TiVo kickstart codes enable certain diagnostics at boot time. If you're having problems with your TiVo, this information may help you to determine the source of the problem. Additionally, some codes can help with setup issues.

How to Perform a Kickstart:

  1. Reboot the TiVo - This can be done by pulling the plug and waiting at least 10 seconds before plugging it back in, or you can use the menus under Message and Setup to tell the machine to reboot itself.
  2. As soon as the machine begins the reboot, hold down the yellow Pause button on the remote. Make sure the remote is aimed at the TiVo.
  3. For most machines: Hold this down until a yellow light shows on the front of the unit.
    For units with DVD: Hold Pause until both lights go out, then the right light goes red.
    For TiVoHD users: you'll see either (a) a flashing green light, then amber and red lights, or (b) red, green and amber lights.
    For TiVo Series3 users: you'll see all four lights lit, then an amber light alone.
    For TiVo Premiere users: Don't hold pause. Power up the unit. When the yellow light starts flashing, press pause. Then the red light should come on. Enter your code, and then blue light should come on.
  4. Now enter the kickstart code from the list below. In most cases, the light will then turn off and in many cases (depending on the code and the model) the unit will then reboot. If on the reboot, you don't get the expected behavior, try again, and try to enter the code sooner after the light change.


TiVo Kickstart Codes


Emergency dial-in (tone)

Forces the TiVo to attempt a dial-in to TiVo servers via phone.

While this is proceeding, you should see this screen:

Don't Panic Kickstart

1 Emergency dial-in (pulse) Same as above, with pulse dialing for older systems.
9 Emergency dial-in (tone, with a "9" prefix) Same as "0" with a "9" prefix for PBX systems.
51 Software Upgrade

This would force the installation of an available OS upgrade. In our experience, it's rarely effective since any viable OS upgrade should install on its own at reboot time.

You'll see this screen while the install is proceeding:

TiVo Service Update

52 Emergency Software Reinstall

This attempts to reinstall the last version of the TiVo OS on the unit.

You'll see this screen while the install is proceeding:

TiVo Service Update

53 BER Testing This tests the Bit Error Rate. We don't have too much info on this routine.
54 Hard Drive Test

This code allows a SMART test of the hard drive(s). Most recent hard drives support this series of tests. Other tests are also available. See the full TiVo kickstart code 54 page for info.

55 Tuner and AFT Test Again, not a lot of info on this one. We think AFT stands for "automatic frequency tuning."
56 Software Install The TiVo attempts to connect to the TiVo servers to download and install the most recent version of the TiVo OS for that model. The unit should be connected to the phone line or ethernet.
57 Media File System (MFS) check

Causes a GSOD (green screen of death) to appear while it checks and attempts to repair any file system problems.

58 Media File System (MFS) cleanup Same behavior as 57, presumably with rudimentary defragmentation.
62 Initialize eSATA drive No longer useful, this code was the backdoor to adding eSATA drives to stock Series3 TiVos. This can now be done by just plugging in the drive and rebooting.

TiVo Kickstart Code 54 Details

The TiVo kickstart 54 code allows for you to test your hard drive(s) using the TiVo itself. These operations take some time, and your TiVo won't be able to record or playback while these tests are taking place.

See above for information on how to get into the kickstart menus. Then come back to the information below for details on how to proceed.

TiVo Kickstart Codes - Options in Kickstart 54 - Hard Drive Test

Main hard drive testing menu

Choose your test option here. We generally recommend either the first S. M. A. R. T. tests or the last Overnight test.

TiVo Kickstart Smart

S. M. A. R. T. screen

This screen shows a TiVo HD testing its internal hard drive.


SMART screen

* DirecTV DVRs and Series3 TiVos (in HD) record digital broadcast streams and all compression is determined by the broadcaster, so hours stated are estimates assuming average compression.

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This page last modified: Nov 23, 2016 - 11:33