About two weeks ago as I am sitting at my computer I hear the TV starting to stutter while my wife is watching one of her TiVo’d programs.  As is the case many times in our household I headed in to the living room to provide a tech assist. Well despite my best efforts I could not get things to work.  The system was almost non-responsive and extremely slow. So I decided to perform the number one troubleshooting procedure I know of – reboot the system. Now with a TiVo there are two ways to restart – either through the Settings menu screen or pull the plug out.  Since the first option was not possible with the unresponsive system – I executed the second option and pulled the plug. That is when the hard drive on the system showed what was wrong. CLICK-CLACK; CLICK-CLACK was the only sound coming from the system.  After a few attempts to get the system back online and the same clicking sound coming from the machine I figured out that the hard drive had failed.  Unfortunately, the system was full of recorded shows so we lost all of our CSI (all three versions); The Mentalist and Without a Trace along with a few odd shows and movies.

Now I have owned this system since Christmas of 2004 – it was a gift from my wife.  The TiVo changed the way we watched TV because we now watched when we had the time – we were no longer tied to a schedule for any program.  The TiVo I received was a 40 hour machine which means it had a 40GB hard drive inside.  About a year after getting the machine I decided to upgrade the hard drive and increase the viewing capacity – which went without a hitch using the methods described at Hinsdale How-to TiVo Upgrade. Although it seemed very intimidating I had nothing to lose because I was not going to erase the original 40GB hard drive so I could always revert back to it if things went South. I am happy to report that the process took less than a couple of hours and was a huge success and so for the last 3 1/2 years we have run our TiVo with a 120GB hard drive with about a 186 hour recording capability at Basic Quality.

It was this hard drive that failed two weeks ago – in my opinion for a machine that is always on 24/7 – that is a pretty good run!

So as I approached this hard drive failure and started my research on how to replace that hard drive I quickly discovered that you needed to have a functioning TiVo hard drive in order to setup a replacement drive.  So with a dead hard drive I needed another option.

Two options came up in my search:

I have no reason to believe that either of these companies provide anything but very decent options for putting a new hard drive in your TiVo or even adding a second drive and additional storage. I made my choice on the biggest drive capacity I could get for my money. I chose weaKnees and purchased their 320GB upgrade kit for my TiVo.  This kit would upgrade us to 390 hours of video at Basic Quality and 110 hours at Best Quality.  I placed the purchase and used 2 day shipping so I could get us back up and TiVoing as soon as possible.

As scheduled the package arrived two days later and I immediately started the replacement of the dead drive.  The package appears a lot like the same boxes that hard drives come in and it also has both Torx wrenches you will need to remove your TiVo cover and the hard drive mounting shelf.  There are also terrific illustrated instructions to walk you though the process – they even have them up online so you can read ahead before the hard drive even arrives so your ready when it gets to your house.

You can see the process for removing and replacing the drive on the instructions – it works just like that as well.  There was one additional adapter in the package that went between the new hard drive and the TiVo motherboard so the system could recognize the larger, faster device. From start to plugging it in with the new hard drive took me less than 30 minutes.  After it is all put together you just plug it back up to your cable, network (phone line if that is what you use) and then just run Guided Setup again.  You will be back up and running with your newly upgraded and higher capacity TiVo in no time.

By the way – this is no way affects your lifetime service on your TiVo as that is tied to the motherboard and not the hard drive – FTW!