Tuesday, May 31, 2011

replacing dead Tivo hard drive

We had a power glitch and the Tivo HD XL stopped working. After looking online, it seemed likely that the hard drive was dead, so I ordered a new Western Digital 1 Gb WD10EVDS hard drive.

Originally, I hoped to salvage all my wife's shows, but it seems like the hard drive is completely dead. When I hooked it up to my computer at first, somehow it killed my computer. Then I tried using an external sata to esata/usb adapter, but it doesn't show up. When I opened the actual hard drive itself, it looks like the read heads are rubbing on the discs. Definitely dead.

Unfortunately that means I can't use a solution like winmfs and all the shows are lost. Instead, I tried InstantCake, which I downloaded for $40 and burned to CD. I found InstantCake kind of difficult to use, which is the main reason I made this page, in case it can help someone else.

I didn't want to use my laptop because I was worried about formatting the hard drive instead of the new Tivo drive. On my desktop I eventually got it to work after trying a few things (I unplugged my windows hard drive before trying). The CD drive worked for me easily after I checked the BIOS to find out it is the primary master (hda). The hard drive took lots of trial and error:
  • using the eSATA external enclosure - I have tons of SATA ports on my mobo. I plugged into one and then checked in the BIOS to see the channel. For some reason, the HD shows up as an IDE channel in the BIOS - not sure why.  No matter which channel I picked, I kept getting the error "unable to open /dev/hd_ for writing"
  • the same external enclosure also has a USB plug, so I tried that. However, the HD doesn't show up in the BIOS when plugged in by USB, so I wasn't sure which channel to pick.
    • Maybe I misunderstood, but I thought the instructions say to choose PATA when using a USB converter. That gave me the same error no matter which channel I picked.
    • It finally worked when I chose SATA and channel 1 (sda). 
The blank hard drive only took ~1 minute to setup.

When I put everything back together, the Tivo started just fine. I thought the InstantCake instructions said to reset everything so I did that and then had troubles. The Tivo hung at the powering on screen. Eventually I unplugged the coax and ethernet and rebooted and it started up just fine. A little troubling that that was needed, but as long as it works, I'm happy.

After that, I just had to call the cable company to get my cablecard reactivated.

Oh yeah, after setting up the Tivo again, I took the HD back out and used WinMFS to create a backup for next time the HD dies. I had to use my XP laptop - it doesn't seem to work on Windows 7.

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