Upgrading Tivo HD and Tivo Series 3 hard drive

tivo_hd_internals

Lately I have been running out of disk space on my Tivo HD and have been looking at getting an external hard drive. Unfortunately only owners of Tivo Series 3 (not same as Tivo HD) had luxury of using any 3rd party eSATA drive with their device.  For TivoHD and other models you can only use “pre-approved” Western Digital MyDVR drive (it has capacity of 500Gb that’s about 60 hours of HD or 600 of SD video) at a premium cost ($169 at time of this writing).

Fortunately there’s a better way. You can pretty easily upgrade internal Hard Drive yourself. All you need is a little courage and some basic computer building skills. It took me just under one hour to do this and now I have Tivo with a 1 Tb hard drive. All it cost me is the drive which was $100 on NewEgg.com

So if you want to upgrade your Tivo you can do it too, but at your own risk, as it will void your warranty and possibly could damage your Tivo HD or Series 3

By upgrading HDD you’re not only increasing storage space for recorded shows, but you will also have a backup!  Hard Drive being a mechanical device is the most failure prone device in your Tivo  so it’s only a matter of time when it’s going to fail. I don’t know if Tivo does repairs and how much it costs, but if you successfully followed this guide you will have a spare (drive or image) which you can always restore in case of disk failure.

Information used here was obtained from Bumwine and Mfslive

Warnings:

  • DO NOT touch the power supply. You can get shocked and/or damage the hardware.
  • Upgrading your hard drive incorrectly may damage your TiVo beyond repair and void your warranty. Upgrade at your own risk.
  • You will not be able to use external drive after this upgrade!
  • This is meant as a general guide only. I do not make any guarantees that it will work.

What you need before starting work:

  • A new 3Gbit/s SATA upgrade hard drive. The one that comes with the TiVo is 160GB, so get something larger than that. I recommend doing research for a drive that runs as cool and quiet as possible. The one that I used is Western Digital Caviar Green WD10EADS 1TB ($99 at time of this writing). Don’t forget to change the jumpers (if any) on the new drive from 1.5Gbit/s to 3.0Gbit/s.
    This method also suppose to work with USB enclosures or SATA to USB adapters (I haven’t done it myself and will not describe how to do it, but you can find guide here)
  • A PC with SATA capability
  • A Torx T-10 screwdriver. You can find these at Home Depot for about a buck or two.
  • Copy of WinMFS

Instructions:

  1. With Tivo powered off and disconnected use the Torx T-10 screwdriver to remove all screws in the back of your TiVo HD. With Tivo’s back panel facing you pull jently lift and pull cover towards you.
  2. Disconnect SATA/Power connector from hard drive. Remove 3 screws that hold hard drive cage.  Turn cage upside down and remove 4 screws that hold hard drive (they are attched with the rubber rings/washers, leave washers in the cage).
  3. Power off your computer, and open up the case.
  4. Connect 2 SATA drives: the original SATA TiVo drive and the new larger SATA upgrade drive. Don’t forget connect power to these drives as well. Alternatevly you can use external SATA USB enclosure or SATA to USB adapter.
  5. Sometimes your PC might want to boot with your new drives and will get stuck, in this case go into BIOS and change setting to boot from your regular Windows drive.
  6. Follow official WinMFS Quickstart guide to clone your Tivo Drive (and create a backup image while you at it).
  7. Once everything is done and verified, install new drive into the Tivo and you are all set!
 

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  • Paul

    Just did this, replacing a stock 160 GB drive with a 1 TB drive via two USB-to-SATA adapters plugged into a Vista laptop. Box is back up and running with all settings and recorded shows intact.

    However, there are three things you MUST do in Vista (and maybe Windows 7) to get this to work smoothly:

    — download and run WinMFS in an administrator account

    — start up WinMFS by right-clicking and selecting “run as administrator” (different from the step above)

    — last but not least, go into Control Panel, select User Accounts, select “Turn User Account Control on or off,” and UNCHECK the box marked “Use User Account Control (UAC) to help protect your computer.”

    If you don’t do that last one, WinMFS will not be able to see either the original TiVo drive or the replacement drive.

    Other than that, WinMFS is a fantastic tool.

    I bought the Western Digital Caviar Green WD10EADS 1TB drive recommended above, and it’s noticeably quieter than the stock drive.

    The original 160 GB drive was nearly full and the copying took about 3 1/2 hours.

    Now I have a bigger, quieter TiVo HD, and a smaller replacement drive in case the big boy winds down.

     
     
     
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