How-to: Use your TiVo Series3 eSATA port to add an external drive

Ever wish you could use that friggin eSATA port TiVo taunts you with on the back of your Series3? If so your moment has finally arrived -- and not a moment too soon for many a DVR-loving TV fans whose drives are filled to the brim with HD programming. Best of all: you don't even have to crack open your box or nothin'. Ready to get it going on? Let's upgrade that TiVo.

Before we get started, be forewarned that this hack supposedly only works on unmodified TiVo Series3 units. Not that we have any idea how the machine knows whether it's been upgraded (we had a how-to for upgrading your internal drive, too), but supposedly if you upgraded your internal drive, this isn't going to work. (If you want to try anyway, let us know in comments how you fared.)


  • TiVo Series3 (and remote, duh) running 8.1.1 software

  • eSATA enclosure + drive with eSATA cable

  • SATA drive with external power source and eSATA to SATA cable

This is a fairly easy procedure, so we'll run through the steps.

Power down your TiVo.

Connect your eSATA gear. If you're going to use a straight up bare drive (which we don't suggest), make sure you've got some kind of power source for it.

Turn on your drive, and while you're powering on your TiVo, hold down the pause button. Make sure you keep your remote aimed at your TiVo the whole time!

Keep holding it. The front panel lights turn off, then the orange LED will light up. Now you can go ahead and let go of the pause button; then punch in "62" on your remote. (Apparently this maneuver is called "kickstart 62".)

You'll then reboot, and some bidness starts happening.

Did it work? If so you'll get the screen above. (Sorry about the overscan that cut off the text.)

Boom, now you've got more space! More friggin space, just like that! It's a TiVo miracle. For reference, we took this virgin 250GB Series3 unit up to 370GB with a 120GB 2.5-inch laptop drive in an eSATA enclosure (see above). Besides going to your TiVo's system info, you won't be able to see that you got more space or have a second drive running.

Other bits

If you pull the drive while the unit is still on you'll get the lengthy error message above. Basically you have to either turn the TiVo off, reconnect the drive, and turn it back on, or continue on in single-drive mode, as you were before.

Be forewarned, though! It looks like the Series3 may record simultaneously to both drives (drive-pooling), so if your drive dies or gets pulled, the error states you may lose shows. In other words, don't pull the drive if you don't absolutely have to!

Apparently this technique has been verified up to 1TB total storage -- anyone with a massive eSATA array want to take the plunge and see if we can get a few terabytes of TiVo going on up in here? Leave it in comments.

We didn't have a chance to run some tests on the programs stored on the secondary drive, but let us know if you see anything worthwhile.

Finally, big ups to spike2k5 on TiVo Community who pioneered this technique. Now go forth and expand.