Can I Download From My DVR?

by Alexis Lawrence

DVR units, or digital video recorder units, combine a cable box and a recording device into one. Instead of being connected to a cable or satellite signal through a standard box, you connect through the DVR. It has a built-in hard drive, allowing you to record TV directly onto the unit. Since the DVR has no external storage, such as DVDs or video tapes, you must download recorded shows to another hard drive if you want to keep them.


Downloading from a DVR requires connecting to a computer. This can be done through a couple of different means. Some digital video cameras have pass-through abilities, which allows the footage from an external device, such as a DVR, to pass through the video camera. The camera converts the video into the proper digital format for a computer. If you don't have a digital video camera with pass-through capabilities, buy a digital video capture cable, which makes a direct connection between the DVR and the computer.


If you use a digital video camera with pass-through abilities to connect the DVR to a computer, use the cords that come with the video camera to make the connections. The camera's audio-video cord goes into the DVR's audio-video outs and into the minijack port on the camera. The camera's USB or firewire cord goes into the USB or firewire port on the computer. With a digital video capture cable, the audio-video cord end goes into the DVR's audio-video outs as well. The USB end goes into the USB port of the computer. Some DVRs have built-in firewire ports. If this is the case, you can connect the DVR directly to the computer with a firewire cord.

Capturing Programs

Many video-editing programs can be used to download, or capture, a recording from the DVR once it is connected to the computer. These programs include Apple iMovie, Windows Movie Maker, Adobe Premiere and Final Cut Pro. In nearly all video-editing programs, the "Capture" feature can be found in the main program window or in the "File" menu.

Permanent Storage

When you begin a capture in any video-editing program, you must enter a name for the file and select the folder on the computer's hard drive where you want to save the file. Once you complete the capture, the file automatically saves to the selected folder on your computer's hard drive. If you would like to keep the file in another location, such as on an external hard drive, plug the hard drive into the computer through the USB port and drag and drop the file from the folder on the computer onto external drive.

About the Author

Alexis Lawrence is a freelance writer, filmmaker and photographer with extensive experience in digital video, book publishing and graphic design. An avid traveler, Lawrence has visited at least 10 cities on each inhabitable continent. She has attended several universities and holds a Bachelor of Science in English.

Photo Credits

  • photo_camera dvd stack image by jimcox40 from