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Bell External Hard Drive Facts

219470 Views 9 Replies 5 Participants Last post by  MarkL1967
If you wish to ask a question or are experiencing difficulties with an EHD, then please see our External Hard Drive Discussions thread to discuss issues you may be having.

A lot of people have been discussing the Bell External Hard drive situation and with the new receivers coming out I thought I would start a thread a general external hard drive thread for commonly asked questions.

In post #2, I am adding information about what is and isn't possible with Bell external drives and general information.

Some of this information may be incorrect or change as time goes by so I will update post #2 as new information is known. I will also provide dates for changes so folks know when things were updated.

Please keep this threads to posting known facts about EHD functionality. Ideally only posts should be to add, update or correct information in post #2.

FYI, I may delete posts from this thread in order to keep this thread clean of information so if you want to discuss External hard drive issues please post on existing threads.


  • EHD = External Hard Drive
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Which models can take an external hard drive?

External hard drives can only be added the following Bell TV model receivers: 9241, 9242, 9400, 6131, 6141, 6400. It cannot be added to any other models including the 9200 (which is no longer active on BTV anyway).

Do I need to buy the EHD sold by Bell?

No. Many readers have used various drives in external cases with success, however, there is no guarantee that any drive you buy will work.

The vast majority of external 7200 RPM USB 2.0 hard drives with a capacity between 50GB and 2 Terabyte should work. Please note that Hard drives less than 50GB and over 2GB will not work and 5400 RPM drives are not recommended.

Can I use a 3TB Drive?
No. The maximum hard drive size is 2TB.

Can I use a Flash Drive?

As noted in post #1, EHD stands for External Hard drive so flash drives will not work.

Can I use a small external notebook drive that is powered by the USB Port?

No. Your external drive must have its own power supply.

Note: One member claims to have successfully used a USB powered drive for several months. Although you might have success with some USB powered drives, the USB port on the Bell receivers were not designed to handle the power requirements of an external hard drive. Bell advises users to use a drive that plugs into an AC outlet. To minimize the risk of damage to your receiver, its advice we recommend members take.

Can I use a drive with Sleep mode
Although some readers say they have used them, our advice is to avoid using External Hard Drives that can be programmed to go into a hibernation or sleep mode because they can conflict with PVR timers and cause problems.

Heat is your enemy

Like any hard drive, your external hard drive will generate a lot of heat, therefore ensure it is in a well ventilated location. Sticking it in an enclosed cabinet or right up against several other components is likely to cause problems.

9242 / 9241 / 9400

  • EHD functionality introduced in firmware v182. Many problems with firmware V182 were reported by readers who lost data, drives and encountered many other difficulties.
  • Firmware V183 appears to have corrected data corruption problems.
  • External hard drive on the 9242/41/9400 can be moved to another 9242/41/9400 receiver on the same account.
  • Programming from an EHD mated to a 9242/41/9400 drive cannot be viewed on a 6131, 6141 or 6400. Attempting to do so could result in your drive being reformatted.
  • Multiple drives can be added to the 9242/41/9400 but only one at a time


Note that the eHDDs from the above are apparently incompatible with the 9500.

Update July 15th: To the best of our knowledge, the 3 strike rule is no longer in effect.


  • EHD functionality introduced in firmware v165.
  • EHD's can be shared between 6131/6141/6400s that are on the same Bell TV account.
  • Programming from an EHD mated to a 6131 or 6141 or 6400 receiver cannot be viewed on a 9241 or 9242 or 9400 receiver. Attempting to do so could result in your drive being reformatted.
  • Multiple drives can be added to the 6131/6141/6400 but only one at a time


Timers reside on the receiver, so if you move an eHDD, the timers stay on the receiver and will need to be redone on the "new" receiver if desired.
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Common Questions answered:

Q: Is it possible to re-plug the EHD into your laptop or computer and watch or copy recordings?
A: No

Q: Is it best to leave an external hard drive powered on all the time or just when you need to access it?
A: If you own a 6131/6141/6400, it is recommended you leave it on all the time. If you own a 9241/9242/9400 then you can turn it off and turn it on when you need to access it. The reason its okay to turn off your EHD with your 9241/9242/9400 is because your internal Hard drive is still operating.

Q: Can I use <insert model here> of external hard drive with the Bell receiver?
A: See Post #2

Q: How do I archive recordings to my eHD?
A:press in following order
  • Menu
  • 4 - Multimedia
  • 3 - External Drive
  • 2 - Archive Drive
Select the recordings you wish to Archive
Press archive and your programs will begin to be archived to your external drive. A two hour movie can take 30 minutes to an hour to archive but you can resume watching television while archiving.

Q: Does the drive need to be activated by Bell?
A: For most people, it should work without the need for calling Bell, however, if your receiver does not recognize the drive after it is plugged into the USB port, then you should contact Bell.


Pretty much anything will work provided it follows the guidelines above.
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ScaryBob Notes regarding drives.
(please use alternate threads to discuss possible drives to use)

In the past, I have recommended a 1TB Western Digital (WD) "Green" drive and a Nextar CX enclosure. This has been the most reliable EHD to date (no problems to report.) Unfortunately, Western Digital has made some changes. They now offer a WD10EAVS Caviar Green 1TB SATA 8MB Cache in addition to the WD10EADS Caviar Green 1TB SATA 32MB Cache drive. The WD10EAVS is NOT recommended due to a hard coded sleep feature. The WD10EADS Caviar Green 1TB SATA 32MB Cache drive is still recommended.

ScaryBob Notes regarding the use of USB hubs for multiple drives.

The usual disclaimer: I'm not recommending this but it works for me and it might work for you. Try it at your own risk.

More than one drive can be connected to the 9242 with a USB hub, BUT (that's a big but :D) they cannot be powered on at the same time. I got tired of switching USB cable pretty fast, besides USB connectors and cables are not designed to be that durable.

I use a cheap, unpowered Belkin 4 port USB hub. It cost a whopping $7 on sale so it was a cheap experiment. :) Two drives are plugged into the hub, originally with the power off. When one drive is turned on, it is recognized as usual. To switch drives, turn the active drive off, wait for the 'drive disconnected' message, press OK, turn the other drive on, wait for the 'new device' message and press 'yes' to manage or no to not. It's that simple and it works flawlessly.

The really big caution is that more than one drive cannot be on at the same time or drive corruption may result. Both can be off, or one can be on. (Note that attempting to use both front and back USB ports on the 9242 also will not work.) I suspect that this technique could be extended to more than two hard drives and flash drives.
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More commonly asked questions answered.

Q: Can I copy Recordings from one hard drive to another?
Files can be copied from one BellTV formatted hard drive to another BellTV formatted hard drive using Linux. That is useful if the BellTV hard drive becomes unusable due to first partition corruption or if the drive is upgraded. The copied files can only be watched using the same model BellTV PVR (on the same account)

Q. Can I copy Recordings directly from a BellTV hard drive to a PC hard drive and watch them on a PC?
A: No. The files are encrypted. The best method is to copy real time using component video to something like the Hauppauge HDPVR or Hauppage Colossus which is discussed in the HTPC forum.

(Previous questions edited thanks to input from ScaryBob)

Q: How do I convert my Bell External HD back to one I can use on my PC?
Connect the drive to your Windows Computer. In Control Panel gotto Adminstrative Tools then Computer Management and then Disk Management. Delete the partitions from the External disk and then reformat it.

Q: Can I use the External HD for both PVR and computer storage at the same time.
A: No. The drive can only be used for use with the Bell PVR.
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Thread cleaned up.

If you wish to ask a question or are experiencing difficulties with an EHD, then please see our External Hard Drive Problems and Discussion thread to discuss issues you may be having.

We continue to have lots of people asking questions that are clearly answered in this thread. Please read this thread thoroughly before posting in this thread. Finally, PLEASE DO NOT POST IN THIS THREAD IF A PARTICULAR MAKE AND MODEL OF HARD DRIVE WILL WORK. Makes and Models are discussed in the External Hard Drive Problems and Discussion thread
Update. On August 30th, 2011 Bell announced that 6xxx series can now accept 2TB external drives. The 9xxx series has been capable of using 2TB drives for some time.
EHD Recomendation/Suggestion

I have a 9242 . I am using a Seagate GoFlex 1.5TB USB 2.0 External Desktop Hard Drive (STAC1500100). I bought it at Best Buy in Jan for $99. It is on sale at Staples this Saturday, April 14th ONLY!! for $69.98!! It has worked flawlessly for me. It meets all of the protocols listed as being required.

External power
USB 2.0
7200 RPM

It does have sleep mode enabled but Seagate makes a piece of software, that lets you mange physical drive settings, not just windows settings
There is an option there to set it to "Never Sleep"
The software is on Seagates' website under: downlaods/external drives/expansion drive/Seagate drive Settings For Windows or access it here: click downloads

I originally found this solution By member "MackOne" in the Telus Forum :

I hooked up my Seagate EHD to my 9242 to format it 1st and then hooked the hard drive to my laptop to adjust the sleep mode settings. I actually set mine to "SLEEP" after 5 Hours so that it's not constantly running when it's not being used. When it is in Sleep Mode and you access the PVR function, there is about a 10 sec delay until the menu shows on the screen. But if you're like me, it is rare to go longer than 5 hours without using the PVR menu. I also just push the PVR button when I 1st turn on the 9242 and by the time my TV warms up the PVR menu is displayed as well.
The never sleep function would be good for the 6131's/6141.
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This is a "facts" thread. If you wish to discuss or have questions, please use the discussion thread. (Thanks to named for the info)
Bell 6400 and USB Stick

I have the Bell 6400 and using a 64GB USB Stick as external drive and it works perfectly. I have yet to try a smaller USB Stick to test the theory that external drives must be 50GB to 200GB to work.
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