How to Reformat and Use a Dish Network DVR Hard Drive with HDPARM Tool

Easily pull and reconfigure a purchased Dish DVR Hard Drive to work in a PC.


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    Disassemble the case of your DVR. This varies from model-to-model, typically only requiring 4-6 screws be removed from the bottom and back of the DVR.
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    Set up your DVR next to the PC with the cover removed, exposing the Hard Drive.
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    Unmount the drive.
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    With the Hard Drive (Henceforth referred to as HDD), connect to the DVR and place it where accessible, plug in the DVR.
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    Notice that in the Hopper DVR, the HDD is gutted out of and stuffed into a 722k DVR. Note: The HDD may be of a relatively large size (250GB on 512 DVR, 500GB on 722 DVR, 2TB!!! on Hopper DVR)
    • These drives are set to power up in standby mode and then receive a "wake-up" that a normal PC SATA controller isn't going to be configured to send. Fortunately this can be disabled.
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    Open HDPARM Tool from
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    Proceed to launch by running Command Prompt as an administrator.
    • Hit your start button in Windows 7 or search in windows 8
    • Type cmd to get it to display, or navigate to C:\Windows\System32, where C: is your default drive letter containing the windows root directory.)
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    Navigate to the directory you installed using the HDPARM Tool in Command Prompt. Change the directory to where the HDPARM folder is.
    • Swap your data cable on the HDD (In most modern data controllers). It's the thin solid cable not the wide cable with separate power lines. Keep the DVR power plugged in.
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    Type the line "hdparm -s 0 /dev/hda", then "hdparm -s 0 /dev/hdb", then "hdparm -s 0 /dev/hdc" hitting Enter after each in Command Prompt under the HDPARM directory.
    • Find "setting power-up in standby to off". This is where the unique hard drive identifier for the Dish HDD comes in.
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    The computer should recognize the drive under Device Manager (which can be found under Control Panel and viewing as icons the folder via the drop down in the upper right.) Also visible in Disk Management, which you can find by hitting Windows Key+R to bring up the run dialog then typing diskmgmt.msc.
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    Set up usable volumes that are better for your personal use instead of the separation set by the DVR's formatting utility to designate system used areas from the actual recording storage areas.
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    Delete each volume that is visible in Disk Management. That will give you the following unallocated space prime for reconfiguration.
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    Right-click the unallocated space and create a simple volume.
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    Specify the full size of the partition as the whole drive capacity or smaller sections for other purposes like RAID.
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    Specify the Volume label and NTFS file system type. The drive should now be ripe for storing your collections of videos on family vacations or wherever.
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    Shut down the PC and the DVR, then place the HDD permanently in whatever PC.

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Categories: Maintenance and Repair