and pixelation before it gets bad enough that the system reboots. You may suffer through this for weeks until it gets bad enough that you start to suspect hardware failure rather than a bad signal. Hang around for a while and you will see multiple threads where the person is complaining of seemingly unrelated issues only to find out in the end it was the external drive failing all along.

    Even if it does fail catastrophically you still lose any recordings during the time that it is stuck. 3/4 of your content has been lost.

    You said second point of failure but really its more than that. You have the additional power cord (becoming unplugged), the connection from the power supply to the unit and so on. Sure most of these shouldn't just magically come undone or break but it presents that many more cables to snag when you are moving components or when something falls on it. The drive itself and the power supply WILL both fail at some point.

    Before the S3 was introduced it was the common belief held by most that was not a good idea to add a second drive to your original. It was always said to keep your original drive in a box somewhere and use a single large unit. That is why second drive brackets, hard drive coolers and spin up delay devices didn't sell well.

    Modern drives have comparable MTBF. For a moment lets ignore the small group of people who add the MyDVR expander before the first power up. Upgrading the internal drive means you are putting in a drive with less uptime. Doesn't this mean you are REDUCING the possibility of failure of the internal drive?
     
  6. JWThiers

    JWThiers Smartypants

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    Replacing a drive does not REDUCE the chance of a failure. Look at it this way if you flip a coin you have a 50-50 chance of getting a heads. If you flip the coin 5 times and get heads each time what are the odds of getting a heads on the next flip? Its still 50-50. What it does do is reset the clock on usage. This introduces a an increased risk of failure also because, most products either fail in the first hours of use or at the end of rated use. The so called bathtub curve. As previously discussed, having more than one drive does not reduce the chance of failure it just gives you one more thing that can break. If you have 2 coins and flip them what are the odds of either one or both of them getting a heads? 3 in 4 chance of getting at least 1 heads. If you define a failure as chance of losing data that risk actually goes up because if either drive fails you get a loss of data and the data is not redundant.
     
  7. jeffw_00

    jeffw_00 Member

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    ciper
    1) no reason why external drive up-time should be more/less than internal. It's unfortunate that some of the original 500MB drives are going around the 1yr mark. Who's to say the 1TB internals don't do the same thing a year from now (that why I wish Seagate would get in this business).
    2) If your power cord and connection are a source of failures in your household, I'd say the DVR Expander is not for you, but you're in the minority.
    3) Although part of my day job is IT and I have several PCs at home, I haven't seen this 'gradual' HDD failure of which you speak. Once a drive is unhappy it causes problems pretty regularly. And yes, if the ext HDD goes, I lose most recordings, but if the internal HDD goes, I lose -all- recordings, season pass programings, and any other config I might have done.
    4) There's evidence to suggest that smaller, more mature drives are more reliable than newer bigger ones, so I'm limiting my risk by keeping the small internal drive and pushing my risk outside the box, rather than increasing my risk (1TB) and putting it IN the box.

    But, the most important point (which has been discussed elsewhere) is that all of this is 2nd or 3rd order. Both options are reasonable choices.
     
  8. janry

    janry New Member

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    Nashville, TN
    I believe the replacement drive WD sent me when mine failed had a different model number than my original drive. I'm hoping they changed something for the new model that means it will live longer than the 10 months of my orignal drive.

    But, before long I plan to have an internal drive ready to plug in. I'll probably wait till the summer when there are many new shows and I won't have to worry about transferring them to the new drive. That will be before the replacement WD is a year old.
     
  9. ciper

    ciper Active Member

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    Power supplies fail. Usually the capacitors dry out, bulge or burst. Did you forget the second most commonmethod of failure for a TiVo is the internal power supply failing? Modems getting blasted used to be tied for second in the days that the S1 was popular but no longer.

    I wasn't sure how to say this without being rude your lack of experience doesn't mean it's the norm. Bad sector cancer is more common than catastrophic failures. EVERY magnetic drive ever made has and will have more bad sectors. The reason you may not see them in normal use is because they are remapped on the fly to areas of the drive reserved just for this purpose! The SMART standard was created to monitor these tiny failures and let you know if they increase over a certain threshold.

    In normal operation of a PC these remaps or retries of an area of the disk are sometimes unnoticed since it's a momentary pause. When watching video the momentary pause in the data stream is immediately noticeable.


    The 500gb drive in the DVR expander is of the same family and produce in the same factory as the 1TB units.
     
  10. jeffw_00

    jeffw_00 Member

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    Good to see we're generally on the same page, ciper.

    The "power supply" for the DVR expander is an external A/C adapter. Do you consider that a common problem?

    As -you- said, Hard Drives is they don't keep their failures secret. They cause all sorts of problems (pixelation, crashes, etc). I'm comfortable pulling the DVR expander (and losing programming) to see if the drive or the tivo is the problem.

    The 500gb drive has been in production much longer than the 1TB unit. I don't agree that there's any connection between where 2 drives are made and their failure profile, but there is a connection between reliability and time-in-production. I'm marginally "safer" with mature-manufactured 500GB and 160GB drives than a single sample of the 'latest' 1TB model.

    And, again, all of this is in the noise, debating the causes of failure that are down a couple of decimal places.

    /j
     
  11. TheSisko

    TheSisko New Member

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    FWIW... I had a Western Digital My Book 500GB external hard drive that failed after only a few months of use (virtually the same thing as the My DVR Expander). On top of that it was rarely turned on. I would just turn it on when I needed to back up. Replacing the unit under warranty was not my primary concern... it was recovering some of the data which I only had on that drive.

    With nothing to loose, I bought a 3rd party external hard drive enclosure, opened the Western Digital case (which was not easy by the way... it had to be destroyed to take it all apart), removed the drive, put it in the new enclosure and it worked perfectly. That confirmed my suspicions that it was the cheap circuit board in the cheap WD enclosure that failed rather than the drive itself. I can't see why the same procedure wouldn't work in your case.
     
  12. Larry in TN

    Larry in TN Member

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    Has anyone tried running SpinRite on the drives that failed?
     
  13. jeffw_00

    jeffw_00 Member

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    I like the idea of the new enclosure - gets you back up without losing your programs.
     
  14. ciper

    ciper Active Member

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    I am curious, is it the drive that has a special "serial" written in the firmware that tells the TiVo that it is an approved device? Or is it something in the enclosure that does it?

    In other words would a random hard drive function in the MyDVR enclosure with plug and play ESATA or would the originl MyDVR drive work in a random enclosure with plug and play ESATA?
     
  15. bkdtv

    bkdtv New Member

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    It's the drive, not the enclosure.
     
  16. ciper

    ciper Active Member

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    Lets extract that image and try to find the "key" so we can kludge it into off the shelf parts. Can someone identify the part number of the drive? Does it have a SATA interface? I may have the software to extract the firmware.
     
  17. stedmakr

    stedmakr New Member

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    Since the price of the 1TB drives have dropped so low I thought that TIVO might come out with a 1TB external expander HD. Has anyone heard anything or is there a technical reason that this isn't possible? Thanx
     
  18. ShoutingMan

    ShoutingMan Member

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    Jan 6, 2008
    Does the MY DVR Expander add to the Tivo HD space or effectively replace the internal drive? Using Tivo's numbers of 20 hrs capacity on the Tivo HD and 65 hrs for the Expander, do I have 85 hrs of HD capacity with Tivo & Expander?

    Though I'd prefer the Tivo XL, the Tivo HD can be found for $200 and the expander is $165, for a $365 Tivo semi-XL. This is enough space for me, and priced much better than the $600 Tivo XL.

    I looked at WeaKnees and it seems to be, "pay us the same as you'd pay Tivo for a third-party to screw around with your hardware and maybe void your warranty." I don't understand their value proposition. So I've got my first Tivo HD and will probably buy a second later this year. An Expander-ed Tivo HD seems the best choice for my needs, but if there are specially good reasons for the XL, I'll re-consider it. Or if Weaknees offers something useful I'm not aware of, I can take a look.
     
  19. jeffw_00

    jeffw_00 Member

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    Sep 19, 2000
    Give them time - remember it's a 3rd party making the drives and it has to go through productization cycle. Also, their price for the 500MB may still be significantly lower, so as long as the 500MB is selling well. Honestly, outside of the, umm, zealots on this forum, how big a market do you think there is for a TB? I've had the 500MB for almost 2 weeks and it's not even full yet 8-}
    /j
     
  20. jeffw_00

    jeffw_00 Member

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    Sep 19, 2000
    It adds, my TiVOHD w/expander shows 93 hrs though posts suggest it could actually be 1.2 - 1.5x more depending on show sizes.
    Expander can be had for $120 at newegg (free ship).

    Weaknees warrants their work, but you do pay for the labor.
    /j
     

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