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Sky+ Hard Disk Replacement

A couple of weeks ago our V3 Thomson Sky+ box started to misbehave. Blue screen on power up, 10 minute hang followed by a reboot on anything to do with the sky plus planner or program playback. This sounded like a failing disk and a bit of research with google suggested the same, but that a planner rebuild or a full reset might fix it.

First off, we tried the planner rebuild as this doesn't delete recorded content:

The box will chunter away for a minute or two then reboot.

This didn't make any difference, so next up was a full reset:

At this point the playback circle should start to rotate backwards for a few minutes, then the box will restart.

I also did a firmware reset just to make sure:

After this the sky+ box will restart.

This made things significantly better for us for a few days. Unfortunately one recorded program started to refuse to play back, and would consistently make the sky+ box hang while making a 'clicking' noise as the disk tried to re-read the bad sectors.

At this point, rather than risk calling sky and getting a replacement Sky+ box (and a £65 callout charge, and the danger of getting one of the crappy Amstrad boxes) I ordered a new 160 GB drive, the same size as the original - a Seagate 7200.10 (ST3160815A). I picked this model because it's well known for being fairly quiet and has a 5 year warranty. The old problems with 7200 RPM drives taking too long to spin up seem to have been solved in the recent Sky+ Firmware.

Our box is well out of warranty, so it's probably only worth trying this if yours is, or you're happy to invalidate it...

Fitting it was a bit of a bugger, but the procedure goes something like this. Again, this is for a V3 Thomson box - it will be different for other types.

Once the drive has been replaced the Sky+ box will initially seem to not work. Going through the 'full reset' procedure above to format the drive solved this, and it all seems to be working.


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