Fix TiVo

Tivo Repair and Troubleshooting: TiVo SO3 Error

Your TiVo: Symptoms you may be experiencing

An S03 error is an error found when the TiVo guide isn't getting updated properly. If you check in your Messages and Setup -> System Info screen under "Last Status", you may find that the TiVo reports an SO3 error. Another error like this is "failed while loading series." In both cases, there's usually a corrupt database.

Fix my TiVo! - Solutions

When a TiVo downloads the guide data for your channel lineup, it has to store the data in its internal databases. So it loads the raw data so that it can access it more quickly. Sometimes, the unit encounters hard drive problems during this process, and that's why you'd see one of these errors.

The options for solving this problem are straightforward:

1) Replace your TiVo Hard Drive

We recommend that you purchase a preprogrammed, ready-to-install hard drive for your specific TiVo model. To do this, you will first need to find your TiVo model on the back of your TiVo, or see this page, which will tell you what model TiVo you have based on the first three digits of your TiVo's 15-digit TiVo Service Number.

Once you have your TiVo model, you can visit weaKnees, which has preprogrammed hard drives for every TiVo model.

We recommend weaKnees for several reasons: (1) Their customer support is exemplary (offering toll-free phone support, live chat and email support); (2) they will allow returns within 30 days (subject to a restocking fee), in case a drive doesn't solve your problem; and (3) they offer free shipping.

You might also consider Hinsdale's TiVo hard drive kits, although that website is more difficult to navigate.

2) We recommend option #1, because replacing a drive is really quite straightforward if you have the right instructions (and the places we mention above have excellent instructions). If you don't want to replace the drive yourself, send your TiVo in for repair. You might consider the TiVo flat-fee repair service that weaKnees offers. The service covers all standalone standard definition TiVos, and if your model isn't listed, they can usually give you a quote for repairs of other TiVo models. If your unit is not listed on the flat-fee repair page, just email them and let them know the TiVo model, that you have the GSOD (green screen of death), and that you don't want to install a hard drive yourself. They'll give you instructions for sending it in.

More Information about this problem

If you want to test your hard drive to see whether it is bad, you will want to download the testing software for your TiVo hard drive's manufacturer. For hard drive testing instructions, see this page.

There are other resources online that have instructions on how to program a new TiVo hard drive, including the TiVo Upgrade Instructions site and the Hinsdale TiVo Upgrade How-To website. Unfortunately, if your TiVo's hard drive is bad, then you will be unable to use these resources because you likely won't be able to extract the TiVo software from your old hard drive.

Why/when/how the "green screen" can appear. In a nutshell, two portions of a TiVo hard drive are set aside for the TiVo operating system: the "active" partition and the "inactive" partition. When your TiVo powers on, the software in the active partition (really partitions, but we'll keep it simple) is used. The inactive partition contains, in effect, a backup of the TiVo operating system. If the software on the active partition develops an error, the TiVo will attempt to swap the inactive and active partitions and restart the TiVo using what had been the inactive partition. While the TiVo makes this "switch," you see the GSOD. If a hard drive is too damaged to switch partitions, then the green screen will never resolve and your TiVo will cycle between the Powering up screen and the GSOD, or will sit on the GSOD forever.

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