Installing a new HDD on ATV1. Old HDD!

I have spent today reading through dozens and dozens of websites, wikis and forums trying to find a simple solution to the above problem. 

The issue is that after 4 years my Apple TV 1st generation unit has died. To be fair, it’s just the HDD that’s blown, so I thought I could just find another IDE drive, slip in into the case and power up, not thinking about the weird partitioning system employed on this device etc. 

So, having read up on the way Apple created the ATV1, I then thought it might be pretty easy to use the recovery partition provided by XBMC / Boxee, using atvusbcreator. The application runs, downloads the OS and then fails to apply it to ANY of the USB sticks I have kicking around. I’ve tried half a dozen 1Gb and 2Gb sticks, even some regarded as perfect for the job in a “tried and tested list of drives” I found via XBMC / Boxee sites. 

Therefore I have ordered a spare AppleTV HDD on eBay at the cost of £30.00, which is all very well and good, but I would like to know for future reference whether there are any straightforward and easy ways to replace the internal HDD without a degree in computational mathematics or NASA grade science knowledge? 

As ever, keep it simple…for me, not anyone else! 

Thanks in advance! 

You ever get this working? My ATV1’s hdd died last night and I want to fix it, but all the instructions online require a lot of Linux or sox know how.

Basically, can I stick a new hdd in and boot to my ATVFlash thumb drive and have it do its thing? Or do I have to prepare the hdd first?

Not trying to hijack your thread, but you’re in a somewhat similar situation.

I did mine by replacing the drive and loading openelec. its found here :

after i did that i restored following the link on the bottom of that same page and did a factory restore. Once that was done i ran atvFlash again and restored xbmc from a backup.


Although not directly relevant to this particular post, if your old HD is still ok and you have an external IDE/USB interface, the program ATVCloner makes light work of partitioning and setting up a new HD.


There are a couple of different versions of ATVCloner depending on yr Mac’s operating system.  More details here, incl download links.



Thanks for the link - I had tried to find ATVCloner - but the site was down and I could never find a link for it.

I ordered a new drive (pre-imaged) off ebay, but that didn’t work. 

Not sure if it was the drive or the ATV that had gone bad.  I tried the drive off a working ATV on the bad ATV and it didn’t work.  I tried the bad ATV’s drive on a working ATV and it didn’t work.  I tried hooking the bad drive to OSX and Ubuntu and it wasn’t happy.

Maybe I can find an old laptop IDE drive and try fresh.

Just did it twice more with a couple of spare hdd i had kicking around. I used the openelec installer and selected the apple OS  and internal drive. I rebooted the atv with the usb installed and it did an atv restore to v2 then i updated it to 3.0.2 and then atv flash. It was really easy, i did it twice and also added the crystal HD 70015 card and replaced the cmos battery in the atv. Just wanted to try a ssd drive and have a spare drive in case of hdd failure.