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My TiVo won't start up

5852 Views 20 Replies 5 Participants Last post by  Lord Badger II
I purchased a refurbished TiVo with a brand-new hard drive at the beginning of last year and have had no problems with it since. However, I recently moved house and when I finally got around to plugging my TiVo in, I found that it no longer wants to start up! Basically, it just cycles around the same 3 screens continuously:

  • Welcome. Powering up...
  • SiliconDust Cachecard screen showing an error regarding lack of RAM which I understand can be safely ignored
  • Almost there. A few seconds more please...

I've been told that I should try Kickstart Codes 57 and 58 to see if that resolves the problem, but was wondering if anyone else has ever encountered the same or similar problem before?
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The same or similar problem is very common. It's very likely to be down to corruption on the hard drive which might be fixable by triggering a GSOD using the kickstart codes. Do you see a flash of green before it reboots or does it just go black?

It can also occasionally be a symptom of a failed power supply - I've seen this a few times and the TiVo just reboots when it would normally go into the startup (man on slide) animation.
I think I may have seen a flash of green, but can't be sure. What does this signify?
The Green Screen of Death (GSOD) is shown when Tivo has a corruption in the drive and is trying to fix it itself, its a bit like Scandisk in windows.
Using the kickstart codes can force Tivo to examine the hard drive and try and fix its errors - its easiest thing to try to begin diagnosing your problem.
Thanks for the help gents. One thing I omitted to mention is that my TiVo currently has no input from an external source (i.e. cable box or aerial etc) which I understand can cause a reboot. Does anyone know if this would cause a reboot at startup though?
No, it will boot without a source. I know because when I moved I had to carry Tivo into another room to do the guided set up without a freeview box attached.
I have seen a case where it won't connect to a network if it hasn't got a source. In that case, the GSOD might fail because it can't connect to TiVo's servers; which it might need to do to repair itself. If this were the case, the connection lamp won't light-up on the cachecard.
Well, I tried Kickstart Code 58 and got the GSOD which told me to leave it plugged into the phone line for 24 hours. So, I left the TiVo attached to my router via network cable for 24 hours to see what would happen. The result? Er, nothing seems to have happened. Still got the GSOD and eventually turned it off. When I switch it back on I get the same sequence of 3 screens as described previously, but I now get the GSOD for a few minutes, after which the same 4 screens keep cycling continuously.

I note that iankb mentioned a connection lamp on the cachecard lighting up. Is this an internal lamp or do I need to open the TiVo up?

Does this sequence of screens sound fatal?
It sounds as if your TiVo has serious corruption of the MFS.

This is not 'fatal' as such, but it does mean you will need to pull the drive, check it with the manufacturer's utility - eg. Seatools or HUTIL - and if it passes, re-image it from a good backup.

If the drive has hard errors then you will need a new one. Luckily, Seagate drives have a 5-year warranty and Sumsung a 3-year one, so you should be able to get a free replacement by RMA-ing it. Samsung RMAs are handled by www.rexo.co.uk and Seagate by Seagate themselves.
I take it to use Seatools or HUTIL I need to plug the HDD into a spare bay of my computer then? In that case, I have a bit of a problem - my computer is an iMac and I'm not entirely sure how I would go about plugging the spare HDD into it!
Aaah, then you are stymied I'm afraid :(

Do you have an old PC lying around in the garage or whatnot? It doesn't need to be a fast machine - one of my 'TiVo upgrade' machines is an AMD-500 with 128mb RAM, and I used to use a P166 with 96mb RAM perfectly succesfully too!
I do have an old PC but unfortunately the PSU died on it and I haven't got round to replacing it yet. I do work in an office where I am friendly with the PC Support team so perhaps I could take the HDD into them and get them to run the software on it tomorrow. Can you confirm I need to take the following steps please:

  • Open up the TiVo and remove the HDD
  • Check whether the HDD is a Samsung or Seagate
  • Plug the HDD into the spare bay of a Windows PC
  • Run either Seatools or HUTIL on the drive to confirm that the HDD is OK still

Once I have done this, and assuming the HDD is OK, what should I do next? I'm not bothered if the HDD needs to be reformatted or whatever as I don't mind losing the data on it.
Don't use a Windows PC - booting into windows with your TiVO drive attached could harm it further :eek:

Both HUTIL and Seatools boot their own OS from the CD so you don't even need a machine with an OS. As you noted, a PSU is useful though... :)

If the drive passes the hardware test then you need to reconfigure, either by obtaining a good backup and using the Hinsdale guide, or by another method I'm not allowed to mention here ;)
Right, thanks for sticking with me. I've taken the HDD out of the TiVo and can confirm it's a Seagate, so I'll be using SeaTools to test it tomorrow.

With regard to the note about SeaTools booting from a CD; I take it in that case you have to use SeaTools for DOS then rather than SeaTools for Windows? Also, I guess it would be OK to use a Windows machine as long as that machine never actually boots into Windows and just boots from the SeaTools CD instead?

I've got a backup image on the CDs I was supplied with when I bought the TiVo so I'm hoping I can just use that. I've had a look at the Hinsdale guide and am ever so slightly overwhelmed by it! If there's an easier way of copying this image onto the HDD, I'd love to know! :D
Yes, boot from the CD and run Seatools for DOS. I would still disconnect the Windows drive for safety.

If you referring to the backup CD supplied by TiVoHeaven then here are the instructions to restore from it:-

NB. The following assumes your target drive is on the Seconday Master IDE Port (hdc in linux speak), and your CD drive is on Primary Slave (hdb). For other ports arrangements use hda/hdb/hdd in the following commands as appropriate)

* Boot from the CD (press enter at all the prompts until you get to #)
* Mount the CD read-only - eg. (if your CD drive is on primary slave, hdb) type:-

mkdir /mnt/cd
mount /dev/hdb /mnt/cd

* Restore the backup image. Type the following commands (substitute the drive size in gb for xxx in the first command – eg. –s 400 for a 400gb drive):-

mfsrestore -s xxx -zpi /mnt/cd/255.img /dev/hdc

mfsadd –x –r4 /dev/hdc

* Run the copykern script – type:-


* Choose hdc from the list of IDE ports (assuming your drive is on hdc, as described above)
* Choose kernel option 1 (2.5.2 DirecTiVo)* Answer Y to all the prompts until you get the message saying copykern has completed. Then type:-


* Switch off your PC and remove the drive.
Lord Badger II said:
I've had a look at the Hinsdale guide and am ever so slightly overwhelmed by it! If there's an easier way of copying this image onto the HDD, I'd love to know! :D
I tend to find the Steve Conrad guides a wee bit more user friendly that the Hinsdale ones;


Right, I've done the following:

  • Ran Seatools on the HDD and repaired the problems it found
  • Restored the backup image from the TiVoHeaven backup CD
  • Ran the CopyKern script (actually I didn't directly because it wouldn't let me specify HDA as an option - I just extracted the relevant tpip command from the script and made the necessary changes - seemed to work OK)

Now I've done all that, I need to test it at home tonight. However, before I do that do I need to install anything extra (such as the mods for the Cachecard)?

Thanks for everyone's help so far - hopefully I'm almost there now! :D
Lord Badger II said:
However, before I do that do I need to install anything extra (such as the mods for the Cachecard)?
IIRC the CD you have contains a vanilla backup, so yes.

You can install the drivers using the SiliconDust CD
OK, I thought that might be the case. Can I do the rest of the installs over my home network using Telnet now that my TiVo (hopefully) boots up OK? I don't think I'll be able to get away with deconstructing work PCs on a regular basis!
Yes, once you have cachecard drivers everything is possible :)
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