Fresh from the Things They Don't Tell You Until It's Too Late Department: Last night I was forced to permit a complete delete of every one of the 50* shows waiting in line on my DVR (a VIP622 from Dish Network). What's worse, in the end, I had to pull the trigger personally.
The system appeared to give me no choice and no hope, no invitation to call for possible help. The only options were to click "Delete Now" or leave it locked up. Nonetheless I hopped online and then phoned Dish before I could bring myself to push that big orange button.
Now In the hope you will be spared the same wasted 90 minutes, I will give you both the short story and the long one, then hope some web spider finds it before this hits another customer.
Punchline first: If you see a blue screen of death like the one at left with the warning code 760 (click on image) whatever you have saved on your Dish DVR is probably toast. Hasta la bye bye. But if you hope for a prayer of saving your shows, read on past the jump. Perhaps one of the tips to follow (including what "soft reboot" means) will do more for you than they did for me.
I just wish I could say I had as happy ending as did some of the folks who were giving me tips. Instead, around midnight, all my neighbors probably heard me say "aaaaaaaaaaargh!" This was not just because I could not stop the loss of saved shows (some of which were kept for work). I was also kicking myself almost as hard as I wanted to kick the DVR since I did not heed the warning signals soon enough.
Death by Inches: Two days before the infamous "760" screen, my DVR began to misbehave. Instead of cycling smoothly in and out of sleep, it struggled to wake whenever I turned on the TV and pressed "Select" to get to the menus. For a full minute or more the HD churned while the fan whirred and the lights flashed. That should have been my first clue that the hard drive was having problems, but other clues misled me.
First, every time it started up, it re-connected, one by one, with the satellite transponders, like it does when you first start up a new system. That suggested an antenna issue, not a box problem. Second, my other (separate) Tivo box appeared to be struggling with its own antenna connection too. This again suggested some central glitch, either the antenna itself or the perhaps the power surge box that supports the whole rack of equipment.
So by the time I hit that "Delete or Die" screen two days later, I had myself talked into the notion that whatever was wrong was not inside either DVR. (Marriage to an engineer sometimes engenders this kind of tunnel vision because these guys are so sure they are right -- until they are not).
But my third (and biggest) mistake? As soon as it started acting wonky at all, I should have moved all my most important shows off the primary hard disk over to the external drive on which we store our longterm archive of faves (like pledge break shows on PBS you can't view otherwise ).
I should not have cared about separating those I hadn't yet watched from those I wished to keep. But I was afraid I'd forget what was there if I didn't first sift out what was or wasn't worth saving. So I procrastinated, entirely unaware I might be flirting with the kiss of death on the whole shebang.
Soft Reboot to a Hard Landing
So you can imagine my surprise last night when, finally. I could not get in at all and confronted instead this blue screen of apparent death.
I emphasize "apparent" since no single error screen will deter me unless I have already done a lot of Googling. What this geek gal did know about computing suggested this hard drive might be saved from becoming spaghetti if I could only find the right recipe.
Ninety minutes later I was less opimistic. (Of course, said the Uber Skeptic at the top left of my brain, how many resurrection recipes from DVR customers are you likely to find online?) My inner skeptic proved right. There were not a ton of people who appeared to share this particular issue, even if, apparently, it has been an issue since 2oo6. Either that, or of that ton, only a few of the victims were inclined to go online to report it. The most information I found (thank you) was at dbstalk.com and their compilation of clues was not huge.
"Try a soft reboot" some said. Others advised that only a hard reboot might get you past the hump.
"What's a soft reboot in this context?" I said to self. An hour later (on the phone with Dish) the CSR explained that a soft reboot is one in which you hold down the power button <under the front door of the 622> for about ten seconds. I'd surfed enough other threads on dbstalk to get the distinction.
A soft reboot only involves the button on the machine while a hard re-boot is one in which you completely unplug it. Cautious users who have tried it say this unplugging needs to be for at least 30 minutes, while the tech-types (including my mate) say that 10 minutes or less are sufficient.
Twice burned, my cautious side won over his "just get it done." After the soft reboot did nothing, we unplugged the whole dang thing for 50+ minutes.
Again no difference.
It was still the orange button or nothing and the orange button clearly said "delete it all or see nothing but this blue screen for the rest of your life."
At that point, I finally pressed "delete now."
One less nail to chew: The deletion was surprisingly fast. I thought it might take hours, like reformatting a hard disk and re-installing the whole OS. While it was working I was trying to guess how long it would take me to redo dozens of timers, presuming I remembered which shows I had flagged. One whole day, at least, I guessed. Talk about adding insult to injury.
So it was a pleasant surprise (if anything in this story could be called 'pleasant') to find that it only wiped out the shows I had saved. The guides, timers and all the rest remained. (Memo to DishNet CSR -- despite what you told me, hitting delete on a code 760 only removes the shows.)
Morals of the Story: There are multiple morals to this story...
- If you have a DVR, especially from Dish but probably others too, don't let your storage space get too crowded. Delete after watching or archive to an external drive if your box permits that.
- Dont make my mistake of taking the "hours left" too literally, or assuming that "hours left" is the only thing you need to worry about.
- Move unwatched shows to storage at regular intervals, and bring them back to see
- Join a tech forums such as dbstalk.com or avsforum. Those guys have saved my keister numerous times, and if you ask nicely, they will answer stupid questions. Just do them the favor of first reading the FAQ (Frequently Asked Questions).
- Google is your friend. State your question there first. The Google Brain just might hand you the link to the particular page with the specific answer you seek.
- Don't believe the Customer Rep completely. He may not know anything more than what is in his help script, and that help script may not cover everything. (This said, don't be rude to him either, since he cannot know what he hasn't been told.)