How to Rip Recorded TV to a Computer From a DVR

Updated April 05, 2017

There are several ways to save digital copies of programs recorded on DVR. If you have a DVR unit with a DVD recorder built in, or a standalone DVD recorder, it's a snap to copy your favourite shows with the press of a few buttons. Absent these components, you can transfer DVR recordings directly to your computer. While this usually requires some extra software and a bit of technical know-how, the process is fairly easy for beginners to learn. A simple USB 2.0 video capture device running from the DVR to your computer's USB port does all the work. All you need to do is master the controls.

Purchase an external USB 2.0 video capture device. Some of the most popular brands are Pinnacle Dazzle, EasyCAP, and the Hapaugge HD PVR. Depending on the video quality you ultimately want to achieve, expect to spend anywhere from £13-$200. For general home video purposes, a lower to mid-priced video capture device gets the job done just fine.

Pop the USB 2.0 video capture device's installation CD into your computer's tray. Follow the on-screen instructions and plug the USB device into the computer's USB slot when prompted.

Run a standard RCA, S-video or HDMI cable from the USB capture device to your DVR. The type of cable you choose is usually determined by what kind of outputs and inputs both the video capture device and your DVR unit have.

Open the video recording/editing software program of your choice. In this tutorial we will be using Windows Media Center (included free on most Windows operating systems.)

Go to the "Tasks" menu, then choose "Settings." Select "TV," then click on "Set Up TV Signal." The configuration process may take a few minutes to complete.

Find the TV program you want to rip in your DVR's list of previously recorded shows and cue to the beginning. Then press the "Pause" button on your DVR's remote.

Hit "Record" in Windows Media Center, then press "Play" on your DVR. Press "Stop" when you are finished recording.

Give the new file a name when prompted by Windows Media Player and save it to your computer's hard drive. Now you can edit your video, clip out commercials, add special effects and titles, convert the file to different video formats, upload it to the Internet or burn a copy to DVD.


Once recording begins, it's best to just walk away. Using other programs during recording consumes your computer's resources and may cause glitches in the recording. Also remember that any buttons you touch on the DVR remote -- such as rewind, fast-forward or pause -- will affect the recording as well. HDMI cables are highly recommended for best video quality, so if both your HD DVR and computer have HDMI ports, use these instead of RCA or S-video.


While it is legal to copy a program from your DVR for personal use, U.S. copyright law strictly prohibits the unlicensed broadcast, sale or reproduction of copyrighted material.

Things You'll Need

  • USB 2.0 video capture card
  • RCA, S-video or HDMI cables
  • Video recording/editing software
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About the Author

Lori Spencer has written professionally since 1986. She is the author of three nonfiction books, is writing her fourth and provides content for eHow and LIVESTRONG.COM. She also produces and hosts a weekly radio show. Her subjects of expertise include history, media, music, film and the performing arts.