DIRECTV DVR Problems? Try this easy fix

If you’re having problems with your DIRECTV receiver or DVR. there are several simple steps that might work well for you. My advice is that you take each of these steps in order.

Step 1: Reboot the box you’re watching

Resetting your DIRECTV box usually just means finding the red button and pressing it. But, if you need more comprehensive instructions, we’ve got you covered.

Customers with regular receivers or older DVRs can use this tutorial. 

Customers with Genie systems can use this tutorial.

A lot of times, this is all it takes. It’s really amazing how much good that little red button can do.

Step 2: Reboot the DVR or server

If you’re in front of a receiver or Genie client, the next step if you are having problems is to simply reboot the DVR. This is the larger box in your home, you might know it as “the main Genie” or “the big DIRECTV box.” Follow the instructions in the tutorials above. Usually, it usually boils down to finding the red button.

It can take up to about five minutes for the main DVR to reboot. It takes a lot longer than it does for the little Genie clients. You might want to turn off the smaller boxes while you’re waiting for the main one to reboot.

Step 3: Reboot the DVR or server again

If you’re still seeing problems, reboot the main DIRECTV box again within the same 30 minute span. This clears out a bunch of files on the DIRECTV box and often can fix some of the more esoteric problems.

If it’s been more than 30 minutes since you rebooted, just reboot, wait for live TV, and reboot again.

Step 4: The long unplug

If you have a problem that resetting or rebooting doesn’t fix, there’s another step that you might try. It may not make a lot of sense, but rebooting doesn’t always clear everything out. It can take minutes or in some cases hours before the memory in your DVR is actually cleared out, and for that reason, one step I recommend when trying to deal with the problem yourself is the “long unplug.”

I’ve had people tell me that there’s no reason to unplug a computer device for more than 30 seconds, but there’s clearly something still supplying power to those chips for more than that. It may be a capacitor within the device. All I know is that believe it or not, unplugging a DIRECTV box for a period of 6 hours or more can magically bring it back to life, at least long enough to watch what’s on it and then get a replacement. I’ve seen it too many times to believe it’s a myth.

Argue if you want, but if you’re having trouble and you’re not expecting a replacement box for a few days, it’s certainly worth a try.

Should you try downloading new software?

If you’ve been around DIRECTV for a long while, you might remember the advice that technicians used to give. Back in the ’00s, DIRECTV was updating its receiver software every few weeks. Bug fixes were coming fast and furious back in those days, and downloading new software often fixed things quickly.

These days, most software is in a “maintenance mode” where small bugs are fixed when found and other minor changes are made. Most receivers are updated two or three times a year, rarely more often than that.

So, in general I don’t suggest downloading new software. It generally takes 30 minutes or more and doesn’t solve anything that simply double-rebooting won’t fix.

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.