TVs & Home Theaters forum


Transferring from DVR to hard drive?

by thomasterrible / November 23, 2011 5:54 PM PST

I have a new Comcast DVR that was supposed to have 1/3 more capacity than the previous one. I have found it is now full in just a day or two. I don't know for sure but suspect this is because I am recording only TV shows and movies in HD so they take up more space. Please correct me if this is not the right assumption. I used to be able to record what seemed like well over 100 shows but they were not HD. Since this DVR has a USB port I was told by my A/V installer that I could download things from it to a hard drive to make space for new recordings. I do not mind buying a new 1-3TB hard drive for this purpose but am not sure what else is necessary in doing the transfer as the articles on doing this are dated and this is a different box etc.. When I say low capacity it is about 8-10 full length movies in HD and about 8 1/2 hour long TV shows also in HD. I am recording everything in HD as I have a 100 inch screen and of course the higher resolution makes a big difference on the larger screen size so recording in lower resolution is not a good option for this.

Thanks in advance.

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All Answers

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Re: comcast dvr
by Kees_B Forum moderator / November 23, 2011 6:02 PM PST

Usually, DVR's don't allow copying HD data to an external hard disk. Just a built-in limitation.

Check the manual or ask your A/V installer or Comcasts customer services what your specific model of DVR can do and can't do and how to do it.


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I will try
by thomasterrible / November 23, 2011 9:23 PM PST
In reply to: Re: comcast dvr

I will try asking Comcast. My AV installer said that this could be done but that Comcast would just assume that their customers were not aware of how to do it. This lead me to believe they may not be completely honest about the answer. He is also a former Comcast employee. In addition I have had 4 reps so far be unable to help me connect the DVR to be controlled via computer. Either they have bugs in the system or reps that are not very well trained. This is going on 3 days attempting that which is supposed to be a simple feature.

Would I be correct that the reason I can only record so few shows because I am recording all of them in HD? It seems like so very few considering that programming is moving more and more towards HD these days.
If it were to turn out that the way to do this is either difficult or expensive could you recommend a way to record on to a larger hard drive to begin with or would this be problematic due to the unscrambling of the signal needed to watch the programming?

Thanks for the answer.

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HD recording
by Dan Filice / November 23, 2011 10:58 PM PST
In reply to: I will try

HD requires about 4 times the space to record and save content. It's very similar to the bandwidth needed to broadcast HD vs. SD.

As far as being able to record HD content from your DVR, i've never seen it done. Most DVRs allow composite output to record, but this isn't HD. I can't imagine that a USB connection is capable of transmitting HD content.

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Find a new AV installer
by Pepe7 / November 25, 2011 12:41 PM PST
In reply to: I will try

He's swimming in it. HD's a different animal than what used to be easier w/ SD content.

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need a solution
by thomasterrible / November 25, 2011 4:55 PM PST

If he knew he would have told me, I did not even have the new box yet and he no longer works for them. But I did need a second person to set up the giant screen and projector which he did well and for far less than anyone else.

I have read articles about those with other devices and ways of doing such a thing. If I knew the answer I would not be asking. But there must be a way. I would think a HDMI or component out should have some way to accomplish this. I have another one of these DVR's coming for upstairs but that only doubles the small storage. I am wiling to buy other devices so that I can store more content. I just need to be pointed in the right direction. With such a big screen it really does make a noticeable difference when playing HD than on a smaller screen. Since I am paying a lot of money for these premium channels I would like to be able to watch them when I wish and I can't be tied to the time slots they play in.

If there is a recording unit that has a huge hard drive built in I would buy one, if I can somehow buy a huge hard drive for this purpose fine. It is just disappointing for a DVR to be full after only one days recordings.
Since the cable company is selling the HD channels I think their recording devices should have large enough drives to record a reasonable amount of programming. Not like I am wanting something for free.

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DVR Recording Capacity
by Dan Filice / November 25, 2011 11:54 PM PST
In reply to: need a solution

DVRs are rated by how much they can record. Often they say 20hr, 30hr Capacity, etc. Does yours say this? And again, HD uses a lot more space than SD uses, so you can easily fill it up by recording the all-day Marathon of Pawn Stars in HD.

Let us know if you figure out a way to record HD from your DVR because that would be something. I know in the professional broadcast industry there are devices that will allow you to do such a thing, but I don't think you or I could afford the devices unless we sold our home to buy them.

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8-10 is about right.
by ahtoi / November 26, 2011 4:26 AM PST

hi-def. takes about 9 times more. Take a look at the dvr box and see if it has "expander harddrive" support. If not, maybe you can get another dvr that will. But can't use this harddrive and play the video somewhere else (at least I don't think you can).

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an option I was considering
by thomasterrible / November 26, 2011 8:50 AM PST
In reply to: 8-10 is about right.

I have not had the time to investigate this much yet due to a sudden family crisis, but buying a DVR that has a larger capacity would be fine. I dont mind playing the content in the same location either, though I would want to have things saved in case I moved which is perhaps an issue, I don't know, I would retain the same service provider. I will talk to both Comcast and some others and make sure they are giving me correct information and not just how they would prefer these are used. I am not wanting to pirate anything just have it available to watch anytime I want for as long as I want which is the case with the DVR I have now other than the capacity. I have all the premium cable channels as well as Netflix so I have a pretty good amount of content to watch. Some of the non HD Netflix is still worth recording to me it is just that I really like movies to be of high resolution when playing them on the home theater. I also don't have as big a need on my much smaller 42 inch HDTV in my bedroom. If I were able to record those things and keep them to play indefinitely that would be ideal. There are some things such as a series on Netflix that is about to no longer be available which means if I don't find a way to record those shows I will not be able to watch them anymore. I had not really thought about the need to record anything from Netflix before now as the items have stayed in queue for so long but now I have that series I would like to keep. They are not high def. I was hoping to have some sort of hard drive to store lots of shows on so that even if they are no longer available I will have a copy of them. I don't know if burning a copy is possible, I am content with having it just stored on my DVR. But if that were the only way to have a copy I would do so. I am not trying to keep a copy of anything I have not paid for or use it except in the same way that it is available now, the only difference is that if they stop carrying the show in favor of other content I still want access to it in some way. If there is a TiVo or other sort of device that will allow me to record much more programming that would be fine, I will spend a reasonable amount of money to get one. I guess I am going to have to shop around for consumer products first to see what is out there and the maximum storage capacities. My projector is 1080P native but 720P looks fine and is also upconverted to 1080I (or at least that is what it says it does) and it really does make a difference with such a large screen or I would probably not be so determined to have HD, but it does. I buy blu rays when they are on sale but I want a much larger collection to view and 10 is not going to do it. Plus I am already paying a lot of money for these premium channels and want to be able to watch what is offered on them at my convenience. I have thousands of songs on a hard drive so a couple hundred movies is what I am thinking would be a decent collection. I don't know how large a drive that would require to know how realistic that is. I keep thinking in terms of computer hard drives and how much a 3Tb drive would hold and the price those drives cost. That is what I am hoping to find but that may not be realistic. If Netflix would not erase a show I have in queue then I would not mind paying the monthly access fee to see it but that is not a choice I have. I just thought of that as a secondary concern though. I will do the investigation and see what I can come up with. I just want to be able to watch the HD movies I pay for which I don't think is too unreasonable. Thanks for the information. I guess this is an issue of having such a large screen in a way but I really enjoy having it.

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Found my answer
by thomasterrible / November 26, 2011 10:35 AM PST

I think after searching the Internet and forcing a Comcast rep to be straight with me I have found my answer.
The external devices I found that go up to 2TB are only for Dish Network and Direct TV. For Comcast the only thing they are supporting now is TiVo via their Mcard. The Motorola DVR I have right now is 250Gig which he said was good for up to 33 hours of HD programming which is about right for the amount I am able to record. However they carry another box they did not give us (even though these are only a few weeks old) that are capable of 500Gig or 66 hours of HD programming and will allow an Mcard for a TiVo which I know they at least have a 500Gig version, perhaps larger, not sure on that yet. So I can quadruple my storage space with not breaking the rules which will give me a reasonable amount of recording space. He agreed that they should allow larger storage and perhaps will in the future especially considering the keeping up with the competition factor.
On the back of my current DVR are component outputs as well as a digital audio out and a S Video out. There is also a IEEE 1394 socket which I am not familiar with. Then there is the output marked "M card device only" which is the only way to add the TiVo with Comcasts permission and giving me the card to install to do so. He did admit that one could use those other outputs to store to other drives but claimed that not only did they not support the software to do so but that they could tell if this had been done and would consider it a "damaged box" when turned in. I do not know if any of that is true or not but if I can quadruple my storage space as he says that will be a reasonable amount for me to resolve this problem.
Now if I can only figure out how to get that one BBC series I like off Netflix before it is taken away...I may break down and see if it is available on DVD as it is only about 13 episodes and that is the only thing I really am concerned about going away.
It sounds like this is the best way to go and keep things on the up and up.

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Couple things
by Dan Filice / November 26, 2011 1:01 PM PST
In reply to: Found my answer

1. Doesn't Netflix content have a time limit on their rental downloads? I didn't think you could rent a download and keep it forever.
2. The outputs you see on the back of your DVR aren't for recording to a recording device. They are the video outputs for connecting to a TV.

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Ok, base on my experience with Netflix streaming,
by ahtoi / November 26, 2011 1:27 PM PST
In reply to: Found my answer

I don't think you can do any recording of their contents. It is copy protected. I tried...and it won't work. As for dvd out there, I saw some pretty good price at Amazon last week $15-20 per season.

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Not going to bother trying to record Netflix
by thomasterrible / November 26, 2011 3:42 PM PST

I am not going to try to bother recording Netflix, it is a BBC series that I like but think I found it on DVD which is really all I wanted to keep that I know is going away. It is easy and legal and really the only series I am concerned about. Otherwise I only pay the 8.95/month for the streaming and I watch it enough that it is a good deal for me. They sent out an email saying they were not going to be raising rates so hopefully they will keep their word on that one. Since I now have a way to record a reasonable amount of HD movies and both legally and with Comcast's support of doing it I am OK with the amount I can record now. An increase to 132 hours will be enough for me. In the future if they change their software policies I can get even more, certainly there are the 2TB devices out for the other providers so that is currently possible. It was just annoying to pay as much as I do and not have the recording space to actually watch it all. This gives me enough space to keep things HD and have a good amount of stuff stored. It would have been nice if they would have given me the DVR's with double the capacity without making me seek them out like that. We have been customers for 40 years now (through the changes in providers as the were bought out from one to another combined) which I think should count for some sort of customer loyalty treatment better than that. The rep claimed they were also working on a way for customers to transfer their recordings to new DVR's when they changed them out which would also be nice. But otherwise download speed is getting clocked at 30Mbps and we pay for it to be 20Mbps so computers on the wireless router and the WiFi streaming video are all working very well so I am pretty happy with the set up I have, I just wanted the content available to be stored to watch it when it was convenient for me which is the purpose of having a DVR in the first place. It is not inexpensive service.
I was never seeking an illegal or unauthorized way of doing so, thought that is certainly possible, just reasonable access to the content I pay for.

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