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Upgrading the Tivo Hard Drive

OK, so when we bought our 40-hour Tivo, it was small-ish for storage space, but it worked. Now that we’ve got subscriptions going for kids programming like Sesame Street and Zooboomafoo, I’ve been wishing for some more storage space. Having been assured by Mark that the upgrade was fairly easy, I decided to take it on myself.

Step 1 was to get a larger hard drive. I didn’t want to spend a lot, but I wanted a lot of space. A Christmas gift card to Best Buy (thanks Ryan!) was a good starting point. Then I found a good deal on a Hitachi Deskstar 7K250 160 GB hard drive. It started at $119.99, but has $80 worth of mail-in rebates. So I picked it up today and got started.

There are good instructions out on the web for upgrading to a bigger Tivo hard drive. The most detailed and useful was It has very specific step-by-step instructions.

Step 2 was to crack open the Tivo and backup its hard drive onto the new hard drive. Most of the time here was spent just opening cases and swapping in and out hard drives. Per the instructions I had created a bootable CD running some specialized Linux, and that allowed me to do all of the fun backups and restores.

The whole copying process (including all of the programs I currently have recorded) took about 2 hours to complete.

Step 3: put everything back together and check out the system status page.  The results: 40 or so hours of recording space in “Best” mode, up to 183 hours in “Basic” mode.  I think I’ll stick in “High” mode, which’ll give me 83 hours of recording time.

Note: depending on the type of Tivo, you may not be able to use all the hard drive space; older Tivos software limits you to addressing about 137 GB. However, my Series 2 Tivo model TVD540040 is able to address larger amounts, so I was able to use all 160 GB. Woohoo!

I’ll echo Mark’s comments here on Tivo upgrades; I was pleasantly surprised by how easy it was. If you’re comfortable swapping hard drives in and out and setting the master/slave jumpers, you can do this. No problemo.


  1. Mark sold me one of his old TiVos and unfortunately, I had to go in the reverse direction. The 160GB Hard Drive he had in the machine must have crashed en route to Atlanta, fortunately he also included the old 40GB drive. So I had to replace the larger drive with the smaller drive. Fortunately, the 40GB worked and we are loving life as TiVo users.

  2. Chris: You’re encouraging me to break mine open [although, right now, I really don’t need the space].

    Jeff: Glad you’ve joined the TiVolution!

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