Using a TiVo without Monthly or Lifetime Service

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This sections discusses what you can do if you have a TiVo without a subscription.

AKA: unsubbed unit / unsubbed TiVo.

Live TV

A TiVo without a subscription will continue to maintain it's functionality with Live TV, e.g., pause, fast-forward, rewind, and slow-mo.[[1]]

Manual Recording

Manual Recording allows the user to set the time, date, and channel for recordings, just like a VCR. Most TiVos require a subscription to the TiVo service for manual recording. There are, however, a few exceptions.

Series 1 Units

Most Series 1 TiVos can function as a Manual Recorder without a subscription to the TiVo Service.

  • Series 1 TiVos that originally had Software Version 1.3 or below installed when initially purchased have Manual Recording capability. Most Series1 units fall into this category.[[2]]

Series 2+ Stand Alone Units

Stand Alone Series 2, 3 & TiVoHDs cannot function as a Manual Recorder. Discussing how to use manual recording on these unsubbed units is considered theft of service, and is prohibited.

For Stand Alone Series 2 TiVos, there is a theory that they will continue to manually record by time and date as long as they never connects to the TiVo service after the cancellation of the subscription; the current time/date will be maintained exclusively by the internal real time clock in that case. This has not been confirmed.

Series 2 DirecTiVos

Series 2 DirecTiVos cannot function without a subscription to DirecTV with the DVR service. These units can only function with the DirecTV service, they cannot work as standalone units with your local cable company.

Recording Shows through the Guide

All TiVos require a subscription in order to use automatic recording of shows with the Guide, Wishlists & the ToDo List.

Watching Previously Recorded Programs without a Subscription

All TiVos can play back previously-recorded shows that are already stored on the internal hard drive without a subscription to the TiVo service.

Multi-Room Viewing

Stand Alone Units

All Stand Alone Tivos that have Multi-Room Viewing capability require a subscription to use the MRV feature on them. Attempting to activate this feature on an unsubbed unit is considered theft of service.

Series 2 DirecTiVos

If enabled and setup, hacked DirecTivos with the 6.2/6.2a software can record new shows via the MRV function.


  • This is only capable if you have multiple DirecTiVos.
  • Unsubbed units cannot view or record “Live TV,” only prerecorded shows from other DirecTiVos.
  • The reason this is not considered theft on an unsubbed DirecTiVo is the MRV feature is not enabled on unmodified/stock units.
  • Due to the questionable status of using MRV on DirecTiVos in this manner, talk of this is frowned upon on &

Legal Status of using unsubbed units

Although it is legal to use unsubbed TiVo's to watch pre-recorded shows, and in the other circumstances explained above, stealing the guide data is not.

Theft of service is a topic that is not allowed and will not be tolerated on, &

Tivo's Answer

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