When is it ok to press the “red button” on a DIRECTV box?

You’ve seen it. The little red button on the side or front of a DIRECTV box. You’ve never really thought about what it does, other than knowing that it reboots your receiver. Recently, I’ve been asked if it’s ok to press the red button at any time. I guess it’s a good question. On older computers, rebooting could mean loss of data. Is it the same with DIRECTV boxes?

Get the facts

The truth is DIRECTV hardware is very stable. It hardly ever gives you any problems. And when it does, you probably can fix them with a simple reset. For years, I’ve been recommending a “graceful reboot” whenever possible. On older receivers, press MENU then go to Settings&Help, Settings, Reset, Restart Receiver. On Genies, press MENU then go to Settings, Reset Options, Restart this receiver. (You can also choose to Reset Everywhere if you think it’s needed.) This lets your DIRECTV equipment close necessary files and make note of any problems it detects.

But really, pressing the red button is all you need to do. Pressing the button reboots your receiver instantly. Because DIRECTV equipment works on a special version of the Linux operating system, it’s very good at recovering from unexpected reboots. After all, Linux’s parent Unix was designed to run telephone exchanges. It’s very solid, very fault-tolerant, software.

Rebooting your receiver runs a set of basic tests to make sure everything is ok. If everything isn’t ok, the receiver will try to repair itself. This generally doesn’t take very long, and you’re back to watching TV the way you’ve always wanted to.

What is this red button of which you speak?

Of course the first step is to find the red button. It’s not so easy really. It may be hidden behind a door or stuck on the side of the unit. Good thing it, it’s always red so at least there’s that.

Once you find and press the red button, the operating system behind your DIRECTV box springs into action running tests to try to figure out what’s wrong. Sometimes there’s nothing wrong, sometimes it’s just a matter of starting everything up again and everything works fine. Sometimes, if there is a minor issue with the hard drive, it can be repaired.

It’s common for this sort of reboot to clear your guide data and your “to-do” list. However, at least 6 hours of guide data is loaded and all of your upcoming recordings will happen on schedule. In general, you’ll be back to full function in 12 hours or less.

Very, very rarely, a reboot will cause recordings to be “lost.” I put that in quotes because recordings disappear from the playlist when the actual files that hold them are corrupt. You’re not really losing anything, it’s just that you thought you had them and the truth is that you didn’t. This is a consequence of normal repairs that occur on the hard drive over the course of its life and this is rare.

Did rebooting help?

Generally, a quick reboot is all that’s needed to bring back any function that you’ve lost. If that’s not the case, you might need a new receiver, DVR, or client. The folks at Solid Signal can help! We’re DIRECTV dealers and can arrange for everything you need. We’ll give you better customer service than DIRECTV’s own call centers. Try us! The number is 888-233-7563 and we’re here during East Coast business hours.

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 8,000 articles and longform tutorials including many posted here. Reach him by clicking on "Contact the Editor" at the bottom of this page.