Fixing a broken Tivo Series 3


Well, it had to happen some time: the Tivo finally lost its disk.  Actually, it lost both disks: the original 250GB internal drive, and the 750GB external eSATA drive that I bought for it.  It's weird to me that both disks started having unrecoverable sector failures at the same time; maybe the surge suppressor isn't doing its job right...I don't know.  In any case, I looked around for advice on how to fix the problem.

The solution involved getting a new disk (a Western Digital Caviar "Green" 1TB Drive) and finding some web sites with good advice.

The first site is about the tool used to back up the existing disks and put them on the new disk, so that we could preserve our Tivo Season Pass list and other info about shows we like to watch.  The tool is called MFSLive, which is a bootable live CD with "mfstools" on it.  For this repair, I decided to consolidate from two drives into a single drive.  The MFSLive web page includes directions for just that scenario.  It was clear and easy to do, once I had a computer that could connect to all three disk drives at once.

Next, there was a problem with the new disk drive.  It's because of the "green" power-saving features of the drive: the drive starts up by default in power-saving mode, and the Tivo Series 3 doesn't know how to wake up that drive.  Well, looking at some online forums found me the answer, here.  Basically, they say you need to get another live-bootable CD, run the little set up program on that CD, and it will reset your disk drive's head-parking feature.  Set it to long enough, and the Tivo can boot just fine.

As a bonus, the Tivo is now much more quiet when it works.  The new drive is quiet, and there's no external drive ticking away 24 hours a day.  So far, so good!

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