What happens when Tablo runs out of space?

New Tablo user here, I’d like to understand the logic is behind retention of recordings when the Tablo runs out of space.


The content I’ll be recording falls into a few categories:

Want It All series - These are the TV series like CSI where I want to record the entire season, likely just new episodes in the current season.  For an older series I want to pick up that may mean recording all episodes of all seasons that become available over the air.

Want The Latest series - These are things like talk shows or game shows, where I’d like to have a handful available to watch at any time but I will never ever watch an entire series.  I just want to keep the n latest episodes.  Some examples from my current PVR, I keep 5 latest episodes of Jeopardy, 5 latest episodes of The Daily Show, 2 latest episodes of Late Night with Jimmy Fallon.

From my poking around so far, I haven’t seen any granular recording details exposed in the UI that would control this behaviour.  More importantly, I don’t know what will happen when Tablo starts to run out of space.  Will it just stop recording, or will it start to delete older episodes on the hard drive?  

I suspect a feature request will come out of this, and I’d be happy to go into a bit more detail on how I think it could work.  However for now I’d like to start by making sure I understand the current behaviour.

Right now, there are only two recording options.

1. Record new - records just the first run episodes of a series
2. Record all - records all the episodes of a series on all channels that the show appears.

There are two common feature requests that hopefully will be implemented sometime this year (no timeframe officially set for either one).
1. Don’t record the same show multiple times. This can happen if you pick up multiple versions of the same station (like 2 PBS channels or 2 CBS channels), the show is repeated on the same channel later in the day, or the show gets repeated later in the year.  Fixing this should be a high priority because it can use up tuners and prevent other shows from recording, as well as using unnecessary disk space. 

2. Record latest n episodes of a series.   This is fairly common on cable/satellite DVRs, and it would be a nice feature for the Tablo as well.  I just don’t expect this to be done for a while since it is a convenience item and not something that causes a lot of heartache for the user.


As for running out of disk space, I would assume that it would stop recording new shows.  There is no functionality on the Tablo to automatically delete old shows (unlike many cable/satellite DVRs).  Adding that functionality has been requested as well, but I would think it is a lower priority item as well since the user has the ability to clean up his own Tablo.

@pnear - We don’t currently have a ‘smart delete’ option but these features have been requested previously. We’re working on ways that will make it easier to do bulk and ‘smart’ deletes so stay tuned!


You can see how full your drive is within settings. If it is full, it will stop recording (the iPad app will notify you and we’re working on adding this message to the other apps). It’s best to keep your drive under 80% capacity so you can maintain a fast, snappy system.

Consider this a vote for making a smart delete option a priority.  These are functions that DVR’s have had for over a decade, and we shouldn’t have to babysit the device this way.

Agree that this is a key missing feature that impacts Tablo’s ability to compete with other options, whether those options be “stay with cable” or “buy some other device for OTA”.

I disagree with the above two users.  This device can have the same hard drive size as the ones from satellite/cable companies, but it has hundreds less channels to record from.   Running out of disk space is possible, but I would think it is highly unlikely for most users.


I have had this since April with just a 1 TB drive recording 1080P content, and I still haven’t used 15% of my drive yet.  I do go in and clean up some shows, but I have full seasons of other shows still on my hard drive.  

A bulk delete is a whole lot more useful than a smart delete.  Smart delete is nowhere near a “key missing feature” for an OTA DVR.   

This is bizarre.

So, the answer is the device will just stop working when the drive is full, at which point my only option is to wade through the thousands of recordings and delete them one at a time???

I would agree with one of the posters above. Adding mass deletion options should be super urgent priority.

@belgiangenius thousands of recordings? I would find that difficult just to watch :wink:



I know on the roadmap is the ability to download shows to local drives, maybe that would be a better place to store thousands of shows on a NAS or something?

I have kids. It is mostly cartoons.

@belgiangenius I totally understand that :wink:

how about a choice to just record 1 show?  I told it to record Da Bears last Friday & now it wants to record every NFL game - including the Packers.  this is not good. 

ps  I know I can do a manual recording, but I want it to be easy

This is bizarre. So, the answer is the device will just stop working when the drive is full, at which point my only option is to wade through the thousands of recordings and delete them one at a time????

Yup. Just happened to me this last week. It’s a real pain… Leaving me wanting to just hold the reset button down for 10 seconds to reformat the drive.

Also found out the android tablet app is just horrible for bulk deletes… They don’t all delete even though it said they where! Avoid it at all costs. Web app on a fast computer is the only way… And that’s not fun. What a miserable Tablo week!

@Thumbs - Stay tuned, we’ve got some stuff planned to ease the pain of deleting coming soon.

Glad to hear it. Anything that reduces the click count below the current 3 per episode and hopefully removes the 3 second wait, as well… Will be most appreciated.

I’m hopeful, smart recording will introduce some automated deletion in the future as well.

Thanks for the tease and for getting this out soon.

Yep - early stages of smart delete and smart record are in the works right now. We’ll obviously build out the feature more after the initial release, but what we’re working on now should alleviate the basic pain around recording and deleting for most situations. 

My expectations feel managed, thanks.

Thanks for being patient as we work on more features  :-bd