How to Recover Data from Apple TV

by tomek on March 17, 2010

You are trying to boost your pc performance in some less conventional way and then, suddenly, there is only gray smoke what have left from your 1 TB heard drive and your enormous movie collection? Your ‘puppy’ buried your brand new tiny netbook in the garden and you will never find out where? Lost your music and last holidays’ photos? You’re crashed but you recall you had copied it to your Apple TV some time before. Yes, coping files to the Apple TV is making a backup without knowing it. The only question now is how to get it back. Here is what you have to do to recover your priceless media files from your atv.

1. Enable SSH on your Apple TV

here is how to do it: Enable SSH & AFP on your Apple TV

2. Execute the following command:

$> scp -1 -r frontrow@<APPLETV_IP>:/mnt/Media/<media_to_recover>/ /<Destination_local_machine>


$> scp -1 -r [email protected]:/mnt/Media/Photos/ /tmp/

In this case all the photos stored in Apple TV will be copied to the local directory /tmp/

That’s all. Yes, it’s that simple.

In case you want to recover all the data without specifying any subdirectory use the following command:

$> scp -1 -r [email protected]:/mnt/Media/ /myAppleTVfullbackup/


  • It will work on Mac, Linux as well as on Windows with openSSH
  • To enable SSH you have to have your Apple TV already hacked
  • The structure of directories and file names on Apple TV is the same like the one used in iPods

Enjoy and good luck!

  • Dead link on the image

  • dawgboy

    Wow, brilliant.. every time I've looked for this info in the past, it always pointed to needing something like atvflash or an otherwise “hacked” appleTV. But here you are saying this works with a factory non-hacked AppleTV (with latest version of software which I believe is 3.x)?

  • dawgboy

    Well, scratch that… if I am correct, the article above is a little misleading. It seems to state that with AppleTV 2.2 or later software there is no need to “enable ssh on the apple tv”. It would still seem that one must either crack open the appletv, pull the drive and connect it directly to your Mac OR install one of the usb-stick hacks (like atvflash). Is this correct?

    I tried doing a simple “ls” via ssh and got a “connection refused”reply.

  • editor

    @dawgboy, you’re right, it could be a bit confusing. You have to have SSH already enabled and, to do this, you have to hack atv first.

  • dawgboy

    Okay thanks for editing the article and removing the part about “skipping” enabling ssh.

  • Augie

    i need help!!!! i lost 5000 photos off my pc (windows 7) and need to retrieve photos out of my apple tv. I can not take the chance of losing valuable photos. can someone in orange county, calif. area do this for me $$? thank you!

  • Ale

    Hi! Is there a way to reconstruct the music DB organization (by artist, album…), having the recovered content of “Media” partition?

  • andym801

    My appleTV is running the latest software; is there any way to enable SSH through a patchstick? Or does it require opening the unit and installing a new hard drive.

  • tkowintermute

    Lost my laptop and backup hard drive in one bad night, but still have the photos on ATV.
    I've hacked my ATV before, then updated to 3.0.2.

    So, currently, my legit 3.0.2 ATV is about to get a visit by Mr. Patchstick, but I have this nagging feeling the ATV will wipe all content during patching. Normally solved by a quick sync with iTunes, but…..this would defeat what I'm trying to do.

    Anyone in the same boat as me? Ideas?

  • Sdgf

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  • Awa655

    Yeah I got a connection refused as well. Any ideas?

  • Tschudy
  • Paguy2286

    Worked great. Although when I import photos back to iPhoto, is there any way to get it to use the photo library so it will restore the original albums/directory structure. AppleTV stores the images in directories named P01, P02, P03…etc. so when importing into iPhoto it imports each of these as an album.

  • Amaurisrosario1

    I was able to run the patchstick on my apple tv, but how dow I access the photos stored in it?

  • Heatherkenalty

    will this work on the old kind of Apple TV, the original silver one?

  • Pierre1203

    On AppleTV 1 (the silver one) with ATVFlash, you can also use Cyberduck, create a new connection SSH, connect as for ATVFlash with ‘[email protected]’ pw frontrow 
    You will then be logged in the ATVFlash directory : /mnt/Scratch/Users/frontrow/
    Go up to the mnt directory and there you will find the ‘Media’ directory, there are all the files synced with iTues and iPhoto: all the music and all the Photos 🙂
    They are stored in maps P00 up to P99 with weird names, but it doesn’t matter as far as the content is good !!!

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