Easier Way To Upgrade Your Apple TV Hard Drive

UPDATE: There is now an even easier way to upgrade your apple tv without terminal called ATVcloner. It worked great for me and was a much faster process.

Note: Use a IDE 2.5” Hard drive otherwise known as a PATA hard drive

Please look at Engaget.com To view excellent instructions on taking apart your apple tv.

I tried and tried to use their method to copy the apple TV but it never worked for me. I’ve included below all the info you should need to successfully put a larger hard drive into your apple tv. I used this method with an Apple G5.

Copying the Apple TV to your computers hard drive

First you want to copy your hard drive using a usb to 2.5” IDE adapter.

Plug in the hard drive

Open Terminal

Type:diskutil list

Get the disk number of your formatted hard drive. It should be something like disk1.

(VERY IMPORTANT: I will use disk1 in the examples but please make sure you identify the correct hard drive (your drive may be called disk2, disk3 or so on) so you don’t erase the wrong hard drive.)

Type:dd if=/dev/disk1 of=./AppleTV.dmg bs=1m

This will take around 2 hours to copy the drive with a USB adapter. It does not tell you the status but will show you the info below when finished.

Type:diskutil eject disk1

Remove the old Apple TV hard drive and plug in the clean larger hard drive.

Apple TV hard drive preparation

Open Disk Utility

Click Partition

Set Volume Scheme to 1 Partition

Set Format to Mac OS Extended (Journaled)

Click the options button and choose GUID Partition Table

Click Apply

Open Terminal

Type: diskutil list

Again get the disk number of your formatted hard drive. It should be something like disk1. (VERY IMPORTANT: I will use disk1 in the examples but please make sure you identify the correct hard drive (your drive may be called disk2, disk3 or so on) so you don’t erase the wrong hard drive.

Type: gpt destroy /dev/disk1

Type: gpt create /dev/disk1

Type:diskutil list

Now hopefully you will see this:



0: GUID_partition_scheme *123.5 Gi disk1

You are finished preparing your hard drive.

Copying to the new hard drive

Copy the disk image to the new hard drive

Type:dd if=./AppleTV.dmg of=/dev/disk1 bs=1m

Again you will get a message like

The Media and OS Boot partitions will appear on your desktop

First we eject the disk, we have to do this every time we run gpt or you will get an error

Type:diskutil eject disk1

Then we remove the old Media Partition. (don’t remove the wrong one!)

Type:gpt remove -i 4 disk1

Type:diskutil eject disk1

Then find our new start and size.

Type:gpt show disk1

This will show something like this.

If you look just above the Sec GPT table we will see that the empty space starts at 3141672 and is 74998455 in size so we will use those in our next command.

Eject the disk again.

Type:diskutil eject disk1

Then create the new partition, using the info from the last step. (your info may vary)

Type:gpt add –b 3141672 –i 4 –s 74998455 –t hfs /dev/disk1

Type:diskutil eject disk1

Then type:diskutil

This should show that the media partition is a larger size now.

Put the drive back into the Apple TV. The hard drive will still show 40 gigs. Do a factory restore and you should be set. This is what worked for me. It may not be the fast way but I bet it is the simplest for most people new to terminal.

0 thoughts on “Easier Way To Upgrade Your Apple TV Hard Drive

  1. You could use compact flash just keep in mind the number of writes you can do to the CF card.
    It would require a CF to mini ATA adapter to function.
    Much easier to do ATA to ATA, then again I just did an ATA to SATA for an ATV.
    Bumped from 160GB to 1TB.

  2. It's easier to use a LogicCube echoplus and two laptop PATA adapters to standard PATA to mirror your drives.
    Attach smaller ATA drive to sourse side of LogicCube and larger destination drive to output destination side of Logic Cube and hit mirror. Within a few minutes the drives are done.
    Attach newly created drive via laptop PATA adapter to usb adapter and open iPartition and repartition drive. Mount in ATV reset and your done.
    This has got to be the cleanest and easiest way to upgrade ATV hardrives.
    You can also use this method to increase the drive capacity of any Apple including MacMini which I just increased to 1TB from 500GB.
    I can also upgrade PATA to SATA drives for ATV, just requires a laptop PATA to SATA adapter and the willingness to hack the adapter to fit in the ATV case and your able to upgrade up to 1TB easily.

  3. I recently got a new 160gb appletv and I want to try out these tricks. I would like to use a CF card instead of a hard disk. Are there any recommended cards and ide adapters for the same?

  4. Worked great on my Apple TV 2.4 box. However, I had to reset to factory defaults, then upgrade the unit back to 2.4, but it worked fine and now I have 200gb more than I had before.

  5. Success! Worked perfectly, thanks very much for this guide!! I put in a 320gb Western Digital drive, which is much quieter than the existing Fujitsu one. One thing I'd also say is that Endgaget suggested that you'd need some spray adhesive to re-seal the rubber mat – for me that wasn't required as the glue on the rubber stays tacky for some time (and I had mine off for 24hrs) so you will be ok to reapply it without additional glue.

  6. No problem :-). I think you also need to add an extra "Type: diskutil eject disk1" command before you do the "Type: gpt destroy /dev/disk1" step (otherwise you get the resource busy message). I followed this guide last night, now need to put the HDD back in the Apple TV and test it!!

  7. Good guide, will be trying this later today! I think maybe the penultimate command to eject disk is wrong though as you have "Type: diskutil eject disk2" whereas every other command should reference disk 1? Thanks!

  8. I decided to set it up a notch and use a SATA drive (1tb) with a SATA>IDE converter. I followed the steps and everything seems to be working but I cannot see to get the AppleTV to reset, thus my capacity still shows ~144gb. When I go through the steps to reset I get an error message saying it cannot be reset.

    Any thoughts?

  9. It is possible that I messed something up. But When I tried to use the disk image copied from ATV1 to write to ATV2, ATV2 booted fine, however it would not respond to the remote (the orangish light next to the ir window would blink indicating that it was receiving ir, but the remote would not do anything, even after two reboots).

    I ended up doing the complete procedure from scratch on the second ATV – I now have two 300 GB (320 drives) ATVs and they are both working flawlessly!

  10. Thanks for the instructions – worked like a charm on the first one. I did have to do an eject disk after partitioning the new drive.

    I have two Apple TVs. Can I use the disk image from the first ATV on the second, in other words, skip the first part of copying the ATV disk image to my computer on the second one. The ATVs were bought at the same time and have the same size (40 GB) hard drives.

  11. Thanks for the great instructions. I upgraded from the 40GB to a WD 250GB. Where people are having trouble with the "gpt destroy /dev/disk1" command, they need to "diskutil eject disk" first. I don't know if it got remounted or what, but that fixed the error for me.

  12. I used these instructions and they were great. I also ran into the problem during the "gpt destroy" phase where it didn't recognize it. To get around it, I used the following command:

    gpt remove -i 4 disk1

    The number "4" refers to the partition that's created during the format. I had two extra partitions, a "3" and a "4". I deleted both and then my new HD was at the standpoint in the instructions where DIYer says that's its all prepared. Then everything as he suggests after that. Worked for me.

  13. Hi Juan,

    I am stock with the same message:
    gpt destroy: unable to open device ‘/dev/disk1′: No such file or directory
    . Can you help me understand how you copied the 3 partitions and restored the OSBoot.dmg to a 900MB partition?

    A step by step review of what you did would be highly appreciated! Thanks in advance!

    Any comments on the way to solve this issue with a terminal are very welcome too!

  14. OK forget my last comment. I figured it out using the Disk Utility without the terminal. I just copied the 3 partitions of the stock 40 GB drive, then restored the OSBoot.dmg to a 900 MB partition and it worked great. Shame it didn't work for me via the terminal but oh well. It's done and now I have 228 GB to grow into…

  15. Thanks for the great tutorial but I'm stuck with a problem at the point during the new drive preparation where I'm using the command gpt destroy /dev/disk1

    disk1 is the correct disk in this case and it seems to be partitioned correctly using the disk utility window but when I enter the destroy command, it says:
    gpt destroy: unable to open device '/dev/disk1': No such file or directory. I'm stuck at this point, can anyone offer any suggestions? Thanks in advance.

  16. Thank you for this great tutorial. Alo I was struggeling for hours with different tutorials, but yours did the trick!!

    I upgraded my atv from 40gb to 250gb.

    Regards from Holland.

  17. I didn't find any 250G IDE 2.5 HDD in Amazon. What I did find were SATA drivers. Will a SATA drive work? Or it has to be IDE?


  18. i've successfully upgraded to 2.1 (the version that allows you to use airtunes with your iPhone/Ipod Touch as a 'sonos type' remote with the apple TV) and it works perfectly – Also the Finder Crashing bug with version 1.0 is now fixed and doesn't affect new installs of v1.0


  19. Has anyone tried this with a version 2.0 AppleTV? I tried repeatdely using DD to create an image file and it failed after OSBoot trying to copy the hidden parition. I ended up copying the entire drive using CopyCatX and then iPartition to resize the media partition. Luckily I already owned both pieces of software.

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