How long should a hard drive last?

All of a sudden this is becoming a very important question for DIRECTV customers. If you still haven’t embraced the DIRECTV Genie DVR (and I’m not sure why you wouldn’t at this point) your DVR is probably an HR24 or older model. The HR24 was first released in 2010 and from everything I can tell they stopped making new ones about 2014. Any HR24 DVR you get today will be refurbished and that means it could still have its original hard drive in it.

These refurbished boxes are tested at DIRECTV’s facility but the fact is you can only test so much before a box goes out into the wild. Sometimes something will fail in shipping or sometimes a drive is just fine for a short while after it goes into service. So this leaves you asking, how long should you expect a drive to last?

I once had a highly placed DIRECTV official tell me that hard drives should last pretty much indefinitely. That’s pretty optimistic. As far as I am able to figure, you’re usually able to count on a hard drive in a DVR lasting three or four years. After that it’s anyone’s guess. And that’s not good news for DVRs made in 2010, let’s be honest. Most likely, those drives have already been replaced so even if you see an old build date on a refurbished receiver you don’t know how old the internal parts are.

If you have a hard drive fail on your HR24 DVR (or any DIRECTV DVR) you should not try to replace it. If you’re a residential customer, your equipment is leased and you could be charged hundreds of dollars if you open it up. That’s part of the agreement you signed. If you’re a commercial customer, you may actually own your equipment meaning you can do what you want with it, but you may not actually own it. If you aren’t sure, the only way to know is to call a Signal Connect rep at 888-233-7563 and they can pull up your DIRECTV account to be sure.

Not only that, opening one of these things is no piece of cake, let me tell you. I’ve seen the special jigs that DIRECTV techs use to open them, but without them, it’s a painful and slow process that tends to require about half a dozen screwdrivers and maybe 10 minutes of poking and prodding through the pressure clips that hold the things together. Once you get it open, you’ll have to be careful not to break the thin wires that surround the drive and finally you’ll get to a drive that will need to be replaced with something very similar or the case won’t close again. Folks, this is the voice of experience telling you that it’s just not easy.

Oh, and your recordings will be toast anyway. You can’t move them from drive to drive.

If you’re worried about the older hard drive in your DVR, this is actually a really good time to upgrade to something newer. DIRECTV systems are easier to use than ever and the upgrades are often easy for the average DIYer. If your dish is fairly new, chances are we’re talking about you disconnecting one box and connecting another… and that’s it. Give us a call at Solid Signal at 888-233-7563 and we’ll help you learn about upgrade options that make sense and may even cost you less than you pay for Starbucks for a few weeks.

About the Author

Stuart Sweet
Stuart Sweet is the editor-in-chief of The Solid Signal Blog and a "master plumber" at Signal Group, LLC. He is the author of over 9,000 articles and longform tutorials including many posted here. Reach him by clicking on "Contact the Editor" at the bottom of this page.