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How to troubleshoot external hard drive issues

Learn how to troubleshoot external hard drive issues when configuring your Shaw Direct TV hardware. If you are setting up an external hard drive for the first time, you can find system requirements and setup instructions on our feature page.

“External hard drive service” pop-up messages

Recording to an external hard drive requires an HDPVR 630 and active programming. If your programming has been turned off (such as for a vacation stop, technical issues, or an overdue balance), you may be alerted that external hard drive service is no longer activated on your account. This is normal and you can press "ENTER" on the remote to remove the message.

Similarly, once programming is turned back on you may be alerted that external hard drive service has been successfully activated.

If you have active programming and are being alerted that external hard drive service is not activated on your account, first request a signal refresh via My Shaw Direct or our automated phone system. If this doesn't activate the service, give us a call at 1.888.554.7827 for more help.

External hard drive is not detected


All recordings stored on your external hard drive appear grey in the PVR List and cannot be played back. When you restart your satellite receiver, you are alerted that the hard drive normally connected to your satellite receiver was not detected.

Possible Causes

  • Your external hard drive is powered off or unplugged
  • Your external hard drive is no longer connected to your satellite receiver
  • Your external hard drive is not starting up in eSATA mode
  • Your external hard drive has gone defective


  1. Check that your external hard drive is powered on. The status or power light should be illuminated.
  2. Check that the eSATA cable is still firmly connected to both the back of your external hard drive, as well as the eSATA port on the back of your HDPVR 630. eSATA cables are usually flat with identical small, rectangular connectors on both ends.
    • If you correct an issue with the power or eSATA cable, remember to restart your satellite receiver by holding down the power button on the front panel for 10 seconds.
  3. Some eSATA drives may also support a USB connection for use with other devices. If you have both a USB and an eSATA cable plugged into the back of the external hard drive, it may be starting up in USB mode instead of using the eSATA connection.
    • Otherwise, refer to the user manual that came with your external hard drive for help on how to fix this issue.
  4. Unusual grinding or clicking noises are signs that something is physically wrong with the hard drive. Once it dies, or if too many sectors become unreadable, you will not be able to use it with your HDPVR 630 and should replace it.

Deleting the external hard drive from your HDPVR 630


Your external hard drive has been lost, gone defective, or you just want to use it with a different device. You want to remove all the grey recordings from your PVR List and stop being warned that the external hard drive was not detected.


  1. Press "OPTIONS", "5" to access the "PVR Settings" menu. Scroll down to "External Hard Drive Setup" and press ENTER.
  2. You should see a popup message stating that the external hard drive normally connected to your satellite receiver was not detected. Select "Ignore" and press "ENTER".
  3. The next popup will ask you if you want to permanently delete the external hard drive from your satellite receiver. Select "Yes" and press "ENTER".
  4. Review the confirmation screen, then select 'Delete' and press "ENTER".

If you choose to reconnect that hard drive to your HDPVR 630, simply follow the prompts to reformat it again.

Building an external hard drive using an external enclosure

If you aren't able to find a prebuilt external hard drive which suits your needs, it's easy to build your own.

Required equipment

  • Internal SATA hard drive. The drive must be 2.0 TB or smaller, and should be rated for PVR/DVR usage.
  • SATA to eSATA external hard drive enclosure, matched to the physical size of the internal hard drive. The enclosure must be externally powered.

Assembly Overview

You should always refer to the specific instructions provided with your enclosure. The following is an overview of the general steps:

  1. Open the enclosure (usually by removing two screws) and pull the tray out.
  2. Place the hard drive on the tray, and slide it into the SATA connector.
  3. Secure the hard drive to the tray, usually by attaching the four screws provided.
  4. Slide the tray back into the enclosure. Attach the LED cable, and then secure the tray to the enclosure using the screws you removed in step 1.
  5. Follow the Setup Instructions to begin using your external hard drive with your HDPVR 630.

Your external hard drive should be placed to allow maximum ventilation and should not be positioned directly on top of your HDPVR 630.

Moving recordings between satellite receivers

The external hard drive functions as an extension of the internal hard drive inside of your HDPVR 630. It is not possible to move recordings between the internal and external hard drive. Additionally, recordings created can only be played back on the same satellite receiver they were created on, so it is not possible to move recordings between receivers.

If your HDPVR 630 becomes defective and is replaced, the setup wizard will guide you through the process of reformatting your external hard drive to use it with your new HDPVR 630.

Can't record with an external device - Understanding copyright protections


You can't record a TV program on a recording device like DVD Recorder, VCR or Computer Media Centre

Possible Causes and Solutions

  • Most programming on Shaw Direct is coded with one of two different types of copyright protection. High-bandwidth Digital Copy Protection (HDCP) protects digital HDTV signals transmitted by HDMI to DVI cables. Copy Generation Management System – Analog (CGMS-A) protects analog TV signals transmitted by component, RCA or coaxial cables. The coding prevents the recording of the broadcast by third-party video recorders such as DVD recorders, VCRs, and computer media centers.
  • The code embeds a kind of flag in the broadcast stream to prevent the unlawful copying or re-distribution of copyright-protected material like TV shows and movies. Shaw Direct must comply with these copyright protection standards.
  • The flags vary depending on content. There are programs that aren't protected at all. Some programs allow you to record a program to a VCR or DVD recorder once. Other programs are coded to restrict you from recording the program at all. If you try to record a program that has been flagged, you may see a black screen instead of video.
  • The flags are determined by the production studios and is not controlled by Shaw Direct.