In the last several years, the amount of high definition programming on television has exploded but unfortunately the storage capacity of HD PVR’s has remained virtually unchanged. To deal with the problem, companies like Bell TV have resorted to offering consumers the ability to connect an external hard drive (EHD) to their HD receivers.
While the ability to add additional storage to your Bell HD PVR is a nice feature, it can sometimes cause headaches for consumers who are unsure of what models of receiver can accept an EHD, what type of hard drive to use and the rules regarding their use. The following is FAQ to answer some of the most common questions we receive about using an external hard drive with Bell TV satellite receivers.
Which models can take an external hard drive?
External hard drives can only be added the following Bell TV model receivers: 9241, 9242, 6131, 6141. It cannot be added to any other models. EHD functionality was introduced to the 9241/9242 models in firmware v182. EHD functionality was introduced to the 6131/6141 models in firmware v182.
Do I need to buy the EHD sold by Bell?
No. Digital Home readers have used a wide range of external hard drives with a degree of success, however, we cannot guarantee that 100% of drives on the marketplace today will work. We have found that the vast majority of external 7200 RPM USB 2.0 hard drives with a capacity between 50GB and 1 Terabyte should work. (For 9242 owners. Firmware V1.84 has upped the maximum size to 1.5TB). Please note that Hard drives less than 50GB will not work and 5400 RPM drives are not recommended.
Can I use a Flash Drive?
EHD stands for External Hard drive so flash drives will not work.
Can I use a small external notebook drive that is powered by the USB Port?
No. Your external drive must have its own power supply. Digital Home has received one report of someone claiming to have successfully used a USB powered drive with their satellite receiver, however, we must warn readers that the USB port on the Bell receivers were not designed to handle the power requirements of an external hard drive. Bell advises users to use a drive that plugs into an AC outlet. To minimize the risk of damage to your receiver, its advice Digital Home readers heed.
Can I daisy chain multiple hard drives or add two EHDs?
No. Only one external hard drive may be connected to your receiver at one time. Multiple drives can be added but only one at a time.
Can I use a drive with Sleep mode ?
Digital Home recommends avoiding External Hard Drives that can be programmed to go into a hibernation or sleep mode because they can conflict with PVR timers and will likely cause problems in day-to-day use.
Can I share an EHD between receivers?
External hard drives used with 9241 and 9242 receivers can be moved to another 9241/9242 receiver on the same Bell account. EHD’s can also be shared between 6131/6141s that are on the same Bell TV account. Please note that programming from an EHD mated to a 9241/9242 drive cannot be viewed on a 6131 or 6141. Attempting to do so could result in your drive being reformatted.
Should I buy a more expensive drive?
Since your EHD could be in use 24/7 and will sit in your home theatre, Digital Home recommends consumers pay extra for a good quality drive with a noise dampening enclosure.
Where should I place my EHD?
Like any hard drive, your external hard drive will generate a lot of heat; therefore ensure it is in a well ventilated location. Placing it in an enclosed cabinet or right up against several other components could cause your drive to overheat and could cause problems during recording and playback.
Can I plug the EHD into my laptop or computer and watch or copy recordings?
No. The recordings on your external drive are encrypted and cannot be played back on a computer.
Is it best to leave an external hard drive powered on all the time or just when you need to access it?
If you own a Bell 6131 or 6141 receiver, Digital Home recommends you leave your external hard drive on at all times. If you own a Bell 9241 or 9242 receiver which then feel free to your external drive off and turn it on only when you need to access archived recordings. The reason why it’s okay to turn off your EHD with your 9241/9242 is because the internal hard drive is still operating so the external drive is not required for timers and/or immediate recording.
How do archive recordings to my External Hard drive?
With your PVR and EHD turned on, press the following buttons on your remote in the following order
4 – Multimedia
3 – External Drive
2 – Archive Drive
Select the recordings you wish to Archive
Press archive and your programs will begin to be archived to your external drive. A two hour movie can take 30 minutes to an hour to archive but you can resume watching television while archiving.