I recently had to replace the hard drive in my TiVo Bolt which turned out to be an easy process but I initially chose the wrong drive. Here’s the right set of options for replacing the hard drive in a TiVo Bolt DVR.
First let’s get right to it. This is the wrong drive I initially chose, WD20SPZX. Do not buy this drive. It worked in the TiVo but the menus and channel changing were very sluggish and ruined the user experience. The drive was also noisy.
After a lot of research I found out I had the wrong drive. The right drive choices are WD20NPVZ or WD30NPRZ. My TiVo originally came with the 3.0TB drive but I replaced it with the 2.0TB drive given the much lower cost and that I didn’t need all the space.
These drives use an older technology that requires more platters and read/write heads. This gives them better performance for the continual sequential access that a DVR does across multiple tuners.
If you know you want be near a charger you can also set Power Saving mode which will under clock the CPU and reduce the screen brightness.
To break down what the model numbers mean here is a decoder. This is distilled from as Western Digital PDF.
WD = Western Digital
20 = 2.0 TB
30 = 3.0 TB
P = Mobile Advanced Format/WD Blue/Green/Black/Scorpio
S = 2.5″ 7mm thick
N = 2.5″ 15mm thick
RPM / Buffer Size:
R = 5400 RPM 64MB cache
V = 5400 RPM 8MB cache
Z = 5400 RPM 128MB cache
Even though the Z drive has more cache that doesn’t help a DVR. A DVR is constantly streaming data to and from the drive and will overrun the cache nearly instantaneously.
The instructions for replacement in this YouTube video are great. If the drive is 3TB or less there is no formatting or prep to do on the drive. Just connect it and the TiVo will take care of the rest. If you have a lifetime subscription that will still work as the lifetime is tied to the TiVo Service Number (TSN) which is on a chip on the motherboard, not the drive.