An external hard drive is often used as a companion to a digital video recorder (DVR) as they serve complementary purposes. While a DVR provides the convenience of recording programs in your absence, its limited storage capacity does not allow you to keep a large number of shows. An external hard drive, on the other hand, can store many programs for future use, which allows you to free up space on your DVR for more recordings.
Install video software on your computer. To properly process your data transfer, you need video software, which you can get from computer and electronics retailers or online. Simple, easy-to-use programs can be downloaded for free. Use reputable sites, such as CNET.com, to find some of the more reputable free programs. More advanced programs, with sophisticated editing capabilities, will usually only be available for purchase.
Connect your computer and DVR. In order to copy programs to your external hard drive, you need to transfer them to your computer. For older systems, and especially for desktop computers, you will need to use use RCA connectors to connect the DVR to the computer. RCA connectors are color-coordinated audio-visual cables used to connect electronics components, such as stereos and receivers, and they can be used with some computers and DVRs as well. Plug the yellow ends of the cable into the video jacks on the machines, then plug the red and white ends into the audio jacks. If you have a newer system, use USB cables to connect the computer and DVR. With a TiVo DVR and a wireless home network, you can connect your components wirelessly if you download proprietary TiVo software.
Transfer the program to your computer. Choose the program you wish to transfer from your DVR then press "Play" while pressing "Record" on your computer software program. The program should transfer in real-time. Monitor the recording and, when finished, check for quality.
Copy the program to your external hard drive. Using the video software on your computer, select your external drive as the destination for your next copy. Select the copy you just made from the DVR and make another copy on your external hard drive. Again, monitor the transfer and check for quality when you are finished.