And the Tivo went boom


About three months ago my Tivo Series 3 HD XL started spontaneously rebooting. The fan had been getting a bit noisy so I thought maybe it’s overheating. Hey it only has one little fan, 5cm or so. So I dutifully replaced the fan and voila, no more problems.

Until the weather got hotter anyway. And then the rebooting issue came back with a vengeance. The tipping point was a few days ago when it rebooted five times in one evening. OK, this can no longer be ignored.

Not having a clue about how to clone a Tivo drive I hit up the Tivo Community Forum. Tivo Community Forum is an awesome resource for all things Tivo related, and even though my model is older (yeah OK, it’s old) there’s plenty of detailed information on it in the forums.

I grabbed a copy of MFSLive and tried to clone my original Tivo drive to a new drive. There were bad sectors all over the place on the source and I quickly gave up that idea.

Next I tried to copy the whole drive sector-by-sector, hoping that any bad sectors where in recording storage and not the OS or anything important. After it ran overnight I plugged it into the Tivo and … bootloop. So I tried the fix in the page at (search for ‘57’). No joy with the green screen fix, there must have been corruption in something important.

On the forums I found a virgin disk image for my model, but after some more reading I discovered that the image is only restorable with the Windows version of MFSlive, which is WinMFS. Apparently the linux version, MFSLive, and the Windows version, WinMFS, use different backup formats o_O.

Well shit, all my stuff is Fedora/CentOS/OpenBSD. I managed to weasel a licensed(!) copy of Windows, grabbed a laptop drive I’d pulled when I replaced it with an SSD, cabled it up, and installed Windows 8 on it. Surprisingly Windows 8 didn’t take the usual two frickin’ hours to install. More surprisingly it also didn’t completely suck - although those desktop tiles … yeah, they still suck.

Re-imaging a new drive with WinMFS went off without a hitch. I plugged it back into my Tivo, ran through the “delete everything” and the “guided setup” and was almost back in business. The Tivo is working, but it looks like I need a new TWC PCMCIA cable card because the standard has changed since I originally installed it way back when.

I’ll get the card swapped in the next day or two, until then I have TWC apps on a tablet and a Roku so I won’t miss the Dodgers versus the Mets :)

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