Upgrading My Series 3 TiVo’s Hard Drive (Using MFSLive and WinMFS)
If you follow me on Twitter you probably already know that a couple of weeks I went ahead and upgraded the hard drive in my Series 3 TiVo. In the past, I’ve upgraded several TiVo hard drives using a number of different solutions including, an upgrade drive from WeaKnees and DVRupgrade as well as the officially supported expander drive. Since I’ve tried all of these options, I decided that it was about time that I get my hands a little dirty and attempt to upgrade my Series 3’s drive using WinMFS and a stock hard drive that I purchased from Amazon.com.
mfslive.org is the place to go if you want to take an off the shelf hard drive and install it in your TiVo. mfslive provides FREE two software packages that allow you to backup and restore your DVR’s software to a new drive. For those of you who are familiar with Linux and a command line interface, mfslive offers a Linux live cd called MFSLive Linux Boot CD. In addition to the live cd, mfslive also offers a much more user friendly Windows application as an alternative. The Windows application is called WinMFS and it is the application that I would recommend to most people.
Now before you go out and buy a drive, there are some things that you need to know. Not all drives will work in your TiVo and you also need to remember that when you open your TiVo’s case you are effectively voiding your warranty. In terms of the which drives to use, bkdtv has published a great thread on TiVoCommunity with everything you need to know about upgrading a TiVo. As you’ll see later on, this thread helped a lot with the problems I encountered.
A couple of weeks ago I purchased a 1 TB Western Digital (WD10EVDS) hard drive for the upgrade. I ended up going with the WD10EVDS because it seemed to be the best supported drive based on the TiVoCommunity thread mentioned above. As soon as the drive arrived I began the process of setting it up. The first thing I had to do was decide which machine I was going to use and which software package from mfslive I wanted to use (Linux CD or Windows GUI). As I mentioned before, normally I would recommend that most users use the Windows GUI for performing the upgrade however, in my case the only Windows machine I have in my house is a Windows Home Server (WHS) and I wasn’t sure if WinMFS would work correctly on a WHS box. On top of this, my WHS uses all of its SATA connections and I didn’t want to have to remove two of the drives from my WHS’s storage pool in order to perform the upgrade. Although it wasn’t my first choice, I initially ended up going with the Linux Live CD method for performing the upgrade. Luckily for me, mfslive.org provides a great set of tutorials for anybody who is interested in performing an upgrade. Essentially all you have to do is connect both drives (the original TiVo drive and your new drive) to your PC and boot off the Live CD. Once the live cd boots, you then need to execute a backup command. mfslive.org provides a command line generation page that helps you generate the correct command to be executed. In the case of my setup, I ended up executing the following command:
backup -qTao – /dev/sda | restore -s 128 -xzpi – /dev/sdb
If all goes well, the above command should take a while since it is copying the recordings as well as the actual TiVo software from one hard drive to another. In the case of my setup, the above command took nearly two hours. After waiting two hours I immediately noticed that there was an error on my screen. Instead of worrying about it, I decided to put the new hard drive back in my TiVo. After a couple of minutes of waiting my TiVo wouldn’t boot! Like a good geek I decided to head over to mfslive’s forum to see if somebody could help me. Within a day or so I received a reply from “spike” (who I think is a MFSLive developer) letting me know that the error I received during the backup was probably caused by a driver issue with my motherboard/sata controller and the live cd.
If you have another computer, try that.
It might be Linux driver problem for your motherboard.
Also, check the hard drive w/ WD diagnostic tool to make sure it is good.
At this point I was running out of options. I decided that my next course of action was to try and perform the backup using WinMFS instead of the Linux Live CD. Unfortunately, I don’t have any Windows machines (besides for a WHS box) in my household so running WinMFS is a little difficult. Luckily for me, I do have a copy of VMware Fusion on my Mac (with Windows XP running). In addition to my VMware Fusion XP install, I also regularly use a handy device which allows me to connect a sata hard drive to my Mac via USB. I wasn’t sure if this solution would work but at this point it was really the only option I had.
Executing WinMFS live within VMWare Fusion went without a hitch. WinMFS is definitely a lot easier to use and I would highly recommend it over the Live CD option. Checkout the mfslive website for instructions on how to backup and restore your TiVo’s hard drive using WinMFS. Once WinMFS finished I went ahead and connected the new HD to my TiVo. Once again, my TiVo would not boot!
Frustrated and confused, I decided to post on the mfslive fourm about my problem. In addition to mfslive, I also posted on TiVoCommunity in order to see if others might be able to provide me with some help.
I can’t seem to get my WD10EVDS drive to work. I posted my drive info over at MFSLive.org forum but I’d thought I’d post it here in case somebody can help me…
Date: 29 Nov 2009
green board rev number: 2060-701640-001 REV A
After several days of working through the problem it was determined that other people who were using a WD10EVDS drive manufactured after Nov 2009 were also having the same problem I was having! Apparently Western Digital uses a technology know as IntelliPark on their green drives in order to save power.
According to Western Digital, IntelliPark unloads idle drive heads to reduce aerodynamic drag, in turn reducing the amount of energy required to spin the platters.
For whatever reason, drives manufactured after Nov. of 2009 seem to have a different IntelliPark setting and this is the reason why my TiVo wouldn’t boot with the new drive. Thankfully, TiVoCommunity once again had a solution to my problem. A post on TiVoCommunity provided me with download link for a little utility (called wdidle3) which allows your to disable the IntelliPark setting. Thanks to the TiVoCommunity instructions I was able to disable the IntelliPark settings on my hard drive.
3. Boot from the above CD and change drive letter to R: (it can be other letter, depending on your PC configuration) and run “wdidle3 /D” to disable IntelliPark. The message should indicate that idle feature has been disabled.
With IntelliPark disabled my TiVo is now able to boot and I can now record up to 143 hours of HD content! Thanks again to everybody on TiVoCommunity and Twitter who was able to help me through this upgrade. I really do appreciate it!