How to Transfer DVR Recordings Onto a Computer

By Scott Shpak

The recording capacity of a digital video recorder seems immense the day it's installed, but fast-forward 300 movies, and hard drives don't seem so big anymore. Services such as AT&T's U-verse, DISH Network and DirecTV offer a variety of receivers with DVR capabilities, and some models may include a USB 2.0 port, allowing you to add an external hard drive for additional storage. There is no receiver, however, that will swap files directly with your computer. Even if that transfer were possible, video signals are encoded by your service provider, so you couldn't view the files on your computer anyway. You can capture playback using a video capture device connected to your computer, though this is a real-time process.

Things You'll Need

  • Video capture device
  • Windows Photo Gallery
  • Windows Movie Maker (optional)

Step 1

Purchase and install a video capture device between your DVR and computer. Many affordable adapters provide red, white and yellow RCA-style connectors for attaching to your DVR. More expensive designs include S-video and HDMI connectors as well, but unless you're sure your DVR model provides unencrypted video through these connectors, the extra expense may not be worthwhile. Companies such as Hauppauge, Ion and StarTech provide analog-to-USB video capture adapters.

Step 2

Start and pause playback on your DVR. When the Autoplay dialog opens, select "Import video using Windows Live Photo Gallery. If the Autoplay dialog is bypassed, the "Import video" dialog will open directly. Click "Next" and enter a name for your video, and click "Choose the parts of the video to import."

Step 3

Resume playback on your DVR and, on your computer, click "Import." Click "Stop" when your DVR program is finished. Your DVR show is now transferred to your computer where you can edit in Windows Movie Maker or similar software.

Tips & Warnings

  • While instructions are given for importing video on your computer using Windows Photo, video capture devices usually include a compatible utility for managing the transfer process.
  • TV programs and movies may be protected by copyright from certain types of copying. Check with your programming provider and the end-user agreement to confirm recording to your computer is legal under the terms of your service.