Prepare a Hard Drive

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These instructions will guide you through the preparation of a new hard disk to replace the factory disk in the Apple TV. When complete, the newly prepared disk will be identical to a factory disk but with a larger Media 5A8 partition. Please refer to other articles for other hacks.

Remark: There are several methods to add a new (larger) hard disk around. Some users found the method described here (doing a factory restore in the end) the only one of the command line based methods to work with large drives (larger than approx. 80 GB). You find out that you have a problem with other methods at the moment when formatting a partition takes longer than minutes ;-)

The Apple TV factory disk consists of four partitions:

  1. EFI
  2. Recovery
  3. OSBoot
  4. Media

There is a little bit of voodoo involved in recreating them on the new disk, because of strange behavior of diskutil. The OSBoot and Media partitions must be created and formatted before the EFI and Recovery partitions are on the disk. Otherwise, diskutil gets confused and does some strange things to the partition table. This method should take less than 10 minutes to complete, because only the EFI and Recovery partition are duplicated from the factory disk. The OSBBoot partition and Media get initialized by the Apple TV Factory Restore procedure.

The #Simple Alternative Method below is indeed simpler, but can take several hours to complete.


The instructions have only been tested on an Intel-based Macintosh under Mac OS X. They could work on a PowerPC-based machine, with OS X 10.4.6 or higher where "gpt," the GUID Partition Table tools can be found 5A8 . Other BSD-like operating systems might also be used, but the ingredients will have to be suitably modified. This article assumes that you have successfully removed the factory disk from the Apple TV and that you have the necessary hardware, e.g. a 2.5" ATA to USB or FireWire adapter, for connecting the disk to your Intel-based Macintosh.

We will assume that when the disk is connected to your computer, it is associated with device node: /dev/disk2. Remeber to replace /dev/disk2 with the appropariate device node!

While executing the gpt commands below, OS X may try to mount the volumes on the disk. You can safely click "Ignore" if Finder complains to you about an uninitialized disk. If it is able to mount the volume, make sure to eject it before continuing, otherwise gpt will not be able to access the disk.

Compatible Drives

The orginal Apple TV drive is a [