How to copy a DVR hard drive

Written by marshal m. rosenthal
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How to copy a DVR hard drive
(Thomas Northcut/Photodisc/Getty Images)

The hard drive inside a digital video recorder (DVR) is no different than that found inside a computer. You can copy the contents from the DVR’s hard drive to a computer using a USB hard drive interface cable purchased from a computer or electronics store. You will need to remove the outer casing from the DVR to be able to access the hard drive, which could void its warranty, depending on the manufacturer. You will also need to use a free copy program on the computer. No electrical or mechanical skills are needed to copy the DVR’s hard drive to the computer, and the DVR can be restored to its original operation afterward.

Skill level:
Moderate

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Things you need

  • USB hard drive interface cable
  • Phillips screwdriver

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Instructions

  1. 1

    Unplug the DVR. Place the DVR next to the computer. Remove the screws from the sides and back of the DVR’s outer case with a Phillips screwdriver.

  2. 2

    Pull the DVR’s outer case off using your hands.

  3. 3

    Remove the screws from the metal shield inside the DVR with the Phillips screwdriver. Pull the metal shield off with your hands.

  4. 4

    Pull out the ribbon connector cable from the back of the hard drive. It's usually in the middle inside of the DVR.

  5. 5

    Insert the ribbon connector plug from the DVR’s USB hard drive interface cable into the ribbon connection port at the back of the hard drive inside the DVR. Push the ribbon connector plug into the ribbon connection port with your fingers.

  6. 6

    Plug the USB end of the USB hard drive interface cable into a USB port on the computer.

  7. 7

    Download a hard drive copy program, such as Clonezilla or EaseUs Disk Copy (see Resources), to the computer’s desktop.

  8. 8

    Double-click on the file once it has downloaded. Follow the menu commands to install the program on the computer’s hard drive. Restart the PC after the installation is complete.

  9. 9

    Plug the DVR’s power cord into an AC socket for power. Turn on the DVR. Wait for the icon of the DVR’s hard drive to appear on the computer’s desktop.

  10. 10

    Right-click on the desktop. Select “New Folder” from the pop-up menu. Name the folder “DVR copy.”

  11. 11

    Double-click on the hard drive copy program’s icon to launch it. Select the icon of the DVR’s hard drive from the icons presented on the left side of the hard drive copy program’s main screen.

  12. 12

    Select the “Browse” button next to the “Save To” tab on the hard drive copy program’s main screen.

  13. 13

    Navigate to the computer's desktop in the window that appears. Click once on the “DVR copy” folder with the mouse. Press the “OK” button on the window to return to the hard drive copy program.

  14. 14

    Select “Disk Image” or “ISO” from the “Format” drop-down menu on the hard drive copy program’s main screen.

  15. 15

    Click on the “Copy” or “Clone” button on the hard drive copy program’s main screen. Click “OK” on the confirmation window that appears. Wait as the progress bar details the amount of time remaining for the copy to be made. Quit the hard drive copy program once the progress bar is done.

  16. 16

    Right-click on the icon of the DVR’s hard drive on the desktop. Select “Eject” from the pop-up menu. Remove the USB plug from the USB port of the computer. Turn off the DVR.

  17. 17

    Unplug the DVR. Put the DVR back in its original location.

  18. 18

    Remove the USB hard drive interface cable’s ribbon connector plug from the back of the DVR’s hard drive. Plug the DVR’s ribbon cable back into the DVR hard drive’s ribbon connection.

  19. 19

    Put the metal shield on the DVR. Reattach the screws. Put the outer case on the DVR. Reattach the screws. Plug the DVR’s power cord into the AC socket.

Tips and warnings

  • Wear an anti-static strap when handling the hard drive of the DVR to keep static electricity from damaging it.
  • The file structure of the DVR's hard drive might require special software to be read once it has been copied.

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