Can I Connect My Dish DVR to My Computer Via USB?
By James T Wood
You can make the physical connection between your DISH digital video recorder and your computer with a USB cable, but since they are both designed to be controllers from the standpoint of USB structure neither one will interact with the other. You can, however, use an external hard drive with your DISH DVR's USB port to add storage, move video or even add DVR abilities to a DISH receiver without a DVR built in.
USB Ports are Not Equal
USB cables and ports are designed with an A-side and a B-side. The A-side is the flat, rectangular connector that fits into the ports on computers. The B-side is the smaller, angled plug that fits into the ports on peripheral devices. Both the DISH DVRs and computers have A-side ports on them, so it would take an A-to-A USB cable to even make the connection, and then the two devices wouldn't talk to each other.
Copying Files and Copyright
There is software that allows an A-to-A USB connection to transfer files from one computer to another. The Intellimover software is designed for migrating files between computers. Theoretically, you could use the software to grab files off of the DISH DVR since it's also a computer, but the copyright protection and encryption of the recorded shows would render the files unplayable on your computer.
External Hard Drive
The DISH DVRs have the USB port so that you can plug in an external hard drive to add storage or -- if your DISH receiver doesn't have a built in DVR -- to give it the ability to record shows. When you plug in an external hard drive to your DISH DVR it reformats the drive for use only with DISH hardware. Any data on the drive is deleted to make way for the shows you'll record to it. You can access the external hard drive through the menu system on the DISH DVR.
If you have multiple DISH DVRs on your account you can move shows between them using an external USB hard drive. You cannot, however, connect the hard drive to any non-DISH equipment or it will cease to function with the DISH hardware and need to be reformatted -- which would delete all the shows on it. You can use an external hard drive on the DISH 211, 211k, 411, 612, 622, 722, 722k, 922 and Hopper models as of December 2013.
James T Wood is a teacher, blogger and author. Since 2009 he has published two books and numerous articles, both online and in print. His work experience has spanned the computer world, from sales and support to training and repair. He is also an accomplished public speaker and PowerPoint presenter.