Using external SATA / eSATA hard drive with Scientific Atlanta EXPLORER 8300 and 8300HD DVRs from COX

The hard drive that worked was the Toshiba PH3100U-1EXB 1 terabyte external hard drive (available right now at Fry’s Electronics for $99!) The one that did not work was a two terabyte dual drive raid external hard drive of a different brand.

A friend has a Scientific Atlanta EXPLORER 8300 DVR rented from COX Communications in Arizona. It has a fairly small amount of storage (about 74 GB, according to the info – see below), and has an external connector labeled “SATA”. I Googled it, and it looks like some people have had success adding an external hard drive. However, details as to which drives worked and didn’t work are hard to come by. I couldn’t find anything on Scientific Atlanta’s website (apparently now part of Cisco), and when I called COX, the tech said to call Scientific Atlanta myself, since COX doesn’t support adding an external hard drive and didn’t know how to do it (an uncharacteristically poor customer support experience for COX, which has usually had excellent customer support in my experience).

I went to Fry’s electronics, and they said I needed some sort of “media extender”, which they didn’t have. They said that using an eSATA drive was hit and miss. So I missed and then I hit. I wanted to report my experience to save others the trouble.

I am not customer support for either COX or Scientific Atlanta/CISCO. I don’t know if this will work for others, and I don’t know what other combinations might work. I take absolutely no responsibility for any damage you may do by repeating my experience. There is at least some chance that you will lose any recordings you have, so if that is a concern, be sure to watch and/or copy them elsewhere (although I lost no recordings). However, if you find other combinations that work, with this or other DVR’s, please post your findings in the comments below.

First, and most important, check to see whether you have an eSATA or a SATA connector. In my case, it was an eSATA connector labeled “SATA”. Look online for pictures of the difference. The SATA connectors have an “elbow” inside that the eSATA does not have. You can use a digital camera to take a detailed close-up if needed.

Second, you will need an external hard drive with an eSATA connector (most only have USB or perhaps Firewire connectors). You also need to purchase the cable to connect the eSATA connector on your drive to the eSATA connector on the 8300. Different eSATA cables have different connectors, so be sure to get the right one.

To connect the drive, first turn the 8300 off, then unplug it for at least 15 seconds. Be sure both the drive and the 8300 are unplugged, and connect the eSATA cable between them. Leave the drive unplugged, but plug the 8300 back in. It will go through its boot sequence, then the panel on the front of the 8300 will go black. You then have to wait for it to get a signal from the cable company, and the time will then come on the screen. That may take five or ten minutes.

Once the 8300 has the time showing, turn on the 8300 and the TV so you are watching TV through the 8300. Now, plug in the drive, and if needed, turn on the switch so the light on the drive comes on. Now comes the moment of truth.

The first time I did this, I got a message on the TV that the drive or cable were working improperly. I had to press a button on the remote to dismiss the message, and was informed that the external storage will not be working. You should check the cable, but in my case, after several tries, I always got the same message. Unplug everything and disconnect your drive. Fortunately, Fry’s Electronics has a great return policy!

The second time I did this, success! When I turned on the drive, I got a message that the drive would have to be formatted, and I would lose all information on the drive, including any saved recordings. I pressed the button to proceed. There was no indication that anything was happening, and the 8300 continued to work as normal. I left it running for about 40 minutes, to give plenty of time for formatting, although I don’t really know how long formatting takes. After 40 minutes, still no indication of progress, and the 8300 indicated that its storage was as full as it has ever been.

So after 40 minutes, I unplugged the 8300 again for 15 seconds, and plugged it back in to reboot the 8300. After it came back up, I turned it on with the remote. I left for a while, and when I came back the 8300 would only play PBS, and attempts to change the channel or bring up the list of saved programs did not work. I wasn’t sure what was going on, so after a little while I unplugged the 8300 again, disconnected the external drive, and plugged the 8300 back in again. I then saw a message about advanced functions temporarily not working even with the external drive disconnected, and again I could only watch PBS. Therefore, I unplugged the 8300 again, again connected the eSATA cable to the external drive, plugged in the external drive, and plugged in the 8300, and just left it alone for a while. About an hour later, I went back, turned on the 8300 with the remote, and the 8300 was working normally, except that the available space had increased dramatically (95% full went to 6% full)! All of the saved programs were still there, but there was a lot more empty space.

Next time, once the external drive was formatted, I would unplug the 8300 for 15 seconds, leave the external drive plugged in, and then plug the 8300 back in, and leave it alone for an hour.

Update for the 8300HD: I tried the same thing for a 8300HD unit. I unplugged the 8300HD for 15 seconds, connected the external drive (a different specimen of the same model), plugged in only the 8300HD (not the drive) until the time showed on the 8300HD, used the remote to turn on the 8300HD so I was viewing the 8300HD’s signal through the TV, then plugged in the drive and pushed the on button on the drive. The light on the drive came on, and I got the dialog asking me whether to “Format this external storage device to work with this DVR?”. I pressed the “A” key for “Yes, Format”. The dialog disappeared, and there was little or no indication that anything was happening. After about five minutes of nothing, including no flashing of the light on the drive, I again unplugged the 8300HD for 15 seconds, and plugged it back in. After the time showed on the 8300HD, I turned on the 8300HD with the remote, and got a message box that said: “The external storage device connected works with this DVR. NOTE: To safely unplug this device, first unplug power from the DVR, then wait 10 seconds before disconnecting.” After about 10 seconds, that message box disappeared, and the DVR worked normally, but had a lot more empty space! So, on the 8300HD, the whole process only took about 15 minutes.

Update for the Explorer 8240HD The original 8300 was replaced with an 8240HD, for high definition. The hard drive that was used with the 8300 originally was disconnected after unplugging the 8300 for 15 seconds. It was moved to the new 8240HD, and hooked up with the same result as with the 8300HD above. Note that, since the hard drive does not come on until its button is pushed, if there is a power failure, someone will have to push the on button for the hard drive for it to work again. I tested to see what happens if the button is not pushed until after the 8240HD turned on, and the only notable effect was that there was less space available on the 8240HD. When the drive was turned on, I again got the message the the external storage works with this DVR. The 8240HD has a 148 GB disk installed, and I added 931 GB (according to the info page) with the new disk.

The old 8300 appears to be confused about how much space is available now, showing a screen indicating that there is still as much space as there was before. Many of the recorded shows are still in the list, but as expected, trying to play them does not work, but rather the DVR goes right to the “Press the list button to see your recordings” screen.

Reviewing postings on the Internet, I would be careful to be sure that the 8300 is unplugged prior to allowing the external drive to lose power or be disconnected, for fear of data corruption and/or loss of all your recordings. Also, the recordings on the drive are reportedly encrypted with a key that is specific to the serial number of your 8300, so if the drive is moved to another box, you will not be able to view the recordings there.

To see info about your 8300, including info about the attached internal and external drives and what interfaces have been enabled by COX, use the keys on the front of the 8300. Press and hold the “SELECT” button until the little flashing mail icon comes on, then release the “SELECT” button and press the “INFO” button. Page forward and back with the Volume + and Volume – buttons. Press the “EXIT” button when you are done.

If you have success with other DVR’s and/or drives or have other experiences, please let me know in the comments!

72 thoughts on “Using external SATA / eSATA hard drive with Scientific Atlanta EXPLORER 8300 and 8300HD DVRs from COX

  1. I just used a Toshiba PH3100U-1EXB 1 terabyte external hard drive from Best Buy ($109 plus tax) on my Scientific Atlantis 8300HD using the instructions at the bottom of this blog. However, I turned off the DVR, plugged in the eSata cable to both DVR and HDD and powered on HDD before rebooting the DVR. This first reboot formatted the HDD and the second reboot with the HDD powered up. I got the success message and my unused space went from 65% to 8%. I tested recording and playing back. My cable service is COMCAST. Get this particular drive. IT WORKS!!!

  2. Thanks for the post. I followed these instructions using the Toshiba PH3100U-EXB 1 terabyte from Fry’s. My DVR is a Scientific Atlanta Explorer 8240 HDC, and my cable is Time Warner (Austin). It worked like a charm on the first try. The only difference between what I experienced and the post about the HD version is that after I pressed “A” to format the drive, I waited for about five minutes, and the DVR automatically rebooted itself. The external drive was recognized and configured after the reboot. I went from 87% to 11%.

  3. Well, last night my 8240 froze. It was completely non-responsive, both to the remote control and using the buttons on the front of the box. It stayed on and kept playing, but it wouldn’t respond to any user input. Then, tonight, a message came on saying “bad drive key.” The box automatically rebooted, and now it won’t play video. I’m going to troubleshoot, but I hope no one tries this combo based on my above comment.

  4. Works for Cablevision, CT also….I did this with both Atlantic Broadband, in Miami Beach, and with Comcast in Miami…I think it works with the Scientific Atlanta boxes irregardless of provider.

  5. Hi,
    Thanks for this info. I followed it and it is working. My 8300HD is from Time Warner. The port on the back says Sata, and has the L shape. I plugged in my esata (both ends) cable and it worked.I had 35% full before and 8 % after. I could not see the info on the external drive from the info screen. It stll states 1 device, which is what it showed before. I would like to see that info, but was unable to find it.
    My drive is one purchased in Europe from Medion (HDDrive 2 Go). I cannot see what the actual drive is inside. It is 500GB.
    I would have expected that I would have seen lower than 8% after adding it.

  6. I have a western digital external esata drive 1TB and it works great up to the fact that it wil not record anything once the external is 65% full. My unit is a Scientific Atlanta model 8300 using Bright house service.

  7. I connected a Toshiba PH3100U-1EXB 1 terabyte external hard drive to my SA8300HD DVR and following posted instructions and a couple reboots it formatted and told me the drive worked. Storage availability increased and it records fine. However -ever since, when I turn on the DVR it freezes and I have to disconnect power and repeat the whole drive connection sequence. (except for formatting) Each time it tells me the drive is OK. If I LEAVE the DVR Powered up no problems. If I turn the pwr off it WILL record scheduled programs. Just can’t power back up successfully. Screen freezes and DVR keeps cycling until it just fails over to bypass. I used a plain esata to esata cable. If I disconnect the esata drive altogether its fine. Any ideas what might be causing this?

  8. Update to above post with details. SD8300HD rev 2.9, Cablevision of Southern Weschester, SARA , Toshiba PH3100U-1EXB 1TB eSATA HD formatted, timed recording (even when DVR off), great playback works like a charm! Until I power DVR off. THEN requires hard re-boot of DVR with disconnect and re-connect of eSATA drive. Any ideas? I could just leave DVR on constantly- but don’t like that solution.

  9. Thanks for posting your experience, Alex. I have not seen that problem, and don’t know why you are. In one of my setups, the Toshiba drive is in a cabinet that is somewhat warm, and occasionally the drive turns itself off and needs to be turned back on by pushing the button on the back, but then it works again without any reconnection sequence. I have not had a problem with programs being recorded (presumably they were recorded before the drive turned off), but they cannot be played back until the drive is turned back on.

    You say “powered off”, but I presume you mean turning off the DVR with its switch.

  10. I am using Cox Phoenix, and have an added drive to the 8300HD. Its a Vantec Nextar 3 minicase with a generic 250gb WD hard disk in it. Running perfectly with no issues to report at this time.

  11. I’m on COX Cable in Phoenix and tried installing a Toshiba PH3100U-1EXB 1TB eSATA HD to my 8240HDC. It worked until COX blasted down software upgrade or something like that. The pointers in my DVR List are visible but I cannot get to the recordings.
    I have tried a number of different solutions without success. I have contacted COX and was told that their version of the 8240HDC will only support Maxtor SATA Drive without a problem. Unfortunately, Seagate bought Maxtor and COX is not sure about the configuration but if I can get it with a Quickview Expander (available in 360GB) it might work. The only expander I found was a WeaKnees Expander available upto 1TB but it did not list the 8240HDC as a supported model. I have sent in a request to confirm that their product works with the 8240HDC before I buy. I will post their response as soon as I get their answer.
    I will give further updates

    • Vindel: I am also on COX in Phoenix. I have seen the behavior you describe (recorded programs visible in list, but do not play when selected) if there is a problem with the connection or power to the external hard drive. In particular, I sometimes need to push the “on” button on the external hard drive if power is lost. Sometimes it takes up to 30 seconds after pushing the power button for the external drive to start. Make sure your connections are good and that the power light on the external hard drive is on.

  12. i had a toshiba external 1tb that worked to a degree with my Scientific Atlanta 8240. The only problem I encountered was that if the SA cablebox was power cycled, everything on the external hdd disappeared. I also could not access any data from a laptop or pc. The external wouldn’t be recognized on those devices. So as long as the cable box wasn’t disconnected, things worked fine. I returned the toshiba thinking it was defective and I got a toshiba 2tb external. But now I keep getting the message either that the drive is not formatted, or if I partition into 2 equal size partitions it says the drive is bad. Any ideas?

    • Robert: The data put on the external drive by the SA is encrypted, so you won’t be able to access it from either a PC or a different SA (which will use a different encryption key). The only problem I had when the SA was power cycled was if the external hard drive was also power cycled, in which case the external HD had to be turned on again (it didn’t come on just because the power was restored). Some drives work, some don’t, so the external 2tb drive you got may not work with the SA.

  13. Nach, both the 1tb and 2tb externals are toshiba and they look identical. i’m wondering if there is a size limitation. Maybe the SA won’t see beyond 1tb. At any rate, partitioning hasn’t worked for me. The cable box sees all the space available but will not record. You can hit record and it says it’s recording, but no red ‘recording’ light comes up, and you can’t access any of the programs it says it recorded. if there is a size limitation i’ll stop trying to get the 2tb external to work and i’ll return it for the 1tb which i know worked. have you had any experience or heard of a 2tb working? If so… how?

  14. Works on Long Island Cablevision. My question is, I’m looking to change to FIOS. does anyone know if there is a way to watch/retrieve the stuff on the external when I get rid of the box?

    • I believe that the contents of the external drive are encrypted with a key specific to your box, and if so, there will not be any way to retrieve the contents of the hard drive without the cable box. Thus, you should record the contents to another location if you need them.

  15. THANKS for the instructions. I am a Comcast customer, with a Scientific Atlanta 8300HD DVR. I followed your instructions, and everything worked like a charm. Just don’t forget to order your eSATA connector cable so you won’t have to run to the store like I did.

  16. I have the 8240hd with Cox Phoenix. They just did a software update to Passport something or another. I got the Toshiba 2TB today and it wouldn’t work. It doesn’t format, nothing. The only thing is when I try to turn the hard drive off, the dvr says that external drive has been disconnected. That is the only response I can get. Around channel 2000 there is a “channel” to view all the details on the DVR. I will try to get the 1TB tomorrow at a BestBuy. It would be nice to know if the new software update would let us use any external drives.

  17. Ok, here is what I got. The 2 TB didn’t work. I even tried a different cable. The 1 TB is working fine. (Toshiba PH3100U-1EXB). Best Buy and Fry’s electronics has it for $99. When I did the power cycle, it didn’t do much. However I when the DVR was on I have turned off the HD and then back on, it offered the formatting option. This means, in my case that I can plug in while the DVR was on and it offered my the option to format. After formatting I turned off the HD then on and it offered me to restart the DVR so that I can use the HD.

  18. Well I went to Fry they were out of the Toshiba PH3100U-1EXB). so I got a WD10EVDS 1TB AV HDD SATA/300 32MB BUFFER AV GREEN DRIVE OEM FOR 89.99 A HOVER 3.5 SATA HDD External Enclosure comes with esata /usb cable and it has fans to keep HDD cool works grate cost was 130.48 I now it a little more but it works grate and fans are quiet went from 78% to 11% yahoo.

  19. Cox customer in Northern Virginia here. Just got a Fantom G-Force Black 2TB drive (GFB2000EU) working with the 8300HD (with the new Passport update). Basically followed your instructions, although the first time I powered up the drive, it took a suspiciously short time to format, and then kept telling me it may be corrupted. So I powered the drive down, power-cycled the 8300HD, leaving it off for about 15-20 seconds, waited until it booted up, turned it on, and powered on the drive. After a few seconds, it asked if I wanted to format the drive, and after formatting it, the 8300HD automatically restarted! It booted up, I checked the drive info, and it showed 98% space free! Woohoo!

  20. Robert, I have the exact same symptoms as you do — the drive formats and recognizes properly, but the DVR will not record with it plugged in. I spent an hour on the phone with Wide Open West support today to no avail. Maybe I’ll see if my work has a 1TB SATA drive lying around to see if that makes a difference.

  21. Swapped my 2TB drive for a 1TB drive in the same enclosure, and recording now works again. I’d be curious to hear from Dave above whether the 2TB drive actually works on his unit or not. Mine formatted and displayed correctly, but would not record. I suspect that the 8300HD cannot handle addressing above 1TB.

  22. I’m in Vegas with Cox. I can get the 8300 and want to attach the external hard disk to view recorded movies. This is my situation and my questions.

    I have many movies that I have burned and/or downloaded in my standard hard drive attached to my desktop PC. Most are in .AVI format (I think). Currently, I can play them on my computer monitors or attach the hard drive to my laptop which I can attach to my main home flat screen TV in my living room to view on my main TV (I use it as another VGA monitor for my laptop). This has become a pain.

    I was thinking of attaching an external hard disk to my cable box (SA 8300) and recording/playing movies through my cable box/TV directly as I would any recorded programs in my 8300. Is this possible? #1 – can I simply upload movies to my SATA hard rive – if so, how? #2 – Can I play the movie files through the 8300 to the TV screen?

    • I’m pretty sure you won’t be able to upload movies to the hard drive and play them on your 8300 unless you use the 8300 to record the movies (due to the encryption by the 8300), and I don’t know how you would use the 8300 to record anything not coming in over cable. If you figure out a way, be sure to let us know.

  23. That’s what I figured. Im going to call COX and SA tomorrow and ask. Will post what I find out. If that is not possible, then doesn’t make any sense to buy a special eSATA drive….

  24. Talked with Cox. What I want to do is not possible. As soon as the eSATA disk is attached to the cable box, it automatically reformats the disk (thereby erasing all the data inside). And if you disconnect the hard disk from the cable box and connect it to your desktop PC, the data inside will not be viewable on your desktop (this is for anti-piracy issues). So…. there’s the answer. You can only record and view the programs that come over the cablebox. You can not play/view programs/movies that you load manually into the eSATA.

  25. Have a Scientific Atlanta 8300 HD DVR with Rogers Cable Service in Canada. Bought a Fantom GreenDrive 2 TB USB 2.0/eSATA Desktop External Hard Drive which connected no problem. Gave me the message β€œThe external storage device connected works with this DVR. NOTE: To safely unplug this device, first unplug power from the DVR, then wait 10 seconds before disconnecting.” Did not require formatting. However the extra space is not registering when I look at the space available. Any ideas?

  26. I’m using a 8300HD from Time Warner. I tried a Phantom Green Drive 2TB with the eSata connection. First attempt I unplugged the 8300, then after 15 seconds, I powered on the phantom drive, waited 15 seconds, then powered on the 8300. It booted up and once the time was shown on the 8300, I turned on the 8300. It stated a new drive was connected, do I want to format now. I hit the A key and walked away for a couple of hours. When I came back, a message was on stating the drive was ready to go. I checked “List” and drive space had not changed. I unplugged the 8300, waited 15 seconds, plugged back in, and it would only get to 3 of 5 blocks during boot and then reboot on its own. Over and over again. So during one of its reboots, I powered off the phantom drive, and it booted properly. I powered on the phantom and again stated the drive was ready to go, but no additional space was added. So I’m either up against the “cannot address 2TB” issue, or the drive is just not compatible. I’m going to buy the 1TB version to find out.

  27. I have the Explorer 8240HDC with Cox in Oceanside, CA. Fry’s last week had a Hitachi Deskstar Internal 2TB drive for $59.99. I HAD to buy it. I bought a Sabrent USB and SATA enclosure and couldn’t get it to work using the enclosure connections. I then went back and bought a SATA to eSATA cable today and still can’t get anything to work trying all different ways. I will return the 2TB drive and attempt the same with a 1TB drive. I will post all findings

  28. Your comments re the 8300HD worked for me, after many frustrating times of trying to get it to recognize the external drive I had added. Many thanks.

  29. I’m in Tucson, AZ. Cox pushed an update some time back which was a huge improvement on the DVR. Today I purchased and tried to connect a 1TB Fantom G-Force e-sata drive. The system did not recognize the drive. When I go to channel 1999 (system information) and page through it says sata is authorized. Further down it says no device. I chatted with a Cox Rep online and they said that currently they are not supporting external drives due to the update of the programming guide. They have not certified any hard drives for the new system. πŸ™

  30. Well, Cox wasn’t supporting or “certifying” any external drives, even before the update, as I noted above! But both the 8300 and 8300HD got the update here in Phoenix a while ago, and both are still working with the 1TB Toshiba external drive.

  31. So I got the Toshiba 1tb also that everyone is talking about and the SA box. Didn’t realize the drive did not come w/ the eSATA cable. Went to Radio (Ripoff) Shack and they asked if it was power or data (which I had no idea about), but the data cable was not wide enough based on what I remembered of the connection. The power cable was only for internal drives, and they didn’t have anything that looked right.

    So now I’m searching for info about what exact cabling I need to find, and pouring through the specs don’t really clarify, either.

    Can someone share exact cable specs for the cable I need to get?

  32. Like Roland, I purchased the Toshiba PH3100U-1EXB at the recommendation of the San Diego Cox salesman who also has this working. He mentioned that many people complain that the 2 TB drives never seem to work with an 8240HDC. Returned home, plugged the eSata drive in the rear with DVR turned on, powered eSata drive up, received no message. Checking the Disk Information tab in the DVR LIST area and it stated that our storage (which was previously full constantly) was at 6% and 94% available. I’ll post again if anything happens bad, but appears to be working well.

  33. I have a WD Caviar Black 1Tb external HDD hooked up to a SA/Cisco 8300HD. It has been working great since last year, but I inadvertently hit the off switch on the HDD. Since then, I have not been able to access any of the recorded shows. My space used went from 32% to 1%, and I can’t play anything. The list still shows 49 recordings, but when I select a recording I just get the [Press List to view recorded programs, and Press “+ -” button to change channels] screen. I have gone through the disconnect/reconnect cycle several times, leaving both units off for a couple of hours at times, but I still can’t seem to access any of my recorded shows. Any ideas on how to jog the 8300HD to “see” the recordings on the HDD again? Thanks for any input you may have.

  34. Sorry, Jim, but I don’t know anything other than trying the power cycles (be sure to unplug the 8300HD rather than just turning it off.) Please be sure to let us know if you figure something out.

  35. Jim,
    I just had a similar experience last night. Powered everything down to do my normal biweekly reboot and the 8300hd would not boot properly. Would boot properly with ext drive disconnected, but not when it was already on. If I then attached/turned on the drive it would freeze the DVR for a few minutes and then “seem” to be working. However, when I tried to play any recordings that were on the ext drive they would not play. Recordings that were made BEFORE the drive was attached would play, as would be expected. I tried many different ways to reboot and attach the drive, but it would not work. I got frustrated, turned the ext drive off and gave up.

    Later that night I got on the internet and found some troubleshooting tips@
    I solved/corrected my problem by doing a “Hard Reboot” :

    “Hard Reboot will refresh all available software and modules on system, as well as clear out memory cache. IPG and other data may take up to 30 minutes or more to fully download.

    1)Turn off 8300 and wait 5 or more seconds.
    2)Unplug power cord from 8300 and wait 5 or more seconds.
    3)If you are resetting an external drive too, unplug it’s power cord at this point and wait 5 or more seconds, then plug power cord back into external drive and wait 5 or more seconds.
    4)Press and hold Power on 8300 front panel. While Power is depressed, plug 8300 power cord back in. Continue to hold Power until 8300 display says “boot” and/or begins to cycle a few times (usually about 15 seconds).

    NOTE: Hard Reboot will resolve MANY issues with not only external drives, but memory issues too. You should WAIT until the reboot is completely finished before powering up. It usually takes about 5 – 10 min, depending on your application and IPG data. Best way to determine when the download is finished is to watch the front panel indicators. On the front panel, where the : (colon) seperates the hours and minutes, the bottom ” . ” dot will appear after all OS firmware has been loaded. An STB getting a download or initializing will be blank. Leave STB alone until dot appears.”

    This corrected the problem with the DVR refusing to boot properly with ext drive attached/turned on. However, I got an error about my attached storage not functioning properly. I then performed a “Front Panel Soft Reboot : (VOL-, VOL +, INFO). The unit came back up and got a message that my attached storage was now functioning properly. Tried to play a recording and everything works properly now!

    Hope that this helps.

  36. I have the 8300hd box with a 1 tb western digital av hdd for this box. When the cable box hard drive powers down at night 1:00a-1:30am i guess it kicks out the ext hdd. In the morning when i hit a key and the box says please wait powering up hdd message the ext hdd isnt seen. I then have to remove power from ext hdd and then plug it back in. Everything works correct till the next morning. I been doing this for about a month now. I called cablev telling them if they can stop the 8300 from powering down at night because the ext hdd isnt seen when i hit a key in the morning. They said this is a feature to extend the life of hdd built into the box. I even tried to set the turn off feature for 1:00am then set the wakeup feature for 1:01am. This feature still doesnt help my problem. I wish there was a work around this. There has to be a way to keep the cable box on 24/7 with the hdd powerdown feature on all the time. If it worked like this i think everyones problems would go away for good.

  37. There is finally a fix for using the wd dvr expander with the scientific atlanta 8300 cable box. Im so excited i cant type this fast enough. Please pass this message around all the boards. The western digital ext hdd comes with a sataII cable. DUMP IT dont use it. You must buy for .97 cents, thats right at amazon a esata to esata cable. This cable works and stops the cablebox from not seeing the ext hdd when hard drive is powered up in the morning or sleep mode. This mode im talking about is the power saving mode it goes into overnight between 1am and 130am. If anyone needs help i would be gladly to help.

  38. We have 8300 HDC. It works great with 1TB Fantom drive. However, when we try to use a 2TB Fantom drive, it will indicate all is well but we cannot record anything. The record screen comes up with a message that we cannot record 3 shows at a time. Nothing is recording. The record indicator on the front panel is not lit. We went back to the 1TB drive and all is well again.

  39. 1TB external drives will work with the Scientific Atlanta 8300 HD Box. I agree that the 2TB will NOT. So much for bigger is better! It isn’t. Get a couple of 1s.

  40. wow! The Toshiba PH3100U-1EXB 1 terabyte external hard drive works great. I used a dynex e-sata cable that I bought from best buy online. The hard drive does not come with one. I unplugged the cable box first then I plugged in all the wires. I then turned on the hard drive and plugged the cable box back in. After a few seconds I got a prompt that wanted to format the drive. I answered yes and that was all it took. my dvr space went from 97% full to 13%. I wish I did this years ago.

  41. Hope someone can answer this… I also have the SA Explorer 8300HD DVR through Cablevision. They said I needed an external drive with a minimum of 7200 RPM and 133 mb/second. Is this really necessary? Is it overkill? I just need some suggestions as to which to purchase. Thanks for any help!

  42. I was successful with a Hitachi 1 T internal hard drive installed into an enclosure and connected with a eSata cable between the two. All I did was plug it in, turn it on and follow the on screen instructions. Very easy like 15 minutes. I think the important thing is using the eSata connection between them, so any HD with an eSata connection will work.
    Good luck all.

  43. I was able to get my 1T external drive to be recognized by the 8300HD pretty easily. However, in Cablevisions interface it does not reecognize what is recorded on the drive. Any suggestions?

  44. Update on the internal Hitachi 1T drive in an enclosure. Still works great however it is a little noisy so for a bed room DVR maybe not the best choice, living room great. I have mine in a box inside a box to muffle the searching sound and hoping heat isn’t a problem.

  45. Thanks, everyone, for your updates.

    Kathy: I would look through the comments (including the “older comments”) to this post for models that have worked for others.

    Jeff S: Every box has its own encryption code. Unless the recordings were made with the same box, it will not be possible to read them.

  46. I ended up with a Fantom eSATA 1000GB drive, which was a breeze to set up and has been flawless for the past three weeks… until today… All of a sudden, playbacks are freezing. So I turned everything off and then on, and now the DVR is telling me to reformat the external drive. Aw, man, that means that anything that’s been recorded to the Fantom will be wiped out. Again, any helpful suggestions?

  47. I have an SA 8240 DVR with Las Vegas Cox Cable. Followed Iomega 1TB instructions in attempt to format external drive. finally just unplugged the power to the Iomega drive and plugged it back in and the format banner came up. drive formatted after pushing the yellow triangle button on the Cox remote. disk storage went from 20% to 3 %.

  48. I have been using an Iomega 1T esata external “expander” drive on various 8300HD and 8240HDC boxes for over a year. I was having some line problems and had several dvrs swapped in and out. Each one worked with the Iomega. Works a treat. It’s available at Amazon for $199. Expensive but designed for use with the SA and Pace America DVRs. Read the specs at Amazon.

  49. Continued from above. I am in Tucson using Cox. Apparently Cox switched from SARA to Passport during this time and still no problems with the Iomega.

  50. I was successful with my 2TB drive from amazon – “Iomega 2 TB USB 2.0 eSATA 3 Gbits Professional Hard Drive – 34527”
    I had to run through the setup multiple times and had to leave the box alone for a few few hours when it asked to format the drive. Its unfortunate that there isn’t a message when its done. My cable provider is Optimum

  51. I have Cablevision SA 8300HD the connector says SATA. Do I need a SATA to eSATA cable. I am going to buy the Toshiba PH3100U-1EXB that seems to work with that box.

  52. I forgot that I can’t get the Toshiba PH3100u-1EXB Amazon had the 3200 which is a 2 TB model. Will it work the same?

  53. What a great article! So disappointed with the size of my Time Warner SA 8300HD hard disk, spent a few days scouring the web, beyond the capability of the Fry’s Staff, hard to find ESATA drives, etc. Great write up, way to share information! Just ordered the external 1TB Toshiba drive, Newegg, $89. Sounds like it should be plug and play, will be so nice to keep an HD NBA game for a day or two before my son’s Three Stooges recording wipes it out… (Yes, Three Stooges)

    Again, thanks!

  54. Long Island Optimum
    8300HD and same drive from this posting (bought on Amazon)
    Make sure you buy the male to male eSata cable and you should be good.
    Worked without any problem at all.

  55. Someone suggested using 2 1Gb drives with Atlanta 8300Hd box. Did anyone had any luck with that? When I tried it, it recorded and played fine on the second drive, but when I plugged the first 1Gb drive back in, it would not play any programs recorded on it even though they all still showed in the recorded program lis.

    Any ideas?


  56. Comcast in SW Florida with an Explorer 8300HD DVR. Purchased the Iomega 1 TB SATA external from Amazon. No luck getting it to work. The Explorer is seeing the drive and asks to format it. But after hitting OK to format, nothing that I can see seems to happen. And the recording space remains at 99% full. Bummer!

  57. Hi all… thought I’d report my experience with a 8240HDC connected to Time Warner cable in San Antonio, TX. I basically build my own external drive enclose from an old external drive case and put a 1TB Maxtor drive into it with an eSATA cable dangling out. The drive had previously been used internally in my computer and was formatted with an NTFS partition. When I tried connecting it, powering it up, and THEN powering up the 8240 I would receive a message box saying that the drive needed formatting and that I should press the A key to continue or C to exit. No amount of pressing on either the “A” key on the remove or the ‘a’ key on an attached USB keyboard did any good. The system simply did accept the ‘A’ for that dialog. After several attempts at this I tried leaving the drive powered off and booting the 8240 normally. After the system had booted and was showing cable channels I powered on the external drive. The picture froze for a few seconds and after a short while the message box appeared. *This* time the “A” key on the remote worked!!! I left the system on for about an hour. It may have rebooted — I wasn’t paying attention. Anyway, after about and hour or 90 minutes I checked the available space and it had gone from 49% down to 4%. Success!!!! … I hope. Haven’t tried to actually record and watch anything yet, but the system seems to be acting normally. If you don’t see another post from me here then it all worked according to my master, evil plan. Bwahahahaha πŸ™‚

    Many thanks to all those that posted and left hints and instructions.


  58. Give the frustrations I had with the Toshiba, I decided to get a better hard drive and see if performance improved. I bought a HDD case (Sabrent IDE/SATA with USB/eSATA ports) and a Segate Barracuda SATA 1TB HDD. The case is nice because it is aluminum and has a fan, which is super quite and helps keep the HDD cool. I made sure the drive I bought was 7200 rpm (fast read/write speed), and also decided to get the one with 64 MB cache (can hold more data before/while writing to the drive. I have been running this setup for about three weeks now, and extremely pleased. I have had almost no issues recording programs or with playback. The only time I’ve had any problem was while recording 2 shows and watching a third show from my list or previously recorded shows, and my issue was just a small playback glitch when the 2nd show started being recorded. No big deal, I just jumped back 5 seconds and the section replayed perfectly (which confirm no problem with the recording itself). My conclusion, the Toshiba PH3100U-1EXB is sufficient for expanding a DVR, but HDDs have come a long way in the past couple of years so a faster drive with bigger cache with perform better. Maybe one of these days someone will be able to try out expanding with a solid-state drive.

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