The Sledgehammer – Version 2.0

February 24, 2010

More Fun with Voiding Warranties

Filed under: Technology — Tags: , — Brian Lutz @ 12:36 am

When you think about the ongoing advancements of technology over the years, the rate at which storage capacity has increased is particularly impressive.  It really wasn’t that long ago when the sizes of hard disks were still being measured in megabytes, and most of the larger hard drives (relatively speaking) sold for amounts of money that will easily buy an entire mid-range PC today (and that’s not even adjusting for inflation.)    For example, this chart provides historical pricing data on hard drives going back to 1986, and from this we can see that at roughly this time fifteen years ago, the best “bang for the buck” in terms of cost and size was a 540 megabyte drive at a price of $299.  At the high end on the chart was a 1.2 gigabyte drive, selling for $999, although at that point, a year’s worth of patience would have gotten you almost twice the capacity for just about half the price (in March of 1996, a 2.1 gigabyte drive could be had for $510.)  To be honest, I’m not entirely convinced of the accuracy of this particular set of data, since around this time I frequently spent a fair bit of time poring through the mammoth 800-page Computer Shopper Magazines around this time seem to suggest that gigabyte-sized disks were around several years before this, although at the time disks of this size were horrendously expensive, and required the addition of a SCSI card to a system, which by itself could be rather pricey.)  Nonetheless, disk storage at this time was nowhere near the prices and capacities we have available today.

The reason I bring this topic up is that this past weekend, I made a trip to the Fry’s in Renton in an attempt to find a fan to replace the one that had gone bad in my TiVo.  Unfortunately, they didn’t have anything suitable there (apparently they use a somewhat oddball 70mm fan size in the TiVo HD, and although you can easily find 60mm and 80mm fans, 70mm fans are nowhere to be found except in obscure corners of the Internet.  While I was looking at some of the various TiVo-related websites to figure out what the heck I was doing inside my TiVo  (besides voiding the warranty, of course,) I noted that the procedure for upgrading the hard drive in a TiVo had somehow managed become a whole heck of a lot easier than I remember it being last time I looked into the possibility.  Sure, there’s the official way of doing it by adding one of the two TiVo-approved DVR expander external drives, but those tend not to be particularly cheap.  The other alternative is to replace the internal hard drive inside the TiVo with a larger one, which isn’t too hard to do given the fact that the one built into the TiVo HD is “only” 160 gigabytes.  Back in the old days this would have been an unimaginably huge hard disk, but with all the stuff we’re throwing at our storage devices these days, it’s only good for 20 hours of HD recordings.  As a result, while I was down at Fry’s, I ended up picking up a new terabyte hard disk with which to upgrade the storage in the TiVo, at a cost of $90.  To put that into a bit of perspective, at those aforementioned 1995 prices, it would have taken a thousand of those 1 gigabyte hard disks at a cost of $720,000 to match the capacity of the drive I just paid $90 for.  And that’s not even counting the insane amount of hardware it would take to run all of those disks.  And you probably don’t want to think too much about the mean time between failures…

After I got home with my semi-unexpected purchase, I had to figure out a way to copy the data off the old hard drive from the Tivo onto the new one.  Thankfully, I’m well equipped for such tasks here, and aside from a bit of scrambling to find another serial ATA cable before I remembered that there was one in the box the new drive came in, the whole process was pretty simple (thanks to MFSLve) if not particularly pretty.

Once I got everything put back together, this is the end result.  I’d like to say that the whole thing went off without a hitch, but I’m pretty sure it didn’t, and that there might be a minor issue or two lurking about in there which still needs to be sorted out (not the least of which is the kludged-up fan hanging on by one screw until I can find one of the right size to replace the bad one.)  Nonetheless, the end result is enough space on my Tivo for 142 hours of HD programming.  Now I just need to figure out if there’s anything worth actually putting on there…


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