How to use a Motorola DVR/Bugs

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How to use a Motorola DVR
Identify | Connections | Setup | i-Guide | MSTV | Passport | Tivo | FireWire | Remote | Firmware/Software | Configuration | Bugs | Boot Errors | VOD Errors | Resets | Help

The early versions of the hardware, software, and service have quite a few bugs. Many of these have workarounds and are being worked on by Motorola, the cable companies, and the IPG developers, the suppliers of the software on the DVR. It is advisable to cold-reboot once a month, by simply unplugging the box for 30 seconds. After power is restored, be patient as the program guide and other features reload (approximately. 20 minutes, and wait 24 hours for the guide to fully populate). Minor odd DVR behaviors are usually cleared up, and more serious ones prevented by this procedure. However, sometimes a bug is still just a bug.

If you are at a loss as to any other solution to a problem you are experiencing, you can also perform a DVR Authorization and Factory Full Reset or a DVR HDD Reset.

Software, Firmware or Hardware

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Many of the software problems first encountered by users can be remedied by remembering one simple rule: Don't turn off the DVR. The DVR is never really off anyhow. Turning it off just turns off the video and audio outputs. It continues to buffer TV (on some models).

The box may switch from sending Dolby Digital out of the digital outputs to PCM

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  • Description: Instead of Dolby Digital audio, the box may switch to outputting PCM audio or no audio at all.
  • Remedies:
    • Mute then unmute the box.
    • Turn the box off and on.
    • If HDMI output ceases Dolby Digital output (641x-PIII or 341x boxes), try the optical or coaxial digital outputs.

The box may freeze while recording or buffering analog channels

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  • Keep it tuned to digital channels (bug should be fixed as of firmware 9.15 and newer)

The picture and/or sound may freeze or stutter, particularly on HD channels

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  • Cause: The incoming signal strength may be too weak.
  • Remedies:
  • Cause: If using the HDMI output on a 641x or 341x STB with Firmware 16.20 or later, there are often issues related to the HDMI/DVI OUTPUT MODE.
  • Remedies:
    • If using an HDMI->DVI adapter/cord, ensure the HDMI/DVI OUTPUT MODE is set to DVI. If it is, switch the OUTPUT MODE to "HDMI" then back to "DVI". You can leave the OUTPUT MODE set to "HDMI", but you may encounter HDCP errors.
    • If using a pure HDMI connection, ensure the HDMI/DVI OUTPUT MODE is set to "HDMI". If it is, switch the OUTPUT MODE to "DVI" then back to "HDMI". You can leave the OUTPUT MODE set to "DVI", but you may encounter HDCP errors.
    • Replace the STB with a different box.

When watching a recorded program, there are audio dropouts or digital video artifacts

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  • Description: When watching a recorded or buffered program, every couple of minutes the audio will go dead for a moment, or a streak of pixels will blur across some part of the screen. Viewing live TV seems to be OK.
  • Cause: Firmware may have been upgraded to version 16.20. Check your firmware version.
  • Remedies:

When turning the box on, it may not display a picture or sound. Changing channels has no effect

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  • Cause: The problem may be caused by a bug with scheduled recordings. The problem may occur when the box has shut itself off following a scheduled recording.
  • Remedies:
    • Don't turn off the box
    • Play a recorded program for a moment, then return to live programming
    • Reboot the box (unplug power for a minute)
  • Note: As of January 22, 2006 this bug persists in the current revision of firmware (9.19 for PI/PII boxes) This problem also persists on PIII boxes.

When turning the box on while using a digital video connection, the picture may not be visible or correct

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  • Cause: If you are using DVI or HDMI output, it may be because a proper HDCP handshake did not take place to allow the box to output the video to the TV. In this case, the DVI would display video for about 5 seconds then go blank or green. Occasionally, it may display video and put a big blue box saying there is an HDCP error (seen using a Sharp LC-45GD7U TV). On a Samsung TX-R2779H with a PII box and a DVI-to-HDMI cable, this led to multiple side-by-side images when watching a HD channel thru either DVI or component outputs.
  • Remedies:
    • Check to see if HDCP is enabled (obviously, while using component or other non-digital output).
    • If using Firmware 16.20 or later, check to see if the HDMI/DVI OUTPUT MODE is set properly.
    • This user (Doug) doesn't remember the exact sequence of events used to fix the problem, but it consisted of doing these things in a particular order after powering off the TV, the STB (fully powered off, as in unplug the power cord), and disconnecting the DVI cable:
      • Plug in STB
      • Turn on TV
      • Connect DVI cable
      • Power on STB
      • Note: After a few tries of various combinations, I got the DVI to work fine and the status display showed HDCP was enabled.
    • If you constantly have HDCP handshake issues between a PI/PII box and an HDMI display thru a DVI-to-HDMI cable or adapter, replace them with a PIII box and a pure HDMI connection. On the Samsung above, this not only resolved the issue, but also improved analog picture quality and added digital sound. (Many cable companies in the United States will "swap out" leased PI/PII boxes for PIII boxes, if available, at their local offices for no charge.)
  • Cause: The Motorola STBs with certain firmware revisions are known to have issues with HDMI/DVI repeaters, including most home theater receivers.
  • Remedy: None. Motorola fixed the HDCP handshake to allow repeaters as of Firmware 12.35.

The DVI or HDMI output works intermittently or not at all

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  • Description: The DVI/HDMI connection can briefly show a picture, then revert to "high definition static" for about 3 seconds, and then repeat the sequence indefinitely. The connection also may not work at all.
  • Causes:
  • Remedies:
    • Use the component video connection as a workaround. A firmware upgrade will be required to resolve the issue. If using an HDMI to DVI converter, you may need to enter the HDMI advanced settings, and change the color space to RGB in HDMI mode or set it directly to DVI mode.
    • The Phase II Motorola box running version 16.20 of firmware has a DVI connection that will often work with non-HDCP TVs (as confirmed by numerous users) - however the phase II DVI connection will NOT work with many HDCP TVs/LCDs (a specific example is the Sceptre x22wg-Gamer LCD monitor). For those monitors/tvs that do not have component inputs (like the sceptre x22wg-Gamer), the only current workaround is to freely exchange your phase II box for a phase III box at the local cable center - as the HDMI connection on the Phase III hosts with 16.20 firmware works - at least when running in 720p with a HDMI<->DVI cable to a sceptre x22wg-gamer LCD monitor (obviously the menu choice has to have HDMI selected instead of DVI).
    • Try unplugging the HDMI cable and plugging it back in while both the display and box remain powered on.
    • You have to do this viewing through the HDMI. This works specific to each port that you view through. Bear with it while it flashes on and off. Turn off the power to the digital box, then select menu. The first setting should be set to 1080i. Go to additional HDMI settings and select. If it is set to DVI, change to HDMI.

Picture but no sound ("MUTE" may be superimposed over the top-center of picture in small white letters)

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  • Cause: Box turned itself on for a scheduled recording but muted its audio in case TV or HT audio was left on.
  • Remedies:
    • As of S/W 74.53-3321, pressing any button but "Mute" or a volume button will unmute the box.
    • "MUTE" is also not displayed continually, so it may not be seen when turning on your TV. On TV's with large overscan values, "MUTE" may not be visible.
    • The audio may not automatically unmute when pressing any other key if the box was tuned to an unauthorized channel before being turned off.


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Box turns off by itself

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  • Cause: Viewing began after box had turned itself on for a scheduled recording. Recording concluded.
  • Remedy: (Never turn the DVR off)
  • Note: As of S/W 74.53-3321, pressing any key on the box or remote will cancel the shutoff and unmute the audio.
  • Also- Can be caused by box overheating. Suggested remedy for an overheating issue is to isolate box on its own shelf, not vertically stacked with any other device above or below(like heat generating dvd players/surround sound amps) or a can of compressed air to get the dust out(please do so only when box is at room temperature)

Box changes channels by itself

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  • Description: Usually late in the night/early morning, the box suddenly changes the channel while viewing a program. This can occur while watching live TV or a recorded program. The channel may consistently change to a channel carrying an Emergency Alert System message. The LED display on the DVR may display "EAS". After a few minutes, the channel is changed back to the previous one.
  • Cause: The channel is changed by the cable provider in order to provide an Emergency Alert System message or test.
  • Remedy: Unplug the DVR then plug it back in.

Brief flashes of green every few seconds or minutes

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  • Cause: Both tuners are on analog channels.
  • Remedy: Change one of the tuners to a digital channel.
  • Notes: Issue appears on all digital system as well, so there might be multiple causes.

There is a recording with a blank title and a date of 12/31/1989

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  • Cause: Power was lost or the box was rebooted while recording. Some other issues may also cause it.
  • Cautions: Do NOT attempt to play or delete any 12/31/1989 recording. Doing so may cause the box to lock up and/or corrupt existing recordings!!
  • Remedies:
    • Try rebooting the box. Turn it off, wait a minute, unplug from power for a minute, then plug it in. Wait one minute before trying to turn it on. Sometimes, this may clear it up or make it appear as a regular recording.
    • Try rebooting as above, but start a recording first, unplugging while it's recording.
    • You can perform a DVR HDD reset to wipe out ALL recordings and scheduled recordings.

Picture appears split, shifted, garbled or "doubled", sometimes with a bar down the center

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  • Remedy: Press the Guide button to bring up the i-Guide overlay. The display should now look normal. Press Exit to exit the i-Guide.

In the series priority list, there are duplicate numbers, missing numbers or problems moving entries

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  • Cause: Most likely caused by not using the CONFIRM icon (checkmark) after every change. NEVER exit out of the series priority list without using CONFIRM unless you made no changes.
  • Remedies:
    • Power your DVR off, then power cycle the box by unplugging the power cord for a few seconds. This will result in the temporary loss of all guide data, but shouldn't cause you to lose any recordings already stored on the DVR or info regarding shows that you have previously programmed the DVR to record, series or otherwise.
    • Write down all your series. Begin deleting programs from the end of the list, up until the first problem number. Remember to hit CONFIRM after EVERY change. This will require having to go back into the menu each time. Once you are back to a clean list, try adding in new programs. Double-check the list to see if the numbers are all correct. If not, you will need to delete ALL the programs from the list and start over.
    • If the channel numbers for your scheduled recordings are all set to non-existent channels, you may have to perform DVR Authorization and Factory Full Reset after deleting your scheduled recordings, and before adding them again. This bug occurred under F/W 16.20.
    • If the above still doesn't work, consider a DVR HDD RESET. Remember to write down any non-series recordings so you can add them back in as the reset will erase ALL recordings, both recorded and scheduled.

When I turn the DVR off, the Record light turns on, but there is no recording going on

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  • Cause: RF Bypass is turned on. The Record light used to be the A/B light, and the software can turn it on for the wrong reason.
  • Remedy:
    • Go to the main menu (press MENU twice)
    • Scroll down to Setup and press OK/Select
    • Scroll down to Cable Box Setup and press OK/Select
    • Scroll down to RF Bypass and use Left or Right to change it to OFF, then press OK/Select

The DVR menu erroneously states the DVR hard drive is 100% full

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  • Description: The DVR menu may show the DVR HDD is 100% full when it is not. A notice may appear stating the DVR is 100% full, and that new recordings and live TV buffering will not be possible until some space is freed up. As of Firmware 16.35, the error message may read:
You must delete one or more recordings to continue to use your DVR. Current recordings have stopped and you may not be able to Pause or REW live TV. To prevent this in the future, set your recording settings with 'Save until space is needed.'"
  • Cause: Unknown. Arrived with Firmware 16.20. Multiple reports of Firmware 12.35 having this issue as well. On a DCH-3416 with Firmware 18.20, this occurred when trying to extend the record time of a one-time recording while it was in progress.
  • Remedies:
    • Reboot the box: Unplug the power cord for 30 seconds, plug it back in, and wait for the Guide data and features to be restored.
    • Delete a recorded program (any recording will do). Try keeping several 1 minute recordings that can be deleted.
    • Perform a DVR Authorization and Factory Full Reset to re-install the firmware and software.
  • Notes:
    • One user has seen the bug continue to reappear after rebooting and deleting recordings, but has not seen the bug resurface since performing the full reset. This may indicate the bug is related to a bad software/firmware installation.
    • This bug may be related to incomplete HDD defragmentation.
    • Shaw support advised that leaving the box off when not in use may stop the problem from occurring
      • For one user: Problem appeared only when box was turned off when not in use. Not seen since box has been left "always on".
      • For another user: Problem has been persistent since Firmware 16.20, even with the box always on.
    • This bug may be related to recordings configured to Save Until I Delete . Changing the option to Save Until Space is needed may help, however, one user repeatedly received this error even with several recordings set to delete when 'space is needed'.
    • The DVR may seem to have much more channel buffer than usual (having the ability to go back several hours via rewind, so it may be filling the drive with temporary storage). One may try changing the channel to clear the buffer.
    • One clear case of this bug involved attempting to record an already finished program within the channel buffer via rewinding back to the finished program and pressing the RECORD button. The bug's effects remained until a saved program was deleted.

The DVR stops responding to the remote for several seconds

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  • Notes:
    • The program or recording will play fine without stutter.
    • When you try to use the remote, the DVR will appear to ignore you. The remote response light (lower right of LED display) may turn on solid. There may be a pause of up to 30-60 seconds. Then, the DVR will respond to all the buttons you have pressed.
  • Causes:
    • Seems to be worse while Guide data is being downloaded.
    • Known to be caused when unit is overheating- when near critical shutoff temp, processing is sluggish.
    • Appears to be related to memory garbage collection or re-allocation.
    • After freezing, some of the Guide data for the second week may be missing information (titles and descriptions).
    • It is due to the 'transport bar' and an overloaded CPU. The transport bar is the bar you see on-screen showing the time into the program. Even when not on-screen, it keeps track of information. A fix may be out in February 2008.
  • Remedy: A DVR Authorization and Factory Full Reset may help for a short time, but it usually gets worse over time.
  • Remedy: Remove SlingBox device from your setup if you use one. Power set top box off to force a device reset. Problem cleared immediately and has not resurfaced.

On some display screens, you only see a corner of the video instead of it being scaled to fit

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  • Note: On many of the screens where the video is supposed to be scaled down into the upper-right corner, you instead may only see a corner of the full video.
  • Cause: The text in the overlay may be too far to the right.
  • Remedy:
    • Go to the main menu (press MENU twice)
    • Scroll down to Setup or Cable Box Setup and press OK/Select.
    • Go to Screen Position Setup
    • Press the left arrow once or twice, then press OK/Select.
    • If the video still doesn't resize, repeat moving to the left.

Recorded programs and scheduled recordings missing after a power outage or reboot

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  • Cause: Possibly due to more rigorous checking on bootup to prevent the 12/31/89 bug. If unrepairable corruption is detected, the firmware will reformat the drive, similar to a DVR HDD RESET.

Audio is muted after starting or stopping a recording

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  • Description: When you stop playing a recording, or begin to play one, the audio may remain muted.
  • Cause: A bug introduced in software version A28 and/or related firmware.
  • Remedy: Press Pause, wait for the picture to stop, then hit PLAY. For live TV, you can use LIVE instead of PLAY.
  • Remedy: Fixed in software version A28 maintenance release.

Infobar pops up while watching a recording

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  • Description: If you are tuned to an SD channel, and an HD program is beginning, the infobar will pop up telling you the program is available in HD, even if you are watching a recording.
  • Cause: A new feature of software version A28 that doesn't distinguish between viewing live TV or a recording.
  • Remedy: Fixed in software version A28 maintenance release.

Weekly manual recording stops at midnight

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  • Description: If you have VCR-style manual recording that crosses midnight, and it's set to repeat weekly, the recording will stop at midnight. The option to add extra time to the end of the recording will not work and may cause a second short recording that is only a few seconds long.
  • Cause: A bug introduced in software version A28 and/or related firmware.
  • Remedy: Create one recording that ends at midnight, and another that begins at midnight.

After viewing program info, guide returns to first favorite

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  • Description: If you are viewing the guide in the mode that only displays your favorites (heart icon), and view the detailed information on a program, the guide will reset to the first channel in your list, and the time to the current time.
  • Cause: A bug introduced in software version A28 and/or related firmware.
  • Remedy: Fixed in software version A28 maintenance release.

You cannot have more than 241 favorites

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  • Description: You are unable to add favorite channels once the total reaches 241. Splitting into different favorites lists does not help.
  • Cause: A bug introduced in software version A28 and/or related firmware.
  • Remedy: None.

Series recording does not work right, especially for non-network daily shows

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  • Cause: The guide data being sent to the box does not contain the New or Repeat flags. Also, the box doesn't remember what it's recorded after you delete it (unlike TiVo).
  • Remedy: Either let it record shows you don't want or do manual recordings. As of mid-2007, this seems to be improving (very slowly) as the quality of the guide data improves. Software version A28 has added a 28 day DVR history to minimize duplicate recordings.

The DVR records in SD when you've set it to an HD channel

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  • Cause: If your HD and SD broadcast network channels share the same name in the guide listing, the DVR will record the lower channel number, which is usually the SD version. The cable companies could easily and immediately fix it by adding -DT to the HD channel in locations where it's not working right.
  • Remedy: None

Some channels can't be rewound or fast forwarded or have other problems with recording

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  • Cause: Apparently some channels do not have marker frames, complete frames embedded in the digital stream. Instead, they encode the information which re-draws a new frame in multiple frames. The fast forward works on these marker frames and doesn't work for those channels.
  • Remedy: There is apparently a software update the cable companies can get at the local office that will fix this. Not all locations appear to have this problem, but BBC America and the digital Discovery channels seem to have this problem.

Simultaneous series recording cancellation problem, aka whack-a-mole

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  • Description If you have two Series recordings scheduled at the same time (i.e. two events of separate full-season recordings at once), and you want to cancel them, it will let you cancel one OR the other, but not both. I.e. if you cancel show #1 @ 8pm it shows up as 'Negated' as soon as you say 'Don't record this episode'. But if you attempt to cancel show #2 also @ 8pm, that works... but then show #1 shows up as to-be-recorded again.
  • Remedy: If you cancel the recordings by going though the standard guide instead of the DVR scheduled recordings listing, it should allow you to cancel both recordings. Use one of the following methods to find the scheduled recordings in the IPG:
    • Press the MyDVR button, select Scheduled Recordings, highlight one of the recordings you want to cancel, then press the GUIDE button.
    • While watching TV, press the GUIDE button, then scroll to the scheduled recording.
    • Press the MENU button twice, select 'TV listings by channel', then scroll to the scheduled recording.
    • Note: This remedy does not appear to work on iGuide 74.53-3321.
    • Note: Appears to be fixed as of iGuide A30. You can simply cancel an episode as normal.

Box locks up between 4:20 and 4:50 AM or PM

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  • Cause: Most likely involves a series recording configured to add extra time to the beginning or end.
  • Remedies:
    • Go through your series recordings, or through the Series Priority List. On each, choose to modify (wrench icon), then also go to 'View all Options' (also a wrench icon). Change both 'Start Recording' and 'End Recording' to 'On Time'.
    • Delete all of your series recordings from the Series Priority List, then recreate them.
    • Use DVR HDD RESET to wipe everything and start from scratch.
  • Cause: This was caused by an iGuide purge and a rebuild of data.

"To Be Announced" displayed instead of program information when the Info button is pressed

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  • Cause: Unknown. It may be related to using the time-shifting functions of the DVR (after having paused or rewound the program).
    • Note: If you press the Guide button to display the full IPG, and "To Be Announced" is displayed instead of the program information, then it is due to your guide data still being downloaded (i.e., after power has been disconnected from the STB). The bug discussed here affects the guide data when viewed with the Info button.
  • Remedies:
    • Press OK/SELECT to display the mini-guide. The program information should display correctly in the mini-guide, and the Info button can be used to view the program information. Press Exit to exit the mini-guide. Pressing Info may now display the correct information for the program.
    • Press Guide to display the full IPG. The program information should display correctly in the IPG, and the Info button can be used to view the program information. Press Exit to exit the IPG. Pressing Info may now display the correct information for the program.

Program guide listings for the second week have few descriptions, many are listed as "To Be Announced"

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  • Cause: Unknown. Best speculation is a lack of available memory. Second week programs that are duplicates of first week programs will be complete. The second week descriptions will be the first to go when memory needs to be reallocated for something else. Once all of that is freed up, second week program titles will be removed. The data may be visible while the data is being downloaded, but will disappear as memory is rearranged. This is related to: The DVR stops responding to the remote for several seconds.
  • Remedy: None

The DVR records endlessly until all space is full

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  • Cause: The following conditions, in combination, are known to cause this issue:
    • A series recording exists for a program.
    • The DVR automatically scheduled a recording for the program but the recording was manually set not to record.
    • The same program was manually scheduled to record later. This recording will not end at the scheduled time, but continue to record until all HDD space is consumed.
  • Remedies: Don't allow the conditions to occur by taking one of the following steps:
    • Don't manually set the earlier recording not to record.
    • Place another series recording at the earlier time slot and at a higher priority, so it is automatically recorded at the earlier time, while the other program is automatically recorded later.

The DVR randomly records shows on a channel where a scheduled series recording for a program that no longer is on the air and deletion of said program from series recording fails.

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  • Cause: Unknown, Shows up in firmware 16.35 on DCT-6412 PII and DCT-6416 PIII:
    • This is only confirmed in one case on 2 separate boxes models.
    • Insight refuses to upgrade firmware past 16.35 so Comcast customers may not have noticed or reported bug and it may have been fixed with newer firmware versions.
  • Remedies:
    • HDD Reset to clear recorded programs and saved information.
    • Have Insight (or other cable company) replace the box.