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WinMFS - Beta Build 9.3 Guide

What is WinMFS?
WinMFS is the next generation TiVo upgrading software designed for ease of use. If you are familiar with Mfstools, you are well aware of the complexity when it comes to command options. With WinMFS, many options required to upgrade your Tivo drives are hidden under the hood so you don't have to think about them. It runs on MS Windows with graphical user interface so chances are, you have access to one of these machines. Most operation can be done using USB ports and click of few mouse buttons.

If you are used to mfstools, read this paragraph first:
if you are used to mfstools, this might be little different.
In WinMFS, you can either make a full duplicate drive or only make truncated backup file of your drive. Use mfscopy to make full backup of your drive (disk to disk copying). Use Files->backup to make a backup image file of your drive. A backup file will not contain any recorded shows but all other information should be there, including cablecard settings. It's best to perform clear and delete everything either before you backup or after if your source drive had lots of recordings. But, if the drive you are backing up is relatively empty or is a factory fresh drive, then it's ok to skip C&DE process. If you look at the bottom of Mfsinfo from the Tools menu, you can see % free value. That value as well as bitmaps are never set properly with truncated backup. Let me see if I can correct that in the future release. if you have S3 or Tivo HD and setup cablecards already, doing clear adn delete eveyrthing will force you to reset your cablecard setup. If you don't want to worry about C&DE, just use Mfscopy

Known Issues:

  • Once copy, backup, restore process is started, you can't quit out of it unless it's finished. You can stop the application by right clicking on the icon and close it. (This is fixed in Beta Build 9.3 or higher)
  • Sometimes WinMFS is reported unresponsive by Windows Operating System.
    WinMFS appears to be dead but it's running in the background and happily doing disk i/o operation. Be patient and let it finish. Backup takes up to 10 minutes and restore takes 2 minutes. MFSCopy would take few hours depending on the number of shows you have recorded. Typically 250GB take 3 hrs using IDE or SATA interface. If you use USB 2.0, it take 2x longer. Avoid using USB 1.0x as it will take hours and hours to complete. (This is fixed in Beta Build 9.3 or higher)
  • Mfsinfo Dialogbox is too big and you won't be able to grab it if your screen size is too small so use 1024 x 768 or higher. Use escape key to close out the dialogbox.
  • Turn off Windows screensaver so you can see the progress bar moving when doing Mfscopy, Mfsbackup, Mfsrestore.


Setting Up your computer
You can go here to learn how to setup your computer.

System Requirements:

WinXP sp2 or higher (will add more as tested), i586 or higher, 800 x 600 or higher graphics setting.

WinMFS is reported to work on the following Windows Versions:
Win XP Sp2 and Sp3, Win XP 64 Sp2, Win2003 Sp1, Win2003 64 Sp1, Vista, Vista 64

Windows Vista:
If you are using Windows Vista, you need admin rights and user access control disabled. It's discussed here.

Windows Version to Avoid:
Win XP (original release), NT 4, Windows 2000 sp4 or earlier, ME or earlier.

I've used usb to IDE adapters while writing and testing this program in Windows XP w/ SP2. USB is bit slower than IDE or SATA connection so if you have large drives that you want to do disk to disk copy, use IDE or SATA if your motherboard has it.

Mounting drives
There are numerous discussions on why connecting a TiVo drive to a Windows machine is bad because it will make the drive not boot. It's partly true. Older Windows OS versions like 2000 did auto mount a drive and assigned a letter if you booted the drive even though it's not mounted. This behavior is changed since Windows 2000 sp2 or later so rest assured. Even if that happens, all it does it overwrite TiVo bootpage which is on sector 0, or first 512 bytes of the hard drive with Windows version of MBR. You can easily fix that problem with the included "Fix Bootpage" tool. You can also backup your bootpage with the backup option.

Don't use Windows Disk Management
You don't need to mount your TiVo drive to use WinMFS so don't use disk management included in Windows XP or Vista to mount it. Don't assign a drive letter. If you do, your Tivo Bootpage will be erased. I've included tools to fix this so it's not a total loss if you do unless you format the drive.

Don't need to Pre-format Your Drive(s)
WinMFS will take care of formatting.

Running the program:
WinMFS is a single executable file written for MS Windows Platform. It's compatible with most Windows Operating System but I would stick with Windows XP and Vista for now unless you want to test it out. Download it, unzip it to your favorite folder and double click on the executable file. I may add installation program and help files in the future releases.

Try Quickstart if you can't wait to get started.

Select Drive
You have to have administrator rights on your computer in order to select a drive. First, you will need to select a drive or drives from the File Menu. If you are backing up, this will be your source drive. If you are restoring, this will be your target drive. If you are performing disk to disk copy, this will be your source drive. You can select single or dual drive. To prevent you from accidentally erasing data, the drive that Windows OS is installed will not show up in the list. As matter of fact, none of the drives that has drive letter assigned to it will show up. Only unmounted drives with no drive letter assigned will show up in this list.
Be careful not to backup a drive and restore to the same drive right back because that will wipe out your recordings. I've done that few times so the program checks for this now but it's not fool proof.
If you want to select any drive that has a drive letter assigned to it, click on "Show mounted drive" checkbox and drives will show up in the list box. But do becareful because drive that has a letter assigned to it usually is being used by windows so you might loose any data on the drive if you restore an image to it.

Backup Tivo Drive
Backup takes about 5-10 minutes. It creates a compressed and truncated backup of your Tivo drive to a file on windows hard drive. It's called truncated backup because it does't backup your recorded shows. It will just backup minimum required files to revive your Tivo drive. It takes bit longer than mfstools because I'm actually doing some processing to reduce the backup size. Let see if I can optimize this in the future. Backup will only backup bootpage, active boot, root partitions, mfs application partitions and media files required to boot up your Tivo. Notice /var and swap is not backed up. File size will be considerably smaller than mfstools standard backup and should fit nicely on a CDR so burn it and save it just in case your Tivo drive takes a dive. Typical backup file size is from 200MB to 600MB. So if your backup is way too big like 20GB, then something went wrong.

Backup Bootpage
I've included this backup option because people will starting mounting TiVo drive on Windows and overwrite Tivo bootpage with Windows MBR. So, I would use this to backup the bootpage so you can restore it if you need to. There is also bootpage fix tool but more is better I guess.

Backup Kernel
You can use this tool to backup Tivo kernel to a file. If you are into hacking, this tool will allow you to backup your kernel from Tivo drive. Byte swapping is taken care of so backup will be always non-byte swapped. If you need to apply programs like killhdinitrd, this is the tool to backup the kernel.

Restore Tivo Drive
Use this option to restore the image you created with backup. It will not restore mfstools backup file. As a matter of fact, backup format is totally different.
You will get a "hardware failure" error if you restore the backed up image and install the drive to another TiVo.

Restore Bootpage
Use this option to restore bootpage you backed up.

Restore Kernel
Use this option to restore kernel image. Kernel image has to be in uncompressed format. For Tivo, it's usually around 2MB. You can restore any Tivo kernel image not just images you backed up with Winmfs. It will take care of byte swapping if's Series 1 Tivo.

This tool shows a great deal of information regarding your TiVo drive so save this information to a file with "save to file" option and send it to me if you run into problems. (This is moved to View->Mfsinfo in Beta Build 9.3 or higher)

If your TiVo drive has room to grow, it will add capacity. If you are familiar with restore -f option in mfslive beta version, it is included in this version. If you have a single drive setup, has 15 partitions already and has room to grow, this option will perform that operation for you.

It does exactly what it says. Copy source drvies to destination drives. This option will copy everything over from source to destination including setting and recorded shows.

Use this option to divorce Tivo "B" drive. All recordings on "B" drive is lost and some recordings on "A" will be lost if it spans across "A" and "B" drives. Use built in divorce for Tivo S3. This function is not supported for Tivo HD.

If Tivo swap signature is set improperly, use this option to set it correctly. FYI, old mfstools has a bug that writes bad swap signature if swap size is greater 127. You can use this tool to fix that.

Fix Bootpage Option 1 & 2
If Tivo bootpage is damaged, use this tool to fix it. There is option 1 & 2 as there is no way of knowing which partitions are active. So you have 50/50 chance of guessing it right. Try option 1 and see if it boots up properly and has the correct software. If not try option2.

Fix Divorce S3
Current version of Tivo S3 software (8.3) has a bug and if you divorce your S3 using the built in divorce, you won't be able to use mfstools so use this tool to fix that. You won't have a problem with WinMFS.

MfsSupersize (New)
Use this tool to gain back more hours on S2 and S3 Tivo. It's new so report any problems if you encounter them. You can turn it on or off. Some Series 2 DVR with DVD, has hard drive capacity lock. This tool will unlock that. (Toshiba SD-H400, Pioneer 810H)
Tivo HD System Information screenshot w/ no MfsSupersize
Tivo HD System Information screenshot w/ MfsSupersize turned on

Tivo S3 System Information screenshot w/ no MfsSupersize
Tivo S3 System Information screenshot w/ MfsSupersize turned on

View Drive Information
Double click on the bottom status bar.

Delete Format (New)
Some brand new drive comes formatted and auto-mounts in Windows. Use this menu option to delete format on that drive so you can restore or mfscopy Tivo image. If you use this option on Windows or Dos formatted drive, it will erase MBR (Master Boot Record). If you use this option on already formattted Tivo drive, it will erase the Bootpage.

Cablecard and S3 or TivoHD
Cablecard settings should be preserved for both backup/restore and MFSCopy(disk to disk copy).

Copyright Notice
This program is copyrighted but provided free of charge. The copyright holder reserves the right to reclassify future versions of this software at anytime of his choosing. You can use this program for personal use but you may not sell it, distribute it, modify it, or use it for commercial usage. If you want to use for commercial purpose, please contact me for an arrangement. This program does not come with any warranty, use it at your own risk and if you use it improperly, you will lose data on your PC or on your TiVo drives.

(Update 7/08/08)
WinMFS Beta Build 9 is released.
This version is release mainly to address bugs in WinMFS. I"ve added cool new features to WinMFS but you will have to wait until the next release.

(Update 12/04/07)
WinMFS Beta Build 8 is released.

(Update 11/26/07)
WinMFS Beta Build 7 is released.

(Update 9/6/07)
Looks like Tivo Inc. has enabled eSATA port for Tivo HD. There is no easy or Kickstart 62 method as of yet. I will let you folk know if it's found. Meanwhile, you can add eSATA drive by using mfsadd in WinMFS.

(Update 8/26/07)
Added support for Tivo HD over 2.2TB in WinMFS Beta Build 5.
2.2TB will give you lot of hours but for some reason it's still not enough, you can expand your drive well over 2.2 TB now. This only works for Tivo HD model as Tivo Inc. changed it's file system to accommodate this. None of the other models will support drives greater than 2.2 TB. In order to do so, you will need to setup hardware RAID and need a 64 bit Windows OS to access drive over 2.2 TB.

(Update 8/20/07)
Prior to WinMFS Beta 4 release, Linux swap was not setup correctly if you used mfscopy.
To fix it, pull the drive from your Tivo and download and run the latest WinMFS.
Goto tools-> fix swap and swap will be setup correctly.
If you used backup/restore you are ok. Starting with WinMFS Beta 4, swap is setup correctly with Mfscopy.

(Update 8/7/07)
I have not heard any problems regarding Tivo HD upgrade. I've fixed some bugs and added support for Tivo S1 with 1 mfs pair. WinMFS Alpha Build 3 is released.

(Update 8/3/07)
I'm getting many reports of people passing the original 20 hr HD recording mark and having no problems.

(Update 8/2/07)
WinMFS Alpha Build 2 seem to have fixed all GSOD problems so it looks good.
One person reported having recordings more than 20 HD hours after upgrade.

(update 8/1/07)
One user reported having intermittent GSOD if backup and restore from already setup TiVo to 400GB, 750GB and 1TB but had no problem on 500GB. All I got is two 500GB drives so I can't test on those unfortunately. Let me know if you have experienced that as well. If you did, try Mfscopy (disk to disk copy) and see if problem goes away. I hope it's not our friend r value coming back to bit us. I Made some changes today and it should be more stable.

Support and Download
Support and download can be found here.

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