Busted Tivo? Check out Weaknees...

Last weekend, our Tivo Series2 box started making a very high pitched ringing/squealing sound. It didn’t seem to bother Michelle much, but was quick to give me a headache. Even worse, it was that “your hard drive is on its last leg” type of sound.

I got behind it and verified that it wasn’t the fan making the sound, so then I was faced with a decision. Do I wait it out and see if it passes? I tried this for a day or two, but it was driving me up a wall. Do I go buy a new hard drive and swap it out? I could, but all the directions I found online make it look like more of a project than I wanted to get into. When it involves opening another computer and swapping drives on an IDE channel, booting to Linux floppies, and command-line partitioning… well, I could work my way through it but I’d rather not.

I head over to www.tivocommunity.com, where the hardcore Tivo folks hang out, and came across a site called www.weaknees.com. They seemed to have a good reputation there as a busines and were also pretty active on those forums helping people out.

On their site, I found a 160GB replacement drive for our model Tivo… for $159. Sure, I could get a bigger drive at CompUSA for this much, but their offer was great because:

  • The drive was already set up to be plug and play with Tivo — including the latest Tivo OS already installed.

  • They included instructions (PDF) for swapping out the drive, complete with lots of pictures.

  • They included the two Torx wrenches I’d need to open the case and swap the drive.

  • They took PayPal, had it in stock, and their shipping was reasonable.

I emailed them some initial questions I had about what to back up and how current the OS was on the drive I’d get… I had a response in an hour or so telling me just what I needed to know.

So I went for it and WOW am I ever glad! It arrived yesterday and took all of 20 minutes to swap the drive, including the 5 minutes I waited for the power supply to discharge (recommended in their instructions).

Once the drive was swapped, it fires right up and goes through the guided setup. Best of all, it was whisper quiet.

The only potential downside with going this route is that you lose Season Passes, Wishlists, and obviously any recordings. But Season Passes are easy to write down and re-create, we don’t have that many wishlists, and there weren’t many recordings on there that we were too worried about (mostly some kids’ shows that can be replaced in an hour on Noggin). If there had been important recordings, we could have always used TivoToGo and burned a disc.

Your box’s Tivo service is unaffected because its tied to an account number that’s stored directly in the box’s hardware and not on the drive.

In any case, it was a great experience all around and I’d highly recommend using www.weaknees.com if you find yourself needing to replace/add parts for your Tivo.