Can I Record Programs off My Cable DVR Onto a DVD?

By Maya Austen

You can use a DVD recorder or computer to copy a DVR to DVD.
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Not only is it possible to record programs off of a cable DVR onto a DVD, but there is more than one way to go about accomplishing the task. Recordings made using a DVR are saved onto a hard disk located inside of the DVR unit. There is limited recording space on this hard disk. Once enough space is used up, some DVR recordings have to be erased to make room for new recordings. Copying the DVR recordings onto a DVD is one way to permanently preserve these digital recordings.

DVD Recorder Method

One of the easiest ways to transfer DVR recordings onto a DVD is to hook up a DVD recorder to your cable receiver or DVR and TV set. The main cable signal, transmitted by the coaxial cable connected to the cable wall outlet, connects to the DVR's RF "Cable" input. A coaxial cable or a set of AV cables must then be used to connect the DVR's audio and video output to the corresponding input on the DVD recorder. Another coaxial cable or a set of AV cables is used to connect the DVD recorder's audio and video output to the corresponding input on the TV set. Because the signal from the DVR is made to pass through the DVD recorder before connecting to the TV, the DVD recorder can be used to dub content from the DVR onto a DVD.

Video Capture Method

Using a computer to record content from a DVR is a little more complex. The computer has to be equipped with a DVD burner and video capture software such as Windows Live Movie Maker. Windows Live Movie Maker comes preinstalled on Windows 7 computers. To get the video and audio signal from the DVR to the computer, you also need a device known as a "video capture card." Some computers come with built-in video capture cards. But you can also purchase an external video capture card that plugs into the computer's USB port. The capture card takes the AV output signal from the DVR and converts it into a digital signal that the computer can understand. The video capture software is used to dub the video playing from the DVR into the computer. The computer recording can then be burned to a DVD.


If you are using a TiVo DVR with your cable TV service, you have the ability to transfer content from the TiVo DVR to a computer using TiVo's "Desktop Software." DVD burning software such as "Roxio Creator" or "Roxio Toast" can then be used to burn the transferred program onto a DVD.

Copy-Protected Programs

If the program saved in your DVR is copy-protected to prevent any transfer of the video, you will encounter an error message when attempting to copy the program to DVD. Copy-protected programs are encoded with an encryption designed to stop unauthorized copying and distribution of the video. Macrovision and CSS compliant DVD recorders and PCs are able to detect this encrypted signal and thus inhibit the recording of the material.


While there is technology available on the market designed to strip away Macrovision and CSS copy-protection encryption, be advised that this technology is currently considered illegal.