External hard drives

Hello again community.

I’ve been pondering adding an external hard drive to my Tablo. I’m a fan of SSD technology. But the thread listing hard drives that work well with Tablo seems entirely dedicated to platter spinning drives.

Is there a thread discussing SSD? Why would one avoid SSD?

advTHANKSance for any info.

When I started with my Tablo had a used Samsung Evo 500GB SSD hooked up and it worked fine.

Then I upgraded to a WD Black 4TB 3.5 drive I found at work… I bought a cheap Amazon USB dongle with its own power supply. Its working so far.


SSDs are fine. There’s just no performance benefit vs. spinning drives.


As TabloTV has explained, there’s no advantage to using an SSD in your Tablo. It will be connected to a USB 2.0 port and since it’s stationary, there’s no worry about the spinning HDD being dropped or bumped.

The biggest advantage of an HDD is the price. The biggest advantage of the SSD (in this case) is the lower power draw. As KimchiGUN has shared, he’s got his HDD on its own power supply, which can help alleviate some stress on the USB port.


I agree. I have an 8tb Western Digital external I bought on sale for about $125. An 8tb ssd would run at least $500.
Since there is no improvement in speed, it’s a no-brainer to me.

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I found a 1tb WD ssd for $89 for my 4-tuner gen 4. Works fine. Very small, simple, no external power supply.

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Thanks. My thoughts are that the typical hard drives will be constantly spinning. It seems to me that this would cause them to fail sooner than a SSD might. Am I wrong in this thinking?

Also, is it as simple as just connecting the hard drive? I looked at support articles and there doesn’t seem to be much detail offered on the actual install process. I would imagine one might want to first power off the Tablo, then connect and power up. But I’m unclear on that. There’s also mention of formatting. But I see nothing related to that when looking at the Tablo app on my android phone. Maybe it will appear once I acquire and install a drive.

Thanks again!

@Magus75 Here’s the how-to:

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I don’t recall any issues getting the ssd to work. I formatted it on my laptop first just to get rid of all the junk software that’s preloaded on those things. I just used the same format that was already there. Probably an unnecessary step.

Then I plugged it in to my already setup Tablo and it reformatted it to whatever it needed. Just follow Tablo’s instructions. It was all easy.

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If you are not recording or buffering live, most drives will spin down after awhile. The WD Essentials I have on my legacy HDMI appears to go to sleep after about 30 minutes (drive light slow blinks.) It does take a few seconds to spin up. Not an issue with recording as I see it wake up even before the normal 15 sec early start.

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Hello again all

So I ordered and installed a small 250 GB drive yesterday. It seemed to go okay. Admittedly I was a bit shocked as the Tablo device. Seemed to need to enter setup mode an reconnect to Wi-Fi or LAN. But once I got past that, the drive seemed to be recognized as it seemed to format fine.

After seeing other things here I fully expected that anything I had recorded on the Tablo internal storage wouldn’t be accessible. But I was shocked to see that the couple of recordings were still there and played!

This morning, however, I’m less than impressed. Upon trying to play back my two recordings, I’m seeing dreadful playback with either one. Audio seems fine but horrible pixelation and total visual freeze. Making me wonder if I check around noon if things then play fine. But I was under the impression that when using an external hard drive, recordings didn’t need a transcoding process.

More information here. I just tried playing one of the troublesome recordings on my android phone. While I only watched a small bit at the beginning, it seemed to play flawlessly. So I thought that perhaps IF for some reason it were still in the process of doing it’s transcoding thing, maybe it completed and could finally be viewed on my TV (via Roku).

Oddly, it is STILL breaking up horribly.

This is making me wonder if the breaking up has more to do with the format the recorded video is in.

I’ve looked at the Tablo settings on my phone app but it seems there’s just no way to govern or choose anything dealing with the encoding of the recordings.


With it playing on your phone fine, it seems like the recording on the hard drive is fine.

is your Roku wireless or hardwired? What Roku model are you using?

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Again… going to put this out there… I have 5 iphone, 7 Roku devices, and 1 Gen4 2 tuner Tablo… and it works fine.

I dont think its any format or transcoding issue… You are over thinking it. Lets go back to the basic and check your network and RF signal bro.

Also, the hard drive space you are using is UNDER the recommended amount Tablo posted.

You can point the finger at Tablo… since they “recommended” you to go bigger. But hey whatever.

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So I decided to mirror my android phone to the Chromecast device on my TV. Both recordings played fine. Clear picture and audio.

Chromecast is a dongle connected to HDMI on the TV and connects via wifi. My Roku devices are also connected to HDMI on the TVs and wifi.

My gut tells me that there’s probably a CODEC issue with either Roku or the Tablo app on the Roku. Especially since I have the same breakup issue with playback of a recorded show too soon after recording ends. (When no hard drive is connected) My thought is that at that point I’m trying to play the same file format the hard drive stores and gets transcoded on the internal storage. That would totally explain why playback is horrible until transcoding completes.

My big question at this point is to ponder where the CODEC is stored. Roku or the Tablo app installed on the Roku?

I’m not convinced hard drive size is any issue since playback on the phone is good. :wink:

Dude… for real…

It’s apparent that you haven’t looked at Tablo’s support pages for Hard Drive information or how files are saved/transcoded.

Simply put:

  • your hard drive is smaller than what Tablo suggests
  • there is no transcoding on external drives

Help us by doing some of this research yourself. We don’t mind giving you advice, but it’s got to be give and take.

Not to mention, the issue could be your Roku. Sharing as much information as you’re able to is how to get problems solved.

Sorry to be blunt.

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you cant be a real person… you have to be a bot.

You got all these people trying to help and you go left.

God help us all bruh! I hope that comet comes back around gets us all again.

Check your wireless signal on your Roku. It’s local to your Roku. Make sure its completely updated and the Tablo App. Confirm it has good wireless signal. Just don’t say it does, actually check in your router.

Make this make sense to me… I got 7 Roku devices running Tablo. What “Codec” or “Transcoding” am I doing that makes it work? What “codec” or “transcoding” are you using to make it not work?

Don’t worry take your time… I’ll wait. waiting for that comet to come strike us again. the world needs it.

Hello again

I assure you I’m a very real person. Unless I’m a robot that is self unaware. :wink:

Believe it or not I HAVE looked at the support articles that have been provided to me. I’m replying now via my computer. I’m thinking perhaps I’ve not communicated clearly because before I was simply using my phone and that doesn’t lend itself to being very verbose with thoughts and suchlike.

So for starters, I’m going to just outline what I’ve seen and have been facing.

I have multiple TVs, each equipped with a Roku device. Generally, the small Rokus that stick near the TV and connect to the TVs via HDMI. I also have an outdoor mounted TV antenna. The coax runs from the roof to an amplified splitter. Then from the splitter to each TV. So far things are great. No issues and I watch OTA TV on each TV as needed and Roku when I want to stream. All Roku devices are connected via wifi.

I see ads for this Tablo thing. So I purchase it and connect it up. 4th gen 2 tuner. I run a coax from one of the four antenna splitter outputs to the Tablo devce. (Tablo is mounted right next to the splitter. I also connect a CAT5 network cable from the Tablo to my router. And that’s just a couple of feet away.

I simply configure any of the TVs to watch OTA when I want to watch OTA live, I don’t use the Tablo for tuning into anything other than what I wish to record. I never use it to watch live TV.

Early on I was simply recording a couple of things. Never two channels at the same time and I always played back the next day. I never saw an issue. Then as I became more familiar with the device, I configured a recording using both tuners simultaneously. (two late night shows) And the next morning, I played back and one of the simultaneous recordings was breaking up really bad when playing it from the Tablo. So I came here to the forum in search of answers. It seemed to me that since it was the first time I set things up where two programs were being simultaneously recorded, one of the tuners was possibly bad. But during this process I noticed that after a while, the recording that was breaking up before simply began playing just dandy. Nice and clear.

Someone here (possibly you?) pointed me to a support article that discussed how Tablo worked. That when no hard drive was present, after a recording ended, the Tablo performed a transcoding process. And that seemed to explain what I was seeing. The pixelation and freezing performed a complete disappearing act after I waited. Presumably the process of transcoding from the “raw” MPEG2 recording format to MPEG4 cleared it up. So far so good.

Then I attempted to watch a recorded show very soon after a recording stopped. And again, things were awful in playback. And again, someone here suggested that I consider adding an external hard drive. Presumably the thought was that since no transcoding had to occur, what I would see would be good.

Soooo, I begin investigating hard drives. And again, someone here pointed me to an article that mentioned that somebody should create a thread listing hard drive models that work fine with Tablo and models that fail. Unfortunately, the link I saw turned out to be 404. I figured that if I used an SSD it might be optimal, as those are supposed to be both super fast as well as the older drives are spinning. But in the end, I chose an inexpensive spinning hard drive.

As for size recommendations, I’m more than happy with what Tablo has in the unit with no hard drive present. Which I understand is 128 gigs. Since that seems perfectly adequate for my purposes, a 250 gig drive seems more than adequate, Hence I fail to understand Tablo’s suggestion of a larger capacity hard drive. I mean, I could understand it if the external drive recordings were also being transcoded.

So my own understanding based on the recommended articles is this: According to https://us-store.tablotv.com/products/tablo:


Note that those brief specs make no mention of a recommended drive size. Only that "up to 8TB in size. (and yes, I realize a support article may mention a minimum)

As my Roku seems to play Tablo recordings fine as long as I don’t have a hard drive connected and I wait to ensure the transcoding is complete, and watching a recording too soon (before transcoding is completed) results in pixelation, it seems reasonable to me to assume the issue is the recording format. Which according to Tablo in the screen shot above is MPEG2. I’m fully aware that no transcoding is occurring when a hard drive is involved.

Before I posted this I performed a small test. Most of what I watch is on my bedroom TV. So I recorded a brief program (with hard drive connected). Perhaps it does have something to do with the Roku devices. All are reasonably new, but I did acquire them at different times. All nearly the same model. However, all the Rokus I have function just fine for everything I watch. Netflix, Hulu, AppleTV+, Discovery+, HBO Max, FreeVee, Tubi, and many others. Of the three devices, the oldest seems to be the only one that will play recordings just fine from the hard drive. The other two are awful. Yet they are just fine when no hard drive is involved and I’m careful to wait for transcoding to complete.

Am I correct in assuming you are simply another very helpful user here? Does Tablo support look at these threads? If not, how do I actually file a report with support? I think my case might be an interesting one for Tablo support to look at. Especially given the prevalence of Roku devices in use. I did try uninstalling the Tablo app from the Roku and reinstalling. But it made no difference. I’d be flabbergasted to learn that my situation is unique.

I do apologize for being unclear earlier. Sorry too that I have a life beyond the forum and aren’t just watching it continuously with bated breath. :wink:

I remember the article that Tablo Support continued to direct us to having a 404 error 90% of the time I needed it. I believe the article that mentions recommended hard drive size is the one that talks about how storage is used. It doesn’t help that Tablo mixes legacy/OG model information within the same support articles and that the section you might be looking for could be a couple sentence blurb. It’s very easy to glance over or mistake it for something else.

What concerns me at the moment and has me scratching my head is your mention of internal versus external and I get the impression that you’ve been plugging it in, testing it, unplugging it, testing … and repeating the process. All without a reboot or a reformatting of the drive.

I had not thought of it before, but I’m wondering if a super simple trick might be the solution to your issue. Despite your drive not being the recommended brand or size, it’s very likely it could work without issue. I have a 250SSD hooked up to my 2-tuner and it works like a charm, while the recommended one hooked up to my 4-tuner seems to have a case of the Mondays every now and then.

If you have nothing on your drive, I would suggest reformatting it and starting over (this might require a computer). Follow Tablo’s external drive installation details on the support pages (I don’t want to give you inaccurate information). I worry that this process (reformatting every time you insert the external drive) might have been missed throughout your testing and I apologize if my thinking is wrong.

After you’ve got your drive set up again and formatted through the Tablo app’s settings, I recommend you reboot your Tablo one more time. For some reason, this has been key to all of my hard drive installations.

Beyond that, there is the possibility of quirks within the Rokus themselves, which may or may not be cleared up by Roku restarts or forced cache clears. Picking up a cheap $20 ONN 4k box from Walmart might also help you to figure out if this is a Tablo device issue or a Tablo Roku app issue. Being inside the same ecosystem it’s hard to get a grasp of where the issue might lie, especially when you’re getting different results from the same type of devices.

One thing to keep in mind is that your internal network has to be able to support your Tablo’s need for uncompressed MPEG-2 content. So, whether Max can play 4k HDR content without issue isn’t very relevant since they send compressed data to your device. Your Tablo is hardwired and likely up to the task, but if your wireless network’s internal transfer speed is not, you’ll experience numerous buffering issues.

I have both of my Rokus tucked away since I only use them for testing or backup, but I will tell you that my older one handles some aspects of the Tablo better than the newer one, and vice versa. A small tip that often goes unheeded is when you uninstall an app, reboot the device before you reinstall it.

I hope that we can help you get to the bottom of this and find a solution. It’s easy for users to get frustrated when we’re trying to explain something but it feels like the other side isn’t listening.

You can always open a support ticket through Tablo’s website. It should be easy to find where you are able to submit a request and give them the information they’d like to know.