August 11, 2015

When TiVo die

I knew it was coming, but the failure of all my attempted recordings this weekend and the noises from within my TiVo not dissimilar to a washing machine going into the spin cycle were the final death throes of my original TiVo.
VM have quickly replaced the ailing relic from 2010 with a new box (Samsung, for those who keep notes on these things). Very efficient, all done within 24 hours of me calling 150.
But (and it's a big but) I've lost over 500gb of recordings as they couldn't be copied over to the new box, including some series I was halfway through watching (notably Humans and Wayward Pines) and others I hadn't started yet. Frustrating.
Now I'm somewhat naive about the technology inside a TiVo, but presumably it's not too dissimilar from a computer, so surely in this day and age copying data from one disc to another is not that difficult? Or am I missing something? Sure, it would take a while, but couldn't an engineer do this whilst he's filling in the paperwork (that seems to take an age)?
As it is, I will finish watching series using the 4 and Fox catch up services, but it is strange that in this day and age when 1Tb isn't a massive amount of data any more that a transfer process still isn't on offer.


Dogsbody said...

I'm sure you can work all this out yourself but FWIW...
1) If your TiVo box sounded like a washing machine, chances are it was the hard drive breaking which would have made copying old programs off problematic at best.
1) I'm sure Virgin Media don't really want engineers taking TiVo boxes apart. especially not on the floor of customers houses :-)
2) Not all TiVo boxes are created equal. I know from the (very) old TiVo boxes that they used different video formats across different models that weren’t at all compatible with each other.
3) The drives in TiVo's are pretty standard drives. Even if you took the drives out of both TiVo's and plugged them into a dedicated device to do the transfer it would still at at least 55mins to copy the data. More if they need to transcode recordings to a different format.
... Just my 0.02 GBP

Humour Hive said...

I am with Dogsbody, it sounds to me like the hard drive (probably the only moving part in the machine to cause any noise) was the issue in which case you probably couldn't even watch the recordings, let alone transfer them over as the disk was probably wrecked inside it. That will be why you could watch TV but recording/watching recordings from it would be fruitless.

It is a bit like a laptop. If the hard drive is screwed on that, it won't boot up or run any of the programmes on your laptop, let alone save all the pictures and videos to another storage device.

And that doesn't even go into the legal parameters of whether a VM engineer is legally allowed to make copies of your recordings, even if common sense should say it should allow it as its only transferring them from one of your devices to another of your devices. But it is technically illegal by copyright law (again as of this month) to make copies of music for your own personal use (such as ripping CD's on to an iPod), so ripping recorded copies of tv shows to put on a new hard drive could technically be illegal to do, which wouldn't particularly result in the heavy hand of the law coming down on you, but would inevitably cause VM to have procedures in place to stop their engineers doing it in case some irritating do-gooder was to grass one of them up and it got into the media that Virgin engineers were breaking the law on a technicality. Or the heavy hand of the law decide to go after the entire company because there are multiple examples of them doing it which all mounts up.

ashpole said...

You're correct, but a solution is in the works, but not when the item fails is the HDD. To soften the blow slightly, do you know that you can transfer your Season Passes, Wish Lists etc from the old TiVo to your new one by logging into My.VirginMedia?

Ross Dunbar said...

I heard talk of the recordings being stored in the cloud as well as locally on your TiVo, I believe that's what is being done in the states with the latest iteration of th TiVo there.

As to the transfer of season passes and wish lists, Ashpole is absolutely correct. However, I found after I transferred them onto my 3rd TiVo (I've not been very lucky this year, TiVo-wise), that the season passes corrupted and I ended up losing a number of them. Once they've corrupted, they no longer display the show title so if you have a lot (as I do), you've know idea which pass you've lost and they disappear from MyVirginMedia too.

Unknown said...

Funny timing for this post, as I have a TiVo I've been having trouble with for a few months now (stalling and corruption during playback, some recordings not working at all). My TiVo is pretty much from day 1 (the engineer reckoned it was the first install in Northern Ireland - I had the original pre-Virgin TiVo, so I was kinda obsessed).

Anyway, I rang CS and she did a test remotely and said there were a load of errors on the HD and we needed to replace it. But I'm in the same boat as you - a 1Tb drive which is currently 74% full, including series we are in the middle of (and LOTS of movies we've been saving). So I said I would hold off and try and get some stuff watched first.

Of course, as you watch, more stuff records, so it's an endless battle (I don't think our drive has been below 50% since the week we got it).

The idea I had (I haven't gone through with it yet) was to order a second TiVo for a month or two. Set up all my season passes on it, and cancel them on the current box. Then watch as much as we can in that month or two, while the other one starts to fill up with the new stuff. A some point, we'll take the decision to send the other one back.

I'm going to call them sometime soon and see if this is an option. To be honest, it would be a nice gesture if they would give you the new box rent-free for a month, since you have a fault on the old box, but as long as I can get one without being tied into a contract for a year or something, I'll be happy enough to pay.

If this works out, I'll try and remember to come back and post about it.

Nialli said...

Thanks all.
Knowing a few weeks in advance my TiVo's disc was dying I had already done a bit of binge viewing to ensure we wouldn't miss too much, and in the end there was a negligible amount of stuff that we couldn't track down if we needed it. I'm disappointed that the All 4 on demand service's picture quality appears to be sub-SD for Humans, but other than that we've got things covered.
I'd suggest anyone with one of the early VM TiVo's keep an eye on performance now, as five years of constant activity is pretty heavy duty for a hard disc.