How to Save DVR Recordings to a Computer

by David Wayne

Many digital video recorder (DVR) users look for ways to transfer recorded programs to their computer hard drive. No matter what type of computer you have, a video capture device such as a PCI card or USB interface will create digital files from your DVR video. With DVR files on your computer, you'll be able to compress video for CDs, DVDs, mobile phones and Web streaming. Saving DVR video on your computer allows you to erase your DVR hard drive without losing what you've recorded.

Transfer Video

Step 1

Turn off your computer and unplug it from the wall outlet. Open your computer's side panel and insert your video capture card in a PCI slot. A PCI slot looks like a narrow plastic rectangle on your motherboard near the back of the computer.

Step 2

Insert the capture card's installation disc in the computer. Click the "Start" menu and "My Computer" or "Computer.'' Double-click the icon for your DVD/CD drive to launch and run the setup program.

Step 3

Run the capturing software. Windows users can also run Windows Movie Maker to capture video from a capturing device such as a PCI card or USB-connected DV camera with S-Video and RCA inputs for capturing video from a DVR.

Step 4

Connect the video output of the DVR to the capture card with an S-Video cable. Connect the audio output of the DVR to the capture card with composite audio cable. Use the color coding of the audio cable to ensure that the left and right inputs match the outputs.

Step 5

Make a test recording. Click "Capture from video device" in the software, and press "Play" on the DVR. Adjust the color, contrast, balance, hue and saturation with the DVR remote control. Watch the video in the software preview window. Click "Stop" to end the recording. Your capture card's software may also allow you to stop recording to the PC automatically when the DVR video ends.

Step 6

Delete the test recording. Click "Capture from video device" again, and press "Play" to start the DVR with the adjusted settings. Click "Stop" when the video is finished.

Click "File" and drag the mouse to "Save" to create a digital file of your DVR video on your hard drive. Give your file a descriptive name you'll remember later when working with the video in other software, such as a video-converting or disc-burning program.


  • Record television directly to your computer with a TV tuner card. You'll end up with higher video quality because you won't have to re-record the programs.
  • If your DVR and capture card have HDMI (High-Definition Multimedia Interface) ports, use an HDMI cable to send high-definition video and sound to your PC.

Items you will need

  • Video capture card
  • S-Video cable
  • Composite audio cable

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