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Sharing TiVo with Family or Roommates

Like a new carton of ice cream, TiVo instantly becomes a coveted item in any household. And just as the ice cream mysteriously disappears, spoonful by spoonful, TiVo's storage space vanishes — especially when family members or roommates don't share similar viewing interests.

Sharing TiVo with a roommate

A roommate with a TiVo requires special treatment. To keep that roommate for as long as possible, immediately offer to pay TiVo's monthly fee, or offer to discount that amount on the rent. After all, she has made quite an investment in bringing TiVo to the household. (If you're paying the monthly fee, she won't be allowed to keep TiVo in her room, hogging it for herself.)

Some landlords, especially in larger cities, toss in a TiVo as part of the rental package. When sharing a landlord's TiVo, try to schedule shows when your roommate's around so nobody can be considered a space hog. Barter chores to settle the order of shows in Season Pass lineups.

If you want to record a show that repeats fairly often, place it lower on the Season Pass list than shows that don't repeat. That lets TiVo grab the shows that don't repeat and then fill in its recording schedule with the shows that do repeat. (You can tell if a show repeats a lot by eyeballing TiVo's "View Upcoming Shows" menu option when choosing to record a show.)

Also, keep an eye on TiVo's To Do list to make sure a roommate's autorecording WishList isn't catching any marathons sure to fill up your TiVo with South Park episodes.

Finally, if one of your recorded shows mysteriously disappears, a visit to TiVo's View Recording History option shows the time and date that somebody deleted it — or whether TiVo simply deleted it to make room for incoming shows. It's a good way to avoid arguments.

  • You may be tempted to add a second hard drive to a roommate's TiVo to double its storage. Although this seems logical, the drive can't be removed after installation. TiVo's original and second drive "merge." If you move out, you can't simply remove your second drive and take it with you unless you know advanced Linux computing techniques.
  • TiVo's Home Media Option (HMO) lets you transfer shows between two TiVos, which sounds nice when you and your roommate have TiVos in separate rooms. In reality, this isn't so nice: You can transfer shows only between TiVos registered under your own name. You can't move them between TiVos with different owners.
  • When several people in the household record their own shows on TiVo, TiVo's Suggestions become a mishmash that rarely appeals to everybody. Leave them turned on, however, simply as a gauge of available free space.

Saving space when recording long shows

In families or households, TiVo recording space often carries a premium. This trick keeps a particularly long show from hogging TiVo's hard drive.

When recording programs that last several hours — sporting events, long movies, awards shows, and others — don't record the entire show with a single scheduled recording. Instead, use TiVo's manual recording option, and record the show's timeslot in several successive one-block chunks.

For instance, if you want to record the five-hour Gone With The Wind, which runs from 5 p.m. to 10 p.m., set up five one-hour manual recordings for the time and channel running the movie. Schedule the first block to record from 5 p.m. to 6 p.m. The second should record from 6 p.m. to 7 p.m. Keep going until you've set up five one hour blocks that cover the movie's air time.

Then, when you're finished watching the movie's first hour, delete the first one-hour block. Repeat with the rest of the blocks until you've finished the entire show.

When you record and delete the program in successive one-hour chunks, TiVo won't hog the entire five-hour chunk of space during the days it takes you to watch the entire movie.

Buy a second remote

When more than one person uses a TiVo, the remote often ends up in some pretty strange places. If you're having trouble locating where the last person left the remote, feel free to buy a second one and hide it in a special spot for your own use.

Setting parental controls appropriately

TiVo's Parental Controls can "lock out" adult programming and other channels you don't want your children or visitors to watch. If you think you might need them, remember to turn them on before it's too late.

But even if you don't subscribe to adult programming, Parental Controls can be useful for keeping the kids from wasting time in front of the TV set. Simply lock out every channel except for educational channels. (If it simply drives the kids over to their friends' houses, change it back. At least you tried.)

Even if you don't use Parental Controls at all, be sure to set a password anyway and allow access to all your channels. That keeps a sneaky kid, prankster, or fumbling visitor from setting their own password, effectively locking you out of your TiVo. (If they do, call TiVo's Customer Support, explain the situation, and convince them that you're the TiVo's real owner. DirecTV TiVo owners facing that situation need to grovel before DirecTV, not TiVo.)

Hiding the remote from children and guests

Because TiVo's always turned on, it never stops listening to the remote. Hide the remote from young children, animals, and guests, or they may play with the remote. A few haphazard key presses usually won't delete shows, but they could change TiVo's settings or assign random Thumbs ratings to shows.

Be sure to set your own password in the Parental Controls area — even if you don't intend to use that feature. That keeps somebody from accidentally setting a password, thereby locking you out of your TiVo.

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