Advertisements Stuttering, Freezing, Crashing, Constant Rebooting, Pixellation, Loud Mechanical Clicking. These are all symptoms of impending hard drive failure. If you can't get past the "Almost There" startup screen during a reboot, then your hard drive has probably already failed. But fear not! This issue is fixable with a little time and/or $$. The Symptoms Stuttering. If, when watching TV through the tivo, the motion is not steady, but proceeds in halts and stops, this is known as stuttering. A very small amount of stuttering is normal if your video source is satellite or digital cable. If the signal to the decoder box fades, then the decoder itself could stutter, and this is recorded by the TiVo. But if playback involves consistent stuttering, it's probably the TiVo hard drive. Freezing. The most severe kind of stuttering is actual freezing of the playback picture. The picture "pauses" and the TiVo becomes completely unresponsive to the remote. Some users have reported needing to reboot to escape from a picture freeze. This is definitely a classic symptom of hard drive failure. Pixellation. If the picture from the TiVo looks excessively "low-resolution" or pixellated, especially on high quality settings, this could be a symptom of hard drive failure. A certain amount of pixellation is normal, since TiVo's MPEG compression is digital and lossy. A lot of pixellization is also produced by digital cable or satellite boxes. However, severe pixellization at high quality settings, especially from analog sources could be caused by a bad hard drive. Crashing. Depending on where on the hard drive the damage is, sometimes playback will be normal, but navigating through the TiVo menus becomes slow or even crashes. The TiVo becomes sluggish or nonresponsive to the remote. Sometimes sluggishness in the menus is normal: rearranging Season Passes in the SP Manager will often take several minutes. If the TiVo happens to have just downloaded and is analyzing new guide data, it will also be sluggish. In addition, nonresponsiveness to the remote can also be caused by Infrared (IR) interference from other remotes in the room. Check all remotes for stuck buttons and weak batteries. Check the TiVo remote for weak or dead batteries. However, menu crashing or consistent sluggishness not caused by stuck remote buttons, especially in concert with other symptoms is a symptom of hard drive failure. Crashing might be normal on your Windows PC, but it is NOT normal on your TiVo. Constant Rebooting. It is not normal for TiVo to consistently reboot on its own. You will get a reboot every six months or so in the middle of the night when the TiVo downloads new system software. This is normal. Daily, or even weekly, rebooting, however, is abnormal. Sometimes software glitches can cause this behavior too. However, rebooting in conjunction with other symptoms signals impending hard drive doom. Loud Mechanical Clicking. If you hear loud mehcanical clicking coming from the TiVo box itself (as opposed to the TV speakers), this is also a symptom of hard drive illness. Rhythmic clicking can sometimes be caused by the fan instead of the drive, but arhythmic clicking in conjuntion with freezing or stuttering is a symptom of complete hard drive destruction in a short time. Freezing at "Almost There." If the TiVo never gets past the "Almost there. A few more minutes, please" screen, your hard drive has probably failed. If the TiVo freezes at "Welcome. Powering Up," it may be the cable connections to the hard drive or the power supply. Give them a check. The Green Screen of Death. If the TiVo itself thinks that there is a hard drive problem, you will see a green screen saying "A Severe Error Has Occurred" and directing you to not do anything but to leave the TiVo connected for 3 hours to try to "repair" the receiver. This is the GSOD. During this period, the TiVo is attempting to identify the bad sectors of the drive. For relatively minor problems, letting the GSOD do its thing will work. Best to leave it alone. Even if the TiVo starts working again after the GSOD, however, a degenerating disk tends to keep degenerating. Chances are good that the problem will recur. Check These Possibilities Too <Thanks to litzdog911!> Some issues can mimic Hard Drive distress. See if you can exclude these issues before concluding that your drive is terminally ill: Check your Tivo's internal temperature. If it's running too hot you'll sometimes see problems like this. Look in "Messages & Setup" -> "System Information" and scroll down a couple of pages to see the internal temperature. Anything under 50-deg C is usually OK. If it's higher than that, make sure you have good airflow under and around your Tivo. It's a good idea to raise your Tivo up an inch or so for better airflow. Some folks use pop bottle caps under each corner. If you're comfortable opening up your Tivo (which will void your warranty if you still have one), then disconnect and reconnect all the cables leading to the hard drive(s). Sometimes connections can work loose, or tarnish, and re-seating them will help. If your Tivo is a combination DirecTV+Tivo receiver, you should try re-seating your access card. Remove power, remove the access card, wait a few minutes, re-insert the access card, and reconnect power. My Hard Drive is Dying. What to do? If your hard drive is going bad, DO NOT THROW AWAY THE BOX! It is repairable, usually by replacing the hard drive. Hard drive replacement is known as "Upgrading." An entire forum is dedicated to this topic. Firstly, if your TiVo is still under warranty, TAKE IT IN NOW before the warranty expires. Secondly, some hard drive manufacturers have a utility program that will check the hard drive for problems, and fix them. You may be able to do this with your TiVo's drive. Check the Upgrade Forum FAQs for information about your hard drive model. You may be able to save the $$$ for a completely new drive. If you need to replace the drive, the rule of thumb is 1 GB = 1 hour of basic quality. When replacing a hard drive, your lifetime service STAYS with the box. If you wish to save your recordings and preferences, the best way to do this is to buy a hard drive and install it yourself. Some computer experience is required, but otherwise the installation is quick. Most people use the Hinsdale How-To page as a guide. You should also review posts in the Upgrade Forum. But I'm not a Computer Person! No problem. You can order hard drives ready to plug-and-play into TiVo. You will almost certainly lose your recordings and thumbs ratings, though. You may order these drives from Hinsdale, PTV Upgrade, 9th Tee, or Weeknees. But I'm REALLY not a Computer Person! If just opening the box gives you the willies, you still have options. Some of the above vendors will replace the drive for you... if you're willing to send in your TiVo. It's pricey, but cheaper than getting a new box. It's also possible to sell the driveless TiVo box on eBAY and get a good price, especially if you have lifetime service. How To Protect Yourself Against Future HD Failures There is one very important thing you can do to extend the life of your hard drive. Hard drives are suceptible to electric spikes and surges. Be sure to at least put the TiVo on a surge protector, but a UPS is preferable. This one precaution can extend the HD's lifetime by years. Good Luck!