For Tablo Support: Weak Signal Solution - USB Flash causes tuner issue

mleejr posted in 2015 that his old USB flash drive caused a weak signal issue on his Tablo.

Here we are 9 years later and his advice helped me. I had a Seagate Backup Plus 2TB hard drive die while recording shows for me on my 2 tuner Tablo purchased a few months ago. I plugged in a USB stick and didn’t realize that this was causing a weak tuner issue.

I then bought a Sandisk 500 GB flash drive and after formatting it I had weak signal issues. After wasting an hour or two trying to figure out why my antenna connection had failed I searched for the answer. mleejr’s post of 2015 was the solution. I unplugged the USB memory stick and my tuner now works again. I then of course tried a conventional hard drive and all is well.

Is this a well known issue?? I wasted time assuming that any external storage would work!!

Here is the message that helped me.


May 2015

I found what is causing the ‘Weak Signal’ problem on a lot of people’s Tablos. It is a blocking issue caused by the data transfer rates of the USB drives. I put in an old 4GB flash drive just to get it all set up. It has a red, flashing light when it’s getting access. I noticed it would flash, then I would get a ‘Weak signal’ almost immediately (iOS app, but similar message on Web app and Roku App). It became apparent your software is blocking on the data writes before it sends out the stream, due to the fact that you include DVR functionality. My antenna signals were 5 green dots so I know it wasn’t actually a weak signal. So, to test, I lowered my resolution to the minimum and was then able to stream a station to my ipad. Then I would go back to the guide, try another station, and then get ‘weak signal’. This is because it was still flushing the buffer of the previous station to the very slow bus of the flash drive. Yes, I am also a programmer. Hopefully this will help you. This is still an error, but only somewhat of a user error of not having a fast enough drive. It is primarily a marketing error in that you did not convey, and need to be explicit, in terms of your minimum write speeds accepted to be able to stream the server, and the minimums for each resolution. You should also check the write speeds and give a better error to the end user, along with the write speed detected along with minimum write speeds for that resolution. Hope this helps - Mike[/Quote]

It’s really a read/write error that the Tablo reports as its generic “weak signal” error. (Yeah, it would be great if we had ANY error message other than this!)

Flash drives are not supported and from my own testing I discovered the same thing when I first got mine. Usually it could handle one recording at a time, but forget two at once or playback of anything at all while you’re recording! Occasionally, I did get the signal error on a 1080p OTA station, and for a while thought it was the antenna. It didn’t help that this was 4 or more firmware releases ago!

I think it’s a great point to bring this up again and remind people why Tablo does not support these drives. Because my PVRs used these USB sticks, I had a rough time understanding why it mattered in Tablo’s case. Lesson learned and moved on.

Thanks for sharing this again, and hopefully it leads others to checking Tablo’s supported external drives page before wasting their time as well!

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#1: Flash Drives & USB Keys Aren’t Designed for Recording Video

#2: Flash Drives & USB Keys Are Too Slow for Video Playback

#4: Dicey Drives Won’t Stay Connected

Unsupported Storage Options

The following types of storage are not supported by 4th Gen or legacy Tablo OTA DVRs and may result in failed recordings or frequent buffering:

  • USB Flash Drives (AKA Memory Sticks, AKA USB Keys)
  • Network-Attached Storage (NAS)
  • Internal Drives in External Enclosures

USB flash memory can be too slow and is not designed for the sheer number of read/write cycles that recording live TV requires. Many USB flash drives also contain less storage space than Tablo requires for normal operation.

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This is a great answer. I am wondering which brand and model of hard drive that the forum users have found performs the best.

‘Tested’ Hard Drives

or click on the :mag: quick search shpuld bring up lots of topics already created.