Following up this morning’s post on eSATA, et al

I’m still waiting to hear back from TiVo with official answers to the questions I posed in this morning’s post, but some of the answers seem to be coming in from the user community already.

As many people are certainly already aware, MRV & TTG were indeed turned on today. To use these on your S3 of HD you will need the 9.2 software – so if you don’t have that, sign up for it: You will also need to go to Manage My Account online ( and make sure ‘Enable Video Downloads’ is checked for your unit(s) under ‘DVR Preferences’. If so, you’re unit should have these enabled the next time it calls home – which you can manually force of course. You’ll see the status of ‘a,a,a’ on the System Information screen instead of ‘i,i,i’.

That’s good news, unfortunately there is some mixed news as well.

Based on what users are reporting, the Series3 will work with any eSATA drive, but the TiVo HD is ‘locked down’ and will only work with the official drive. This is kind of lame, I agree, but such is life. I would much rather see the HD work like the S3, where you can use other drives ‘at your own risk’. This may be a factor in deciding between the Series3 and the TiVo HD.

Still, I do not recommend connecting just any drive to your S3 either. Not all drives are created equal, and you need something that can handle sustained 7×24 usage. You’ll also want something quiet and cool. It is worth spending a bit more for a good drive and not using a no-name drive for save a few bucks. Remember, if the external drive fails you lose all your recordings and the TiVo stops working until you manually intervene to ‘divorce’ the dead drive. Murphy’s Law dictates that this will happen the day you leave on an extended trip.

The good news for TiVo HD owners willing to do a little work is that you can manually ‘marry’ a 3rd party external drive to your TiVo HD using the traditional dual-drive upgrade techniques. So there are ways to get that 1TB external drive working on your TiVo HD if you really want to.

Speaking up upgraded units, one thing I didn’t note this morning is that you cannot just plug-in an external drive to a unit that has had the internal drive upgraded. The way the upgrade hacks work alters the file system and interferes with the way the TiVo software is designed to use the external drive. You can add an external drive, but it requires manually marrying the drives as above.

Not wasting any time, WeaKnees announced on their blog that they’ve begun selling 3rd party eSATA drives for TiVos. These drives are meant for the Series3, since they aren’t ‘blessed’ for the TiVo HD. They’re also offering the same drives for $50 more with a ‘marrying’ service. Ship your previously-upgraded Series3 or your TiVo HD to them and they’ll do the work to marry the drive to your unit and ship it back to you. So you can finally have that 2TB TiVo you’ve always wanted.

DVRupgrade is also offering add-on drives for the Series3, and they also sell plain eSATA enclosures. Also, the $30 Hitachi rebate does apply to the 1TB add-on drives.

Anyway, when and if I hear back from TiVo with official replies I’ll share them.

EDIT: I just cleared out the blog spam queue and released a comment Morac made earlier today that linked to a post from TiVoPony on that confirms the S3 works with any drive but the TiVo HD is locked down:

The backdoor that allowed any eSATA drive to work with the Series3 was not intended for public consumption. Once it got out though, there was little we could do short of disabling all the drives the community had already purchased and installed. That would have been unpleasant for everyone, so the Series3 is grandfathered to work with non-verified eSATA drives via the eSATA menus. We will not provide any support however for non-verified drives, or any issues that arise from having used one.

There wasn’t a backdoor for the TiVo HD platform, nor will there be one. The TiVo Verified solutions are the way to go with a TiVo HD. I’d recommend it for the Series3 as well!

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  • Tom

    It was nice of TiVo to “grandfather” the S3 like that. So many companies (Cough, Apple) have angered their fan base by “bricking” (cough iPhone) the hardware with a software upgrade. At least being an earlier adopter has had some benefit.

    BTW, my S3 now has MRV and TTG enabled, but my software version is still 9.1. I’m kinda confused on that.

  • James Weber

    You do not need 9.2 to have TTG or MRV. My Tivo’s are all working fine with 9.1 however my Tivo S2DT’s hooked up to the Tivo Desktop and showed up on MRV automatically my Tivo S3 had to be restarted before it would show up on my other Tivo’s for MRV or before it would show the connection to my computer in the “Now Playing List”

    Have not seen this metioned yet, My free codec (Hate the thought of paying for one)that I used to play my Tivo files on my PC would not work for any of my HD content I transfered to my PC with TTG. I did find a new one that is FREEWARE and does indeed work with the transfered HD content at, It is free from Spyware and Adware at the link below. I used the standard version.

    I can’t believe I finally have my MRV and TTG Woohoo!!!
    Been waiting a long time to be able to have a place to store Tivo files without having to crack open the case to replace the Hard Drive

  • Tyler

    FYI TiVoDecode Manager (tivotogo) is working on the TiVo HD and S3 for the Mac (the official TiVo sanctioned SW is toast 8 which isnt working)

  • megazone

    Interesting on 9.1 – I suspected the code was in there but just not enabled since 9.1 had the warning about how it wouldn’t MRV with older software. I suspect 9.2 is only needed for eSATA and Progressive Downloads.

  • Ticked Off

    OK… I’ve joined Tivo Nation a little late in the game. I bought a Tivo HD so that the better half could use the supposedly superior interface of the Tivo and watch her DVR’ed shows without having to be shown how to work my more complex setups. I’m really failing to see what the perks of Tivo are that I’m paying a monthly fee for in addition to the expensive hardware. And this latest news concerning locking down the Tivo HD’s eSATA port is just one more thing that is leaving a very sour taste in my mouth concerning all things Tivo.

    Tivo adds a couple interesting features, but is incredibly annoying in a couple areas. I take full blame for not doing enough online research before making my Tivo HD purchase. But now that I have, I’m left with a big cluster of issues. Had I known this is how things would have played out, I would have returned my Tivo unit and canceled the service before the 30 day window was up.

    You can’t pay me enough to buy a WD hard drive. Years of network administration and PC support has taught me that WD drives in the past 6 years are total junk. We’ve got 100% failure rate on the MyBook WD drives in less than a year (~50% don’t last 3 months). 120 drives up in smoke in a matter of months. I’ve finally convinced the CIO to abandon the WD drives for Seagate Free Agents. At least they work and don’t die so easily. Before I finally gave up on WD drives in my own personal systems (8 networked PCs and several NAS devices and servers in my house), I went through 50 drives that failed without warning or hope of data recovery. Not one single drive lasted longer than 1 year. I’ve got a dozen Seagate drives that are now >6 years old, used 24/7 and have yet to develop so much as a bad sector… interesting the difference. But in order to expand the capability of my Tivo HD officially, I have to buy a WD drive that I know is going to fail far sooner than a competing product? Not happy am I! (especially since I’ve had a 750GB Seagate Free Agent external eSATA drive sitting new in the box since I bought the Tivo HD a few months ago thinking the eSATA port actually worked)……

    I can’t believe I’m being penalized because I didn’t overspend for a prettier remote (which I never use anyway), prettier case, and slightly larger useless WD hard drive… I think a Tivo HD might show up for sale very soon……