Unexplained HDD activity on Series3

Discussion in 'TiVo Series3 HDTV DVRs' started by mikeyts, Jan 29, 2010.

  1. mikeyts

    mikeyts Stream Warrior

    2,422
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    Jul 10, 2004
    San Diego,...
    Though my TiVo Series 3 is working just fine, I've seen periods of high HDD activity over the past week or so, even when it's not recording and even when I tune it to two unrecordable channels (premiums to which I don't subscribe). It sounds as if it's running a diagnostic or defragmenting the drive. It was quiet most of yesterday and just started again.

    Anyone else experiencing this?
     
  2. CrispyCritter

    CrispyCritter Purple Ribbon Wearer

    3,653
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    Feb 28, 2001
    North...
    Unless you have some reason to think otherwise, I suspect it's just the normal show database activity after it makes a call to tivo.com to download a couple of days worth of schedule (could be new info on 15,000 shows or so).

    Indexing the database is a disk intensive activity that the TiVo tries to spread out over time.
     
  3. mikeyts

    mikeyts Stream Warrior

    2,422
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    Jul 10, 2004
    San Diego,...
    No--this is completely unprecedented. The TiVo goes through hours of churning, continously seeking to widely separated points on the disk, sometimes so rapidly it becomes a buzz. If it'd ever happened before I'm certain that I would have noticed--it's more than slightly annoying. In normal operation, it's essentially silent.

    15K program descriptions is a trivial amount of data on the scale of the size of the HDD. If they were 2000 bytes each it'd be 30MB, about enough space for 30 seconds of 16 Mbps HD video (and I can't believe that they're anywhere near 2000 bytes each). Unless that data had become wildly fragmented, indexing it would not cause this kind of racket.
     
  4. DocNo

    DocNo Member

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    Oct 10, 2001
    Bristow, VA
    It probably is fragmented, and indexing also is a very low priority task so it doesn't happen quickly. For the CPU the Tivo has, with the limited RAM and other disk activity from recording two video streams (Tivo is always recording, whether you are doing something with it or not) indexing is a non-trivial operation.

    And it could just be your hard drive is getting louder over time. Unfortunately it's become rather obvious over the years, esp. the last three or four that they just aren't making hard drives as well as they used to. I've had drives for over 10 years that run just fine, but over the last three to five years I seem to have drives routinely failing after 3 or so years - esp. if they are in a Tivo.

    Tivo puts more stress on a hard drive than any other consumer application - it's basically a server performing 7x24 activity to the drive. If you haven't made a backup of your Tivo's OS with WinMFS, you might just want to so you can replace the hard drive quickly and easily if it does go. It might even be worth plugging the hard drive into your computer and using one of the many programs out there that can read the detailed SMART diagnostics (not the summary data, but the actual stats). You have to plug the drive directly into a SATA interface - SMART doesn't work over USB or FireWire. If you have some areas of the drive going bad and the drive is trying to recover them, that can cause extra drive activity as it's churning to recover or record data to marginal areas.
     
  5. mikeyts

    mikeyts Stream Warrior

    2,422
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    Jul 10, 2004
    San Diego,...
    Not really looking for speculation as to what's making this happen (but thank you :)). I've been a software engineer for over 30 years and a CE firmware engineer for nearly half of that (once, long ago, I was part of a group developing small HDDs), so I have plenty of speculations of my own. I'm asking whether anyone is now or has ever experienced a similar phenomenon. Given the lack of positive response, I'm guessing not.
     
  6. CrispyCritter

    CrispyCritter Purple Ribbon Wearer

    3,653
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    Feb 28, 2001
    North...
    The disk isn't fragmented, but random accesses to the show database can be very expensive, especially if the database can no longer be cached in memory (if it ever was) and you're getting threshing there. (large expansion of channels perhaps?). Total amount of data written in almost completely irrelevant - the crucial factor is number of seeks. If you figure 4 seeks per show info, that's 60,000 seeks, which takes a while even on modern disks, especially if you need to do it slowly to not interfere with all the show stream disk activity which has to be the highest priority since it's real time.

    So it could be just be normal show indexing with a disk that's getting louder. I have enough ambient noise so I don't notice how disk activity on mine. When you get a new TiVo, it takes a couple of days to index the full 13 days of show info, so a day of show info might take 4 hours to index at that rate.
     
  7. darkavich

    darkavich New Member

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    Dec 8, 2009
    Sometime in the near past, something has changed.

    I have both a Series3 and an HD. The series 3 has an esata raid array attached and recently I have noticed that the drive is accessed 7x24 (literally the activity light is going 7x24). I noticed it more once I moved the unit from a class shelf to a wood shelf and I can hear the noise in another room.

    TIVO techs claim this is normal, but I don't believe it. It's a basic linux system and should only be accessing the drives when recording, reading or buffering.

    It's my belief that a software update has changed the way shows are buffered and causing significant amount of disk access.

    After trying to debug settings, I noticed my series HD is doing the same thing so I know it's not the hardware.

    Is anyone else aware of a behavior change due to a version upgrade?

    Thanks,
    -Darkavich
     
  8. atmuscarella

    atmuscarella Well-Known Member

    6,941
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    Oct 11, 2005
    Rochester NY
    You do understand that your TiVo is recording and reading 2 video streams 24x7, right?

    Your 2 30 min buffers are recorded on your hard drives and the video output for both channels is read back from the hard drives. Sounds like allot of hard drive accessing going on to me.

    Thanks,
     
  9. dcstager

    dcstager 1st Gen Tivo Owner

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    Feb 16, 2002
    Skagit...
    It's pretty silly that someone posts here looking for answers and expects us to diagnose his system and expose some supposed Zebra hoof beats problem and craps on everyone's absolutely correct answers as being wrong. Your hard drive is going bad. Everyone is posting correct information. Drives get noisy when they are going bad. The Tivo is constantly accessing the drives 24/7. The answer is obvious.
     
  10. wkearney99

    wkearney99 Bill Kearney

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    Dec 5, 2003
    Bethesda,...
    Many newer drives have error handling on them that will remap bad sectors. This happens without the host OS being involved at all. Remapped sectors can also cause additional drive IO.

    You could pull the drive and use a PC with the vendor's diagnostics program to see if it has a lot of bad sectors. Drives wear out. Better to replace it ahead of time. That way you can duplicate the data to a fresh drive and keep right on going. As opposed to losing all your recordings and starting over.
     

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