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Guest Message by DevFuse

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Running an External Hard Drive with a ViP HD DVR?


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33 replies to this topic

#1 OFFLINE   DEC

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Posted 17 April 2011 - 05:20 PM

My wife and I are about to switch over from DirecTV to Dish and I have a question regarding running an external hard drive with one of Dish's ViP HD DVR's.

As background, when we have switched or upgraded services in the past, we have typically gone top-of the-line for such things as receivers. Based on this, I would normally be inclined to get a ViP 922 HD DVR, but since we don't plan on using its Sling capabilities all that much, maybe that is overkill for us. What we have is a single HDTV in our house and we won't be getting any more TV's, so that's it on that front. However, we record (and save) a lot of movies and other programming material, so I know we would like the 1 terabyte hard drive over the 500 GB hard drive in the ViP 722k HD DVR, so that is part of our motivation for getting the 922.

Someone else suggested getting a 722k and just going with an external hard drive.

What concerns me about this approach, is that I was previously interested in going this direction with the HD DVR we currently have from DirecTV. However, when I looked further into it, it sounded like a very bad idea as DirecTV pretty much stated on their website that the use of an external hard drive wasn't supported and that a customer was basically on their own. Moreover, I also saw a lot of negative commentary on forums and other sources where it seemed like a lot of technical issues could arise from software updates on the receiver not registering or "catching up" with the external hard drive, formatting problems, unrecognizable hard drives, etc., etc., making any recorded programming on the external hard drive unwatchable or perhaps inaccessible.

I have no desire to go down a road that is fraught with problems or is otherwise problematic. So, my question is this ... How many people out there are using external hard drives with Dish ViP HD DVR's and are not having any issues? Or, how many folks are having problems, what are the problems, and would you not recommend using an external hard drive?

The bottom-line is that if the only reliable way I can get more storage is to go with the 1 terabyte hard drive in the 922, then I would rather spend more upfront for the receiver upgrade than get into some nightmare scenario with an external hard drive.

So, what say you Dish folks?

Thanks,
Don

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#2 OFFLINE   harsh

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Posted 17 April 2011 - 06:03 PM

External hard drives are entirely different on the DISH Network side of the fence. Gone are many of the compatibility and transportability issues from the DIRECTV side.

  • DISH isn't embarrassed about their support for external drives
  • You can hook up just about any single spindle USB 2.0 drive from 40GB to 2.0TB
  • You don't have to power down or reboot the DVR to connect/disconnect drives
  • You don't have to redo your programming preferences with each new drive
  • You can move content back and forth between the drive and DVR so you can easily maintain different drives for different kinds of programming.
  • If your DVR dies, the external hard drive should work with its replacement (this is huge).

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#3 OFFLINE   DEC

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Posted 17 April 2011 - 06:11 PM

External hard drives are entirely different on the DISH Network side of the fence. Gone are many of the compatibility and transportability issues from the DIRECTV side.

  • DISH isn't embarrassed about their support for external drives
  • You can hook up just about any single spindle USB 2.0 drive from 40GB to 2.0TB
  • You don't have to power down or reboot the DVR to connect/disconnect drives
  • You don't have to redo your programming preferences with each new drive
  • You can move content back and forth between the drive and DVR so you can easily maintain different drives for different kinds of programming.
  • If your DVR dies, the external hard drive should work with its replacement (this is huge).

Wow! That's an impressive list of positive considerations, I must admit. Maybe I will then just go ahead with a 722k, unless there are any other significant things that the 922 offers beyond the Sling stuff, such as the new UI. (?)

#4 OFFLINE   harsh

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Posted 17 April 2011 - 06:15 PM

Maybe I will then just go ahead with a 722k, unless there are any other significant things that the 922 offers beyond the Sling stuff, such as the new UI. (?)

It is "anticipated" that the ViP722k will eventually get the new UI. If you're real big into PPV, the ViP922 may be worth considering; otherwise, you really need to have lived with a ViP DVR for a while to see if you need more.

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#5 OFFLINE   olguy

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Posted 17 April 2011 - 09:19 PM

While true the 922 has a 1T drive only 500G is available to the user. The other 500G is where Dish stores VOD, etc. And the 922 has a fancier UI than the other receivers. We have a 922 and 722K and after a year or so I prefer the 922 UI.
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#6 OFFLINE   DEC

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Posted 17 April 2011 - 09:58 PM

While true the 922 has a 1T drive only 500G is available to the user. The other 500G is where Dish stores VOD, etc. And the 922 has a fancier UI than the other receivers. We have a 922 and 722K and after a year or so I prefer the 922 UI.

Half the drive is used by Dish?? So, does that mean that there is only 250 GB available to a user of a 722K receiver?

#7 OFFLINE   RasputinAXP

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Posted 18 April 2011 - 06:47 AM

Or thereabouts. It's vague. I can say I have 148 recordings, 90% in HD, with 44% of the drive used. The only SD things I'm recording are kids' shows from Disney.

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#8 OFFLINE   PokerJoker

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Posted 18 April 2011 - 10:10 AM

Wow! That's an impressive list of positive considerations, I must admit. Maybe I will then just go ahead with a 722k, unless there are any other significant things that the 922 offers beyond the Sling stuff, such as the new UI. (?)


In the interests of full disclosure:

Harsh is correct in his list of positive features.

He didn't mention the one that I think is a big negative. That being that you can't record directly to the external HD on a Dish DVR.

A metaphorical example, if you know how PC drive letters work. A DirecTV external drive replaces the internal drive. On a PC we would say that it becomes the C: drive. On a Dish DVR, you are adding a second completely separate hard drive while keeping the internal one intact. Like adding a D: or E: or other drive letter to a PC.

So, when it records a show, a Dish DVR always uses the existing internal drive. It is up to YOU, the user, to MANUALLY move recordings to the external HD for storage, to free up more space on the internal. And the moving-files process is not lightning quick either; moving a big chunk can take hours, although it is done in the background and you can still use the DVR.

I believe it is possible to play back your recordings directly from the external drive without moving them back. I haven't actually tried it.

Keith

#9 OFFLINE   TulsaOK

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Posted 18 April 2011 - 10:42 AM

Throughput is ~16Gb/hour transferring to/from EHD on a 722/722k.
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#10 OFFLINE   DEC

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Posted 18 April 2011 - 01:29 PM

In the interests of full disclosure:

Harsh is correct in his list of positive features.

He didn't mention the one that I think is a big negative. That being that you can't record directly to the external HD on a Dish DVR.

A metaphorical example, if you know how PC drive letters work. A DirecTV external drive replaces the internal drive. On a PC we would say that it becomes the C: drive. On a Dish DVR, you are adding a second completely separate hard drive while keeping the internal one intact. Like adding a D: or E: or other drive letter to a PC.

So, when it records a show, a Dish DVR always uses the existing internal drive. It is up to YOU, the user, to MANUALLY move recordings to the external HD for storage, to free up more space on the internal. And the moving-files process is not lightning quick either; moving a big chunk can take hours, although it is done in the background and you can still use the DVR.

I believe it is possible to play back your recordings directly from the external drive without moving them back. I haven't actually tried it.

Keith

Thanks, and I had more or less heard the same thing on another thread. This is still way better than some of the horror stories I have heard about folks trying to deal with an external drive in conjunction with DirecTV DVR's.

#11 OFFLINE   Calvin386

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Posted 18 April 2011 - 01:56 PM

I would go with the 922 even if you are not going to use sling.

#12 OFFLINE   harsh

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Posted 18 April 2011 - 01:56 PM

He didn't mention the one that I think is a big negative. That being that you can't record directly to the external HD on a Dish DVR.

I didn't mention it as I don't see it as an negative versus DIRECTV's eSATA implementation.

If you want to accomplish archiving with a DIRECTV eSATA setup, you have to change drives (a straightforward but decidedly unfriendly process) for each program that belongs on a different drive than the one that is currently mounted. If you forget to mount the appropriate disk, your show either doesn't get recorded or is recorded on the wrong drive.

With the DISH setup, you can record several episodes of a program and move it all at once without having to change drives each time the shows come on. If you need a larger drive or want to redistribute the content, it is supported.

I have a fairly intense dislike for the old CP/M drive lettering scheme. I prefer the '80s version where each drive has a volume name and doesn't change unless you decide to change it.

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#13 OFFLINE   DEC

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Posted 18 April 2011 - 02:12 PM

I would go with the 922 even if you are not going to use sling.

We are ... see below

#14 OFFLINE   DEC

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Posted 18 April 2011 - 02:17 PM

After a lot of going back and forth, we've decided to go with a ViP 922 SlingLoaded HD DVR for our switch to Dish. I know this costs more upfront and a bit more per month, but it gives us the most internal hard drive capacity, the newest interface, and if we ever decided to use the Sling capability, it's already in the unit without having to buy a module (and we can still go with an external hard drive down the road if we have a need for that). Additionally, by ordering the 922, there's no way we're going to end up with a lesser receiver as it's the only unit in the Sling loaded "family" of ViP receivers.

Beyond that, the deal's done at this point. We decided to go the bundled route with Frontier (our local phone/DSL company). The installation appointment for our new Dish set-up is scheduled for tomorrow afternoon and DirecTV is turning off our current service with them as of midnight tonight. We are going with the America's Top 250 HD package, as mentioned above a ViP 922 HD DVR, and free Showtime for 3 months. (And of course, we'll be getting our HD local channels back that DirecTV took away from us as of 4/4).

Thanks for all the input everyone!

#15 OFFLINE   inazsully

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Posted 18 April 2011 - 06:05 PM

One other thing I learned about the DVR and the EHD. You can transfer multiple programs to the EHD at the same time. Very nice. On my 1.5 EHD I have complete seasons of 7 different hour long TV shows and at least 20 movies, half a dozen concerts and at least 20 different nature type shows including all of the Planet Earth series, plus several NASCAR races and boxing matches (I watched all of those this afternoon). It's amazing how quickly you can watch a race or boxing match by FF through the crap. I would be lost without my EHD. It's nice to be able to take advantage of weekend free previews like we had last weekend from HBO. FYI, Less than $70 for a 1.5TB EHD.

#16 OFFLINE   DEC

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Posted 18 April 2011 - 08:07 PM

I'm curious about the recorded material on an EHD. What form is it in? For example, could you view a recorded movie from the EHD on a computer or another device, or is the recorded material in some form that only can be viewed "through" a DVR from Dish?

#17 OFFLINE   P Smith

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Posted 18 April 2011 - 08:10 PM

ENCRYPTED !

#18 OFFLINE   olguy

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Posted 18 April 2011 - 08:21 PM

Another thing we 922 users forgot to mention is the 922 will recognize multiple EHDs. I had 4 working through a hub on the rear port. Tried the 5th on the front port but the 922 didn't see it. I was just playing around and didn't keep 4 connected very long although I kept 2 connected to the hub and they work okay. So, you can have an EHD for movies and one for series or whatever combination you want. And those EHDs will work on a 722 or 722K if you decide to add one later.
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#19 OFFLINE   Stewart Vernon

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Posted 18 April 2011 - 08:37 PM

Yeah... since the 922 will recognize more than one connected EHD... I recommend that you consider using multiple smaller EHDs to organize your external movies.

A 2TB drive sounds great... until one day if it fails and you lose everything... but several smaller drives at least only lose that drive's worth of stuff.

Mind you, I don't know if anyone here has yet had an EHD fail on them in that way.

I have had an internal hard drive fail on me... on my 622... so it can happen.

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#20 OFFLINE   TulsaOK

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Posted 18 April 2011 - 10:25 PM

Mind you, I don't know if anyone here has yet had an EHD fail on them in that way.


Sadly, I lost a nearly full 1Tb with several complete seasons and lots of movies. The drive didn't fail but the 622 I had at the time refused to read it and forced a format. I had other drives that it recognized. That 622 didn't have a home with me long after that. At that time we were able to upgrade a 622 to a 722.
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