Explorer 8000 or 8300 Hard Drive upgrade - AVS Forum
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post #1 of 221 Old 12-16-2004, 05:33 AM - Thread Starter
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Hey all,

I'm a long time upgraded Tivo user looking to switch to an 8000HD for HD recording reasons (since Tivo has no plans to make a standalone HD DVR).

I have read that a couple of people have upgraded their drive. Well, let me correct that, they HAD their drives upgraded by the cable company. I don't consider this hacking by any stretch. It it my understanding that the drives are split into two partitions. One holds the OS, another is a funky file system possibly encrypted. Now I know the Tivo had two specific limits: could not accept a single drive larger than 130MB, and you had to "bless" the new free space for use.

I'd like to get one of these 8000 boxes. Of course you can't expect to slap a blank HDD into the unit and expect it to work. I would like to image the original drive, then transfer that onto say, a 250GB HDD. Has anyone tried this? Not being sure if the 8000 has similar limitations as the Tivo, this may or may not work. Also, this should maintain the supposed key protection system they have between the BIOS and the HDD.

Everyone seems to focus on getting the data off of the drive. I don't really care about that, nor am I trying to get free cable. I simply want more space. 80GB / 10 hours of HD programming is simply ridiculous. One Sunday of football will eat all of that. The 160GB model is thankfully available in my area. Still, drives are so cheap, it would be worth it to put a 250GB drive in. Please share your experiences if you've tried any experimenting. Thanks!
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post #2 of 221 Old 12-28-2004, 03:13 PM
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Tat
I would like to keep this post alive. I am interested in putting a larger HDD in an 8300.

Has anyone out there tried PowerQuest - Ghost? I understand the new versions handle non pc file systems.

Any cable guys out there want to tell us how they put a larger drive in their box?
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post #3 of 221 Old 12-30-2004, 11:29 AM
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As I understand it, the hard drive contains one 1 gig section for SA propriatary software, one 1 gig section set aside for "future use" and the rest is for recording and life buffering. I have seen the inside of the 8000's and 8300's and the chances that a TW tech could change out the original hard drive for a larger capacity one are pretty slim. Plus, I can't imagine the TW tech people wanting to assume that kind of liability! If they got it wrong they would likely have a hard time getting SA to replace the box under warranty, and would have to eat the cost of a useless box.

Your best would be to get the 8300 with it's SATA port and add in your own SATA compliant drive. Since the internal drive is a Maxtor, I would have to assume that their brand of external would work. I *think* that you can even daisy-chain 2 external drives, not just one.
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post #4 of 221 Old 01-02-2005, 04:42 PM
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Thanks - If I can connect another SATA drive to the 8300 I would be a happy man. Any idea on where I can find out a little more about connecting an external SATA drive?
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post #5 of 221 Old 01-03-2005, 05:33 AM
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Well, from what I can tell you can't choose which drive to record to...it will go to the drive with the most capacity at that time. If there is insufficiant room, the recording will NOT be split. All recordings put on your SATA drive can only be played back on the same DVR...you can't record from one and watch on another.

It seems that when you plug in the SATA drive, the next time you turn the DVR on you will recieve a set of banner instructions telling you how to properly format the new drivve to work with your DVR. I guess it is pretty straight forward.

I have only seen this done once and was not there for the begining of the procedure, so I don't have much more info.


*I just had the chance to look at the back of the Maxtor external SATA drive and it does not look like you can daisy-chain them together after all*
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post #6 of 221 Old 01-04-2005, 11:00 PM
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Thanks much.
I found an inexpensive SATA enclosure (pricewatch)
I have a SATA drive on hand.
I will give it a shot.
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post #7 of 221 Old 01-07-2005, 02:16 PM
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I have the older SA 8000, non HD unit, and it doesn't have any SATA connections that i can see but does have 2 1394 pots.
I wonder if I plugged in a 1394 external HD if it would also recognize and ask to format it?

I would definitely try it if i had a 1394 external enclosure, unfortunately I only have USB2. But if i knew this would work, I'd buy one.

Anyone tried this?

Thanks,
AnthonyNYC
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post #8 of 221 Old 01-09-2005, 04:00 PM
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Quote:


Originally posted by AnthonyNYC
I have the older SA 8000, non HD unit, and it doesn't have any SATA connections that i can see but does have 2 1394 pots.
I wonder if I plugged in a 1394 external HD if it would also recognize and ask to format it?

I would definitely try it if i had a 1394 external enclosure, unfortunately I only have USB2. But if i knew this would work, I'd buy one.

Anyone tried this?

Thanks,
AnthonyNYC

I tried it on mine, and nogo.
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post #9 of 221 Old 01-10-2005, 05:07 AM
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Quote:


Originally posted by AnthonyNYC
I wonder if I plugged in a 1394 external HD if it would also recognize and ask to format it?


The 1394 ports were never activated on the 8000 series.
AFAIK only the 3250HD had these ports turned on.
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post #10 of 221 Old 01-11-2005, 03:49 PM
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so.. anyone actually get the SATA port to work? i must be on crack. i bought an external SATA drive today and the connector does NOT fit into the back of my SA 8300? if anyone has any tips, i'm more than interested.
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post #11 of 221 Old 01-13-2005, 07:17 PM
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I hear from CES it is an "external" connector on the SA box. Same number of pins as a typical SATA wire, but special made for external devices.
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post #12 of 221 Old 01-13-2005, 08:31 PM
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So... has anyone gotten the 8000HD to expand its storage? If the 1394 port is disabled, what about an external USB hard drive?

220,221 whatever it takes...
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post #13 of 221 Old 01-28-2005, 06:13 PM
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I too am a long time TiVo user with a 120-gig hard drive that I upgraded a couple years ago.

I just cancelled an order with Albuquerque Comcast for the SA8000HD DVR when I could no longer stand the thought of a measly 6-15 hours of HD (everyone I asked had a different answer as to how much HD the thing can hold...and NO ONE knew the size of the hard drive).

This small hard drive along with the many bad reviews I've read about the SA software (much less user friendly than TiVo which my wife LOVES) has given me pause in making the "upgrade" to the SA8000HD.

Most if not all of those reviews I read were from several months ago...has the SA software been upgraded to where the average TiVo user will be satisfied with it?

Given that it HAS got better...

How to upgrade the hard drive in the 8000/8300.?

There are several problems:

1) It seems like Comcast issues the 8000HD in some markets and the 8300HD in others.

2) It's ONLY the 8300HD (correct?) that can accept the EX-ternal hard drive options.

3) If Albuquerque Comcast does not offer an 8300HD, and if I buy one on eBay or wherever, will it work with my local Comcast?

4) Someone has said that we users can NOT open the box on the 8000HD/8300HD and put a bigger hard drive in there? Is that right? It's just too messy in there? Of course there would also be the formatting issue to deal with.

5) Has anyone seen the Maxtor "QuickView Expander" external hard drives on the market anywhere? Or will these be available ONLY thru Comcast?

It shouldn't be this hard to upgrade that darn hard drive.

Maxtor QuickView
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post #14 of 221 Old 01-28-2005, 07:01 PM
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My 8300 has not gotten better. It's only passable at best. I kept my directivo which I use most of the time and am paying to keep the 8300 as well just to have some HD dvr capability. I can cancel it at any time and may upgrade to the HD Tivo but there are issues with the long term viability of that now... so HD dvr life is just kinda rough these days. With both directivo and the 8300, I am getting by for the time being.
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post #15 of 221 Old 01-28-2005, 07:32 PM
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I think if you try to upgrade the hard drive yourself, the cable company will get mad. They lease them, not sell them. I don't think you can buy them from anywhere else. But I guess that's between you and your cable company.

From CES, I remember that the Maxtor external Quickview drive was sort of plug and play. So you don't have to replace the internal one. Haven't seen them in any store yet, at least with the SATA connection. Just USB and 1394.
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post #16 of 221 Old 01-29-2005, 08:04 AM
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Quote:


Originally posted by wsalopek
I too am a long time TiVo user with a 120-gig hard drive that I upgraded a couple years ago.

I just cancelled an order with Albuquerque Comcast for the SA8000HD DVR when I could no longer stand the thought of a measly 6-15 hours of HD (everyone I asked had a different answer as to how much HD the thing can hold...and NO ONE knew the size of the hard drive).

This small hard drive along with the many bad reviews I've read about the SA software (much less user friendly than TiVo which my wife LOVES) has given me pause in making the "upgrade" to the SA8000HD.

Most if not all of those reviews I read were from several months ago...has the SA software been upgraded to where the average TiVo user will be satisfied with it?

Given that it HAS got better...

How to upgrade the hard drive in the 8000/8300.?

There are several problems:

1) It seems like Comcast issues the 8000HD in some markets and the 8300HD in others.

2) It's ONLY the 8300HD (correct?) that can accept the EX-ternal hard drive options.

3) If Albuquerque Comcast does not offer an 8300HD, and if I buy one on eBay or wherever, will it work with my local Comcast?

4) Someone has said that we users can NOT open the box on the 8000HD/8300HD and put a bigger hard drive in there? Is that right? It's just too messy in there? Of course there would also be the formatting issue to deal with.

5) Has anyone seen the Maxtor "QuickView Expander" external hard drives on the market anywhere? Or will these be available ONLY thru Comcast?

It shouldn't be this hard to upgrade that darn hard drive.

Maxtor QuickView

The average Tivo user will never be satisfied with the SA8000/SA8000HD. Tivo users bash the SA8000 constantly and rarely ever have anything good to say about it. They expect too much out of it and are disappointed when they see that it is indeed not as user-friendly as Tivo. I'm sure if Scientific Atlanta wanted it to be as good as Tivo they certainly could have done so, but apparently they chose their own path. The Pioneer Passport interface is better than the SARA interface, so the amount of complaints depends on the software. Also, complaints from SA8000 owners have decreased in the past year and a half as subsequent software upgrades do tend to make things better so there is hope for the future that it will be more Tivo-like. The new version of Passport now appearing has extended search funtionality so things are getting better.

Alternately, as a former longtime 3-VCR time-shifter i am completely satisfied with my SA8000 (and my SA8000HD) and it's performance. It does exactly what it was designed to do and is much much easier and quicker than using VCRs. Still not as good as Tivo but for me it doesn't need to be.

Oh, and i've gotten a little over 20 hours of HD on my SA8000HD and still had disk space to spare on it's 150.6 GB hard drive.

1) True.

2) True.

3) If you buy one on EBay it will not work, period. AFAIK they're only owned and distributed by cable companies and are not available for private sale anywhere in the USA so if someone is selling one, it's stolen or abandoned and they have no right to sell it. Only a DVR supplied by your own cable company will work with your system. Mine doesn't work if i hook it up at my friend's house in the next town, and we both have the same cable company (but his home TWC office is 10 miles from mine). Many people buy one on EBay then come to AVSForum or the Explorer_8000 mailing list crying cause it won't work with their cable service. I follow this closely and so far nobody has gotten one to work yet because it's impossible. Some seek the advice of the forum or mailing list before bidding and we're able to steeer them away before they waste $100 to $500 (prices people have paid!!). Right now there are about a dozen SA DVRs on EBay, none of which will work for the eventual "winner". Pity.

4) I got a letter with my HD DVR stating that opening or tampering with the DVR is prohibited and doing so will incur a charge ($749 for HD DVR, $589 for DVR). I asked the cable guy that installed my SA8000HD about this and he said yes, if they determine that a turned-in box has been opened they will charge you, and will also make you sign an agreement and leave a large deposit before they'll rent you another cable box of any sort if you remain a customer or try to re-activate service. He seemed very knowldegeable so i have no reason to doubt him.

There are two guys on the Explorer_8000 mailing list who said they have successfully installed a larger hard drive and that it worked and they now have double the disk space, and discussed how they did it. Both units were SARA. Others have tried the same thing with their Passport DVRs but it did not work. I think one guy was in Canada where some cable affiliates let you buy the DVR from them instead of renting.

5) From what i remember reading they're supposed to be rented out by your cable company for a fee.

Randy
TC-P55ST60, TC-P50GT50, TC-P46G10, TH-42PZ700U, TH-42PX50U, HP LC2600N, TiVo Series3, TWC Cisco 8742HDC DVR, Onkyo TX-SR333, URC R40 Remote.
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post #17 of 221 Old 02-03-2005, 01:38 PM
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You can find out more hard info on these HD-DVR's in the HDTV Recorders Forum where they are extensively discussed. Because they're owned by your cable company, you'd be wise not to fool around with their "innerds". (You break it, you buy it.) But to address the original poster's question:

TimeWarner Cable intends the 8300 to be upgradeable with external hard drives via 1394 connection, not SATA as one might expect. Perhaps the reason for this is that multiple drives can then be daisy-chained using one firewire port. They will be integrated seamlessly into the guide, with programming on different drives showing up in different colors. Sounds bloody terrific, but I have no info on when they will implement this. BTW, my TWC here in Charlotte is running Passport on their DVR's & STB's.
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post #18 of 221 Old 02-03-2005, 06:20 PM
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I hear the SATA port is actually better (technically) than firewire. While it is not as widely available on most devices, it is supposedly 3 times faster than firewire. If they just make it compatible with PC it will probably have more features than firewire.
-Lane
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post #19 of 221 Old 02-04-2005, 04:51 AM
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Quote:
Originally posted by archiguy

TimeWarner Cable intends the 8300 to be upgradeable with external hard drives via 1394 connection, not SATA as one might expect.

Of the many 8300's I have seen, none of them have 1394 ports, SATA only.
Perhaps it is a regional thing, or the newest revisions might have them, but I couldn't find any reference to 8300's with 1394 on the SA website either.
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post #20 of 221 Old 02-04-2005, 06:57 AM - Thread Starter
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Hello all,

Finally got my 8300HD set up with my new HD TV. Works great. There are very clear instructions on how to hook up a SATA drive with the 8300, as well as a list of approved drives. If you have questions, I highly suggest snagging these manuals from the Scientific Atlanta website (you have to register for the Explorer Club to get to them, but it's free). Good point regarding opening the case- even if you only open it for curiosity they will assume you tried to steal cable and probably charge you. Anyway, with the SATA capability I think my problems are solved. I'll check out enclosures and give it a test when I can. So far I'm actually pleased with the 8300, but I'll post those 8300/Tivo comparison details in a different thread. Thanks all for the input! Go Patriots!
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post #21 of 221 Old 02-04-2005, 01:21 PM
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Quote:


Originally posted by acmeshrhldr
Of the many 8300's I have seen, none of them have 1394 ports, SATA only.
Perhaps it is a regional thing, or the newest revisions might have them, but I couldn't find any reference to 8300's with 1394 on the SA website either.

They're customizable according to the particular needs of each cable company; ours have 2 firewire ports in addition to the SATA port.

The more I think about it, and now that I've seen specs on the new Maxtor expansion drives, I think my TWC contact was mistaken about firewire connecting these devices - they are likely to use SATA. More info, as I mentioned above, in the TWC 8000/8300 w/passport thread in the HDTV Recorders forum.
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post #22 of 221 Old 02-04-2005, 02:12 PM
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Where exactly did you find a list of the hard drives that can work with the 8300? I have looked a little on the sci-atl site, but did not see it. I did call my cable company and they know nothing of the expansion capability (and actually as usual were pretty clueless (was Brighthouse, but I have gotten similar answers from comcast). the guy insisted that the HD takes up no more room on the hard drive than SD and that you get 40 or 50 hours of it. Also insisted that I might as well just copy it to VHS, since the picture and sound of the SD stations are fully recorded (insisting that VHS recorded the full 5.1 channel sound as well.) He was the technical support guy.

Anyhow, if someone could just share where this hard drive compatability is and if anybody has actually gotten any of them to work?
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post #23 of 221 Old 02-04-2005, 05:12 PM
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I just downloaded the 8300 users guide from the scientific atlanta site, and it seems to talk all about the hard drives, but still says to check with your cable company to find out which hard drives are compatable.

Also, the instructions for changed the "time saved" of a movie on the 8300 seems to only work if you have more than one movie saved.....or if you have not already started watching your movie. If, on the other hand, you have started to watch the movie......selecting the movie plays it again, rather than allowing you to bring up any preferences.
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post #24 of 221 Old 02-04-2005, 07:14 PM
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Probably old news, but I found this link on maxtor SATA drives at Time Warner sites. It doesn't say where you can buy them.

http://www.shareholder.com/maxtor/Re..._section=press
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post #25 of 221 Old 02-04-2005, 07:46 PM
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hmmm........sounds to me as if they intend to mainly sell them to the cable providers. I guess that way brighthouse/comcast/time warner, can "rent" them to you by the month.
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post #26 of 221 Old 02-07-2005, 12:13 AM
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Just got my SA 8300 from Brighthouse. I've never owned a PVR before, but find this unit easy to operate. Interesting to read about a possible HD expansion for the 8300. So far, I'm pretty satisfied w/the performance, and don't know how I got along without it for so many years!!
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post #27 of 221 Old 02-07-2005, 04:27 PM - Thread Starter
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Cajieboy, if you think the 8300 is easy, you should see Tivo. It's so easy my parents could use it.

Anyway, apologies- I thought page 5 of this doc contained part #'s to HDD's not Explorer models. I read it too quickly.

http://www.sciatl.com/customers/Source/7004920.pdf

Doing some research now. I think from looking at the back of the back of the unit, this will plug right in:

http://www.newegg.com/app/ViewProduc...124-007&depa=0
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post #28 of 221 Old 02-07-2005, 07:18 PM
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For some reason, my wife likes the 8000HD more than the Tivo. Not sure why, but Tivo is way superior. (Maybe the fact that Tivo only tunes in the analog channels and my 8000HD gets all the digital tier....be she says it's more than that.)

I have 160 gigs (all my cable co's dvrs do) and that holds a good 25 hours of HD.

My local tech for TWC says that they will rent external SATA drives for the 8300 but that people (like us who are smart) can likely hook up their own. The data is encrypted on the HD, so he says there will be no extraction and you couldn't connect the SATA drive to a different 8300 (lets say yours breaks and you get a new one) cause the thing is keyed to the 8300 which you record it on.

My cable co is only using the 8300HD for multiroom DVr where other 3250s and such in the house can pull the shows off.
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post #29 of 221 Old 02-07-2005, 09:08 PM
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Quote:
Originally posted by tattooedbones
Cajieboy, if you think the 8300 is easy, you should see Tivo. It's so easy my parents could use it.

Anyway, apologies- I thought page 5 of this doc contained part #'s to HDD's not Explorer models. I read it too quickly.

http://www.sciatl.com/customers/Source/7004920.pdf

Doing some research now. I think from looking at the back of the back of the unit, this will plug right in:

http://www.newegg.com/app/ViewProduc...124-007&depa=0

Thanks for the links. Interesting read. I know one DVR perk that the 8300 does not have & wish they did, and it's the 30 sec. advance button I once saw used on a Replay PVR at my sister's home. Really nice to be able to skip through those damn pesky commercials.

I haven't been recording that much HDTV due to the limited space on the hard drive. Fortunately, Brighthouse Cable has given me extremely good SD, which at times is near DVD quality. I'm going out of town for a few weeks on Wed. so I've been loading up the Gizmo w/all sorts of TV Series, Documentaries, HBO, etc. Hell,due to limited viewing hours in a given week, I probably will have to cancel my Blockbuster membership after it's all said & done!
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post #30 of 221 Old 02-08-2005, 04:10 AM - Thread Starter
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Good info Thinker. Once my tax return arrives I may give this SATA thing a shot. I know reading in another thread that the 8000/8300 uses similar protection to the Xbox. An encryption key is shared between the bios (or some part of the motherboard) and the HDD. I guess when you add another HDD it will copy this key to the 2nd HDD. This is why you can't take the drive out and copy the info from it. I'm not wanting to copy anything, I just want to expand space.
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