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There are solutions to do some or all of what you want, but understand that you aren't going to get a network solution that works as nicely as cracking the case and adding a larger hard drive.Bill_Marsden said:(Excerpt)
We just want to enhance it with a larger hard drive, and we don't want to open the case.
The .tivo files are fairly large and TiVo networking can be quite a bottleneck. Also, while you're sitting in front of your TiVo, it's easier to pull files back to the TiVo than it is to get them off the TiVo. ("Pull" works pretty well but there's no "push.")
Be aware that transfers from the TiVo to the PC will be slow and will slow the TiVo down. It's a fairly weak CPU and the TiVo-to-PC transfer requires a fair amount of processor time to do the required encryption. Transferring the files back to the TiVo is quicker, but you will likely find that "Best" quality shows aren't transferring in real time. (That is, you can't rely on the PC-to-TiVo connection as a streaming server.)
If you're thinking of building a PC just to sit off in the distance and store files from the TiVo, then you need a PC that's long on storage but not very demanding with regard to CPU and RAM. Then you install the free version of TiVo Desktop and you're more or less good to go. You'll need to leave the PC on 24/7, and you can set TiVo Desktop to automatically snag shows off of your TiVo and put them on the PC. (This would be your "push" substitute if you want to have minimal interaction with the PC. Unfortunately, it only works series-by-series rather than, say, grab anything older than X days.)
Probably the next thing to consider would be buying VideoReDo ($50) to run on the PC. This lets you edit the .tivo files sitting on your PC while retaining the TiVo header information. (The header information is, among other things, what lets the TiVo drop the file back in a folder when you pull it back to the TiVo from the PC.)
Let me apologize in advance for the following, since you've been very clear in what you're trying to accomplish. For most users - and perhaps your father - the best solution to the problem is a bigger hard drive. Installing a new drive while preserving recordings is cheap and frankly no harder than building a homebrew PC. Plus, if time is too short, you can ship the box to Weaknees and get a 600hr/500GB drive installed (saving your recordings) for $380, shipping included. No TiVo during the roundtrip and you do have to yank it out of the entertainment center and put it back in.