My TiVo died recently — a couple weeks ago. It was working fine until one day I flipped on the TV and saw nothing but a black screen. I figured it was a fluke, turned it off and went to bed. Turned it on the next day and it was still black. So I decided to unplug it, wait a minute, then plug it back in. I thought for sure that would fix it…

Nope. It took over an hour on the second screen that comes up which says, “Almost there. Just a few minutes more…” Clearly it was more than a few minutes and it had never taken than long before so I decided to unplug it and try again. This time after a while of sitting at the “Almost there” screen it pulled up a green screen that said it detected a serious problem and would try to correct itself and that I should not turn it off for at least three hours. I waited overnight and nothing was happening.

I called TiVo Customer Support, went through their automated help line until it couldn’t help me. Then I got a person on the line and she decided that the hard drive had basically died and I needed a new one. She’d happily process an exchange for $150. “Nothing doing,” I said, “so I guess I’ll cancel the serice.” She transferred me to the cancellation department, I waited ten minutes, got disconnected and had to call back (directly to the cancellation department this time).

Dallas was the name of the CSR that helped me and it was in virtually no time flat that he said he’d be pleased to process a no-cost exchange since I’ve been a good TiVo customer for over two years and he’d hate to see me cancel now just because the unit broke.

So I said, great, let’s do that. I had to fill out a form and send it in with my old unit and then a few days later I received the replacement unit (refurbished, but looking just about as good as it would if it were brand new).

I was looking forward to getting it hooked up and being back in business.

But when I hooked it up I didn’t get past the second “Almost there” screen. Very disappointed after a few hours, I turned it off and went out of town.

When I got back I turned it back on and let it go for 24 hours. Never left the “Almost there” screen. This didn’t leave me feeling that it was almost there.

So I got online and searched to see if others were having the same problem. I found this thread over at where many people were having similiar issues, supposedly due to a bad hard drive.

After reading through a few pages of that thread I found a link to a TiVo Diagnostics page which contained some panic codes that you could enter from the remote at startup to tell the TiVo to perform various diagnostics on itself.

Here’s what I did:

  1. Rebooted and waited for the green light to turn yellow, then hit the Pause button on the remote.
  2. Keyed in 57 to do the mfs check
  3. Waited… it went to the “Almost there” screen and then rebooted.
  4. When the green light changed to yellow this time I hit Pause and then keyed in 58.
  5. Waited…it went to the “Almost there” screen and then changed to a screen that indicated it was installing an update, then it rebooted.
  6. I waited to see what would happen on this reboot … it went to a green screen indicating that it detected a serious problem and would try to correct itself … wait three hours, don’t turn it off, etc.
  7. I pulled the plug — had enough — seen this before, not waiting three hours, taking matters into my own hands.
  8. Now I’m going to yank the drive, hook it up to my other PC following some directions I found, and try to get a fresh image on there (after verifying the drive is good).
  9. If the drive is bad, I’ll probably just go get a new (and bigger) one (this is the 540040 model, so just a 40G drive).
  10. If the drive is not bad, I’ll throw a fresh image on it and try again.

Stay tuned….