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My TiVo Upgrade Diary using MFSTools2 CD

Here are the steps I took to upgrade a UK Thompson Tivo pvr from its basic 40Gig hard drive to a larger 120Gig drive. This gave 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 also took a backup of the existing settings which I later burnt onto a CD for safe keeping.

Note - I did not transfer any of my recorded programs, simply the settings.

The whole process took around one hour.

The machine used was a single drive model number 6020.

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, but any large drive would suffice. Ensure that the drive is compatible with 24hour usage - some IBM drives (and others possibly) are not. The faster drives (7200 rpm) might be slightly noisier or warmer in use but will work without a problem.
  • 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.
  • A BootCD of MFSTools2
  • Some sort of CD burning software (Nero etc).

basic requirements for the upgrade

Web links I used.

Part 1 : Creating and testing the CD Boot disk.

Firstly, download the ISO image of the MFSTools2 CD (file size = 10 Meg).
Using your CD burning software, burn this image onto a CD.

Now reboot your machine and drop into the BIOS (you usually need to press DEL as you machine first boots up). Once in the BIOS, check your boot-up settings to ensure that your machine will boot from the CD first and not look on any of the Hard Drives for an operating system.

Now insert the newly burnt MFSTools2 CD into your cd drive and reboot your machine again. You should see the system boot into linux and not windows. Remove your Boot CD from the drive and shut the PC down.

Part 1b : Checking the new drive.

This part is optional.

If you wish to check your drive beforehand, refer to the tests which you can run which are listed on the original Tivo Upgrade Diary

Part 2 : Removing the Tivo drive.

Check the basic information of the Tivo on the TV before you start. For this, go to SYSTEM INFORMATION on the Tivo menu. You should see something like this :

Shown here is the current recording capacity of 11 Hours 55 minutes at Best setting.

Now disconnect everything and removed the Tivo from its position under the TV.

The next job is 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 check it is no longer plugged into the mains! Then undo the three screws at the back of the Tivo. You will need the T10 screwdriver bit for this.
Once they are clear slide the top of the casing backwards a short way (about an inch) and then lift it upwards. However, the casing can be very tight and you might need to place a flat-sided screwdriver under the top edge of the casing at the back and carefully lever it forward. Eventually, it will come clear.

A Tivo from the inside (viewed from the back of the machine)

Be very careful of the power supply unit in the lower left hand side of the machine (as shown in the picture) since it can still contain an electrical charge and there are many exposed points.
However, the design of my 6020 machine had 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 remove 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.

Disconnect the IDE cable and power supply from the back of the hard drive and then unscrew the housing from the chassis by removing the two screws at the top of the Tivo.

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 towards the back of the machine slightly to get it clear of the holding tabs at the bottom of the drive. Then it can be lifted clear.

Now the hard drive can be removed from the drive bracket. First, 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 can be completely removed. Underneath the bracket , you could see the blue vibration dampener grommets.

For convenience, connect the new larger drive to the housing bracket straight away.

Check the drive jumper settings on the old Tivo drive , this will have been 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!)

Part 3 : Creating a Backup Image.

Now connect the existing Tivo hard drive, to your PC as follows:

  • Primary Master IDE cable - FAT32 hard disk of size > 1Gig. (remember to set the jumper switch on the drive to Master). To be used to save the backup image.
  • Primary Slave IDE cable - empty
  • Secondary Master IDE cable - Tivo drive (jumper should already be on Master).
  • Secondary Slave IDE cable - CDROM drive (jumper set to Slave).
Once everything is connected, put the CDROM of MSFTools2 into the CD drive and turned on the machine.

The PC booted into Linux from the CD and I did CTRL+C a few times to ensure the Bash prompt ( /# ) was accepting commands.

To backup the Tivo, enter the following two commands to ready the disks.

To do the actual backup, enter the following command:

(The l in the command is a lowercase "L" by the way.)

The command took under 5 minutes to run and should then report a result:

This will transfer an image of the Tivo settings (thumbs data, season passes etc, but not programs) onto the hard disk attached to the Primary Master cable. The resulting image, called "tivo.bak" was about 350Meg in size. This image can be burnt later onto a CD for safekeeping.

Type Reboot to reboot the PC and turn it off once it starts to reboot.

Part 4 : Transferring the Backup Image to the New Drive.

We now need to transfer the backup image over to the new 120Gig drive.

First ensure that the PC is tuned off.

Disconnect the 40Gig TIVO drive from the PC. This can now be stored away because it is no longer required.

Set the 120Gig drive to SLAVE settings by changing the drive jumpers.

Connect the 120Gig drive to the Primary Slave IDE cable.

Your drives should list as follows:

  • Primary Master IDE cable - FAT32 hard disk containing the backup image.
  • Primary Slave IDE cable - New 120Gig drive
  • Secondary Master IDE cable - empty
  • Secondary Slave IDE cable - CDROM drive (jumper set to Slave).

Again start up the PC and is should again drop into Linux. Enter the mount commands as before

Now enter the restore command as shown below.

You will see the progress update as the information is transferred to the new, larger drive.

Finally the transfer will complete.

Note: There is another command which will achieve the restore AND immediately expand the drive to fill the full 120Gig (which is Part 6 below - missing out part 5).
The Command is :
mfsrestore -s 127 -xzpi /mnt/dos/tivo.bak /dev/hdb
If you use this command in replace of the one above, then you can skip straight on to Part 7, final Testing.

Also, if you want to transfer your settings and your existing recordings, then you should connect your old A drive back to secondary master then use the following command:
mfsbackup -Tao - /dev/hdc | mfsrestore -s 127 -xpi - /dev/hdb

Obvioulsy this command will take much longer than either of the other two (many hours possibly). Again jump to step 7 once it's complete.

Part 5 : Checking the Transferred Image.

On the 120Gig drive should now be a working TIVO image which is still 40Gig in size.

You can confirm that the image has transferred correctly by trying it out in the Tivo, if you are not interested in this, then skip on to Part 6.

To test the transferred image, you need to attach the new 120Gig to Tivo and start Tivo up.

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

Don't bother screwing everything down again nor replacing the Tivo casing, since you will need to remove the drive again soon.
Instead, just reconnected the IDE and power supply to the hard drive, place the housing bracket back in it's position and plug Tivo back in.

Once the Tivo boot up process has finished - which included a showing of the 'Tivo down a slide' video clip - check the SYSTEM INFORMATION which should be the same as the original drive; i.e. 11 hrs 55 min at Best.
Also check your Season Pass Manager screen to check everything that was there before is still there.

Part 6 : Expanding the drive.

The last part of the upgrade process is to expand the restored image to take up the whole of the 120Gig drive.

Powered off the Tivo again and remove the IDE cable and power supply from the drive and return the new drive to its original IDE cable (Primary Slave) in the PC, switching the jumper for the drive back to SLAVE again.

Now boot the PC up with the MFSTools CD again.

At the bash prompt, enter the following command:

This will perform the expansion of the image. You should see a message in a few seconds :

Part 7 : Final Test.

Now detach the drive from the PC, changed the jumper on the new drive back to MASTER again and reconnect the drive to Tivo.
Reattach Tivo to the TV and power it up again.

Tivo should boot up, play it's little 'Tivo on a slide' video clip then jump to the main menu ready for use.

Again check the SYSTEM INFORMATION screen on Tivo and the settings should now show an increase to 39hours 58minutes in Best and 139hours 4minutes in Basic.

Part 8 : Finishing Off.

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

Finally, reattach the Tivo casing and screw it back down.


All in all, the complete process should take about 1 hour to complete.
This does require a certain amount of PC literacy, and you had to be confident messing about with drives and cables in the Tivo/PC.

My thanks goes out to Jason for allowing his Tivo to be the guinea pig in this process. Cheers Mate!

Written Dec 2002

Written by SteveC