TiVo hard drive going bad? Easily replace

IMG_20160220_110352There was a power outage early in the day but the power is back on and it is time for bed.  As I lay down the TiVo sounds like a jet engine.  Turning on the tv shows the TiVo Premiere XL is stuck at the first boot up window.  After a reboot, it starts up again like normal.  This has happened a few times and I am now worried something may be wrong.
The Diagnosis:

IMG_20160220_110417Looking online most people said the power supply or hard drive was going bad.  The first test was to unplug everything and see if it is overheating. Since it was cool to the touch I then looked at the hard drive.  TiVo has a built in hard drive testing tool commonly known as Kickstart 54.  The program looks like the following https://www.weaknees.com/tivo-kickstart-hd-tests.php and to get information how to get into the program go to https://www.weaknees.com/tivo-kickstart-codes.php .

To access the Hard Drive Test tool on a TiVo Premiere XL:

  1. Unplug the TiVo power supply and wait 15 seconds
  2. Replug the power supply into the tivo
  3. Watch the lights on the tivo. The Green light should turn on then a yellow light for about 10 secondsat the 58 second mark.
  4. Press the pause button on the remote for about 2 seconds
  5. The yellow light will go solid briefly and the kickstart code needs to be entered quickly
  6. Press 54
  7. The green and yellow lights will alternate flashing between green and yellow signifying the code has been accepted.IMG_20160220_110345
  8. Once the test program starts to press down once for the SMART line to be selected with an arrow to the left
  9. Press select

The program will now run through many tests. On my TiVo, fail 7 was shown. for the short and long tests.

The Fix:

IMG_20160220_110357 Looking at the available software DvrBARS ( http://tivocommunity.com/tivo-vb/showthread.php?t=503261 ) allows hard drives to be backed up and restores.  DDRescue can be used to copy the files from one hard drive to another one.  Tiger’s MFS Tools ( http://tivocommunity.com/tivo-vb/showthread.php?t=529148 ) is a pretty comprehensive tool also.  The following site was extremely helpful on how to fix the hard drives on many TiVo units ( http://www.rosswalker.co.uk/tivo_upgrade/ ). The software used is found Ross’s site and is an easy to use bootable cd http://www.rosswalker.co.uk/tivo_upgrade/premiere_linux_inc_supersize_jmfs-rev104.iso .

Burn the CD and place in the cd drive.  Make sure the source tivo is the first drive plugged in and the destination drive in the second.

Boot from the CD and start running the program. There are 3 options. Copy, Expand, And Super.  The copy portion should be run first to do a copy from the original TiVo hard drive to the replacement.  (OPTIONAL) Once that is complete run the expand portion to minimize the available room for advertisements.


Then boot the TiVo again and start the Kickstart 57 with the new hard drive in the TiVo to repair and fix any bad data as well as reinstall the OS.


The process took about an hour to research, 1 hour to backup recorded shows to another TiVo, 5 minutes to pull the hardware together, 6 hours to copy the data, 5 minutes to reinstall the hard drive and plug back in, and 6 hours unattended to reinstall the OS and fix the bad data.

It was interesting learning how the TiVo works and it was worth it. But if I wanted to save some time I could have purchased a kit from www.weaknees.com which would have cost around $150 ( http://www.weaknees.com/tivo-premiere-xl-series4.php ) or had them do everything.