How to Record Cable TV to a Hard Drive (4 Steps)

By Chang Lin

External hard drives can store hundreds of hours of movies and shows.
i Ethan Miller/Getty Images News/Getty Images

Cable television is transmitted from cable service providers using a cable box, but recording and storing television programming requires a digital video recorder (DVR) device. The internal hard drive on a DVR device can store hundreds of hours of video files before reaching full capacity. If the internal hard drive of your DVR is full, you can record and store more digital files on an external hard drive.

Step 1

Power off your cable box and television set. If you have a DVR already installed, turn that off as well before connecting any cables between devices.

Step 2

Connect the red, green and blue audio/video composite cables into the "Video In" jacks on your DVR device. Attach the other ends of the composite cables into the Video Out" jacks on the cable box. By connecting the composite cable, you will be able to transmit video and audio signals from the cable box to be recorded on the DVR.

Step 3

Plug the USB cable from your external hard drive into the USB port on the back of the DVR device. Power on the hard drive so that the DVR can discover the hard drive during its initial scan for external devices.

Step 4

Power on the cable box and DVR. By default, your DVR should automatically detect the external hard drive and ask if you would like to store your digital video files to the hard drive. If the message does not appear, consult your DVR manual and follow the steps required to set the hard drive as your primary programming storage device.