This is kind of long, so please bear with me.
I have been using an external drive with my 8300HD for about a year and a half with no problems until now. Yesterday I noticed the box was making a racket trying to access the external drive (I wasn't watching anything and it was turned off).
I turned it on and it was frozen on a blue boot-up screen while the external drive was grinding away. I unplugged the external drive and then the box displayed a message that the external drive appeared to be corrupted, and asking if I wanted it reformatted.
I unplugged everything and then started everything up in the proper sequence and got the same result. Had to unplug the external drive to get anything, and then I got the offer to reformat. Obviously if I chose "reformat" it wouldn't be able to do it as it was disconnected, and if I connected it the box would never get past the blue screen.
I plugged the external drive (Azio enclosure and I believe a Hitachi 400 gig drive) into a computer and opened computer management/storage. It recognised the drive. I decided to reformat it, but the only option at that point was to "initialize" it, so I chose that, which took about a second. Then I would have been able to format it, but I didn't bother because I wanted to try it again with the cable box which has its own format.
I unplugged the 8300HD, connected the drive, fired up the drive, and then plugged in the box. I have done this several times now, and it either freezes on the blue screen, or it boots normally as if there is no external drive connected. When it boots up there is no mention of detecting an external drive, no offer to format, and no message that there is a functioning drive. Nothing.
At this point I suspect that my eSATA cable went bad, because the computer, connected by USB, seems to think the drive is OK.
But here is my big question. When I first got the external drive in June 2006 I seem to recall that I was able to determine that I had the SARA software (firmware?) by calling up some obscure diagnostic screen. But now when I reboot the box, the blue screen says "NAVIGATOR" in big letters. At first I thought nothing of it. But then I started reading threads on this forum talking about how some cable companies were switching over to some awful Navigater software and people would lose their saved programs on the external drive when it happened.
How can I determine what actually happened? I have Cablevision (Long Island) and I can't find any mention of them changing over. Also, even if I lost the programs from a switch to Navigator, the external drive should still work, right?
[I just spoke to a Cablevision rep who assures me that they haven't done any major firmware upgrades that would affect my external drive. But he didn't know which operating system is on their boxes.]
I would appreciate any information or thoughts and comments.