This article discusses how to clone a failing TiVo hard drive. It doesn’t cover how to upgrade a TiVo drive to a larger drive. It’s meant for people who have a TiVo with a failing hard drive who want to try to save the contents of their TiVo.

(Edit: This known to work for PC computers. According to Colin’s feedback in the comments section, these steps are confirmed to work for Mac Pro computers too — see Colin’s comment for more info.)

Before proceeding, I recommend that you have some basic familiarity with computers, configuring CMOS, and working with the command line before you try these steps. It’s not rocket science, but if you accidentally bork your hard drive, well, it’s not my fault. 🙂

Furthermore I assume that you’re already familiar with how to remove a TiVo drive and reinstall it, as well as how to install/remove hard drives in your PC, so I don’t cover that in this article. And always remember never boot Windows with TiVo drives attached — be sure you don’t accidentally boot into Windows after you’re finished with Linux.

When Good Drives Go Bad

About three months ago I upgraded my TiVo Premiere XL drive from 1TB to 2TB using a Western Digital WD20EARX drive. Unfortunately, in the past couple of weeks my WD20EARX upgrade drive started to fail the S.M.A.R.T. tests and began experiencing drive errors (e.g., glitches in recorded shows, spontaneous reboots, and other nasty stuff). I needed to clone it to a new drive before it failed altogether, and ideally preserve its contents and recover any errors along the way.

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This post will help you set up Streambaby so it works on your Mac running Lion. You’ll see how to share your Mac’s Movies folder so you can easily view your videos on your big screen TV. To access Streambaby on your TiVo you will need a Tivo Premiere, TiVo Series 3, or TiVo HD. The installation and configuration process takes roughly 10 minutes.

First… What is Streambaby? Basically, Streambaby is a free application that works with your current model TiVo to stream video from your computer to your TiVo DVR. It automatically shows up in your TiVo’s menus when Streambaby is running on your Mac.

In other words, having Streambaby is like hosting your own Netflix service, but with all of your own personal videos. 🙂

Note the purpose of Streambaby is to stream rather than transfer your videos. Streambaby does not transfer video from your computer to your TiVo. (If you want to transfer videos from your computer to your TiVo then you’re looking for a different program called pyTivo.)

One of the things that makes Streambaby great is that you can store many terabytes of video on your Mac. With Streambaby your terabytes of video don’t consume valuable disk space on your TiVo itself, yet you can easily view the video anytime on any TiVo in your home. The video can be in any format supported by Streambaby and its dependent library, FFmpeg.

This post assumes you have basic familiarity with the command line, etc. This is a pretty safe procedure, but the standard disclaimers apply about messing up your computer etc. 🙂

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