Tuesday, June 8, 2010

DirecTV Software Update Causes HD DVR Outage

Earlier this morning the KXL newsroom received a tip from an, understandably, frustrated listener who couldn't get through to DirecTV support... seems the caller's DirecTV HD DVR had locked up and they were unable to change the channel.

Some surfing of the Internet this morning helped me discover the problem was, apparently, a software update overnight blast to the receivers that didn't quite work as planned for some customers.

DirecTV has since responded using their own Twitter account with this simple advice:

HDDVR customers: If your HDDVR will NOT power on, unplug the unit from the wall, wait 15sec, then replug, & repeat 1x to restore service.

(If you have a DirecTV DVR and can verify this worked for you, please comment below.)

Using the above software glitch as a case-study, there are some things you might try before any service call:
  • First off, don't panic. Often you can make matters MUCH worse... we've all torn apart the home entertainment system or ripped apart our computer to discover it was a cable that fell out of the wall, or another simple fix. Take a deep breath, relax, analyze the problem systematically and don't add to your problems.
  • Power cycle everything. Sure, your monitor might appear to be working just fine and your lamp doesn't *appear* to be having troubles, but sometimes it's best to take a few extra seconds to disconnect power (unplug it from the wall socket or power strip completely) from the electronic gizmo causing grief, wait 30 seconds, and plug it back in.
  • Check for loose cables.
  • Are others having the same issue? (Ask around your office, check online (do a Twitter search), call a buddy)
  • Gather the necessary information before calling tech support (account numbers, serial numbers, exact description of the problem, what you've tried previously)
  • Be patient. They may walk you through the exact same things you've already tried-- but remember they're trying to help. It will take a few extra minutes, but best to try again and be confident.
  • Disclaimer: The above tips are general suggestions only and not meant to replace your hard-working IT staff and the manufacturer's own recommendations. Actual mileage may vary

And now, just in time for World Cup Soccer, your DVR is back up and running! Right?

For more on this and other tech stories, tune to Newsradio 750 KXL (750 AM in Portland, OR and online at KXL.com) each Friday morning at 6:20am & 8:20am.


Anonymous said...

Even after a reset the box becomes unresponsive to menu commands after 5-10 minutes.

The direcTV number is maxed out and you cannot even get the call tree.

Shame really!

But they have introduced Multi-Room... I ran it in Beta and its very convenient.

With any luck they will get it working in time for the World Cup.

brianwestbrook.com said...

Hi Gordon-- I'm assuming you've completed the reset a second time? I have been hearing from DirecTV that their support lines have just been SLAMMED. Definitely might want to turn the TV off for a few hours and try again later.... frustrating, but certainly beats waiting on hold. Send me an email, I'd love to hear about your experience with multi-home. (techexpert AT brianwestbrook DOT com) Thanks for your comments!

Unknown said...

The @directv recommended reset did not fix the problem.

Unknown said...

This worked for me. I had to unplug it, wait 15 seconds, plug it back in, then unplug it, wait another 15 seconds then plug it back in. That worked for about 5 minutes then it froze...so I repeated the process (above) and the receiver rebooted and is working fine.

Stacie said...

I had a similar experience. I rebooted twice, and it worked for 5 min and then froze again...I will try again after work. Luckily I have two HD DVRs and knew that when they both died at the same time(even though one is 2 weeks old) it must have been a software push. Hopefully it will be up and running again this evening...and maybe the Multi-room service will be awesome and make up for it!

Anonymous said...

A second reboot is the solution!!!! Now both boxes are running smoothly.

You can get through to customer services by calling the direcTV "new orders line" on 1-888-777-2454 and answer the call tree that you are an existing customer... this will put you through to customer services but avoid the telco network overload.

Anonymous said...


I was part of the beta for a couple of months and I have just activated the public version for $3/mo.

You need to have your HD DVR box connected to a home network. I use wired Ethernet but have tested the PowerLine AV adapter solution as well.

PowerLine is a standard that allows devices to talk over your household electrical system. Best Buy and other retailers have products available to purchase.

You may also try a "wireless print server" or one of direcTV's "Wireless TV Internet Connection Kit" http://www.directv.com/DTVAPP/content/equipment/accessories

Once you have your box connected to a home network you're able to activate Multi-Room. You can also activate Video On Demand as your home network is most likely connected to the internet.

Multi-Room does exactly what you'd expect. It provide a combined list of programming on your DVR and other DVRs in the house. You can set a name for each and optionally share the playlist. You can even enable/disable remote deletes... i.e. you can allow your kids to watch programs from another DVR but they cannot delete them when they're done.

My only complaint about Multi-Room is the delay when you press control buttons (pause, FF, play). Its not a big problem but it is a little annoying. I suspect the problem is due the streaming nature of the feed between the boxes.

My wife and I really like the freedom of watching TV in a formal or relaxed setting depending on the room we're in.

Unknown said...

I used the 'unplug' method and it works just fine. Before searching the web I had tried hitting reset, calling DirecTV and had all the same problems everyone is describing.

Brad said...

I got no response from my receiver this morning, unplugged it and it came back up. Changed the channel once then it froze again, would not respond. I unplugged it again, plugged it back in a minute later then went and took a shower. When I came back it appeared to be working normally but I had to go to work. It was responding normally to the remote again, however.

Unknown said...

Just tried the double reboot... no success.

Directv needs to get on this ASAP!

On hold in the support queue for 15 minutes so far.

not2LAY8 said...

Seems entire East Coast is experiencing waking up to having all their directv receivers not functioning.I can not even get a ground line thru to the '800' # to make a complaint or get tech help. There isn't even tech help or an announcement of an outage via internet. What's going on?

beavil said...

Same thing happening to me, cannot get through on tech support, but now I know it's not just my problem. I've tried the reset method 4 times total now and it still freezes after a few minutes. I hope they do a rollback and extended testing of future updates. Oh and it would b nice if they put a message on your tv that would let me know that there was an update. Would of saved me a few hours.

Unknown said...

I am a customer service representative at a retailer store for directv. Our office has been flooded with calls about this glitch today.

Different things are working for different people.

The hard reset for 10 minutes has worked for some, others had to leave their units unplugged for 1 or 2 hours.

One customer tried the hard reset twice in 30 seconds and it did not work.

If you have the time and patience, unplug the receiver for a good or or longer.

Anonymous said...

Sit tight, you're not alone.

I rebooted both of mine and they froze after 10-15 mins. I rebooted again and they are still working after 2 hours.

Have patience, leave them on before the reboot, they may stop responding to user commands but may still be receiving downloads/patches from direcTV.

PETARA said...

I had to reset twice but it now is working fine.

Unknown said...

2 resets did the trick for me with no problem. The DirecTV Twitter page even says to do it twice.


Anonymous said...

The direcTV twitter page has changed their advice from earlier this morning to indicate a double reboot.


Chalfontmom said...

the way i got it working was to unplug for 30sec two times in row!!

Chalfontmom said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Unknown said...

Here's the update from DirecTV's Facebook page:

" DIRECTV There was a transmission glitch that occured early this morning affecting some of our HD DVRs. DIRECTV has fixed the problem and has automatically reset the affected receivers. There is nothing further that you need to do. We apologize to our customers for any inconvenience this has caused them."

Unknown said...

That feel when "unplugging it and plugging it back in" is actually the solution to a problem. I guess this just goes to show why they always have to ask if you tried doing that - so many people encounter a problem with a device and just go "well, it's broke! What am I gonna do?"

Just unplug it and plug it back in, man.

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