Amazon’s over-the-air DVR, the Fire TV Recast, launched last year with the promise that the ability to expand its storage capacity through an external hard drive would be added. A software update for the Fire TV Recast is currently rolling out to all devices that adds the new feature. Once the Fire TV Recast updates, customers will be able to store recordings beyond the 500GB and 1TB limits of the internal hard drives in the two available models.
Software update 220.127.116.11 (NS6258/1619) for the Fire TV Recast has been trickling out to devices for about a week. I didn’t write about it until now, despite several of you letting me know about the update throughout last week, because I was waiting to get it myself and for it to be available to more people. The rollout seems to have ramped up today, so most devices should have it already or get it very soon. There is no way to force the update or check for updates, so you’ll just have to be patient. To check through a Fire TV device if your Fire TV recast has received the update, check the Recast’s software version by going to: Settings > Live TV > Live TV Sources > Fire TV Recast > About this Fire TV Recast. You can also check through the Fire TV mobile app by going to: Settings > Fire TV Recast > About.
Once the Fire TV Recast receives the 18.104.22.168 software update, a new “Add External Storage” option will appear in the Recast’s settings menu on your Fire TV’s Live TV options screen. Selecting the option simply instructs you to connect an external hard drive to the Fire TV Recast’s USB port. Once you connect a drive, a message automatically appears on your Fire TV informing you that the drive will be formatted and all existing data will be erased.
Amazon currently lists 3 external hard drive models as tested and recommended for use with the Fire TV Recast. One is the WD Elements Portable drive, the other is the Toshiba Canvio Desktop drive, and the last is a Seagate Fast SSD drive. These certainly aren’t the only drives that will work. The variety of recommended drives, which include a 2.5″ drive, a 3.5″ drive, and an SSD, is a good sign that most external drives should work fine with the Fire TV Recast.
With an external hard drive connected to the Fire TV Recast, the total available storage space, which includes both the internal and external drives, will be displayed when accessing the “DVR Storage” menu option in the Fire TV’s settings area. In the image above, I’ve added a 1TB external hard drive to my 1TB Fire TV Recast. This results in 1.91 TB listed as available for recordings, since a small amount of space is used for managing the file system.
Just as was discovered with the internal drive, the Fire TV Recast formats the external hard drive using the ext4 file system. This means that you’ll need additional software to access the recording files on the drive if you connect it to a Mac or PC, since ext4 is a Linux file system. The Fire TV Recast gives you no control over where, either internal or external, a recording will be stored. It also does not indicate where a particular recording is currently stored or even how much of each drive is free. The external hard drive is simply treated as an extension of the available space and the Fire TV Recast takes care of all decisions regarding when to use internal or external storage.
From the average customer’s perspective, this is ideal, since you don’t have to keep track of which drive is full or manage where recordings are stored. However, from an power-user’s perspective who wants to pull recordings off of their Fire TV Recast for storage elsewhere, the lack of control over where a recording is stored makes it very difficult to force a recording onto the more easily accessible external drive. The only way to ensure recordings get stored on the external drive would be to fill the internal drive with recordings that are marked as protected so that they never get deleted. That way, the Fire TV Recast will have no choice but to use the external drive for all future recordings.