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How long do external hard drives last when connected to DirecTV receiver?

Discussion in 'DIRECTV General Discussion' started by BusterAvis, Jan 9, 2014.

  1. Jan 9, 2014 #1 of 14

    BusterAvis Legend

    Jul 13, 2012
    Hello all,

    I have been a DirecTV customer since 2008, and I bought a Cavalry 1.0 TB external hard drive to expand DVR space, and purchased it back in the latter part of 2009.
    I have never had problems with the external hard drive until recently. It has lasted for over 4 years, probably 4.25 years now.

    Well, over the past few weeks it has been starting to potentially fail.
    On the Cavalry external hard drive, the blue light goes away, and the red light comes on, while the screen picture pauses on my TV.
    This essentially freezes the receiver, and no buttons work when this happens. This has happened a few times over the past few weeks, which always freezes up my DirecTV receiver (& the picture on the TV).
    Each time this happens, I have to unplug the power cord from the back of the receiver, and then plug it back in, to restart the DirecTV receiver because it was already frozen from any other buttons working.
    After that happened a few times over a few week span, recently it would load up saying it couldn't recognize the hard drive (i.e the Cavalry external hard drive).
    So I've had to unplug the power cord from the back of the receiver, turn off the switch on my external hard drive, turn back on the switch on my external hard drive, and plug back in the power cord, to reset.
    This seemed to work, and I was able to watch TV for two days or so, before having to do this every couple days recently.
    Well, just last night, this happened over 4 times in one night. The receiver would reset, the video on the screen was normal for 15 minutes or so, and then it would freeze up again, within minutes after the receiver restarted.

    By the way, I have a DirecTV HR21 receiver (I have had it for over 5 years).
    I haven't upgraded to a new receiver yet because I have feared that if I hook up my Cavalry external hard drive (of previous backlogged recordings) that it would "re-format" on its own when connected to a brand new receiver.
    This means I would lose all previous recordings on my external hard drive, which I've had for a few years (favorite sports games, movies, shows, some series recordings, etc., that I've kept for the past few years).
    Recently I purchased a Hauppauge PVR, to transfer my recordings to my computer hard drive, and was hoping that my external hard drive would last at least a few months longer, to be able to transfer everything over to my PC using the PVR.
    Then, I can finally upgrade to the new Genie, without losing all my old recordings, since the old recordings would be on my computer hard drive.

    Here's the thing, when I reset my DirecTV (HR21) receiver, when it's not connected to my Cavalry external hard drive (i.e. the power switch is turned off on my external hard drive), then the HR21 receiver (which is over 5 years old) seems to work as good as new. It even has some old recordings on the internal hard drive that I had forgotten about (although my old recordings on my Cavalry external hard drive are MUCH more important to me).

    So I take it the external hard drive is failing?
    (and not my HR21 receiver, which is working flawlessly over the past 24 hours when the external hard drive is turned off. when it's turned on, the pictures lasts 15 minutes tops and then freezes).
    Is there any realistic chance I can get the new Genie, hook up my Cavalry external hard drive to the Genie receiver, and all of a sudden I have all my old recordings on the Genie?

    Any other options?
    And is there any way I can hook up the Cavalry external hard drive to my PC hard drive, and transfer the recordings through USB or something?
    I have always had the Cavalry external hard drive hooked up through eSata connection to my DirecTV HR21 receiver, so I haven't tried a USB connection to the PC yet.

    Any thoughts or advice (to not lose my previous recordings)?

    Thank you.
  2. Jan 9, 2014 #2 of 14

    trh This Space for Sale

    Nov 2, 2007
    NE FL
    The recordings are tied to the receiver. If you move the drive to another receiver, you will only have access to OTA recordings.
  3. Jan 9, 2014 #3 of 14

    peds48 DIRECTV A-Team DBSTalk Club

    Jan 10, 2008
    as long as the HR21 works and you are computer savvy, you can copy the shows to a new drive, but you MUST keep the HR21 as the shows are tied to it. There is a thread here somewhere that will tell you how to do it.
  4. Jan 9, 2014 #4 of 14

    WestDC DIRECTV A-Team DBSTalk Club

    Feb 9, 2008
    Are you sure it's the drive or the encloser that is going bad? First thing I would do is Get another encloser for the drive (could be a power problem) ?
    2 people like this.
  5. Jan 9, 2014 #5 of 14
    P Smith

    P Smith Mr. FixAnything

    Jul 25, 2002
    W.Mdtrn Sea
    First thing in troubleshooting is split the chain and start testing from its end,
    ie test the drive itself (use MHDD or Victoria - free Win SW);
    then (if the drive is good) test your enclosure/cables/its power supply ...
  6. Jan 9, 2014 #6 of 14

    Rich DBSTalk Club DBSTalk Club

    Feb 22, 2007
    Piscataway, NJ
    That's been my experience. I'd dig that HDD out and put it in a TT dock and I'll bet it would work. Those Cavalry enclosures aren't very good. I had a lot of them and returned most of them.

  7. Jan 9, 2014 #7 of 14

    Rich DBSTalk Club DBSTalk Club

    Feb 22, 2007
    Piscataway, NJ
    It's probably not the HDD, but the enclosure that's bad. Take the enclosure apart and dig the HDD out and put it in a decent enclosure (Cavarys were about the worst you could buy 5 years ago, I bought a bunch of them and returned all but one) and the HDD will probably work.

    As to your question about how long the HDDs last: The jury is still out on that. It's been a long time since I had an HDD fail. Years? I dunno.

    Again, the enclosures are the weakest links in the chains. Suspect them first and you'll rarely be wrong.

    1 person likes this.
  8. Jan 9, 2014 #8 of 14

    Rich DBSTalk Club DBSTalk Club

    Feb 22, 2007
    Piscataway, NJ
    Ahh, dear, sweet Victoria. :rolling:

  9. Jan 9, 2014 #9 of 14

    RunnerFL DIRECTV A-Team

    Jan 4, 2006
    I concur. Put the drive in another enclosure and test. Don't waste the time running the drive through numerous tests.
    1 person likes this.
  10. TBoneit

    TBoneit Hall Of Fame

    Jul 27, 2006
    Hi, A couple of points.

    A. Since it is winter be very careful as regards static electricity and the Drive.
    B. I would personally use the drive makers diagnostic utility.
    C. Hard drives do go bad, So do Enclosures.

    Anything with Moving parts will fail sooner or later. That is why I have My important video files and images are on a 1Tb SSD drive + External drive. No moving parts in the SSD. Other less important files are on NAS drives with Mirrored Drives and a External drive. Still less important files are on two External drives. I replaced many failed hard drives in computers at work over the years. I also Pulled some drives from failed enclosures and The enclosure had failed. HD Video Captures are saved on a external drive and burned as a BluRay disk.

    My external drives are powered down until they are needed to reduce wear and tear as well as lower the chance of damage from a voltage surge. With a DVR You can't do that.

    Good Luck
  11. CCarncross

    CCarncross Hall Of Fame

    Jul 19, 2005
    The drive is over 3 years old...replace it...If I have any issues with a drive thats a few years old, it gets replaced.....I would start by buying a new enclosure and a new drive....if you put the Cavalry drive in the new enclosure and its good, then you ave a spare for when the Calvary drive itself goes bad....which should be within the next 12 months statistically. 5 years continuous use is about par for a modern HDD.
  12. Rich

    Rich DBSTalk Club DBSTalk Club

    Feb 22, 2007
    Piscataway, NJ
    Yup, that's what I'd do. I'd watch the content and then dump the HDD. 5 years from a Cavalry is rather unbelievable, but I guess some folks just get lucky. I don't even remember what kind of HDDs they used.

  13. RunnerFL

    RunnerFL DIRECTV A-Team

    Jan 4, 2006
    I could be wrong but I want to say Hitachi.
  14. Rich

    Rich DBSTalk Club DBSTalk Club

    Feb 22, 2007
    Piscataway, NJ
    Might have been. I dunno. I do know that they were junk. And expensive.


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