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Old 10-10-2012, 10:22 AM   #1
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Upgrade drive vs DVR Expander - Pros and Cons?

I'm looking at increasing the capacity of my Premiere, which is now three months old. I've read through the various posts about upgrading the disk, and it looks like it's fairly simple to do. I liked the upside on that option that you end up with a backup TiVo disk. I've also been looking for info on using the WD Expander, but there isn't so much info on that.

Does anyone know what the advantage/disadvantage is to each solution? The cost is going to be about the same for a new drive or the Expander through Amazon.

Anyone any thoughts on the reliability/noise of the expander unit?

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Old 10-10-2012, 01:51 PM   #2
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The main difference is complexity. The expander is plug and play, replacing an internal drive and actually retaining all your current recordings and settings takes some work. The downside to the expander is you have 2 points of failure, another device with a power brick taking space on your power strip/UPS and slightly more noise.

From my personal experience I've had 3 expanders. One failed after about 2 years of use. However it failed slowly so I was able to transfer all of the recordings to another TiVo to save them before replacing it. The other one has been running perfectly for almost 4 years. And the replacement one has been going for about a year with no issues.


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Old 10-10-2012, 01:59 PM   #3
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As another datapoint against expander, I had one attached to one of my TivoHD for about 12-18 months. In that time, I had two power supplies on the Tivo (not the expander) die. I can't say for certain it was due to the expander, but I have only had to replace two power supplies in 10 years of Tivos and they were on that one unit.

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Old 10-10-2012, 03:42 PM   #4
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Unlikely that was related. The eSATA standard does not provide any power over the cable, so adding an eSATA drive does not put any additional burden on the power supply. And the eSATA data is handled by the same SATA controller that handles the main hard drive, so it shouldn't add any additional hardware strain either.


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Old 10-10-2012, 06:56 PM   #5
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As was mentioned, the expander is easy to add and it also won't affect your warranty on the Tivo as would replacing the internal drive. That being said, going with the expander means you now have two points of possible failure and either one can cause you to lose all of your recordings. One responder said that he was able to transfer his recordings to another Tivo (or a PC) before it failed completely, but if your recordings came from a channel marked with CCI byte=0x02, then you cannot transfer them. Some cable compnaies mark every channel that way and most mark the premium channels that way (e.g.: HBO or SHowtime).

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Old 10-10-2012, 09:48 PM   #6
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I know that opening up the tivo and putting in a larger drive will void the initial warranty but does it void the extended ones too (either via tivo itself or a reseller like bestbuy)? I've been looking at getting a tivo w/lifetime and since it's a large upfront fee I was planning on getting one of the extended warranties as well. I'd rather just replace the internal drive but if doing that voids all warranties I think I may just opt to get an external drive instead.

All that said, do people find the extended warranties to be useful on tivos? When something breaks is it normally just a HD or something more serious that is not easily repairable.

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Old 10-10-2012, 11:09 PM   #7
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I think the rules are the same whether it's the initial warranty or the extended.
If you plan to upgrade your Tivo, I wouldn't bother with the extended warranty.
TiVo can see what capacity hard drive you have in your DVR and if the size doesn't match what that model DVR is supposed to have, they know you voided the warranty.

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Old 10-11-2012, 06:37 AM   #8
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You also cannot participate in the TiVo beta program if you upgrade the HD.


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Old 10-11-2012, 11:04 AM   #9
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On external hdd drives... I thought i read some time ago that many esata external drives would work fine without buying the official My DVR Expander.

True, or no?

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Old 10-11-2012, 11:09 AM   #10
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The original Series 3 with the OLED display can use any esata drive. All later versions explicitly check the external disk model number and will only accept the officially approved MyDVR expander disks. Bummer.

I have 2 original Series 3 boxes, about 4 yrs old and still running. I put 500gb MyDVR expanders on both when I set them up. One died of infant mortality after a year. I replaced it with a 3rd party 1tb external disk which is still running. The other MyDvr expander is still working fine.

Last edited by ghostrider45; 10-11-2012 at 11:23 AM.
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Old 10-14-2012, 10:23 AM   #11
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I have upgraded 2 series 2, 2 HDs, and 1 premiere HDs. I've also had to replace 2 failed hard drives over the years. Keeping the original hd always means you have a backup available to reprogram a new HD when one fails. It also is a big selling point when it comes time for resale (assuming you get lifetime as well otherwise the resale market is not that great). Except for my first S2 upgrade, I have always upgraded the hard drive immediately right after activation.

My last hd upgrade was my premiere. This upgrade I bought a preformatted 2tb hd from the dvr dude on eBay. You pay a small premium for his service vs buying your own hd, but you don't have to go thru the hd programming steps which are not difficult but... If you don't care about saving your recorded shows or are upgrading a new TiVo I highly recommend this easy way to go, all you do is open the TiVo and replace the original hd with the dvr dude hd and you are done. If I ever have a hard drive fail again I'll just order a new one from that guy and pop it in...

I agree with all the negatives posted about using an extender.


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Old 10-15-2012, 02:58 PM   #12
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So, I've had a extender and have burned through about one every 1.5 years. I've had to replace a extender maybe 2-3 times so far. They just stop working after a while

I think if you have the guts to do a internal drive, they last longer.

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