TiVo hard drive failure

I got a hand-me-down TiVo from my generous sister-in-law about 2 months ago. I didn’t realize how much I got hooked on TiVo until it broke.

The other day the TiVo went into a continuous reboot cycle and the drive was clicking.

I assumed this was no problem and that I could just upgrade the hard drive. I didn’t realize that this would be difficult without a backup.

I bought a 320 GB drive on sale Best Buy. Probably not the cheapest place but it’s near me and I had a $50 gift card I needed to use anyway.

I borrowed an older Dell desktop that uses EIDE drives. I was following the Hinsdale instructions. My brother burned me a bootable CD with mfstools. (If your doing this you might want to check out the Interactive TiVo Upgrade Instructions too.)

I made a backup OK and restored it to the new drive. Unfortunately the rebooting continued. I found some diagnostics codes to enter and managed to have it do an emergency reinstall (52) and mfs check (57). The Green Screen Of Death (GSOD) said the disk check would take 3 hours. I went to bed hoping for the best. Unfortunately it continued rebooting in the morning. @#$%.

I called Tivo, but they don’t want to talk to me since it’s a Pioneer TiVo. I haven’t called Pioneer, but I don’t expect much based on the posts I’ve read and the fact that the machine is 2 years old.

I tried to find a Pioneer DVR-810H image via Tivo Community Forums. No luck. It looks like some people sell new hard drives with the software, but I already bought the drive. How the do they get the software?

The last thing I tried was to use dd to copy the original drive onto the new drive.

dd conv=noerror,sync if=/dev/hda of=/dev/hdc bs=1024k

dd took forever and revealed lots of errors. The drive was definitely trash. Too bad I hadn’t backed up the image.

It turns out that ptvupgrade sells ISO images for upgrading your TiVo. The CD include some shell scripts, mfs tools and the TiVo software image. It sucks that I had to buy this CD but my TiVo is working again. Hopefully they have an agreement with TiVo and donate money to the mfs tools author.

Once I had a good copy of the image the getting the TiVo back online was easy. After rebooting the TiVo upgraded itself a few times to get the latest software. Since I didn’t have a backup I had to set up my season passes again. Fortunately this is easy to do on the TiVo website.

The 320 GB drive is a nice upgrade from the original 80 GB drive. It provides about 136 hours of recording at high quality.

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Posted in tivo

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