Tivo HD Hard Drive Upgrade Guide

There are several Tivo hard drive upgrade guides out there.  I recently had to upgrade a Tivo HD drive for a Virginia customer and realized that most guides out there either don’t work or are unnecessarily complicated.  As a result, I’ve collected the simplest way to do it which requires just one command if you’ve got everything you need.

What you need

  1. The Tivo HD itself.  That link is to Amazon which almost always has the Tivo HD for less than $250.
  2. A new larger drive.  I recommend the Seagate DB35 750GB.  Not just any drive would do as you want to get one designed for DVRs with appropriate performance and noise levels.  That drive should yield 106 hours of HD recording.
  3. MFSLive linux boot disc.  You can download the ISO of this here: http://www.mfslive.org/download.htm.  Burn the ISO to disc.
  4. A desktop computer with 2 sata connectors and cables for the old drive and new drive.
  5. A Torx T-10 screwdriver.
What to do

  1. Remove your original Tivo drive and hook it up to your desktop’s first sata connector.
  2. Hook up the new drive to the desktop’s second sata connector.
  3. Boot off the linux boot disc.  When booted, you should just see a command prompt.  You can now type the following command to see your connected drives: 
    cat /proc/partitions
    If hooked up correctly, you should see your smaller original drive listed as sda and your new larger drive as sdb.  If you hook them up wrong, you could copy a blank drive to the original drive removing all Tivo data.  That would be very bad which is why you need to run this command and check the drives.
  4. Execute one command to begin the full copy and expansion to the new drive.  This command will copy all your settings and shows as well:
    backup -qTao – /dev/sda | restore -s 128 -r 4 -xzpi – /dev/sdb
    This command is nicer than many in that it tells you how much time is left. It should take about an hour.
  5. Once the command completes, turn off your computer and plug the new drive into your Tivo.  That’s it, boot up the Tivo and you should have a working box with much larger recording capacity.  It is a good idea to hold on to the original drive in case your new one ever breaks so you could duplicate it again to keep your Tivo working.

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