How to Transfer Files From a DVR to a Memory Stick

By David Wayne

Since DVRs don't have the ability to transfer files directly to a memory stick, you must record DVR content on a computer using a video capture card. While this process is legal, it occupies a somewhat gray area of the law known as “time-shifting,” which derives from the same 1984 court case that makes DVR recordings legal. Capturing DVR videos on a computer mostly preserves their quality, but it doesn't quite yield results equal to a DVD box set. The best results come from using an HDMI cable to capture the video.

Things You'll Need

  • Video capture card
  • HDMI cable

Install a Video Capture Card and Software

Step 1

Turn off your computer and install a video capture card. For a desktop computer, install a PCI-Express card, or for a laptop, connect a video capture device to a USB port. These interfaces enable you to record audio and video from a DVR or other video source in formats compatible with most devices, including computers, tablets and smartphones.

Step 2

Find an available PCI-E slot on your motherboard and carefully insert the card into the slot. You may need to remove a section of your PC's I/O shield to make room for the capture card's interface. The I/O shield is the thin metal plate covering the unused ports behind your computer. To remove a section, gently bend it until it separates from the shield. If you're using a USB capture device, you can skip this step.

Step 3

Turn on your computer and insert the capture card's software disc into your optical drive. Run the software installer and choose to install the device drivers and video capture software when prompted. The capture card is designed to work with the software included on the disc, so this software yields the best results.

Transfer Videos to a Memory Stick

Step 1

Connect your DVR to your capture card using an HDMI cable, then launch the video capture software that came with your device. Play a video on your DVR to view it in the capture software's preview window.

Step 2

Open the Settings menu to configure your preferences. You can usually access this window from the Edit menu or by right-clicking the software's tray icon. All capture software includes settings for video format and capture location. These settings are usually located in a separate tab or section labeled “Recording.”

Step 3

Choose a video format compatible with the type of device on which you want to play the video. Formats such as MP4, AVI and H.264 are compatible with most devices, including iPhone, iPad, Android and desktop video players.

Step 4

Choose a destination folder in which to save your captured video. You can choose to save the video directly to your memory stick or in a folder on your computer. To select your memory stick, insert it into a USB port on your computer, click “Browse” in the Save Folder section and then choose your memory stick from the browser window. This process is universal to all capture software, although your program may use a different naming scheme.

Step 5

Click “Record” on the video capture program and then play a video on your DVR. Click “Stop” when the video finishes. If the software prompts you to name the file, enter a name and click “Save.” Otherwise, the software automatically chooses an auto-incrementing name such as “capture001.avi.” You can rename this file by selecting it in File Explorer, pressing “F2” and typing a new name.

Step 6

Repeat this process for each video you want to save. If you save a file on your computer, you can transfer it to a memory stick in File Explorer. Left-click and drag the file over a folder on your memory stick, then release the file to copy it to the drive.

Tips & Warnings

  • A video capture device enables you to not only to transfer recordings from your DVR, but to record content directly on your computer. To record content as it airs, simply play it through your capture device while recording. This method can save time and possibly yield better video quality since the resulting file is an original and not a copy.
  • With a video capture card, you can record content from any device with video output, including game consoles, cable set-top boxes and camcorders.
  • Sharing your recordings online or offline may be illegal, depending on the content. Nearly all TV shows and movies are copyright protected, so ensure you're acting within the law when recording, watching or uploading video.