Upgrading Storage

Adding space is the most fundamental hack you can do to your TiVo. A 108-hour TiVo feels like a different product than a 14-hour TiVo, letting you queue up movies, entire series of shows, etc. This is the hack that even technophobes will want to have done for them.
TiVo storage space

Some Background Info You Should Know

Phillips Stand-Alone TiVos have two IDE drive bays. (Well, to add a second drive you actually need to purchase a mounting bracket for around $16, but the point is there's space to add it). Some models (the 14 hour, 20 hour, and some of the 30 hour ones) ship with only one drive - others ship with two. To be able to upgrade your TiVo's storage, you want one of these one-drive units.

Much has changed in this area since October 2000 (when we got our first TiVo). For a long while, you could add a second drive (a "B" drive) to a single drive TiVo but not expand the drive already inside (the "A" drive). (Once you added it, it was "wed" to the "A" drive and couldn't be removed without breaking things, so everyone first made backups of their "A" drive before adding a "B" drive). If you added an 80 gigabyte IDE hard drive as the "B" drive to a 14 hour TiVo, it became about a 108 hour TiVo.

You could copy the "A" drive onto a larger new drive and put it in your TiVo, but the TiVo wouldn't see the extra space - it would look just as small as the original "A" drive had been. Then, an approach ("TivoMad") came out allowing you to use this extra space as well. For instance, you could now copy a 15-gig original "A" drive onto an 80-gig new "A" drive, put *that* in your TiVo, and add an 80 gig "B" drive as well.

Then, a guy called Tiger came out with mfs tools, a tool that let you backup one (or two) drived TiVos, with just the bare minimum of data needed to recreate a working system (saving season passes, thumbs up/down preferences, etc). This tool also let you divorce two "wed" drives, creating a backup that you could put back onto a small original single drive (providing your TiVo had originally been a single-drive machine when you bought it).

Since this tool lets you make a backup as small as a few hundred megs (which you can easily burn to CD for safe keeping), buying a "backup drive" to keep the original "A" drive on seems less important to some (though it's probably foolish to not have a backup somewhere, since you could end up with a boat anchor instead of a working TiVo if something went horribly wrong). Remember, once you've opened your TiVo - no more warantee.

Ok, so what's the best approach now?

Well, rather than trying to reinvent a set of instructions, I'll first point you at the site I went to to re-upgrade our 108 our TiVo to a 195 hour TiVo: the Hinsdale How-to TiVo upgrade guide, for info on how to use the new tools (TivoMad, MFS Tools, etc).

The unknown issue with using TiVoMad (to not only add a B drive but expand the size of your A drive too) is whether it will continue to work when version 2.5.1 of the software comes along. Some rumors say everything will work fine. Others say that someday standalone TiVos will suffer the same fate as DirecTiVos that have 2.5 - a prom upgrade that ensures that modifications to /etc/rc.d/rc.sysinit are erased. TiVoMad doesn't work on DirecTiVos, so it's not an issue there, but if standalones were similarly "locked down", TiVoMad (among other hacks) would cease to work.
2.5.1 works fine with TiVoMad'ed drives. This is not a concern.

So if you're paranoid, and think 108 hours is enough for you now, you might want to just add a B drive for now, and leave your A drive at its current size. If that's the case, the TiVo Hack FAQ has a section on adding a drive using Dylan's bootdisk and the BlessTiVo program. I still recommend making a backup with mfs tools rather than the old buy-another-identical-drive method.. Again, see the Hinsdale How-to TiVo upgrade guide for more info on mfstools.

Lastly, if you go down the "old" route for some reason, feel free to learn whatever you want from these notes I jotted down when I did my 2nd TiVo upgrade for my parents' TiVo.
Jeff & Laurie's Page