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London, ON

[TV] External Hard Drive Specs for Bell HD Receiver


My nephew is hoping to hook up an external hard drive to his Bell ExpressVu receiver. Here is what Bell's website says for the requirements...

7200 RPM rotation speed
Between 50GB and 2TB of capacity
Holds a single hard drive
Plugs into an AC power outlet
Has a USB 2.0 connection
Has no sleep mode (cannot power down when idle

I don't understand the need for a 7200 RPM drive, when only using a USB 2.0 connection! That eliminates a lot of the newer, and 'greener' external drives, which can certainly handle USB2's transfer rates.

I had suggested he try a Seagate® Expansion Desktop 2TB USB 3.0 Drive, STBV2000100, an external 3.5" unit, AC-powered, but I have learned via email from Seagate, that apparently it is only 5400 rpm. (good price at CC's)

Q1) So, does this Bell Receiver really need a 7200 rpm drive?

Q2) Once used by the Bell Receiver, does it 'take over' (and format) the drive, or could the drive still be moved and shared by their home computer, and used as a backup device there? Does the Bell Receiver recognize and use standard HD formats, like NTFS or exFAT?



London, ON
What receiver are you refering to? I have a 9424 and have a Seagate Freeagent Desk 1TB connected to it.

q1) Not sure of the speed specs ....EDIT: Yes it is 7200RPM

Q2) yes the receiver will format the hard drive to its specifications. It is some linux format. You can not move it to a PC and share it once it is formatted for the receiver.

One note: make sure you attach it to your pc then use seagate's software to disable the sleep mode.


London, ON
reply to jasmo34
More info for you:

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 It cannot be added to any other models including the 9200 (which is no longer active on BTV anyway).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 but after the third time, the drive will be reformated and the contents lost. (known as the three strikes and your out rule)
Programming from an EHD mated to a 9242/41/9400 drive cannot be viewed on a 6131 or 6141. 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

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. I am told the three strikes and your out rule is not in effect.
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


London, ON

2 edits
Thanks for all the info jb3!

I'm waiting on more info including the exact HD receiver model #. I know the Bell page I was initially referred to by my relative said "To turn your 6131, 6141 or 6400 HD receiver into an HD PVR...".

Yes, I figured/hoped I could adjust the firmware and the sleep settings on the hard drive, if necessary. Today, I read some other comments on that drive that suggested the power-management was now disabled by default on this device.

So, once used on the Bell Receiver, the drive is basically dedicated to that device. Again, more research (Amazon, Digital Home) has suggested it CAN be read on a windows machine by installing and using other file-system drivers, or something called "SwissKnife", but I doubt they (or myself) will want to get into that can-o-worms.

The 2TB external drive I was suggesting was only around $94 at Canada Computers. Now they are apparently looking at something from Best Buy for $180.

I still wonder why 7200 rpm is needed.

"RPM" is becoming a hard spec to find, even at sites like Seagate. It's all hidden within other 'green' or 'performance' jargon. And I guess they can change what actual HD ships inside the external enclosure any time they want.

edit: Their HD receiver is a "6400".


London, ON
reply to jasmo34
Yes now I can remember that is can be read when you install some software. But to what end? Why do you need to read it? Extract the recordings? From my knowledge you can't get the recordings off.

" Can I copy the movies from my PVR to my computer and watch them?”

Well, that’s a 2 part question and there are actually 2 answers. From what I have experimented with, yes you can copy the files to your computer system but no, you cannot watch them on your computer system or burn them on a DVD and watch them later.


I could send you to another site that has much information regarding Bell receivers but they do not like ppl putting links on their forums so I will not reciprocate back. If you search for some digtal home canada forums you may find it.

Good Luck


reply to jasmo34
said by jasmo34:

And I guess they can change what actual HD ships inside the external enclosure any time they want.

Yep. I got one where the initial batch were all 7200 RPM drives, but the one I got was 5900 RPM. It works well enough, but it's additional storage for a PVR and not the primary drive used to turn a standard HD receiver into a PVR.


London, ON
reply to joeblow3
said by joeblow3:

Yes now I can remember that is can be read when you install some software. But to what end? ...

The reasoning there was to buy the 2TB external drive, and to be able to take it to the computer and use it for PC backups too, if the file systems were compatible, and the Bell Receiver didn't overwrite the PC stuff. But, we won't be worrying about that now!

Yep, I've spent many an hour at Digital Home.

Anyway, the relatives are probably off to buy some guaranteed 7200 rpm drive at Best Buy today; maybe a LaCie or a Buffalo, with a Brand X drive inside! As long as it works.

Thanx again!


Quebec, QC
reply to jasmo34
5400 RPM drives will work just fine. Never trust Bell, they don't know what they are talking about. A SSD will work fine too. Even a laptop drive should work. If it doesn't, it means their port isn't USB compliant because it can't output 500 mA.

Just get the cheapest 2TB external hard drive you can find.


London, ON
5400 vs 7200... My guess is Bell is just "being safe", with the 7200 rpm "requirement". Like I say, it's only a USB2 port, with 60MB/s theoretical max transfer rate?

I'm not really surprised about them saying you should have an externally-powered drive. I have run into a few USB ports that have trouble with external hard drives.

Even using my small 250GB Hitachi 2.5" external, I must use the "Y" cable for extra power from another USB port on 2 of my computers; the other computers power it just fine with just the one main plug.

Also, buying for yourself (and being willing to stress the new hardware and test the crap out of it immediately after purchase), and recommending equipment for others, is different; especially when they live elsewhere.


Quebec, QC
What I would recommend is definately a 2TB hard drive with external power supply. Laptops hard drives are too small (or more expensive for the same size).

But I can assure you it is 100% safe to get a 5400 RPM drive. It's even better as it will use less power and will be more than fast enough to record TV shows at Bell's bitrate. If old 50GB 7200 RPM hard drives are fast enough, so are newer (120GB+) 5400 RPM.
"Green" hard drives are made exactly for this kind of purpose.