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Replace a Bad TIVO Series 2 Hard Drive

If you are a TIVO Series 2 owner, the hard drive on it WILL die some day.  How do I know this?  It happened to me not too long ago. It had the original 80GB hard drive in it when, suddenly, live TV and my recordings would randomly freeze.  It got worse and worse until the point that I had to just watch regular TV.  Bummer!  So here is a step by step guide on how I replaced the failing hard drive.

Before You Begin…

  1. Have a Torx T10 screwdriver and a Torx T15 screwdriver on hand.  They are needed to open up the TIVO and to remove the hard drive from the unit.
  2. Assume that opening up your TIVO will void the warranty on it.
  3. Go to the MFSLive website to download the ISO file of the MFSLive Boot CD.  Burn the image to a CD.
  4. Have an old computer that still has parallel ATA ports on it.  These hard drives are old school!
  5. DO NOT TOUCH THE POWER BASE INSIDE OF THE TIVO.  Doing so can kill, maim, neuter, paralyze, or injure you – even while unplugged thanks to the capacitors used inside of it.  Not only that, but it can also ruin your TIVO.  BE CAREFUL!

Getting the  Hard Drive Out of the TIVO

  1. Unplug your TIVO from its power source.
  2. Remove the screws holding the lid onthe TIVO with your Torx T10 screwdriver.
  3. Slide the lid toward the back of the unit.  The lid on mine was very tight and took a little work to wiggle free.
  4. Unplug the power cable from the old hard drive.
  5. Unplug the IDE ribbon cable from the old hard drive.
  6. Remove the hard drive mount from your TIVO with your Torx T15 screwdriver.
  7. Remove the hard drive mount from your old hard drive with your Torx T10 screwdriver.

Transferring Data

You cannot just use a new hard drive straight out of the box.  You must transfer the data from your old hard drive onto the new one so that you have all of your account, network, and cable data on it.  This process will also transfer all of your current recordings on your old hard drive onto your new one.

  1. Place both the old and new hard drives into the computer.  Make sure to use an 80-pin IDE cable for this, or it may not work correctly.
  2. Place your MFSLive Boot CD into the CDROM drive of your computer.
  3. Start up your computer, and go into the BIOS.
  4. Configure the BIOS to boot from the CDROM drive.  Save changes and exit.
  5. MFSLive will begin running.  After a minute or two, the command prompt should be ready for you.
  6. Enter the following into the command prompt:  cat /proc/partitions   This will allow you to see what your hard drives are named.  My old 80GB hard drive was named hda.  My new 120GB hard drive was named hdb.
  7. Enter the following into the command prompt:  backup -qTao – /dev/hda /dev/hda | restore -s 128 -r 4 -xzi – /dev/hdc /dev/hdb  (For details, go to the MFSLive page on Series 2 TIVOs).

This will begin the process of transferring all of your data onto the new hard drive.  Note that my hard drive was all but destroyed.  It took my 3GHz Pentium 4 processor computer with 1GB of RAM near 24 hours to complete the transfer process.  This was due to a whole lot of bad sectors that could not be read.  When this is done, remove the new hard drive from the computer, put it back into the TIVO, put it back together, and power that bad boy up!  Your TIVO should take right off if everything worked correctly.  Mine did, anyway.  It took me right to the main TIVO screen after it booted up.  I went right in and played Star Wars on it with no problem.  My cable, network, and TIVO account information were all transferred properly, too.  I didn’t have to touch any of that.

Now since I had a bad hard drive, there were just a couple of recordings that came up with a blank screen when requested.  Not a big deal.  I can always record those again.  If I had a good hard drive previously and was just upgrading to a bigger one, it would have transferred just fine.  Good luck working on your TIVOs!

41 Responses to "Replace a Bad TIVO Series 2 Hard Drive"

  1. The command above is written for two hard drives. I had one 80 GB drive in my Series 2. To upgrade to a single 120 GB, I used this command:

    backup -qTa0 – /dev/hda | restore -s 128 -r 4 -xzi – /dev/hdb

  2. I knew my hard drive is bad in my tcp540140/lifetime subs.
    I bought it on ebay and intend to replace the drive.
    I hook up the unit to my cable/timewarner, I get a freezed page of power up.
    You are the one mention the MFSLive and the bootCD.
    Is it still OK for today,9/3/2013. Or it has a new version now.
    I was shocked I have to retrieved info from old drive. I thought that to info is on tivo not on hard drive.

    • @guus – I would imagine that MFSLive would still work. If it doesn’t, try the version of MFSLive that was the latest version in September of 2011.

      Also, you will need to get the data off of the old hard drive if possible.

  3. I tried MFSLive, WinMfs and MFStool.
    Not working, because pc can’t read my old drive.
    I heard that I have to pay $40 to get Instantcake.
    Any other better Idea?

  4. From the MFS Live site – For a single drive to another single drive with larger capacity:
    “Option 1.2 To copy everything from original size Tivo drive to another and expand capacity:

    backup -qTao – /dev/hdc | restore -s 128 -r 4 -xzpi – /dev/hdd”

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