What is the safest way to power down a TiVo?

Discussion in 'TiVo Coffee House - TiVo Discussion' started by tarheelblue32, Mar 13, 2014.

  1. tarheelblue32

    tarheelblue32 Well-Known Member

    Jan 12, 2014
    Raleigh, NC


    So you're saying that my TiVo doesn't like it gently, she likes it hard and fast?
  2. lessd

    lessd Well-Known Member

    Jan 23, 2005
    Are you sure :D
  3. nooneuknow

    nooneuknow Well-Known Dismembered Member (Lurk Mode On)

    Feb 5, 2011
    Whitewater, WI
    How often does anybody advertise, publicly, that they just pulled-power, rather than initiating a reboot first, and corrupted their drive? I've seen people actually post that they did (an indication they didn't know better, or know they did anything wrong). But, if I were a gambling man, I'd bet on many more instances where that detail was left-out (or just called a "power loss").

    I've also seen posts where brown-outs, and power black-outs, resulted in a boot-looping, and unrecoverable drive (other than "recovery" by re-imaging a drive that tests without any actual drive issues, leaving just corrupted data/file-system structures/databases).

    It has happened to me, and I learned my lesson (back in the TiVo HD days). I didn't come on here and publicly post exactly what I did, as I knew that I should have initiated a reboot, then pulled power, as opposed to just going straight to the power cord. It just makes sense to do so, when possible.
  4. nooneuknow

    nooneuknow Well-Known Dismembered Member (Lurk Mode On)

    Feb 5, 2011
    Whitewater, WI
    Quite right, sir. :up:

    Slow and gentle pulling (especially on the end that goes into the TiVo), has a very observable (if you are paying attention) tendency to result in several momentary, extremely rapid, power on/off/on/off cycles, which is worse than any complete/abrupt power loss (or intentional complete/abrupt disconnect).

    On some other posts I've read, here's what I have to say:

    I don't fully agree with those saying "make sure it's the wall-outlet end of the cord you pull". It can be hard to know which cord in a power-strip is the one that leads to the TiVo, and is often (YMMV) a lot less accessible than the TiVo end.

    Sure, if you use the TiVo end of the cord, you can stress/crack the solder joints where the connector attaches to the PCB, especially if you wiggle it, to do it slowly, and/or then wiggle, or ram, the cord back in without taking care. I've seen very few posts about these connections failing, in all my time on here (and I focus on the DIY and repair threads). I'm not even 100% sure I recall any specifying this ever happened on a TiVo.

    Wiggling and/or ramming the wall-outlet end is still not perfect procedure, but those dangerous/deadly (to electronics) rapid power bursts/cycles are a lot less likely at that end. So, there is some validity to recommending that end. I'll also concede that the more connect/disconnect cycles the TiVo end sees, the more likely the contacts of the connectors will lose their tight fit (especially if you do a slow-wiggle pull).

    If you have easy access to the wall-outlet end, and it's labeled, or easily identifiable, then that is the better end to insure rapid disconnect/connect, without any momentary bursts of power while unplugging/replugging.

    The one thing that applies to all devices and all cables/cords, is that you are supposed to grip the molded end, and not the cord itself. There's still plenty of people who know better, but still don't do this (and it is in the "safety" section of every CE device manual).

    This subject matter is destined to wind up like all the threads on Standby Mode, and certain other subjects, where once a "special" few people find this thread, there will be no end to arguing, and the whole spirit of the thread is lost, as well as anybody finding it useful to them, once it gets to 12 pages of troll-incited bickering...

    Quick Summary: It's best to quickly pull power, without wiggling the connection, and you should make sure you are gripping the molded end, and not pulling on the actual cord. The wall-outlet end is (technically-speaking) the better end to use, if it is identifiable, and accessible. It's even better to initiate a menu reboot, before removing power (when possible). That's my opinion, based on facts, and experience, and I'm sticking to it.

    It would have been nice to start the thread as a poll thread, just to be able to see the raw numbers, and skip the inevitable fate of the subject... But, so far, it's been nice...
  5. tarheelblue32

    tarheelblue32 Well-Known Member

    Jan 12, 2014
    Raleigh, NC


    One more wrinkle. What if you have the TiVo plugged into a surge protector/UPS that has a "kill power" button on it. Would it be better to use this button to kill the power, or would it still be better to just pull the plug out of the socket?
  6. tarheelblue32

    tarheelblue32 Well-Known Member

    Jan 12, 2014
    Raleigh, NC
    What would be really nice is if TiVo would do a software update to add a "shut down"/delayed restart option. It could be just like the regular "restart" feature, only there could be a built-in 10 or 15 second delay before the TiVo begins to reboot. That would give you ample time to pull the plug at the right moment rather than having to just take a stab in the dark hoping that you manage to unplug at just the right moment with the current restart function.

    It's funny, when I was renting Time Warner's crappy DVR, I didn't give a darn about yanking the plug any old time when I wanted to restart the box. Now that I own a TiVo, I'm treating it like a fragile baby.
  7. nooneuknow

    nooneuknow Well-Known Dismembered Member (Lurk Mode On)

    Feb 5, 2011
    Whitewater, WI
    I don't see any major (typical use) downsides to either way.

    A few minor potential issues to think about:

    I prefer to keep my other UPS connected equipment running, rather than killing power to everything. My UPS units have half/half "battery backup" & "surge protection only" outlets. If I power-down with the UPS button, everything has to come back up, and some of it requires that I turn each item back on.

    You save some wear-tear on the plug(s), but only if you do this a lot (which leads to more questions, if you have to do so).

    You make it easy to accidentally power your TiVo back up, if you have powered-down to open the case and work on it.

    If you are just looking for the "cleanest" connect/disconnect, the UPS button is the way to go, excluding all the other things mentioned (or which I may not have thought of).

    The "right moment" is any time before the amber light starts flickering during startup, or even just before it gets to the second stage screen (almost there...). There is no need for what you bring up.

    I wouldn't care about rented cableco equipment either. If I kill it, it costs me nothing to get it repaired/replaced.

    It's kind of like how you treat a rental car, as opposed to one you bought.
  8. NashvilleKat

    NashvilleKat Retired Old Fart

    Dec 24, 2013
    I can't remember the last time I powered down my TiVo. Probably the last time the power went out. So, it really isn't an issue for me.
  9. alansh

    alansh Active Member

    Jan 3, 2003
    Phoenix, AZ
    #4. The issues with a power loss are hardware damage, and software damage.

    There's no difference in hardware damage (mainly to the power supply and hard drive) because it's always powered, whether you do a restart or not.

    For software damage, the TiVo is designed to prevent corruption due to failed writes. The main software partitions are always* mounted read-only, and the writable /var partition can be wiped and recreated if corrupt. The video filesystems (MFS) are designed to recover from incomplete writes. The worst you get is a truncated program.

    And I don't see any evidence that a "restart" actually does a clean shutdown. The startup takes a long time and there's a lot of activity in the system logs. A restart is more or less instant and there are no messages about processes exiting and filesystems unmounting. I'm certain it just does reset... like pulling the plug.

    *Execpt when doing a software upgrade. And even then, it writes to a backup partition and switches to it only after the upgrade is successful.
  10. nooneuknow

    nooneuknow Well-Known Dismembered Member (Lurk Mode On)

    Feb 5, 2011
    Whitewater, WI
    Tell that to the people who have experienced unrecoverable file system/database corruption, with no damage to their hard drive, but lose everything when they have to re-image and start-over.

    Just because TiVos *are* designed to be able to deal with power loss/fluctuations and/or reckless disregard for common sense, doesn't mean they will *always* be able to recover.

    There's *always* a chance of the "perfect storm", where a TiVo is most vulnerable to damage. This is true to the point of simply rebooting your TiVo over and over trying to clear a "there is a problem with the TiVo service" error, can result is unrecoverable database corruption.

    I've never had any stock TiVo hard drive actually fail, in the hardware sense. It's always been a file system/database corruption, in the software sense.

    Just because a vest says "bulletproof", doesn't mean it's a good idea to intentionally jump into the path of flying bullets. I think that's a darn good analogy. Even bulletproof vests can't cover everything, from every angle. Factor in armour-piercing bullets, and you are just asking to go down.
  11. MScottC

    MScottC Well-Known Member

    Sep 11, 2004
    I've been pulling the plug out of the back of my TiVos for over 14 years now, never once caused an issue. Granted, I'm not doing this on a regular basis, but on rare occasions. These systems are designed to deal with abrupt power losses. They immediately resume with a normal boot up operation and recover just fine.
  12. stevel

    stevel Dumb Blond TCF Club

    Aug 23, 2000
    Nashua, NH
    Except when they don't. This forum has lots of reports of "dead TiVos" following power failures. Yes, most of the time it does no harm. But you can significantly lower the risk by taking an extra 30 seconds to have the TiVo restart.
  13. CrispyCritter

    CrispyCritter Purple Ribbon Wearer

    Feb 28, 2001
    The last sentence is what I regard as unproven.

    Yes, there will be lots of dead TiVos following power failures - that's the expected behavior. Upon startup, the Tivo is accessing many critical disk blocks that it never needs to access at any other time, either because they are just needed once, or because they are brought into memory and kept there. Any failure to read such a block will result in system failure.

    Once operating, TiVos are remarkably resilient to failing from bad disks. I'm sure many of us have run TiVos for weeks or months that we know have bad disks - we'd never be able to do that with our usual desktops if they were reading/writing disks as much as the TiVo is. Disk failures once the TiVo is operating are much less likely to cause system failures.

    I agree that "power bouncing" puts extra stress upon all components, including disks. But I'm not sure it occurs enough to be an important factor in disk life.
  14. CharlesH

    CharlesH Member

    Aug 29, 2002
    Just recently, a police officer here was killed in a "friendly fire" incident, where the bullet apparently found a gap in bullet-"proof" vest. Several officers were searching a suspect's house, and one of the officers suddenly came up on one of the others and mistook him for a "bad guy".
  15. scandia101

    scandia101 Just the facts ma'am

    Oct 20, 2007
    MN, greater...
    How many people report "dead TiVos" after pulling the plug and plugging it back in? Power failures are often accompanied by erratic surges and spikes that don't happen when you simply pull the plug and then plug it back in.

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