How to migrate to a bigger drive?

I have posted this twice.  Never actually got posted. I grabbed my handy 250GB drive when my new Tablo arrived, then later learned that if I swapped to a 2TB unit I would lose all recordings.  I have seen hints of the ability to copy from one drive to the other.  I would really appreciate a link or whatever as to how to do this.  I have to sit down about twice a week to manually delete enough to keep Autodelete from wiping me out.  I got three days behind this weekend and lost a bunch of shows I never saw.  So until there is any relief on mass deletions or limited number of recordings I really need just a bigger drive.


You cannot do this yet. How long to wait? No idea.

Note you cannot do this with any other DVR on the market.

You can copy all of your recordings off the old HDD and watch them in say Plex.

Read this thread:

Another app to copy recordings off the Tablo:

There are ways to do it. But nothing official from Tablo. The Acronis True Image method did not work, but if you find that thread one person was successful in Linux doing it. There is no how-to or step by step instructions.

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@oldmike We’ve got a process for migrating from one Tablo to the other, but nothing yet for one disk to another. We realize this is an important feature for plenty of folks, and it’s on our roadmap. No ETA’s at the moment, stay tuned!


Off load and play on Plex would be a fine solution.  I mostly watch through Plex anyway.

BTW: SAGETV would absolutely do that.  I had four drives in my media machine, sync’d to a NAS in the garage.  When a drive died, I just dropped in a new one, copied over, and done.  And easy to move from one folder to another; just point to it.  I think the fundamental issue here is the odd, proprietary file system that Tablo is using rather than just industry standard.  I suppose there is a good reason for that from your standpoint, but not from that of users.

Thanks @theuser86; I’ll dive into that.

SageTV was not a standalone DVR, it ran on a computer. Apples and oranges my friend.

Good luck!

Here’s how I went about upgrading my Tablo’s external hard drive to a larger size drive without loosing previously recorded shows. It was pretty easy to do. My original drive was 256 MB, the new external HDD is 2 TB in size.

I’m using a PC running Windows 8.1 though I think that older versions of Windows will work OK too.

I did the following to accomplish the migration:
  1. removed the smaller Tablo USB External Hard Drive from the Tablo.
  2. inserted the new 2 terabyte USB external hard drive into the Tablo.
  3. Tablo saw a new external drive and indicated that it needed to be formatted (which will wipe anything previously on that drive clean off) in the Tablo Settings web page. I typed the word FORMAT and it began formatting the new drive.
  4. When formatting was finished I removed the new external drive from the Tablo and then plugged both the old small external usb drive and the newly formatted large external usb drive into my PC.
  5. I downloaded and installed a Windows to Linux disk utility called Ext2Fsd and installed it.
  6. I started the Ext2Fsd program, found the two external hard drives listed along with all the windows drives. The two Tablo usb drives were listed as “ext3” Linux drives. (Note that in my case, the Ext2Fsd startup-splash screen … silhouette of a couple of penguins with a sunset-color background … stayed open. I have enough screen real estate to work around that screen, but I was not able to close it … perhaps there was something I missed, but I didn’t dwell on it for very long, I just left it be). 
  7. Using Ext2Fsd, I assigned new Windows drive letters to the two external hard drives. The small drive became the “D:” drive, and the large drive became “E:”.
  8. Using Windows Explorer, I was able to open and view the contents of both drives … the D: drive and the new E: drive in my case.
  9. I opened the “rec” folder listed in the D: drive and opened a new Windows Explorer window to view the new E: drive (the new 2 TB external usb drive) and I opened its “rec” folder as well, which was empty.
  10. I then dragged & dropped all the folders in the “rec” drive from the small drive (D: in my case) into the same folder, “rec”, in the new large external (E:) drive.
  11. After a couple hours of copying, all the recordings in the “rec” folder from the small drive were now cloned into the “rec” folder of the new drive.
  12. In Ext2Fsd, I right-clicked on the E: drive and selected the command for flushing any cached data to the drive.
  13. I then dismounted the two usb drives by selecting the usb plug symbol in the Windows Notification Icons area. The icon on my computer was hidden, so to find it I selected the little right-arrow to view all notification icons. The one I selected was called “Safely remove hardware and eject media”. I ejected my D: and E: drive (your drive letters may be different from mine).
  14. All done! I plugged the new 2 TB drive into the Tablo. Tablo recognized it as a fully functioning drive (since it was the Tablo that formatted it in the first place) … and all of the previously recorded shows were present and playable.
It really wasn’t difficult … it just took some time to format the new drive and copy the recordings from old to new.

Post back here if you found this helpful.


Great info.  

Clonezilla might also have been used to clone a partition from the older drive to the newer drive after format.  May be something I look into if I upgrade the 1TB drive to something larger or need replacing.


I followed BabbleBits  instructions to the letter, having not wanted to “buy” a program to do this (seemingly, really not) daunting task of UPsizing my drive. Having found a Western Digital “My Book” 2TB at a whole $71  to replace my original Western Digital 500gb, I had little to lose! Worst case scenario: Plug the old drive back in and I would still have a spare “large” drive for other purposes.

So, I started with the usual formatting, followed instructions posted above. 
Main thing: PATIENCE. It will take time to format, my formatting was around 30 minutes give or take, then, MORE patience in copying the files via my laptop. Easiest way? Do it when you go to bed, (if you have no scheduled recordings, of course!)

As of this morning, plugging the NEW drive in, all recordings I’ve “spot checked” are there, and working fine via the web interface on PC with Chrome browser, and on my Roku 2 unit. Access speed is slightly better, and I see no reliability issues. Will be doing "live’ recording via the browser today and check back in! 

So far, so good, and thank you SO much for posting the instructions so clearly. Yes, it will be nice when this is incorporated into Tablo itself, but…without having to wait, this worked well and has not “dropped” any recordings that I can find nor created any issues. If it does, will post here!

Couldn’t be happier with this project as posted. 
Thank you, again for posting your method!


Thanks, this worked for me (sort of). I don’t have a windows machine, only Mac.

So, instead I created a bootable thumbdrive with Ubuntu on it using Mac Linux USB Loader:

After booting into Ubuntu, I was able to mount the two hard drives to my macbook pro and from there it was a simple rsync from the “rec” folder on the smaller drive to the “rec” folder on the newer drive.

I was able to migrate from a 500gb to a 1tb. The rsync process took a long time since I had about 400gb of recorded shows on the old drive, but it eventually finished. I then unmounted the usb drives and plugged the 1tb into my tablo and everything worked as expected.

Note, for others that go this route, you will likely need to run the rysnc command as root/sudo.


This worked for me. However, I found the Ext2Fsd utility I used may have been different from the one @BabbleBits used. I had to use the Ext2Mgr.exe, and the process wasn’t as smooth as described.

The default drive mounting is read only, so I needed to change it (see screen images below).

I had trouble mounting the drive and assigning a drive letter after I changed the read only setting. I rebooted, and that helped. However, I had to dismount the drive/letter after I initially discovered it was read only. I suggest trying to change the read only setting before mounting the drive and assigning it a drive letter.

Once I worked through the aforementioned nuances, the copy process was slow but successful.

Roy, sorry if these are ridiculously obvious questions. This is a great way to back up your recordings it looks like, correct? Even if you are not going to a larger HDD which I have no need for. I have 1 TB now which is plenty. I delete most shows after we watch them. But, if someone wanted a backup of their shows in case of HDD failure, this looks like a solution to this.
I assume this would not help in the event the Tablo becomes defective like ours did this summer from lightning, right? I don’t think anything helps with that (including cloning a HDD) except for the program called Tablo Ripper that rips the shows to MP4s so you can watch them on something like PLEX. I am not crazy about that approach because of the HUGE files and mind-numbing length of time it takes to rip the shows. Thoughts? Joel

PS: I realize that competitive DRVs don’t have built in solutions either and Tablo folks now have a pretty astonishing product, but I sure wish they would create an integrated solution that saved us from both HDD and Tablo device failures.

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Hi tremjo.

The method I described is a really slow / time consuming process. So yes, if you really needed to backup your Tablo recordings to another drive, I suppose this would work. I use Tablo Ripper, myself, to save recordings that I want to keep.

My Tablo started acting odd a few months back … it would record shows, but I could not schedule programs and the Live TV function stopped working. Turns out that the external HDD somehow got some bad sectors (low level stuff) on it. I had to use the technique above to copy everything recorded off of it … and in the process I found 2 recordings that got munged up … those files just would not copy to the other drive.

The external USB Drive I was using I had bought earlier this year, and just because it had a few bad sectors doesn’t necessarily mean that it’s trash. The trick to getting those bad sectors to get marked on the drive as off limits for use, is to format the drive on a PC as NTFS (I’m sure there are other ways, other operating systems that will do this too). And it has to be a full format, not the quick one … takes several hours to complete. Once that’s done, the bad sectors aught to be marked as unusable on the hard drive itself. Next step is to connect it to the Tablo, and have it format it again in the Linux format it likes. I presume that the Tablo format operation does not do the full slow sector by sector format that the PC does (but I could be wrong), but I also think that the Tablo format operation will honor the bad sector marking on the drive, and never use them.

So I did the above on that 2TB external drive, then copied all the good recordings back, and my Tablo was up and running again. Since then, I’ve not had any recording / playback issues, and all my old recordings, except for 2 were restored.

It would be nice, though, to have a straight-forward backup technique to use.



I rarely use Terminal. Can you explain to me how to do this and what it does pls.

Terminal is an interface to the command line. rsync is a command that you execute from the command line that will synchronize two folders.

If you’ve booted into a linux distro, once you open terminal, you would then use the rsync command:

rsync [source_directory_path] [destination_directory_path]

Depending on which distro of linux you’re booting with, the mounted drives may be at /mnt or /Volumes. If you get a message about permissions, just prepend “sudo” to the command:

sudo rsync [source_directory_path] [destination_directory_path]

Thanks alot for the quick reply and detailed help. I am a little shaky on this but I am going to try your procedure from your older post below. I will make a bootable flash drive and see if I boot linux on my mac mini. I would like to upgrade to 4 or 5 TB and would like to save my current shows. Cheers, Jim

No problem, if you run into trouble creating the bootloader, you can follow the instructions here:

The ubuntu distro is what I used and will probably be the easiest.

Worked for me as well. I’m on Windows 10 and for step 8, I had to use Ext2Mount to see the drives on Windows Explorer. Thanks for the help!

This worked perfectly for me upgrading from a very big noisy old 1TB WD Mybook to a sleek tiny new 2TB Seagate BackUp Plus. Your instructions were easy to follow on my aging Windows 7 laptop. The only hiccup was the 16 hours (yes, I said sixteen) it took to copy my 600GB of recordings from one to the other. I think one of the links in my chain was operating at USB 1 speed because the copying all happened at between 10 and 11 MBPS. Happily both drives and my aging laptop survived the marathon and everything is working great with all of my old recordings on the new drive.
Thanks a bunch for your post.

I’m getting stuck with launching the program ext2fsd. It won’t launch. Any ideas? I’m running Windows 10.