Why did my DIRECTV receiver reboot in the middle of the night?

Bootup sequence from a DIRECTV HR20, circa 2007.

You wake up in the middle of the night and see bright blue lights emanating from your DIRECTV DVR. Should you panic?

Absolutely not. It’s normal for your receiver to reboot itself for several reasons. It may have had a momentary loss of power, and it may not have actually rebooted — you may have forgotten to turn it off or a pet may have sat on the remote. (Don’t laugh, this happens.) But let’s say it did reboot. It doesn’t mean it’s going geflooey.

The most common reason for a reboot is a software update. These happen about once a quarter and they happen in two parts. The basic software loads first and then usually within 24 hours there’s a supplementary download that gets things like extra graphics and interactive menu items. During both cases the receiver will reboot by itself. In some cases when the download is finished it will go back to sleep again. If it doesn’t do so right away, it usually will within a few hours due to the power saver mode.

In some cases the receiver itself reboots because it gets itself into a bad situation. This can be as simple as tuning to a channel that it can no longer find, or a part of its software no longer working properly. Just like computers or phones, a simple reboot fixes a lot of things.

Another option is that the receiver’s guide data is corrupt or missing. This can happen because sometimes the data itself isn’t that good, and it can also happen if there’s something intermittently in front of the dish that’s stopping it from seeing the right satellite. If it can’t get guide data for 6 hours or more, it will sometimes reboot to try to get it again.

If you experience reboots more than two days in a row, or if you have several reboots while you’re actually watching TV, that’s when I’d start worrying.