Although I'm definitely a latecomer to this scene, Tivo is by no means a recent addition to my house--I got my first Tivo, a Sony SVR-2000, in August 2000. I've kept up with the various Tivo hacks over the years, from the oldest and most obvious hack of swapping hard drives to reading your email or streaming video to and from your Tivo. But while I've always been curious, I've also been a bit reluctant to tinker with what already works so well and has become a cornerstone of reliability in our household. My wife uses it as much as I do, and I really didn't want to turn our TV watching experience into a lab experiment with random glitches and annoyances.
That attitude just changed. I see now how easy and risk-free it is to do. Really. The hardest part about this isn't really so much in doing anything, it's just figuring out what you need to do. Since there are about a billion different Tivo makes and models, the instructions vary subtly between them. And many of the instructions out there spend as much time explaining how to open the case, or what this "Linux" thing is, as they do on the real meat of the matter: the MFS commands. So here's what I went through, and of course all the usual disclaimers apply, your milage may vary, etc. I have some photos, but unfortunately I had to use my crappy camera phone as I left my regular camera at work.
- Buy a hard drive. frysoutpost.com has had lots
of drives with rebates lately. I got a WD 120GB drive for around $50-60 after rebate.
- Visit the MFS Tools page on
- Print out the I Want a Large TiVo with Lots of Recording Time HOWTO and read it over.
- Download and burn to CD the MFS Tools ISO image.
Crack open your Tivo and remove the drive. If you've ever messed
with the innards of a computer you will have no problem with this task. The hardest part
is you will likely need some funky Torx screwdriver bits to remove the case screws. Also,
while you're in there you may want to get a vacuum to suck out the inch-thick layer of
Put the old and new Tivo drives in a spare PC. Despite what
the HOWTOs say it doesn't matter how you arrange them as master or slave on your primary
or secondary IDE channel, just pick something and be sure to set the master/slave jumpers
on each drive correctly.
Boot up the MFS Tools CD you just
burned. Check the Linux bootup messages (Shift-PageUp/PageDown) to ensure your old and
new drives were detected properly, noting which Linux device name each was assigned (e.g.
hda and hdb). In my case, the new drive was hda and the old drive was hdb.
Copy the base Tivo stuff over (takes a few minutes):
mfsbackup -1qso - /dev/hdb | mfsrestore -i - /dev/hda
- If you want to keep any shows you have on the old drive (took 2 hours for me):
mfsbackup -aqo - /dev/hdb | mfsrestore -xpi - /dev/hda
- Ctrl-Alt-Del to reboot, power off your PC after Linux exits.
- Put new Tivo drive back in Tivo, ensuring its jumper is set to Master.
Turn on your Tivo, go to System information to confirm the new
capacity. You're done.
If you're already running Linux at home it would probably be really easy to add the two Tivo drives to your system, boot up into Linux, then just run the above mfsbackup and mfsrestore commands. I haven't run Linux at home since I got my Macs, so I didn't try this.
I'll give credit where it is due: this process was easy because of the countless hours of volunteers before me who blazed the trail for the rest of us to follow. Thanks! Now my Tivo has lots of room, I can record everything on Best quality, and--the icing on the cake--the unit is now virtually silent thanks to the newer hard drive. Why didn't I do this sooner?