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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
I recently changed my ReplayTV hardware configuration and discovered something that may be of interest. Some hard disk drives may be the cause of shows freezing and other intermittent problems users are having with ReplayTVs.

A Little History

When I got my 4504 unit, i also purchased two 160GB drives, and immediately converted it to 4532 functionality. Since then I have had many problems while watching programs. Sometimes the video would freeze for a few seconds, then continue. If this occurred during recording, the recorded show had missing video at the time of the freeze. Sometimes, the video would freeze, and the system would lock up, requiring me to unplug the unit before it would start working again.


Note that I would NEVER have to disconnect power if I was actually recording a program, so i never lost a recorded program, although I did lose portions of shows lasting up to 10 seconds.


I discovered over time that if i deleted some shows i would have fewer problems. After a while i got in the habit of keeping the number of recorded shows below 50% of capacity.

So I decided to do something constructive

I decided I would install an 80GB drive in the unit and use the 2 160GB drives in my new PC (3.06GHz Processor, 1GB Memory, nVidia 8XAGP video .. but i digress) and just download shows i wanted to keep onto my new system, and then figure out how to save them to DVD (still working on that, but i am close).

Things get interesting

So i do a low-level format of an 80GB drive, patch the software, install it into the ReplayTV unit, and ... nothing but problems. First the unit failed to reboot after updating software via net connect .. then it wouldn't boot at all. I re-patched the drive, and everything seemed to work fine -- until i started viewing or recording shows. The unit would freeze up, I would cycle power, ... blah blah blah. And I would hear the drive clicking when problems occurred.


So I give up on the drive thinking it is bad. It works just fine in my computer, so the drive was NOT the problem. OK, it really was, but it should not have been, because I have not had any problems with it and MAXTOR software declares there are no bad blocks on the drive.


I reformat one of the 160GB drives, patch it, and install it in the ReplayTV unit. Since I did this I have not had one single instance of video freeze or other intermittent problems with my unit. I can fill my disk to almost 100% capacity with no problems.

Conclusion:

Some drives just do not work well in my unit. There is probably a timing issue either with the drive, or with the IDE interface on the motherboard. I submit it is a motherboard problem. I say this because the 80GB drive works just fine in two PCs it has been installed in. Actually the timing issue is a combination of both, since some drives apparently work, but the root cause is the motherboard, because if that is fixed, all drives will work.

Have you had a similar experience .. I would like to know.
 

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Have you tried low level formatting the drive? Sometimes utilities have

different levels of error checking, read-only, read/write, read/write multiple

times. Also replay disk access patterns are probably different than your

PCs.


I think if you take 3 of the same model drives and they all don't work

with replay after LLF then it is likely that model drive doesn't work with

replay, but just using one model drive to come to that conclusion leaves

open other possibilities.


I recall there were some IBM drives that people concluded wouldn't

work with replay, but my memory is not too good.
 

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You cannot say "it's the motherboard" because it works in your PC. Windows and Replay use different types of drive formats. A person who worked for a drive mfg posted here and said that you absolutey had to do the low-level recert on a drive before use in a Replay. Most people don't because they are in a hurry or because "it's brand new". Drive makers are putting out horrendous stuff these days.


Your statement that "some drives just don't work well...", has been shown to be true, but extremely rarely. The IBM deskstars mainly. The majority here use WD or Maxtor without a problem.
 

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Discussion Starter · #4 ·
All the drives used were MAXTOR drives, and a low level followed by recertification was performed EACH TIME. Although I am not convinced a low level format is required, I performed it anyway to remove that factor from the equation. My original post indicated the low level format was performed. Please read my post before condemning my methodology.


I concluded the motherboard was the problem because there should be no timing issues with the hardware. The data rate simply is not high enough to be the root cause of the problem, which leads to a timing issue with the motherboard, either poor layout of the PCB, or poor performance of one of the chips.


If the drive was the root cause, then low level format followed by recertification should either correct the problem, or highlight errors on the drive.

"Drive makers are putting out horrendous stuff these days"

I don't believe this. Any drive should work.

(PS -- i design printed circuit boards).


I posted this thread to see if others had similar experiences, and to help others, not to seek help .. my replaytv works perfectly now
 

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Quote:
Originally posted by adone36
...Your statement that "some drives just don't work well...", has been shown to be true, but extremely rarely. The IBM deskstars mainly. The majority here use WD or Maxtor without a problem.


While I may not be in the "majority"... fwiw, I am using IBM/Hitachi Deskstars in both of my Replays... One 120 GIG + one 80GIG / and the other has just an 80GIG by itself.


I have had zero problems, overheating has never been an issue & they are quiet... Am I just lucky or what?


BTW, I think WDs are the trash that would spark a statement like this...
"Drive makers are putting out horrendous stuff these days."

WDs are junk and shouldn't have the market-share they currently possess.


Just my opinion, I could be wrong.
 

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I agree wtih xstrym. I use IBM drives (loud but reliable), Maxtors, Seagates and Samsungs with no problems at all, but every WD I've ever owned has been a pain and a half while it worked, and tended to die very quickly afterwards.
 

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Any drive "should work", but they don't.


Complaints about shoddy quality are all over the web. There is even a class action suit against IBM.


This report is older and complains about 40 and 60 gig drives. The bigger drive are very similar and contain more platters, thus making failure rate that much higher.

Drive report
 

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IBM really shot themselves in the foot when they announced that a particular hd model wasn't meant to be used for more than 8 hours per day.
 

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Quote:
Originally posted by jimbalaia


...

Although I am not convinced a low level format is required, I performed it anyway to remove that factor from the equation

...

I concluded the motherboard was the problem because there should be no timing issues with the hardware.

...

I posted this thread to see if others had similar experiences, and to help others, not to seek help .. my replaytv works perfectly now
LLF just reduces the possibility for bad sectors that previously weren't

accessed getting in the picture. If you know for sure there aren't any

then it isn't necessary, but many of us just do it because it is too much

of a pain to pull the unit out later if some problems crop up.


I guess one reason why you are getting mixed responses was we weren't

sure if your post was trying to say there is a general problem with all replay

m/b or your particular m/b was likely defective. The former doesn't seem

like it matches the exeriences of others on this board, but upon reading

your post more closely it seems like you are saying the latter.


Personally, I'd do more experiments before definitively saying the m/b

was the problem in your case, but nothing you've done has precluded

that possibility, so it is just a good an explanation as others.


Since you asked, personally, I've had no problems with Maxtor 80GB

7200rpm, 100gb 5400rpm, 120gb 7200rpm 8mb, and WD 120gb 5400rpm,

though I find the WDs a little loud compared to Maxtor's with AMSET quiet.
 

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Discussion Starter · #10 ·
Quote:
Originally posted by sfhub
LLF just reduces the possibility for bad sectors that previously weren't

accessed getting in the picture. If you know for sure there aren't any

then it isn't necessary, but many of us just do it because it is too much

of a pain to pull the unit out later if some problems crop up.


...


Personally, I'd do more experiments before definitively saying the m/b

was the problem in your case, but nothing you've done has precluded

that possibility, so it is just a good an explanation as others....
I am not convinced the low level format does anything, because it is not really formatting the drive, just writing zeros.


The Re-certification test however, looks for and marks bad blocks, removing them from use. This the important step. BTW, I have never had errors here on any of the Maxtor drives I have ever tested.


And I am not going to do more experiments. I am not trying to be rude, but that suggestion is absurd. Think about it .. I have a perfectly working ReplayTV for the first time since I bought the unit .. if it aint broke -- don't fix it.


Finally, this post was made to inform others that they might want to experiment with different drives to see if they can improve their system. In retrospect, feedback from others on this issue would produce a more statistically valid result than any more tinkering I might do to my system. And would provide information to either prove me right or wrong.

Any brave souls willing to experiment with their systems to contribute to the cause?


PS before tinkering with my system i used Qvision to transfer all shows from my ReplayTV so I did not lose any recorded programs. I am currently working on getting them all transferred to DVDs (well not all, just the ones I really want to keep).

Okay, after reading my post .. and thinking .. i must add more

The factory Recertification does not write to every sector of the disk like the low level format (read zero-fill here). Writing zeros (writing anything) to a marginal sector may actually improve that sector, and reduce errors. So I further conclude the low level format should be performed in all instances.
yes i admit my errors -- i am so humble it hurts.


On a side note, I learned long ago not to use WD .. I guess it is so ingrained in me that these drives are worthless that I don't seem to remember they even exist.
 

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Quote:
Originally posted by jimbalaia


...

And I am not going to do more experiments. I am not trying to be rude, but that suggestion is absurd. Think about it .. I have a perfectly working ReplayTV for the first time since I bought the unit .. if it aint broke -- don't fix it.


Finally, this post was made to inform others that they might want to experiment with different drives to see if they can improve their system. In retrospect, feedback from others on this issue would produce a more statistically valid result than any more tinkering I might do to my system. And would provide information to either prove me right or wrong.

...
Fine then, I simply disagree with your conclusions. I think if anything there

is something defective in your particular setup. In 3 years, I think you are

the only post that has ever claimed there is an incompatibility between

Maxtor and Replay motherboard. Statistically I think your case is the

anomaly.


PS I was suggesting you hadn't done enough experiments to come to the

conclusion you did. Unless you wanted to prove your conclusion more

definitively there's no reason to do more experiments on the unit.
 

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Discussion Starter · #12 ·
I've been reading lots of posts in this forum about how the units stststutter and f-f-f-freeze .. and do other annoying things.


So when I finally solved my own similar problems to my satisfaction, I decided it was proper to post my findings here, in the hopes that others might benefit.


You can disagree with my conclusions all you want, but others might find the information useful ...


humbly

jim
 
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