What about replacing (saturated) drives?

I have an (original) Quad with a drive that’s almost full. It’s been very difficult to “keep up” due to my work schedule and intermittent illness. I have many shows stored on the drive and would like to replace it.
I didn’t realize (until discussing this with a Tablo representative) that the Tablo is still a work in progress (sarcasm intended) and that it’s impossible to simply connect a new drive and then (later on) reconnect the previous drive, so as to watch previous recordings!
This is beyond ludicrous! I actually asked the representative to repeat what they said and even questioned whether or not this was erroneous information!
It seems that, if you want to preserve your older recordings (to watch at a later time), you’ll need to actually purchase another Tablo (to maintain a “matched pair”)!
Is this crazy or what??
Am I missing something?
I’ve been unable to read most of the threads here but I haven’t seen this discussion.
Perhaps it’s been discussed previously.
The best information from this representative was “were considering a fix for this” (or something like that)!
I’ve heard that far too many times (from a variety of tech companies)…with no results!
Why is it that I could swap out my drives on a 20 year old ReplayTV…but not on the Tablo??
Why are they still working on this (if indeed they are)??
This option should’ve existed from day one!
It’s DVR 101, for God’s sake!!

There actually is a really simple solution. You can purchase a larger hard drive and just migrate your data to the new drive. Check out this thread for how others have done it. How to migrate to a bigger drive?

And the reason you can’t just swap between drives is that the recording database is stored on the Tablo itself, not on the drives. While I am sure there are some performance and other benefits to this setup (as well as being able to use the Tablo to show live tv without a hard drive), it also causes problems if you just switch to a new blank drive without doing a factory reset, as the Tablo will think there are recordings on the Tablo that don’t exist.

Thanks for the input but it seems unnecessarily complicated (and perhaps questionable in terms of reliability).
I was using a Channel Master DVR+ just prior to the Tablo. Had no issues whatsoever swapping drives back and forth! Could also watch live TV with no drive connected. Simple flash memory onboard. Could even record (short term) with no drive connected! Not rocket science!
I’m thinking that this was a design flaw!
It appears that (foolishly) this wasn’t even taken into consideration!
To assume that everyone would simply watch all of their recordings and have no issues with saturating drives (and needing to preserve recordings to playback later) is a major mistake!
There’s no reason why one should be forced to migrate data on a PC, etc.
These are mainstream devices that should allow for the non-tech savvy user to simply interchange drives at will. Without losing the data on the drive in the process. Very poorly designed (in this respect)!
I can respect and appreciate wanting to design a product “from the ground up” but DVR’s have been around for many years…and if the ability to swap drives at will existed 20+ years ago, what on earth were they thinking??
Imagine being told that, ooops, if you re-attach your original drive, it gets formatted automatically. It makes absolutely no sense!!

It’s definitely not a “major” mistake, the current implementation works perfectly for the “majority” of us as we record, watch and delete. As well, if one is intuitive upon initial setup they could foresee this issue and just use a 8 TB drive for example.

What size is your HDD you’re currently using anyway?


It’s unlikely mainstream users would want to swap drives around. Probably wouldn’t want the expense or keeping track of which is which.

There are several (unsupported) topics about swapping to larger drives with various skill levels. None, I believe involve data loss, if you have fears.

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Been using the same 2TB seagate passport drive for 6 years with no problems. Have about 1.5 TB recorded and do not plan to get a bigger drive ever. I am very pleased with Tablo and I always sit down when I dis.

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I have had a 4TB drive for the last five years, and I still haven’t hit 3 TB yet. Yes, I do delete content on occasion, but I have never even come close to running out of hard drive space. And with hard drives over 10TB now, there is very little need for swapping drives.

There are also third party apps that will copy the shows you want to keep to whatever storage you want.

I can’t imagine any potential Tablo customer out there not buying this product because “it won’t let you swap drives”. The Tablo just removes the need to even consider it.

Although “drive swapping” is unsupported, as you’ve found to be “beyond ludicrous” – here’s a rather painless backup - someone did the hard part. Just connect old drive > backup | connect new drive < restore

…would it see nearly as ludicrous to trust all your older recordings to a semi-proprietary device? on a single (aging) drive - in perpetuity? Isn’t this crazy?

Twenty years ago enormous capacity storage was cost prohibitive for consumer use.

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If I under the poster’s question correctly, I believe there is a simple way to switch from drive to drive just as he is asking. If you wait until Tablo is not recording anything (just to be safe) and quickly press the reset button, the Tablo will write all the required info TO the drive. Then, after the blue light stops flashing (I wait another minute of so to be safe) you unplug the drive from the Tablo. Then you do a factory reset on the Tablo. After it comes back up WITH NO DRIVE CONNECTED, then you connect the second drive and the blue light will begin to pulsate. After that stops (and it can take a LONG time if it’s a big drive with a lot of shows), all your shows, schedules, etc. will be there and ready to go.

It’s exactly the same procedure Tablo recommends to migrate your old recordings to a new Tablo. I have done it and I KNOW it works. Just remember, if you are using a drive with a lot of shows on it, it can take HOURS to complete the reload but it WILL finish.

The “list” of all your recordings are transferred… the actual recordings remain intact on the drive you’ve removed and done nothing with.

That process if for swamping your drive to another tablo (or the same tablo after a factory reset – with the same drive).

Taping the reset button initiates tablo to backup it’s DB to the drive. When it stops, don’t wait too long, it’ll reboot.

When you connect a new drive without a DB directory it will ask if you want to format. If you connect a drive with a DB directory it will read that and restore the recordings information, guide data and schedule and a whole bunch of other stuff.

If you connect an empty drive… where will it get the information? after you’ve factory reset your tablo? empty drive > freshly reset tablo = no data to sync …doesn’t it?

Wouldn’t you first have tablo format a new drive, then rsync or clone the drives? Without factory resetting?

While I appreciate all of your expertise and advice, there’s absolutely nothing “crazy” about having the option of switching to a new drive, while preserving your older recordings!
The inability to do this is what’s truly “crazy”!
If you’re dealing with (major) scheduling problems or chronic illness (as I have) and want to record entire seasons of shows and/or additional programming, there’s no reason to have to go through an (at least somewhat) complicated process (with a PC) in order to preserve your recordings!
They market a product that’s has design flaws and we need to accept this and say thank you??
The process described (above) only pertains to migration to a replacement Tablo device. Period.
Once you take your older drive and reconnect it to the Tablo, it must be formatted!
Kiss (potentially) hundreds of hours of recordings goodbye!!
…and this is perfectly normal and OK??
Every situation is different. I get that…but in many cases, it’s relatively easy to fill up even a larger drive.
Now your stuck with the inability to never be able to re-attach that same drive and watch your recordings??..as has been the case with (likely) every DVR since the inception of DVR’s!
That’s perfectly fine?? Seriously??

BTW…Even the representative that I spoke with at Tablo support agreed that this is a mistake and that this option SHOULD be available!
It makes perfect sense!
This was clearly a definite mistake in the design!
The Tablo needs to recognize it as a Tablo drive!
In which case, re-formatting is completely unnecessary!..and destructive!
Whatever needs to be done to fix this problem, should be done! Fix the basics first and then you can play around with new features!
Instead, they’re focusing on a flawed, dissapointing “commercial skip” function (aka, selling feature) that seems to get worse with each update!

The person that’s purchasing a Tablo would:
A) Have had previous experiences with DVR’s (as they’re relatively common and widely used).
B) Someone that’s new to “cable cutting” and/or hasn’t had previous experiences with DVR’s.
In either situation, how can you assume that this would be an issue at the point of purchase?
In fact, in most cases, it’s not an issue until they either:
A) Have the insight to question the process of swapping drives (while maintaining their recordings on the original drive).
B) Find out the (very) hard way by losing everything if they re-attach the original drive!
Please!..let’s be more open-minded about this.
There is absolutely no reason (other than a botched design/implementation) that would cause you to lose all of the data simply by re-attaching you original drive.
…and it’s completely unrealistic to think that the possibility of saturating a drive, replacing it and then eventually needing to watch previous recordings isn’t going to occur! It will!
Perhaps not for all…but certainly for enough users to make this somewhat of a priority!
Instead, it appears to have been ignored!
Put yourself in the position of someone that should be able to anticipate not having a problem with this (such as myself)!
Then losing hours and hours of recordings!!
Many more people need to complain about this.
Instead of simply accepting their mistakes and trying to attempt “work-arounds” that may or may not work!
The ability to do this simply and easily has been a standard feature on all (if not most) DVR’s from the outset. There’s no excuse for this nonsense!!


It appears you didn’t read my post or I didn’t explain it well. I’ll try again. Contrary to what Tablo seems to have told you, If you have two drives, both with previously recorded programs, ONE Tablo will read and use either drive. Think of it this way… If you buy a NEW Tablo, the process of migrating your old drive, complete with programs, is there and works. If you have multiple drives, all you have to do it press the reset button before disconnecting the present drive so it will write the programming information to the drive you want to disconnect. Then you disconnect the drive, do a factory reset on the Tablo and after it comes back up, you plug in the second drive and after it reloads the information, all your shows are there and fully playable. I’ve done it several times and it works fine. The ONLY downside is that it takes about one hour per 500 shows (as I recall) for the information to be reloaded to the Tablo when you connect a previously used drive.

It was suggested that you have to quickly remove the drive after the reset… that’s not true. All that does is reboot the Tablo. It WILL NOT format the drive or lose any data if you do it as I (and Tablo) describe.

There is NO PC required for this p[process to work. It’s really simple to do and unless I misunderstand, does exactly what you want.

Does that help?

Here is the procedure as written in the Tablo Knowledge Base…

Moving your recordings to a new Tablo

Tablo Support - David

January 07, 2020 12:51


If you replace your Tablo DVR the process below will allow you to migrate your existing recordings stored on an external disk (devices using internal storage, SATA storage or Cloud storage are not supported) and schedule data to your new unit. This process will work for ALL Tablo models (including 2-tuner migrations to 4-tuners, etc.).

Note : For this process to work, your NEW Tablo must be taken directly out of the box. If you’ve already run a channel scan on your new Tablo, you will need to factory reset it for these instructions to work.

If you have connected to your new Tablo already, note its firmware version: you can find this at the bottom of the Tablo Settings screen. The new Tablo must be on the same firmware version as your original unit. Our support team can also check this for you, so don’t hesitate to send us a ticket.

Step 1: Reboot your original Tablo with the USB drive attached using the blue reset button on the back of the Tablo. Wait for the Tablo’s blue LED to go solid. This can take up to ~2 minutes.

Step 2: Remove the USB drive from your original Tablo and set it aside.

Step 3: Attach Ethernet and power (in that order) to your new Tablo.

Step 4: After your new Tablo’s LED is solid, attach your USB drive to your new Tablo.

Step 5: After a few seconds your Tablo’s LED will begin pulsing.

At this point, it is transferring your original Tablo’s database to your new Tablo. This can take several minutes. Steve427 EDIT… This is WRONG!!! It takes about 1 hour per 500 shows. NOT minutes!!

Once your new Tablo is finished downloading the database it will reboot. The process is complete once the Tablo’s LED is solid.

The article you posted repeatedly states new tablo! Your edit is in response to transferring to new tablo.

The poster you replied to even recognized this! They did read your entire mis-information -

concluding -

Your repeated insistence migrating your recordings to a new tablo is synonymous with migrating from one drive to another drive are erroneous!

@TabloSupport and @TabloTV have posted several times there’s no official or supported way to transfer your recordings to another drive. There are user post with details and a backup script with response from others with success.

You’re lightly suggesting a user Factory Rest their tablo


A factory reset should not be attempted as a troubleshooting step and should only be done as a last resort by someone who knows what they’re doing.

with no warning what they are actually doing or what might go wrong! …particularly if you’re giving instructions for something they don’t want.

If you are comfortable wiping out your tablo may depend on your background and skills… may not be a fit for everyone.

It feels like you are trying to make this more difficult than it is. You seem to think he wants to move his recordings to another drive. I understand he wants to be able to use two different drives with different information (shows) on the same Tablo. The article and process I referenced will do exactly that. Doing a factory reset on a Tablo is not a big deal. It is in no way risky to the Tablo and since the drive is disconnected while this is done, there is no risk to his previously recorded shows. The instructions I posted are directly from the Tablo Knowledge Base so it’s not something I made up. I have done this many times with results exactly as described in the Knowledge Base. The only requirement is that the firmware revision of the Tablo must be the same as the revision used when the drive was disconnected AND the process takes about one hour per 500 recordings. The Knowledge Base specifically says if the Tablo has made a channel scan. it must be factory reset before this will work.

As you’ve set the tone…

The market appears to overwhelming accept the product as designed (I do have issues with tablo myself). The Ok Boomer mindset is no longer the primary demographic modern devices are marketed to/for.

You’ve never responded, when asked, how many terabytes have you already filled? As many users have numerous serious and spanning years of series… Did you get a new large capacity drive, or use an old one you already had?

inception of DVR’s… virtually all cable/satellite DVRs are sealed. Common user don’t want to know about tech and even if they could add a drive… they pay enough for the DVR, they’re not going to pay for more storage.

Customer service are going to tell you what you need to hear, they’ve probably marked "Displeased" is putting it mildly! and again, you didn’t like the answer you got…

If they follow tablo’s recommended drive suggestions capacity starts at 1TB …it’ll take awhile to fill, many users will likely buy more - more is better mentality. Then there’s tablo’s overly complex explanation of recording settings, which impact storage capacity. (note: I did not follow tablo’s recommendations for drives)

yes! Current generations with mobile devices have little experience with external drives, beyond flash/USB storage drives. Their computer use is primarily work related, then it’s ultra light cloud based if not a laptop. Tablo with it’s streaming technology is marketed to modern users with modern devices.

I have an old-school setup myself. I had a PC-DVR with media PCs on each TV. In rural area, there’s no true high speed internet to bother with proprietary streaming devices. I find is ridiculous I can’t access my tablo over my local network, via PC, with out first needing internet access.

I now use my tablo to record, export show to my PC, then continue with my old dated system to share across my network. I’m out dated, not going to have a fussy-fit because they won’t accommodate my needs.

In the end, isn’t it - you didn’t get a large enough storage device, now you’re unhappy and want somebody to blame?

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Thank you for investing all of this time and effort!
…but there seems to be some confusion.
What I’m attempting to do can’t be done (certainly not on the Tablo itself).
This was verified by Tablo support.
I’ve had success transferring my drive to another Tablo. I had issues with my original unit and was able to get it exchanged.
I’ve even discussed the FACT (with Tablo support) that it takes FAR LONGER than a “few minutes”. That’s completely erroneous information!
In my situation, it took over two and a half hours!
This was on a weekend, no less.
Just imagine the stress, thinking that this process should take just a few minutes and having no support (thanks to their much too limited phone support hours)??
To get back to the original subject, you can’t disconnect a drive, put it away in a drawer and then expect to re-connect it later on (to the same unit).
It simply won’t work! The drive will be formatted and all of your recordings will be wiped out!
You shouldn’t be forced to watch all of your recordings and/or delete recordings, in order to continue using the same drive!
You should have the freedom to connect a new drive, while preserving your older recordings for future use on the Tablo!
To reiterate, this isn’t rocket science!
It’s actually DVR 101!
Anything less is completely unacceptable!!