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ReplayTV hard drive upgrade FAQ

  • When I run the W2K GUI version, no drives show up. Why not?
    The program requires Administrator priviledges in order to get low level access to the hard drives. Make sure you are logged on using an account with Administrator priviledges.
  • Does the upgrade work with RTV5xxx units?
    Yes, support for the RTV4xxx units was added in January 2002 and this version also works with the newer RTV5xxx models as they both use the same hard drive layout. Note that the RTVPatch software reports "4000" for both 4000 and 5000 units since the two are identical as far as RTVPatch is concerned. The older versions of RTVPatch (e.g. March 2001) do not support the 4xxx or 5xxx series units.
  • Does the upgrade work with RTV4xxx units?
    Yes, support for the RTV4xxx units was added in January 2002. The older versions of RTVPatch (e.g. March 2001) do not support the 4xxx series units.
  • Does the upgrade work with RTV20xx, RTV30xx, and ShowStopper units?
    Yes, with version 3.x software on the ReplayTV. RTVPatch version 2.1 and higher should work with version 1.x or 2.x software too, but that hasn't been tested or confirmed!
  • Can I use really, really big drives (larger than 137GB) in an ReplayTV?
    Yes, for the RTV4xxx and RTV5xxx series, the version 4.1.1 and higher software update has added really, really big drive (RRBD) support, so if your unit has received this software update, then you can use RRBD's in your RTV4xxx or RTV5xxx unit. RTVPatch version 2.4 (both the Windows and Linux versions) supports large drives.

    However, RTV20xx, RTV30xx, and all ShowStopper units will only work with drives smaller than 137GB. If you use a larger drive in one of those units, then the unit will only use the first 137GB of the drive and the rest of the space will be wasted.

  • Can I resize the photo partition on my RTV4xxx or RTV5xxx?
    Yes, the W2K GUI version of the RTVPatch program has a configuration setting to select the size of the photo partition. Sizes offered are 1MB, 2MB, 5MB, 10MB, 20MB, 50MB, 100MB, 200MB, 500MB, 1GB, 2GB, 3GB, 4GB, 5GB, 10GB and 20GB.
    It is possible to make the photo partition smaller without losing any of the recorded shows in the MPEG partition.
    You can also increase the size of the photo partition, but you will lose any video files stored in the space transferred from the MPEG to the photo partition. It is unknown how this will affect the ReplayTV's stability.
    You can use the "extract_rtv -p2 -v" program to verify the integrity of the MPEG partition to see what, if any, video files are lost after the patch. If that command doesn't report any errors, then you should be safe.
  • Can I preserve my photos when doing an upgrade on a 4xxx or 5xxx unit?
    Yes, there is an option to copy the photo partition from the source drive to the target drive. To use this option, first copy the system partition, second copy the MPEG partition (if desired), and then copy the photo partition. After completing the copy operations you can proceed with the Patch Target Drive command. Be sure to answer "No" when asked if you want to reformat the photo partition.
  • Can I resize the photo partition and preserve the existing photos?
    No. Resizing the photo partition is done by repositioning and reformatting the partition, so any existing data in the partition will be lost. If you want to preserve the photos, copy them to your PC's hard drive first using either the ReplayTV photo software or the extract_rtv program. Then, after the upgrade is complete, copy the photos back to the ReplayTV using the ReplayTV photo software.
  • Can I use my Win2000 computer to do the upgrade?
    Yes. Use this procedure (the Win2k GUI method)
  • Can I use my WinXP computer to do the upgrade?
    Yes. Use this procedure (the Win2k GUI method)
  • Can I use my Win9x computer to do the upgrade?
    Yes. Use this procedure (the Linux boot floppy method)
  • Can I use my WinME computer to do the upgrade?
    Yes. Use this procedure (the Linux boot floppy method)
  • Can I do an upgrade without having a source disk?
    Yes. Use this procedure (Mikeyboy's disk image restore procedure)
  • What hard drive can I use?
    Any current IDE disk drive larger than 400MB will work. Most upgraders have used Maxtor drives because Maxtor currently makes the largest IDE drives right now, but any manufacturer's drives will work.
  • What is the largest capacity I can use in RTV4xxx or RTV5xxx series?
    Sonic Blue is shipping units with 320GB of space, so there should be no problems below that. These units have much more memory than the 30xx series, so they should be able to handle 2 of whatever drives are currently available. Right now that is 160GB x 2 = 320GB, but you likely will be able to go much higher when larger drives become available. (Nov 2002 update: 250GB drives are now available and reportedly work.)
  • What is the largest capacity I can use in RTV30xx series?
    You can use up to 137GB drives on RTV20xx, RTV30xx and ShowStoppers. With 2 of these drives in your system you could get up to 274 hours of storage. The sector address limitation on the EIDE standard means that the addressable limit is 131,072 MB (literally 255 * 2^20), so using 160GB or larger drives requires some IDE interface and/or BIOS changes, and this won't happen in the older units. The RTVPatch program (use version 2.4 or later) automatically limits the used space to 137GB, so it is possible to use 137GB of a 160GB drive.
    There was a message posted by someone with a friend who had a relative who worked for ReplayTV, stating that ReplayTV software will run out of memory at 150 hours. Granted, this is 4th-hand information, but people with 160 hour upgrades have reported occasional out-of-memory errors, so there probably is some truth to it. The out-of-memory errors typically appear during the network dial-up because that is the most memory intensive operation the unit does. The errors also were reported to depend on the number of replay channels you had.
    (Nov2002 update: using the large cluster option in RTVPatch 2.2.4 and 2.4 you can get beyond the 150 hour memory problem and get up to 280 hours)
  • What is the 'large cluster option' and how do I use it?
    The default cluster size in a ReplayTV unit is 256kB. The ReplayTV's apparently keep a cluster map in memory, so increasing the drive size increases the number of clusters on the drive, which in turn decreases the available memory. The reported limit is 150 hours, above which you will start to get out-of-memory errors.
    A solution to this problem is to increase the cluster size beyond the default of 256kB. With RTVPatch 2.2.4 (and later), if you answer 'yes' to the prompt 'Do you want to reset the MPEG partition?', you will get a second prompt asking 'Do you want to completely reformat the MPEG partition using a LARGER cluster size?' If you answer 'yes' to this second prompt, then the MPEG partition will be formatted using a larger cluster size than the default.
    The large cluster size option is recommended for RTV3xxx and earlier units with 80GB or larger hard drives (or a pair of hard drives with a combined size of 80GB or larger). It is not recommended for RTV4xxx or later units as these units do not suffer from the same memory constraint issues the earlier units had.
  • Can I add a second drive to the existing drive?
    Yes, although this is not generally recommended for several reasons:
    • The dual-drive procedure modifies your original ReplayTV drive, so you don't have the option of reverting back to your original, untouched, drive.
    • There are no existing mounting brackets for the second drive, so you will have to jury-rig something to hold the second drive in place.
    • The ReplayTV units get hot with only 1 drive, and get very hot when you have 2 drives.
    • It is far simpler to just put in a single 120GB drive and be done with it.
  • Can I upgrade an old 2-drive system?
    Yes, you can either replace both drives with a single large drive, or replace one or both of the original drives to have a dual-drive system. The procedure is the same as the upgrade from a single-drive system, using the 1st drive from your ReplayTV as the source drive.
  • Can I keep the shows I already recorded?
    If you are upgrading from a single-drive system, then yes, there is the option to do this, although it does not always work, and is not recommended.
    If you are upgrading from a dual-drive system, then NO, the option for copying the MPEG partition will not work. If you attempt to do this, the upgrade will almost definitely fail because the MPEG partition mirroring code in the RTVPatch program does not recognize 2-drive systems.
    The proper operation sequence when preserving shows is:
    1. Set Source and Target drives
    2. Copy System Partition
    3. Copy MPEG Partition
    4. Patch Target
    5. Answer "No" to the reset MPEG partition question.
  • Is the upgrade guaranteed to work?
    Definitely not! The upgrade procedure is all based on reverse engineering and educated guesswork. While it seems to work for most people, there have been reported failures.
  • I don't feel comfortable doing this upgrade myself. Will you do it for me?
    If the risk of failure bothers you and you cannot afford to buy a new unit if the upgrade fails, then you shouldn't attempt the upgrade. But, there are people selling upgrade drives through eBay, so if you want to go this route, do a search for "replaytv" on eBay.
  • After doing the update and putting the updated drive in my ReplayTV, the unit will power up, shows "Please wait a few moments" and then powers off and the screen goes blank. What went wrong?
    Nothing is wrong, just press the Power button to turn the unit back on. This is the normal behavior of the ReplayTV unit. When it loses power, it powers back up in the last state it was in, so if you pulled the plug while it was in the off state, it will power back on in the off state (i.e. with a blank screen)
  • The ReplayTV reports more than 100,000 hours free! How can I fix this?
    This is apparently caused by a corrupt replay channel causing the unit to compute a negative amount of available recording space. This typically happens if you do the upgrade from a large drive onto a smaller drive.
    Deleting the corrupt channel(s) should fix the problem. The surest way to fix this is to do to a reset to factory defaults (using 777-Zones) and then set up the system again.
  • My computer shows the wrong size for (or my computer fails to boot with) the NNN GB hard drive that I am using for the upgrade. What can I do?
    First, do not attempt to do the upgrade until you solve the problem, as you could unrecoverably break your ReplayTV.
    Second, do not attempt to put MaxBlast or EZ-BIOS or any other software-based solutions to overcome BIOS limitations on the hard drive. These will definitely make the upgrade procedure fail! The upgrade procedure will probably also fail if you have EZ-BIOS installed on ANY hard drive on your system.
    Possible solutions are:
    1. Set the drive type to NONE in the BIOS setup screen and reboot. This will usually fix the problem.
    2. Upgrade your BIOS to a newer version that supports IDE drives up to 131GB. A source for BIOS upgrades is http://www.ping.be/bios
    3. Completely remove EZ-BIOS from all drives on your computer
    4. Try using the Linux boot floppy method
    5. Use a different computer
  • The W2K GUI seems to lock up my machine when I run it. What's wrong?
    There have been reports that some ATA-100 drivers cause this behavior. You may be able to run the GUI if you use the standard W2K drivers instead. It probably would be easier to just use the Linux boot floppy method, though. RTVPatch version 2.4 uses an improved drive detection method, so this problem shouldn't happen any more.
    There have also been reports that if you have some drives on an on-board IDE controller and some drives on an ATA-100 plug-in controller that it locks up or doesn't see all of the drives. Putting all of the drives on the ATA-100 controller may fix this problem.
  • Should I format the new drive before running RTVPatch?
    It is advisable to run a low-level format using a utility program from your disk manufacturer before doing the upgrade, because this will help map out any bad sectors.
    You definitely do not want any DOS/Windows formatted partitions on the new hard drive when you run the W2K GUI version of RTVPatch because RTVPatch will overwrite the partitions. If these partitions are mapped to drive letters, this will seriously confuse Windows and your machine will almost definitely crash!
    If you have partitions on the drive, remove them before running the W2K GUI.
  • Should I turn off acoustic management using the AMSET utility?
    Early on in the hacking of both Tivo and ReplayTV boxes it was suggested that acoustic management slows down the drive access enough that it may cause occasional skipping. The general consensus now is that this setting makes no difference at all, so it is best to leave acoustic management enabled (ON or FAST setting) because with AM enabled the drive operates more quietly (less rattling noises when the heads are seeking.)
  • Should I turn off write-verify using the WVSET utility?
    Write Verification on the Maxtor drives is enabled by default for the first few power cycles. This slows down the drive access because the drive will do a verify after every write to make sure the drive is operating correctly. The main benefit of this is that the drive can automatically detect and remap bad sectors, which will help prevent data corruption.
    Leaving WV enabled will cause the drive to respond less quickly which may cause skipping. The amount of skipping is likely to be minor, and it hasn't been conclusively shown to cause skipping. It probably won't make much difference either way, because eventually the drive will automatically turn off WV. If you are going to manually turn WV off, you should at least do a full low-level format (writing to the disk) with write-verify turned ON first, before you turn WV off. More answers can be found at the hack section of the ReplayTV Advanced FAQ by PRMan