Join Date: Jul 2013
Cloning Tivo HD and upgrading to 1TB using laptop - one man's journey.
After my Tivo HD (series 3) drive was getting worse and worse, I finally set out to replace the drive and upgrade to a 1TB drive. My problem was trying to figure out how to clone the drive (ie. keeping recordings) using a laptop and USB ports, since most of the descriptions I found used a desktop. My other problem is that I’m really not a techie, and not at all experienced with opening up hardware, other than to upgrade RAM.
The good news is that I finally got it to work.
The bad news is that it was a little more of an adventure than I expected.
Spoiler alert: WinMFS didn’t work. It recognized my Tivo drive, but couldn’t see my blank 1TB drive. Yes, I ran it as an administrator. And yes, when I went to “devices and printers,” both my USB-SATA cables were recognized by Windows 7, and the hard drives that were connected to it were reported to be “working properly”. Apparently, I’m not alone. The solution I actually got from was from another post here. Thanks, tspalgpf! (I was forced to remove the link, just google "WinMFS - Can't see blank drive but saw Tivo drive fine")
(Basically, it is to go old school and make a MFSLive Linux Boot CD, and type in a linux command. Which of course was a little intimidating, but I eventually figured it out. More on that later.)
Because I really couldn’t find a single place giving an overall summary of what EXACTLY to do aimed at near-novices like me, I figured I’d give back and post what worked for me. I do not want to imply this is the only way, but again it did work.
“Cloning a Tivo HD hard drive and upgrading to 1TB drive using a laptop” (one method)
What I have:
-Lenovo E530 Laptop running Windows 7
-Tivo HD (series 3)
After doing some research on amazon, I found some good reviews of people successfully upgrading their Tivo HD using the western digital WD10EURX. This is a 1TB drive. (I’m not sure if the Tivo HD Series 3 can accept a 2TB drive, but I seem to remember reading there might be a problem. I could be wrong.)
I also realized I would need 2 USB-SATA cables. thanks to those who responded to my original posted question. (link removed, google "cloning tivo hd with laptop, do i need 2 usb sata adapters?")
When searching amazon, I saw a bunch of adapters that had 2 usb ports to help supply power. With some help from posted replies (thanks, unitron, et.al.!), I found out those were for 2.5” drives, and these are 3.5” drives.
Adapters for 3.5” require a separate power supply (typically included). Although you probably only need 1 adapter if you wanted to do a simple backup using WinMFS, 2 adapters are needed if you want to do a complete copy and upgrade. Since I figured I really wouldn’t have an immediate need for these adapters again, my original inclination was to pick up a couple cheap ones for $10 each. Unfortunately, according to more than a few reviewers, those come with some questionable power supplies that fried a few drives, smoke, etc. Not being keen on the prospect of burning down my house, I sucked it up and went for the Sabrent USB 2.0 SATA/IDE 2.5/3.5 HARD DRIVE CONVERTER. (Really, not a bad deal since $13x2 qualified it for free shipping!) It also has some activity lights which are kinda nice to have.
So, to summarize, this is what I bought:
-Western Digital WD10EURX 1TB drive
-(2) Sabrent USB 2.0 SATA/IDE 2.5/3.5 adapters.
From here, you need to disassemble your Tivo and get your hard drive out. (Do you know what a Torx 10 screwdriver is? Well, you’re gonna need one. Basically, it’s got a 6 pointed star head.) There are a few good youtube videos that talk you through it, but they don’t use a laptop.
I was forced to delete the links, but they are titled:
Upgrade Your TIVO HD Hard drive (aramistech)
How to Add an External Hard Drive to Your TiVo HD video from Answers (Vitor lourenço)-- it's not exactly what we're doing, but some good pointers.
You also should get familiar with the MFSlive website. (link deleted- sorry! just google). They have written the support software which is basically fundamental to doing the upgrade. Their crowning achievement appears to be the WinMFS software package. It runs on windows and makes the upgrade much easier (and detailed in those videos). The problem is, apparently for me and some others, when run on a laptop (using 2 USB/SATA adapters), it would only recognize the Tivo drive and not the blank destination drive. As shown on those videos, it’s still a good idea to download it and run a basic backup of the original drive to your computer (which does not include recordings), in case you run into problems later.
As I mentioned earlier, the solution offered on the post mentioned earlier is to go old school. You need to create a “MFSLive Linux Boot CD”. There is a helpful link that takes you through it:
(Forced to delete link, but choose Quickstart from the main MFSlive homepage).
Again, this may be really basic for some, but what you do is you download it in the typical fashion, and when you run it, it basically asks you to insert a blank cd-rom and the program burns itself onto it. Hold on to it, you’ll need it soon.
Before you begin, you’ll need to “generate command", which means to get the Linux command you'll need to type in later to manually do the upgrade. Definitely use the link from the above quickstart page. It uses a few dropdown menus, which may look a little intimidating at first. First, you select your Tivo (SA series 3 is for my Tivo HD, DTV is DirectTV i believe) and model number, found on back of your Tivo. Then, you select your current “A” drive. Even though they give you a ton of choices, the standard size is 160 for the original drive on the Tivo HD. On the second dropdown, choose “SATA or USB 1.” You can leave the “B” drive blank. Next, move the new “A” drive dropdown. For a 1TB hard drive, choose 1000 and then “SATA or USB 2.” Next, click the box for save recording, presuming you want this. Then, go ahead and click the box for “Custom Linux Swap Size.” I had to look this up and, honestly, I’m still not completely sure what it means, but apparently it adds to stability when using large drives (increases to 500MB for a 1000G drive, rather than the standard 128MB?). Finally, submit and get your linux command. You probably should print it out, you’ll need it later.
For what it’s worth, mine looked like this:
backup –qTao - /dev/sda | restore –s 500 –xzpi - /dev/sdb
Don’t freak out. As I mentioned earlier, I still consider myself a “dangerous novice”, and I really have no idea what that code exactly means. But when I tried typing it later, it DIDN’T work. But I DID eventually figure out why. Basically (and forgive me if this is not exactly right), “sda” and “sdb” seem to refer to the usb ports on your computer. You may find that after you run the Boot CD, these may need to change according to which ports your drives are actually connect to. More on that later.
Once you’re ready to go, make sure your laptop is powered off. Plug the smallish data adapter (labeled ATA) to back of each hard drive and the usb portion to your computer. Then plug each power supply adapter to each hard drive. You should be able to feel them whirring, and my Sabrent adapters did light up. Next, power up your laptop, and as soon as it lets you, open up the cd tray and drop in the cd-rom before windows boots up (or you can leave it in before you poweroff and restart). The program should launch directly into Linux and skip windows. Eventually you get a choice of 4 options, and you should pick 1 (also, the default).
What happens next is a couple minutes of scrolling code, that eventually stops. If you hit enter, you get a prompt (if I remember right, it’s MFSlive#>). BUT, before you type in your code, I suggest you look at the 10-15 lines of code immediately above. You’ll probably notice the name of your hard drive somewhere in there (for me, again, WD10EURX) and it will be generally be associated with a sd- code, referring to what port it’s ACTUALLY connected to. Same for the original Tivo drive (WD16xxxxxxx, can’t remember exactly). It turned out for me, the original Tivo drive (WD16) was actually connected to “sdc”, and that my blank destination drive (WD10EURX) was actually connected to “sdb”.
So, for example, I had to change my code slightly to read:
backup –qTao- /dev/sdc | restore –s 500 –xzpi - /dev/sdb (but again, your sd-‘s may vary)
After this, success! And it does automatically open up the whole 1TB drive, which apparently is a prompt on the actual WinMFS program.
But word to the wise, depending on how much you have recorded on your drive, how corrupted your original drive is, and if you’re using usb 2.0, it may take awhile... mine took me 5-6 hours. Or at least that’s what the ETA was listed as. This turned into a later night project, and I went to bed (not something I’d recommend if you’re using those cheaper cables whose power sources may or may not catch fire. Come to think of it, probably wasn’t a good idea to do it overnight at all).
When you are done, you will get another command prompt. “Poweroff” will shut your computer down. Don’t forget to remove your CD-rom before restarting.
After that, simply put the new drive back in the Tivo, and rehook everything up. Tivo will reboot, but once it’s done, your programs and settings should be just like your old drive. Go to settings and system information. You should be satisfied to see you now have 142 HD hours (or 1241 SD hours).
Thanks again to all people and resources that helped me figure this out. Hopes this makes it easier for someone else! MFSlive rules!