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My TiVo Upgrade Diary

Before you begin, please note that these instructions are now outdated and only really usefull if you cannot boot your pc from CD.
Check out the latest guide here.

Here are the steps I took to upgrade my UK Thompson Tivo pvr from its basic 40Gig hard drive to a larger 120Gig drive. This gave me just over three times more recording capacity.
I wanted to replace the existing Tivo drive and keep the original 40Gig drive as a backup. I did not bother to make a backup of the original drive.

Most important, I also wanted to preserve the current recordings.

My machine is a single drive model number 6023.

Here's how I did it...

What I had at the start.

  • TiVo
  • A larger hard drive. I used a 120G drive, a Maxtor 540X bought from Ebuyer, but any large drive would suffice. Ensure that the drive is compatable with 24hour usage - some IBM drives (and others possibly) are not.
  • A multi bit screwdriver , preferably magnetic.
  • Torx screwdriver bits sizes T10 and T15. (six pointed star shaped)
  • A spare PC with cables for Primary and Secondary IDE ports.
  • The Tivomad floppy disk.
  • A Windows 95/98 boot disk which can drop you into DOS.
  • Qunlock file from Maxtor copied onto the 95/98 boot disk.
  • PowerMax utility from Maxtor (optional)

basic requirements for the upgrade

Web links I used.

Part 1 : Checking the new drive.

This part is optional, but I wanted to check the drive before I stated.

Obviously this is only applicable for testing Maxtor drives. Other drives may have similar utilities.

I downloaded PowerMax from the Maxtor site. I got version 3.03.
I copied the files onto a W98 boot disk and connected my new HD to a spare IDE cable on your PC. It was set up on the Secondary Master cable. I checked that the jumpers on the new drive were set accordingly. I also needed to change my BIOS setting to turn off any herd disk power saving options (to prevent spin down of the new drive) and to check that the PB will boot to the A drive first.

I then booted up and typed A:POWERMAX to start the utility.

This now gave me the options of running a Basic, Advanced and Burn test. I did all three and checked the results of the tests each time.

The Basic test ran very quickly, and showed the following output.

The Advanced test took a little longer, but again there was no problems reported.

Finally I did the Burn test. This warned me that each cycle of the test would take about 30 minutes to run. I opted for 4 cycles. In the end the test took a little longer than 2 hours to run, more like 3. But again the report was successful.

I then powered down the PC and detached the drive.

Part 2 : Removing the drive.

I wanted to check the basic information of the Tivo on the TV before I started. For this I went to SYSTEM INFORMATION on the Tivo menu. This showed me the following display:

From here I could check for my model number 6023 that is part of the Tivo Service Number. Also shown there was the current recording capacity of 11 Hours 55 minutes at Best setting.

I now disconnected everything and removed the Tivo from its position under the TV.

The next job was to open the Tivo and remove the old hard drive.This will invalidate your warranty. This was certainly the most difficult part of the whole process!

First I checked it was no longer plugged into the mains! Then undid the three screws at the back of the Tivo. I needed T10 screwdriver bit for this.
Once they were clear I had to slide the top of the casing backwards a short way (about an inch) and then lift it upwards. However, the casing was very tight and I needed to place a flat-sided screwdriver under the top edge of the casing at the back and carefully lever it forward. Eventually, it came clear and the full layout of the Tivo was shown as below:

A naked Tivo as viewed from the back

I had to be careful of the power supply unit in the lower left hand side of the machine (as shown in the picture) since it could still contain an electrical charge and there were many exposed points.
However, the design of the 6023 machine has been improved in that I did not actually need to get too close to the power unit at all , something which was not the case in older models which had to rwmove an extra screw very close to the power supply!

As you can see , the hard drive is situated above the power supply. The actual drive is connected to a housing that is itself fixed to the Tivo chassis.

I disconnected the IDE cable and power supply from the back of the hard drive and then unscrewed the housing from the chassis.

the two fastening screws

I,ve marked the two screw positions on the above picture. Both are size T10. Once undone, the housing needs to be slid downward slightly to get it clear of the holding tabs at the bottom of the drive. Then it could be lifted clear.

Now the hard drive needed to be removed from the drive bracket. I needed to turn over the drive:

As you can see, there are four attaching screws that connect the Tivo drive to the housing bracket. These are all size T15. Once undone, the hard drive could be completely removed. Underneath the bracket , you could see the blue vibration dampener grommets.

For convenience, since I had the T15 bit handy, I now connected the new larger drive to the housing bracket straight away.

I checked the drive jumper settings on the old Tivo drive , this was set to MASTER. (Although, to me the Quantum Fireball jumper settings diagram looked upside down and at first I thought it was set to slave!)

note: I had earlier removed the hard drive from my PC which contained the operating system (XP in this case) and in its place was a basic FAT32 formatted disk of 10Gig size. This was to avoid any chance of me booting into XP by mistake which might start corrupting my original Tivo hard drive. The 10Gig drive was connected to the primary IDE cable and had it's jumper settings set to MASTER.

I now connected the new larger hard drive, complete with housing bracket, to my PC as follows:

  • Existing DOS C drive to primary IDE cable. Jumper on hard drive set to MASTER.
  • The new larger drive to the primary IDE cable. Jumper on hard drive set to SLAVE.
  • The original Tivo drive to secondary IDE cable. Jumper on hard drive set to MASTER.
I did not bother to mount the drives back in the PC, but left them outside the box on the table.

In the above image, the new larger drive is on the left (note the drive bracket already attached) the centre drive is the original DOS drive of the PC. The Tivo drive is on the right.

Part 3 : Transferring the image.

Since retaining the recordings already on the Tivo was important to me, I had decided to use a simple disk-to-disk transfer method. This did take much longer than other ways of doing a Tivo upgrade (specifically saving and restoring a basic settings image) but it did ensure I transferred over all my existing settings and recordings.

I inserted the Tivomad disk into the A drive of the PC and booted it up.

I first needed to check the system recognised the correct hard drive settings of my layout, so once Tivomad had finished booting, I pressed CTRL+C at the displayed question to get the # prompt. I then pressed SHIFT + PGUP a few times until I could see the readout of the hard drive settings (it was about 5 pages back). This is what I saw:

This was showing the following (its a little blurry, I know) :

  • hda (the DOS drive) was 10G in size , which was correct
  • hdb (the new larger drive) was 122G in size , which is also correct
  • hdc (the original Tivo drive) was only 10M in size , which is wrong , it should be 40G !

According to the Hinsdale Guide, the hdc readout should be at 40Gig before I could continue.
It mentioned the fact that if I had a readout of 9 or 10 Mb that it was most likely to be that the original Tivo drive was locked.

I needed to run the QUNLOCK.exe routine on the Tivo drive before I could continue.

I pressed CTRL+ALT+DEL and eventually the message ,no more processes, appeared , showing that it was safe to restart the machine.
I swapped the Tivomad floppy drive for a Windows98 boot disk onto which I,d copied the Qunlock.exe program and rebooted the PC.

After the PC had booted, I dropped into DOS and typed A:QUNLOCK 2 which sent the unlock command to the Old Tivo drive (which is still connected to the Secondary Master cable).

The report said that the unlock command had been issued. So I needed to check whether it had worked.

I inserted the Tivomad boot disk back into the A drive, powered down the PC and rebooted as before. Once the first question appeared, I pressed CTRL+C to get the # prompt then I checked back for the hdc readout (using SHIFT+PGUP) , and again it said 10Meg.

This seemed to sugget that the QUNLOCK process had not been successful, so I consulted the Hinsdale guide again and reading further, it suggested that the Bios IDE drive detection might be at fault.

I rebooted again and pressed DEL on my machine at the start of the boot process (I was using an ABIT BH6 motherboard) to drop into the bios and check what settings the disks were showing.

The original Tivo drive was being detected as mode Auto (as were the other drives) so I changed the detection type to Normal for the Tivo drive only.

Again I booted up with the Tivomad drive and this time the hdc readout showed the full 40Gig!

Now I could get on with the actual transfer,

I paged back down to the # prompt (using SHIFT+PGDN) then pressed Return to left align the prompt for clarity.

At the prompt I typed the following:

dd if=/dev/hdc of=/dev/hdb bs=32k

...then pressed Return.
This initiated the transfer from hdc (old Tivo drive) to hdb (new Tivo drive).

Now the problem here is that the DD command did not give out any progress information, indeed it did not give out any information to show even that the command had been understood! It was only the fact that the # prompt has not yet returned that gave me the impression that it was actually doing anything.
Even listening to the drives it was almost impossible to detect any drive activity over the usual hum.

I decided to keep my fingers crossed that things were going to work OK and I left the machine to do it,s thing...

Later, in fact just over SIX hours later, the # prompt returned with the following information:

I needed to check that both the record totals, IN and OUT, were the same value , as you can see , this was the case. :)

Part 4 : Checking the Transferred Image.

What I had on my new larger drive now was (hopefully) an exact copy of the original 40Gig Tivo drive.

I needed to confirm that this was indeed the case by placing the new drive back into Tivo to check it out.

Before placing it back into Tivo, however, I had to change the jumper settings on the new drive back from SLAVE to MASTER.

I didn,t bother screwing everything down again nor to replace the Tivo casing, since I was going to remove the drive again soon.
Instead, I just reconnected the IDE and power supply to the hard drive, placed the housing bracket back in it,s position and plugged Tivo back in.

Once the Tivo boot up process had finished - which included a showing of the 'Tivo down a slide' video clip - I again checked the SYSTEM INFORMATION and was shown that the recording time was still as the original drive; i.e. 11 hrs 55 min at Best.
I also checked my Season Pass Manager and Now Playing screens and everything that was there before seemed to still be there.

Part 5 : Expanding the drive.

I now needed to process the new drive so that Tivo could use the extra 80Gig of space which was available to it - currently it could only use the original 40Gig.

I powered off the Tivo again and removed the IDE cable and power supply from the drive and returned the new drive to its original IDE cable in the PC, switching the jumper for the drive back to SLAVE again.

I now booted the PC up with the Tivomad boot disk once again.

This time, I needed to answer the questions that Tivomad asks at the end of it,s boot up process. (note: I did not press CTRL+C this time).

The questions and answers were as follows:

  1. Enter device for Tivo drive= hdb (since the new drive was attached to the primary IDE cable and jumpered as SLAVE)
  2. Will Tivo have two drives = n
  3. Is drive a Quantum Fireball = n
  4. Is software 2.01 or greater = y
  5. Total size of Tivo greater than 140GB = n
  6. Do you want to continue = y

The Tivomad process did it,s thing for a few moments then presented a ,Success, message. The drive had now been expanded to use the full 120Gig!

I pressed CTRL+ALT+DEL to shut down the machine, waiting until the ,no more processes, message before turning off.

Now I detached the drive from the PC, changed the jumper on the new drive back to MASTER again and reconnected the drive to Tivo.
I reattached Tivo to the TV and powered it up again.

Tivo booted up, played it's little 'Tivo on a slide' video clip then jumped to the main menu ready for use. I again checked the SYSTEM INFORMATION screen on Tivo and, yippee, the settings now showed an increase to 39hours 58minutes in Best and 139hours 4minutes in Basic.

Part 6 : Finishing Off.

All that was now left to do was unplug the Tivo from the power again, screw the hard drive housing back into the chassis of Tivo.

Finally, I reattached the Tivo casing and screwed it down.


All in all, the complete process took about 7 hours to complete , the majority of that was used up in the DD command.
It did require a certain amount of PC literacy, and you had to be confident messing about with drives and cables in the Tivo/PC.

My original Tivo hard drive is now stored away for safe keeping should I ever need it again.
In the future I could also add a second drive, larger than 40Gig most likely, to my Tivo but at the moment I think I have enough space. :)


Written May 2002.

Written by SteveC