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Were you ever able to get an answer to your question? The same thing just happened to us. We changed the SATA cable out thinking that may be the issue. Never a problem for the 4 years we used and now the error message.
After research on the Comcast site about adding an external hard drive to my Motorola RNG200N cable box and reading the discussion about suitable drives at
http://forums.xfinity.com/t5/Non-X1-Service/External-Hard-Drive/td-p/2740174, I added a 2GB Fantom hard drive connected to the eSata port last December. It worked exactly as expected, and has functioned fine until last week, at which time I began receiving the following alert: "Please disconnect the hard drive from the cable box Alert 13" I removed the drive, turned off the cable box, waited a while, restarted the cable box and reattached the drive. Same result. I called Comcast tech support this morning and was told that external hard drives are not allowed - despite all the material on the Comcast site about how to connect one. When I connect the drive to my computer via USB 3, Windows recognizes it and installs the right drivers, and it shows up in the disk management app as a 2GB uninitialized drive. So I don't think the drive has died. Any ideas? Did Comcast change its policy about allowing external hard drives in the last week or two?