Friday, 12 September 2008

I enjoy the fact that my DirecTV DVR (model HR21-200) records HD content for me. The quality is generally pretty darned good (it does 1080p video now after a recent a software upgrade), and it beats the heck out of anything else available to me in the boonies. The unit comes equipped with a 320GB (give or take) internal drive, which allows something like 30 hours max of HD recording. I found that when recording full seasons of a few shows like The Office or Lost in HD (and most of us will tend to add a few HD movies in the mix), the drive tends to fill up before I want it to.

So, I ordered a Cavalry 1TB external eSATA/USB 2 drive from, which arrived today. I've hooked it up and it's working. My new capacity numbers? Well, it depends on the specific content, but up to about 145 hours of HD content or as much as 1000 hours of SD programming (wow). Variables that affect actual video-time capacity includes resolution, compression (MPEG2 uses more space than the newer MPEG4) and how much motion there is in the video (since more motion means less compression benefit).

I wanted to document the simple setup steps here, so people can get theirs to work if they should want to do the same thing. You can find similar info on the 'net, but people seem to have a hard time with it. My drive came pre-formatted NTFS, which is fine. The DVR will wipe any file system on whatever drive you hook up. Below are the steps that one needs to follow in order to get the external drive up and running with the DVR. The order of the steps is crucial. Don't try to power up your hard drive after you start the DVR, for example.

First of all, if your external SATA drive is a Seagate FreeAgent, you will probably not have any luck, unless you have a HR20 DVR unit. I've heard many stories from people who bought a FreeAgent drive and tried to attach it, with no luck. So, while the FreeAgent drives are great for gneral storage, they are probably not what you want to buy to attach to your DirecTV receiver. My HR21-200 unit simply refused to work with my 750GB Seagate drive, so it's doing video editing duty now. Your mileage may vary, but my experience is that they just don't work.

To start using your new hard drive:

  1. Power down the DVR.
  2. Unplug the DVR from the wall power. This is important.
  3. Attach the external drive's eSATA cable to the back of the DVR unit.
  4. Power up the external hard drive first, and allow it to "spin up" (give it about a minute to be safe).
  5. After the hard drive has "spun-up," plug the DVR back into the wall power plug.
  6. Be patient (very patient) and wait for the DVR to restart. It's not dead. Be patient.
  7. After it does it's thing, you'll be able to watch TV again. Check your recorded items list and make sure it's blank.
  8. Run a recording test and make sure you can play back.

Note that the DVR's internal drive is completely bypassed when you add a new external hard drive - the system no longer sees it. So your recordings and what-have-you from the internal drive will not be available to view. However, in my experience if you restart the DVR without the external drive attached the internal drive "comes back to life" and you'll see your old recordings there.

Any scheduled recordings on your "To Do List" that you set up before adding the external hard drive will no longer be programmed. This is important - You will need to set up your recording schedules again. Head over to DirecTV's online scheduler or their mobile scheduling site at and sign in to start setting things up. I sometimes find the mobile site to be a bit easier to use, even on a desktop or laptop PC - especially since it lets me search by name.

Also, note that whatever you set up online may not be configured using the default recording setting you've established on your receiver, so be sure to go to the receiver's Manage Recordings list and review the new items that appear in your To Do list to make sure they're set to what you want. In my case, I had to make changes. Seems like recordings scheduled online should use the defaults you've established on your machine, but they didn't for me.

Once You Know, You NeweggMost importantly, you can look for good deals on decent external eSATA hard drives to do an inexpensive upgrade to your DVR. If you like spending lots of money, you could go to one of the sites that offers upgrade hardware services, but one such site sells essentially the same drive I bought and installed myself. Their price? $299.00, and that's just for the hardware. If you want your internal drive copied to the new drive, they can do that for an additional $59 - Not worth it to me.

How much did I pay for mine? $167.00 from Newegg. You can do the math. Shop around, prices are even lower now, and you can find an even better deal out there.

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Geek Out | Tech
Friday, 12 September 2008 16:32:53 (Pacific Standard Time, UTC-08:00)
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Wednesday, 24 September 2008 07:35:11 (Pacific Standard Time, UTC-08:00)
Do you know if the WD notebooks have the same problem as the Seagate harddrives working with HR21. I bought a 1TB WD esata Notebook and can't get it to work.
Saturday, 25 October 2008 07:29:55 (Pacific Standard Time, UTC-08:00)
I have the HR21 also and I bought the same Hard Drive that you did and things are working great. Just wondering, though, do you ever power down your hard drive or do you just leave it on constantly? Any recommendations? Thanks.
Saturday, 25 October 2008 07:54:26 (Pacific Standard Time, UTC-08:00)
Corey - I leave it turned on all the time. The most important thing in terms of turning it off would be to shut the drive off after the DVR is powered off, and make sure the hard drive is powered up and spun up before powering back on the DVR. If the DVR can't "see" the external hard drive when you power up, it will revert to the internal drive, and the only way to tell really is to look in the menus for your recorded programs. So, I leave it on.

Rick - Sorry, I didn't see your comment for some reason. I am not sure what drive you're using exactly, and I don't have specific experience. Sorry. Most drives work, so make sure the drive has been running for at least 30 seconds before plugging the DVR in to the wall power. That way you make sure it "sees" the drive.
Saturday, 25 October 2008 08:03:05 (Pacific Standard Time, UTC-08:00)
One more thing: If you think your hard drive should work because the brand and model have worked for someone else, your eSATA cable might be incompatible - or just defective. It's amazing the number of people who have tried multiple expensive hard drives, dealing with return shipping and long waits, just to discover later on that their el-cheapo eSATA cable was the real culprit. Get a good cable, spend a few extra bucks.
Saturday, 08 November 2008 09:09:47 (Pacific Standard Time, UTC-08:00)
I am just starting to research my upgrade to the HD DVR from Direct TV and know that the pathetic 30 hours of HD recording will be woefully inadequate. I like your solution for a larger drive, but frankly would prefer to install a new hard drive. Do you know if there is a way to image a large hard drive and install it into the unit? That is what I have done with both of my standard definition Direct TV TIVO units. The drive will be less expensive and I will have one less thing to plug into the wall. Thanks for any input you might have.
Sunday, 09 November 2008 06:45:44 (Pacific Standard Time, UTC-08:00)
After reading your advice I did some more research and bought a Seagate Freeagent Extreme 1.5 TB external drive at BB. Installed per your suggestion and Woohoo!! It was plug and play no glitches. Thanx for the input, very satisfied with performance and it looks cool too..
Ray Johnson
Sunday, 09 November 2008 15:03:50 (Pacific Standard Time, UTC-08:00)
Ray - Cool, can your DVR "see" all 1.5TB of space?

Patrick - I have been wondering if the external drive could be inserted into the DVR after it's been booted once externally. I have certainly not verified this one way or the other, but am considering trying it. Anyone tried that?

Friday, 21 November 2008 19:01:54 (Pacific Standard Time, UTC-08:00)
Any advice on the cable brand?
Juan Vallejo
Sunday, 23 November 2008 05:44:44 (Pacific Standard Time, UTC-08:00)
HR-21 currently has approx.70 hrs. mostly hd programing w/81% space remaining. System functioning properly. Any tips on scroling through playlist faster? Can only imagine when its full:}
Ray Johnson
Sunday, 23 November 2008 07:22:52 (Pacific Standard Time, UTC-08:00)
@Ray -- Yeah, longer lists can be rough. I mostly record series, so the list gets collapsed per title. I know DirecTV works on the software regularly to improve things like scrolling speed (I have seen changes from build to build). Also, just in case it's not obvious, using the Channel Up/Down button scrolls one page at a time, where the Arrow Up/Down scrolls one line at a time.

@Juan -- Sorry, no specific brands, but as a very general rule the cheaper ones are not as good.
Tuesday, 02 December 2008 14:32:22 (Pacific Standard Time, UTC-08:00)
Can you view the movies from the external onto an ipod or iphone?
Thursday, 04 December 2008 04:38:41 (Pacific Standard Time, UTC-08:00)
I just thought I'd comment on my experience and hopefully get some feedback.

I hooked up a 1TB Cavalry CAXE drive Tuesday. It worked fine, till the next morning when everything froze, and I had to reboot.

After 3 tries it rebooted (I had to unplug the DVR to reboot), and again it worked fine until that evening, when while watching a recorded show, the DVR froze once more.

It took 3 more tries (even after unplugging the DVR) to reboot, but this time when it finally did reboot, it reverted back to the DVR's internal drive.

Anyone have a similar experience?

Is this just one of those anomalies that my HR21-700 won't work properly with an external hard drive?

Could this be the result of a cheap eSATA cable?

I also have the Direct TV wireless hook up for On Demand content. Could this have anything to do with the problem? The wireless connection, and the downloading of On Demand content is working fine.

Any suggestions/comments would be appreciated.
Thursday, 04 December 2008 07:47:50 (Pacific Standard Time, UTC-08:00)

I'd try a different eSATA cable first. From what people have said in the past, it seems like the DVR is pretty picky about the quality of the cables. I used a heavier duty cable than the one that came with my drive, since I already had one available. Of course, it's possible you have a bad drive, but give the cable a shot, it's the cheapest and simplest piece to make changes to. Spend the extra ten bucks on the "good" cable in the store.

Also, make sure your power is not dropping or surging. I've had data equipment act strangely at times and after putting it all on a UPS, problems went away. Just a thought.
Friday, 05 December 2008 11:07:17 (Pacific Standard Time, UTC-08:00)
Thanks Greg,

I hate jinxing myself, but so far so good. I went and bought a better ($10) cable at Fry's yesterday. Not sure just how good it is, but it was the only one they had, and so far so good.

It booted up fine to the new drive, and has already gone longer than previously without freezing. I'm confident, but I'm also keeping my fingers crossed as well.
Saturday, 06 December 2008 12:24:37 (Pacific Standard Time, UTC-08:00)
I have a 750G external drive and want to transfer all of the HDDVR recordings and settings to a larger hard drive. Is there a utility that will copy the image from the old to the new hard drive so i dont lose anything?


Friday, 12 December 2008 08:58:37 (Pacific Standard Time, UTC-08:00)
I was wondering if anyone knows if your recorded show on the external drive are in a portable format, or are they unreadable? Has any one tried to transfer recorded shows to their pc or mp3 player, etc.
Friday, 12 December 2008 09:38:19 (Pacific Standard Time, UTC-08:00)
Unfortunately the video files that are recorded on the DVR drive are in a proprietary format, not directly portable to other devices.
Sunday, 14 December 2008 09:24:37 (Pacific Standard Time, UTC-08:00)
Upgraded my DirecTV HR21 HD-DVR to 1TB of hard drive storage.

I really appreciated your info on upgrading the DirecTV HR21 DVR. I purchased an AcomData pureDrive 1TB external drive from for $125.95 including shipping and an eSATA to eSATA cable from for $7.99 w/free shipping. I plugged the drive in last night carefully following your instructions and so far everything is working fine. DirecTV DVR is a little slow loading the info into the guide but everything else is working well so far. I tried the online DVR Scheduler with limited success. Many of them failed.

Your info was very helpful. Thank you very much. I had been considering an upgrade from Weaknees for $299. This saved me a lot of money. Thanks again for the good detailed information.
Sunday, 14 December 2008 14:07:33 (Pacific Standard Time, UTC-08:00)
Hi Ron - Glad it's worked well for you! Congrats!
Wednesday, 17 December 2008 00:16:38 (Pacific Standard Time, UTC-08:00)

Thank you for starting this discussion forum and providing valuable how-to information on DirecTV DVR hard drive upgrade. I found your information clearer than on other sites.

I had tried the Seagate Free Agent Pro 750GB drive and found the same problems as mentions by others in this forum.

The first problem was with the eSATA connector on the back of the drive which was too deep relative to the edge of the finished plastic which prevented the eSATA cable plug from being fully engaged in the connector socket. I had to trim down the plastic on the cable approximately 1/8" for it to fully engage. After that, the HR21 would recognize the Seagate drive. It worked fine at first, but after viewing the recording content for a little while the image would freeze up and I hand to unplug the AC cable on the HR21 to perform a hard boot as none of the button on the HR21 would response. After finish rebooting, thing seemed to be fine for a little while and the HR21 froze up all over again. I noticed that the Seagate Free Agent Pro's (one generation earlier than the latest version, which is called Free Agent Extreme with small base) base was very warm if not hot to the touch. By the way, the content on the external drive is writen in Unix and would not be recognized by Windows. I tried hooking it to my Windows PC to see if I can transfer data to it, but only found gabage information.

I then decided to try out the Antec Veris MX1 case and a 750GB Maxtor bare OEM drive myself after reading a few pointers on the internet. The Antec MX1 worked out just fine. I have been using that setup since August of this year to record the Beijing Olympic and other HD program. Not a single freeze or hicup event. The MX1 has an internal fan to keep it running cool. I left the MX1 plugged in and powered on 24/7 just like the HR21. I paid $30 for the MX1 and $99 for the Maxtor 750GB in August. The same cost will get you a 1TB setup now.

One caution with any external eSATA drive setup is the fact that the eSATA cable and connection can be accidentally jerked and dislodged from the engaged position cause data loss and requires hard rebooting of the HR21.

Hope this helps....


Tuesday, 30 December 2008 16:27:46 (Pacific Standard Time, UTC-08:00)
Well, the same can bring us this device "AMS VENUS ES2 DS-312SUES 3.5" Black USB & eSATA External Enclosure" working as a hardware RAID for 2 drives, plus 2 hard drives like IBM/Hitachi for $120 - $30 MIR, the final fee should be around $100 + $90 + $90 + delivery = $280 + ? and we can get a 2 TB array working with the DVR. I'd try that one day... :)
Sunday, 04 January 2009 17:02:44 (Pacific Standard Time, UTC-08:00)
This information has been very valuable. Can anyone tell me if this model of receiver will allow me to watch shows on two different TV's as dishnetworks reciever will allow me to do?
Saturday, 10 January 2009 22:39:11 (Pacific Standard Time, UTC-08:00)
I have an Antec Veris case and I wonder if it matters what brand of hard drive matters. I prefer WD, but if I have to get another I will.
Monday, 12 January 2009 08:17:37 (Pacific Standard Time, UTC-08:00)
I read this posting and followed it step by step and it worked, piece-o-cake! I ended up getting a Seagate 1.5TB SATA 3.5" Barracuda internal drive and stuck it in a NexStar 3 external hard drive enclosure, with the eSATA interface. I just stuck the drive in the case and plugged into the DVR as instructed and the formatting to seconds.

Based on what was recorded the first night, 6 hours of HD, it used ~2% space. If I do the math I should be getting close to 300 hours of HD recording with it! Nice!
Mark M
Tuesday, 13 January 2009 12:18:31 (Pacific Standard Time, UTC-08:00)
Thanx for the instructions! We just got our HD installed from Direct TV and I am considering doing the Sata addition. However, I currently go through several steps to get some of the shows I have recorded into my computer. ie. hook up the composite outs, record with my capture card, etc. etc. What format does the HD DVR keep the recorded shows in? Can they be easily transferred to my computer hard drive from the sata for future playing, recording to DVD, etc.????? Also, can the SATA drive be read by a standard PC after it is hooked up to the DVR?

thanx very much....
Wednesday, 21 January 2009 21:33:59 (Pacific Standard Time, UTC-08:00)
Thank you for the good info as I'm considering adding an external drive myself. I was wondering, if you power down the external drive after turning off the HR21, will the scheduler wake up and record to the external drive? Thanks
Wednesday, 21 January 2009 21:39:56 (Pacific Standard Time, UTC-08:00)
I was also wondering: do you have to use the eSATA port or can you use the USB port to add an external drive to the HR21? Thanks again!
Friday, 23 January 2009 11:58:59 (Pacific Standard Time, UTC-08:00)
How long does it take for the "be patient, be very patient" step to happen?

I plugged in a 500GIG WD drive and a "cheapo" cable (all I had at the time). Should I wait 10,20-40,50 minutes?

Something seems to be happening but it just does not progress after 30 minutes.

I'd love to get an external HD 1.5 TB working.

Well, I am off to Better Buy to get a better cable!

Thanks for the trick.
Friday, 23 January 2009 12:00:51 (Pacific Standard Time, UTC-08:00)
I forgot.

I have the new HR23-700 (installed Jan 09). I noticed most of the posts says HR21 and even one says HR21-700.

Not sure if it matters!?
Saturday, 24 January 2009 10:52:20 (Pacific Standard Time, UTC-08:00)
If the drive is external drive is disconnected and then reconnected, is it reformated? What I am wondering is if it is possible to fill one external, connect another, fill that one and be able to plug in the original to watch what is recorded on it. I've been searching for awhile on a means to back up recordings to a pc but if I were able to keep hard drives filled with movie archives which could be swappable, I would be happy. I've currently got 8 external drives for my pc which I swap in and out of a few usb and esata external enclosures so drive swapping really isn't really an issue to me, as long as I can keep the movies.

Saturday, 07 February 2009 14:41:02 (Pacific Standard Time, UTC-08:00)
I replaced the internal drive with a WD 1TB verison and no issues. The original drive was 320GBs (WD brand) and soap to nuts it took 15 minutes. Restarted the box and it went through the standard guide download and all was good. Drive was onsale at bestbuy for 120.00 so I consider this a very reasonable upgrade.
Thursday, 12 February 2009 22:36:42 (Pacific Standard Time, UTC-08:00)
I have a HR22 unit and the Seagate FreeAgent Xtreme 1.5TB drive. I tried this once and it seemed like the DVR didn't even notice the drive was there. Also, this drive doesn't appear to go on on its own. It's almost like its connection has to be to a live device. The front of the drive only lights up once I power on the DVR. The drive itself spins up when I plug it in, but it sounds like it spins right back down after a few seconds when it realizes that it's not connected to anything.

Thoughts anyone?

Friday, 13 February 2009 07:40:31 (Pacific Standard Time, UTC-08:00)
@Chris -

As a general rule, there are compatibility issues that exist using the Seagate FreeAgent drives with most (if not all) DirecTV DVRs. As I noted in the article:

First of all, if your external drive is a Seagate FreeAgent, you will probably not have any luck, unless you have a HR20 DVR unit. My HR21-200 unit refused to work with my 750GB Seagate drive, so it's doing video editing duty now. Your milage may vary, but my experience is that they just don't work.
Friday, 13 February 2009 14:01:34 (Pacific Standard Time, UTC-08:00)
i have the cavalry 1tb external sata drive hooked up and all is well except it is extremely slow when accessing programs and even the guide. also, deleting a show takes way too long. any ideas? thanks
Tuesday, 24 February 2009 12:25:49 (Pacific Standard Time, UTC-08:00)
Rookie question - Anyone know what the USB port on the back of the DVR is for, and has anyone tried a USB external drive?
Monday, 02 March 2009 14:31:44 (Pacific Standard Time, UTC-08:00)
I have the HR23-700 (Direct TV) and a 1 TB Cavalry external hard drive connected via e-sata cable. I can boot the DVR on either drive, but when I boot to the external (Cavalry) I loose access to the "on demand" feature.

Any word on if there is a work around on this issue. Direct TV plays dumb to this whole thing "the port is in active - for future use...".

I understand that they are going to be providing 1080P "on demand" content - so a larger capacity external would be a perfect match - if it worked...
Ken Wilkinson
Wednesday, 04 March 2009 11:26:27 (Pacific Standard Time, UTC-08:00)
Mike - I don't know if it is my place to answer your question I'm a newbie myself, But I have seen some posts on your problem. Some have said the way the DVR indexes it's programming (the internal data-base) slows after 500GB's of data is recorded, and it gets bad as the numbers go up...
I think I saw a thread on your issue on the Direct TV tech blog, but I can't seem to locate it again for you...
Ken Wilkinson
Friday, 06 March 2009 19:53:24 (Pacific Standard Time, UTC-08:00)
Hooked up my HR23-700 DVR with a 1TB AcomData PureDrive. Everything went smooth, DVR recognized the external drive, I could easily program the movies to be recorded. They seem to be recorded on the drive, but when I try to play them, the system says 'Would you like to delete the recording?' with the highlighted 'yes' or 'no' button?????
Anybody solved this problem?
Saturday, 21 March 2009 21:06:45 (Pacific Standard Time, UTC-08:00)
I have the HR-20 set top box.
Which 1TB model would you suggest for me to use? If you could also tell me the exact model I would appreciate it.

Thank you.....
Saturday, 28 March 2009 11:45:17 (Pacific Standard Time, UTC-08:00)
I had a similar issue on my hd dvr out of the box. any recorded show would instantly pop up saying would you like to delete, called directv and they had me do a format procedure has worked fine since.

anybody opened the dvr up to upgrade the internal drive?

interested in finding out about that....

Wednesday, 08 April 2009 08:43:05 (Pacific Standard Time, UTC-08:00)
I have one question. If I connect a hard drive with files on it will the dvr delete the files?
Wednesday, 08 April 2009 22:40:47 (Pacific Standard Time, UTC-08:00)
@Jessi - Yes, it will reformat the entire drive and delete anything on the drive.

@a - I have read where people have successfully replaced the internal drive, but have not actually validated that myself.

Saturday, 11 April 2009 11:39:42 (Pacific Standard Time, UTC-08:00)
I have the hard drive connected. How do i transfer the files from the hard drive to my mac?
Saturday, 11 April 2009 13:02:44 (Pacific Standard Time, UTC-08:00)
@Jessi - If you are asking how can you copy files from an external drive to you mac, which are *not* directv video files, you can do this in Finder (there are many instructional resources for this on the 'net). If you are asking how. whether you can copy DVR video files from show recorded by the DirecTV DVR to your mac, you cannot do that.
Thursday, 16 April 2009 21:37:22 (Pacific Standard Time, UTC-08:00)
Greg can you help me a little with a web address to one of these Instructional threads?
Monday, 20 April 2009 07:43:14 (Pacific Standard Time, UTC-08:00)
Thanks! I have a 1TB external drive sitting right next to my DVR, and never thought of plugging them in together.
Tuesday, 21 April 2009 12:04:18 (Pacific Standard Time, UTC-08:00)
Need some Help... I have a DVR connected to a 1TB Calavry. All has been fine until 2 days when
the DVR went bad. So, direct tv of course sent me a new one and now I can't access the older recorder programs because it says wronf access card or something like that. Is this a common issue if you replace your box? Of course I spoke with some person at direct and didn't get anywhere. I guess the question would be is the programming coded with the receivers access card to play back?
Wednesday, 22 April 2009 13:29:26 (Pacific Standard Time, UTC-08:00)
Has any one hooked one of these drives to a linux box? What format is the drive formatted in after it is installed on the DVR? What is the file extension the files are saved under and how are they named?

Linux will play just about any format of video recording. There are utilities that will tell you what format a file is in, regardless of how it is named. I'll be hooking up a sata drive to my father-in-law's hr-23 the next time I'm over there.

I'll post back with my findings. I've been a linux geek for over ten years and I might have installed a few systems for directv. If some third party can backup and copy old movies from the original drive to a new one, I can too. As far as copying files from the dvr to your pc, wouldn't that be something? :-)
Monday, 27 April 2009 10:58:11 (Pacific Standard Time, UTC-08:00)
Like Gregg and many others, I, too, have successfully connected the recommended Cavalry 1TB external drive to my HR21-700 DVR. Been working pretty well. Yes, the menus and other functions can be a little slow at times, but this is no biggie to me. On one occasion a few weeks ago, all video (recorded and "live") was suddenly full of glitches, more specifically, constant "frame-skipping" that made the video very jumpy.

I powered down the receiver, unplugged it, and then unplugged the external drive. Waited a couple minutes, then reversed the process, first plugging in the drive and allowing it to spin up and then plugging the HR23 back in and letting it do its thing. All was well and the frame-skipping problem was gone!

On another issue related to using the external drive, I have read that an external drive, once connected to a receiver, is "married" to that particular receiver (much like an access card) and cannot be plugged into to another DirecTV DVR, same model or not. Is this true?

I have a second DVR, which is an HR22 with the 500 GB internal drive. My HR21 (the receiver using the Cavalry external drive) is a refurbished unit, which was a replacement for another HR21 which crashed and went belly-up a few months ago. DirecTV has offered to provide me with a new HR23 receiver, or reimburse me for the purchase of one. This latest model is now, finally, becoming available to some dealers who are selling them for around $200.00 and I would like to purchase one.

Does anyone know if I'll be able to plug the Cavalry external HD (with its existing content)into a new HR23 and have that unit recognize the drive and use it? If not, is there a way to off-load just the recorded content and then reload it onto the drive once it's "paired itself" to another receiver?

If there is no way to view recorded content stored on the external drive on ANOTHER HR2X DVR, I guess I'll need to hold on to the HR21 for a while and view all the content on it (about 40 hours worth) before getting a new unit.

BTW I am very excited about the return of our beloved TIVO unit later this year. Wonder what size HD that DVR will have installed??? Of course, then I'll have the same problem of viewing content that may be stored on the external drive on a new TIVO HD DVR when that time comes.....

Wednesday, 06 May 2009 15:39:40 (Pacific Standard Time, UTC-08:00)
thanks for the info. i will give it a shot. what i am curious is how can i transfer the recordings to my mac to back up movies or transfer to ipod or something. would a NAS drive work so i could at least mount the drive onto my mac?
Monday, 11 May 2009 22:48:40 (Pacific Standard Time, UTC-08:00)
I had good luck with Samsung Spinpoint HD103UJ 1TB SATA2 7200rpm 32MB cache, I did a write-up similar to yours at
Tuesday, 02 June 2009 18:32:31 (Pacific Standard Time, UTC-08:00)
For all of you inquiring about copying the shows from the external drive to your pc. The shows are recorded in the encrypted format and require the access card to unscramble the shows before you can watch them. So unless a hack for dtv becomes available you are out of luck. Even then this would not be a legal use of the recorded content.
Thursday, 23 July 2009 10:14:52 (Pacific Standard Time, UTC-08:00)
Bought the Cavalry 1TB external eSATA/USB 2 drive from newegg went thru the instructions and and everything worked perfectly. Until today! The DVR was unplugged and then replugged in accidently with the external hard drive remaining powered. When the DVR came back up and the Playlist was accessed ALL of the programming that was previously there on the external hard drive is gone. 100% is gone. What happened? I tried going thru several scenarios including replugging the eSATA cable back into both. I have been using the cable that came with the ext drive and it has been working fine. Has the external drive been completely erased by the DVR?
Thursday, 23 July 2009 11:56:01 (Pacific Standard Time, UTC-08:00)
Re: my previous post about the Cavalry 1TB loosing the external drive Playlist after a DVR reboot:
All the older programs that were on the internal hard drive before connecting the external are all still there. I checked by powering down the external hard drive. I know for sure that it is accessing the external drive. The difference = no playlist of previous recordings to that ext hard drive. Previous guide favorites were gone as well as all of the external hard drive previous To Do list. looks to me like its gone. The external hard drive is less than 1 month old and has never given any trouble. I did a small test. I recorded a program back onto the external hard drive then replicated the original problem (unplugged DVR with external drive power on then plugged back in DVR) and that recorded program was still in the Playlist.Wondering if it could be the external hard drive has a problem? or the eSATA cable?
Saturday, 25 July 2009 15:51:47 (Pacific Standard Time, UTC-08:00)
To anyone who wants to reply:
My DVR is an older HR20-700 and the plug in the back is labeled SATA not eSATA. The drive I have my eye on is a:
Western Digital My Book Home WDH1CS20000N 2TB External Hard Drive - Retail

* Interface: USB 2.0 / IEEE 1394a / eSATA
* Form Factor: 3.5"
* Dimensions: 6.5" x 5.4" x 2.1"
* Weight: 2.5 lbs.
* Features: Easy to set up, easy to use Automatic backup Capacity gauge - See at a glance how much space is available on your drive. (Works with the USB and FireWire connection only.) Smart and energy efficient - Turns itself on and off with your computer and Safe Shutdown prevents the drive from
* Package Contents: External hard drive USB cable FireWire cable AC adapter Quick Install Guide
* Model #: WDH1CS20000N
* Item #: N82E16822136352

at NewEgg for $259.

I selected a $15 SATA to eSATA cable:
SIIG 3.28 ft. eSATA to SATA I Cable Model CB-SA0311-S1 - Retail
* Type: eSATA
* Color: Black
* Connector Number: 2
* Specifications: Connector: eSATA to SATA I RoHS compliant
* Features: Designed to connect eSATA external drives / enclosures to SATA I enabled systems or vice-versa Works with SIIG eSATA products and standardize to work other brand name eSATA products Extra shielding and metal contacts provide better EMI protection
* Model #: CB-SA0311-S1
* Item #: N82E16812191018

as I assumed this conversion cable would be necessary.
Has anyone else used the WD 2tb drive?
Has anyone else hooked up an external drive to one of these older DirecTV DR20 DVR's?
Any feedback would be greatly appreciated!!

Saturday, 22 August 2009 16:46:11 (Pacific Standard Time, UTC-08:00)
Hi - I have the Direct TV hd23-700 and want to record shows - specifically from TLC - what not to wear- onto a DVD recorder so I can show the shows in our clinic on a lap top. Direct TV manual says you can attach a dvd recorder but then says many won't work due to copy write issues but some will. Anyone know which DVD recorder would work to do this? Thanks
Thursday, 27 August 2009 12:38:32 (Pacific Standard Time, UTC-08:00)
Hi all,

Completely new to this. Can you verify this info to me. I have about 70% used of my internal hard drive on my HD DVR. If I were to hook up an external would I no longer have access to this recorded programing (before installation of the external HD) unless I powered down the external? I'd like to be able to access all of my existing recordings while increasing my space for the future.

Monday, 28 September 2009 16:09:21 (Pacific Standard Time, UTC-08:00)
Hi Cheryl- I had the same problem with the drive being deleted. It has happened to me 2x with that drive. Each time it was immediately following a DirectTV software upgrade that was installed automatically...So that must be what the problem is. I have the HR20-100.
Monday, 05 October 2009 00:48:49 (Pacific Standard Time, UTC-08:00)
For anyone that has asked or is interested replacing the internal drive is just about as easy as plugging in an external drive has far fewer compatibility issues and I feel is prettier. Of course the diffrence in terms of ease is accessing the inside of the case, to do this you are just going to need a #10 Security Torx bit or if like me you are to lazy to find a hardware store that carries them you can just use a pair of needlenose pliers. Once inside just unplug and unscrew the old drive and toss the new one in. If you want to save all your previous recordings on the new drive plug both into spare sata slots in your computer then use a program like norton ghost or any other disk imaging program to copy the old drive to the new one.
It should go withut saying of course that opening your box "violates your waranty blah blah" just like it says on the shinny sticker.

Ill try to post some more detailed instructions or at least more literate ones latter (spelling and grammar are dying thanks to computers)
Thursday, 05 November 2009 13:09:24 (Pacific Standard Time, UTC-08:00)
Cheryl and Dustin,
Sounds like you have had the same problem I have, specifically after at Directv software upgrade, the external hard drive gets erased. I called Directv and they said there was no way to disable the automatic updates that get sent out. This seems to be a major flaw of using an external drive. Directv seems to be sending out updates every few months. Has anyone found a work around for this problem?
Thursday, 05 November 2009 13:29:43 (Pacific Standard Time, UTC-08:00)
I switched from Direct TV to FIOS. I have recordings on the old Direct TV DVR H21-200 that I'd like to copy/dowload to my computer. My Direct TV service is turned off however I can still play back the recording through the TV. Is there a way to save these shows to my computer or burn to a CD/DVD.

robert c
Monday, 23 November 2009 18:07:35 (Pacific Standard Time, UTC-08:00)
I am trying to connect a WDC 1TB external drive to a HR20-700. I start with the DVR off, turn on the WDC drive. When the DVR turns on, it gets part way through the boot process and reboots. Any ideas?
Thursday, 10 December 2009 12:27:16 (Pacific Standard Time, UTC-08:00)
My HR22-100 is totally dead (11 days now) and I'm not sure what the problem is. I can't call D* because I'm not in the USA. I was thinking that it might be the HDD inside the unit and was considering ordering a new one to replace it. If I was to hookup an external HDD is there a chance my receiver would actually power up?

I can't find anyone to try and repair this unit anywhere (USA or "up here") so I'm willing to try almost anything !!!
robert r
Monday, 14 December 2009 11:32:42 (Pacific Standard Time, UTC-08:00)
I tried this with a "Black Widow" enclosure from Best Buy and a Seagate 1TB Barracuda drive and it works flawlessly. Thanks for the procedure.
Clint Parrish
Tuesday, 15 December 2009 21:59:25 (Pacific Standard Time, UTC-08:00)
I hooked up the Cavalry 1TB to my DirecTV DVR and it worked fine. I attempted to "search for shows" via On-Demand and noticed that there was no connection. My On-Demand is connected through my wireless network. The connections were all functioning and On-Demand was working fine when I reverted back to the DirecTV DVR. Anyone know a way to fix this or get around it?
Tuesday, 22 December 2009 17:23:23 (Pacific Standard Time, UTC-08:00)
I just hooked up my WD Caviar Green 1.5TB HD with a Vantec nst-360SU-BL eSATA enclosure it works great sofar. the only thing i can't find the HD specs in the TIVO HR21-700. how much sd hours and other info from this hard drive.
I see also in the questions here to transfer video from this TIVO to the PC. it is possible if you want to look on my web site
It is not like the other series 3 when you use the TIVO desktop but this works great for me.
Someone able to comment on my question for the hours were to find them is greatly appriciated.
Tuesday, 29 December 2009 08:39:10 (Pacific Standard Time, UTC-08:00)
For those who need to know how to get whats on the Hard Drive to a Pc or any other source for playback, after hours on Google this is the only thing I can find that would do it...

Sucks that you need another unit to get whats on the hard drive, but it is possible to get it.

Good luck!!!
Peoples Champion
Tuesday, 29 December 2009 08:45:47 (Pacific Standard Time, UTC-08:00)
And also FYI for those who need to know about how much of space you get depending of the Hard Drive size.

Nominal Actual Space Capacity Capacity Hours Hours Hours
Drive Drive for User versus versus of of of
Size Size Recording HR21 HR22 SD MPEG2-HD MPEG4-HD
300GB 279GB 179GB x 0.90 x.0.49 200 30 50
320GB 298GB 198GB x 1.00 x 0.54 221 33 55
500GB 465GB 365GB x 1.84 x 1.00 408 61 102
640GB 596GB 496GB x 2.51 x 1.36 554 83 139
750GB 698GB 598GB x 3.02 x 1.64 668 100 167
1TB 931GB 831GB x 4.20 x 2.28 928 139 232
1.5TB 1397GB 1297GB x 6.55 x 3.55 1449 217 362
2TB 1863GB 1763GB x 8.90 x 4.83 1970 295 492
Peoples Champion
Monday, 04 January 2010 12:32:08 (Pacific Standard Time, UTC-08:00)
I am considering useing an extrnal hard with previously downloaded movies on it to hook up to the HD DVR Plus reciever. That way I could keep lots of movies downloaded from my computer on the external drive ... then move the external upstairs to my tv ... attatch to the hd dvr and watch the movies there.. has any one tried this. will it work as a way to stor lots of movies and move them from computer to dvr? Roger
Monday, 04 January 2010 15:07:18 (Pacific Standard Time, UTC-08:00)
never mind. found the answer above, finally. the dvr will wipe the external looseing all the movies, right?
Wednesday, 19 May 2010 08:53:23 (Pacific Standard Time, UTC-08:00)
The programming that you record on your "external" hard drive, can it be "read" by any software? The idea here is to give ability to burn your "fav" showz on DVD.

Saturday, 04 September 2010 14:35:31 (Pacific Standard Time, UTC-08:00)
I know this is an old post, but I recently did the same thing with a 2 TB version Calvary drive on my 3 year-old HR-20. (Also purchased from New Egg for about $110 after rebate, looks almost identical to the 1 TB model.) Runs warm--never gets to rest b/c it's always buffering. Took several hours (overnight) for my on-demand channels to show up again. Parental codes were still intact, but I had to rebuild my favorites and blocked lists. Been running a week now, so far so good.
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