How To Format Hard Drive For TiVo

Reviving a dead TiVo will require you to learn how to format a hard drive for a TiVo. The hard drive inside the TiVo is formatted just like any other drive; however, it requires a special piece of software (an image) to be loaded onto the drive for the TiVo to utilize it. A simple format of the TiVo drive will not get the drive functioning. Currently the two methods of formatting a hard drive for a TiVo are to use a fresh disk image or to back up your existing image and place it on the TiVo (mainly for upgrades). Assuming the TiVo drive is not functional, it will be necessary to format the TiVo drive from scratch.

To format a hard drive for a TiVo, you will need:

  • InstantCake TiVo software.
  • IDE hard drive (5400 RPM recommended)
  • A computer (Windows-based)
  1. Connect the new hard drive to the computer. Using an IDE cable (or a SATA to IDE converter), connect the hard drive to the computer. Connecting the hard drive to the computer will require powering down the computer, opening the case and connecting the hard drive to an available IDE (or SATA) port.
  2. Power on the computer. Once the hard drive is connected, power on the computer.
  3. Install the InstantCake software. Insert the InstantCake software into the computer. The InstantCake program will begin detecting your hard drive and load the proper image for the TiVo onto the hard drive. Follow the on-screen instructions to proceed through the process.
  4. Disconnect the hard drive from the computer. Power down the computer and disconnect the power cable and the IDE or SATA cable. The hard drive is now formatted for TiVo.

Instantcake can be purchased from DVRUpgrade (the author of the software). Simply formatting the hard drive with FAT32/NTFS will not work for TiVo. It is absolutely necessary to place the image on the hard drive during the formatting process for TiVo use. If you are upgrading your current drive, the image can be re-used from that drive without InstantCake. InstantCake must be used for fresh drives without a backup to restore from or they will not work for TiVo. Avoid formatting drives with NTFS for TiVo; the TiVo is Linux-based. Hard drives for the TiVo are regular hard drives with a special image making them compatible with TiVo.

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