How do you copy video from a DVR to a DVD? Discover it here

With the increasing use of digital video recorders (such as cable or satellite DVRs), the question arises of what to do when your hard drives fill up. You may be able to transfer the recordings from your hard drive to a DVD, but there are some limitations.

Before starting

The physical process of recording from a DVR to a DVD recorder is the same as recording to a VCR, or a DVD/VCR combo recorder. In fact, the user manual for your DVR or DVD recorder should have a page that illustrates this.

You can connect a DVR to a DVD recorder, as long as the following connection options are available on your DVR. Connect the S-Video or Yellow composite video outputs, along with the red/white stereo audio outputs of the DVR to the S-Video or Composite Video and red/white stereo analog inputs of the DVD recorder.

It is important to note that before purchasing a DVD recorder or DVD Recorder/DVD Recorder/VHS VCR combo, your DVR has the connection options listed above. If your DVR only has HDMI outputs for video/video or HDMI for video and optical/coaxial digital outputs for audio, then you’re out of luck as DVD recorders don’t provide these as input options. In other words, your DVR needs to have analog video and audio outputs so that it can be connected to the corresponding inputs on a DVD recorder in order to transfer the video and audio signals from the DVR to the DVD recorder and DVD disc.

The copy protection factor

Even if your DVR and DVD recorder have compatible hookups, another factor to keep in mind is that some programs you may have recorded on your DVR, such as those originating from HBO, Showtime, On-demand programming services , and even some non-premium channels, employ a type of copy protection that allows an initial recording to a DVR, but will prevent that show from being copied further to DVD or VHS. Since this is random, you won’t know until you test it or note any copy protection messages before the program starts. If the DVD recorder detects a copy protected signal, it will normally display a message on the front panel of the DVD recorder and possibly eject the DVD disc.

Learn more about the increased use of copy protection that can prevent the transfer of recordings from a DVR to a DVD recorder.

Steps for recording DVR to DVD

If you want to transfer recordings you’ve made on your DVR to a DVD, here are the basic steps to follow.

  • Check your DVR and see if it has the following connections: S-Video, Composite Video (yellow), and Audio (red and white) outputs.
  • Check that your DVD recorder does not have these same connections as the input options.
  • Connect the DVR’s S-Video or Composite Video (Yellow) and Red/White Audio outputs to the corresponding inputs on the DVD Recorder (labels may include Video 1, Video 2, Line 1, Line 2 or AV In, AV1 , AV2; this label varies by manufacturer).
  • Set the DVD recorder to line or video input (line 1, line 2, video 1, video 2, AV input, AV1 or AV2).
  • Insert your blank DVD disc into the DVD burner.
  • Follow the playback and recording instructions for your specific DVR and DVD recorder.
  • If the recording does not start, you will see a message on your TV stating that the recording cannot be made or your DVD recorder is receiving an “unusable signal”, please double check your connections. However, if everything is connected correctly and you have followed the proper steps, you may be a victim of the copy protection issue mentioned above.

Other things to consider

If you subscribe to high-definition cable/satellite services and have a high-definition DVR as part of that service, and you manage to make a copy of your DVD recording on DVD, that copy will not be in high definition, since the DVD is not a high definition format. What will happen is that the DVR will downscale the recording output to standard definition through the S-Video or Composite Video (yellow) outputs so that the DVD Recorder can record the signal onto the DVD.

If you’re thinking that using a Blu-ray Disc recorder will allow you to make copies of your cable/satellite content in HD, it’s also important to note that Blu-ray Disc recorders are not available in the US. widely available and the ones that are will not allow you to record any HD content from the DVR to Blu-ray Disc.

The final result

In the heydey of VCRs and DVD recorders, we had a tendency to record a lot of TV programs and movies from antenna, cable, or satellite on tape or disk for viewing convenience more last. However, in the current environment, official restrictions limit what can be recorded and on what medium it can be recorded.

With the advent of options like video on demand and web streaming, which allow you to watch a show or movie at any time, the need to record a favorite TV show or movie is greatly reduced. In addition, if you take into account that all the recordings that are made must be made in real time, the result is that a lot of time has to be spent making those copies. Consider how long it will take to copy an entire season of a show from your DVR to DVD, such as Game of Thrones, combined with the fact that you end up with a lower quality copy of what you had on your DVR recording.

Also, one question you should always ask yourself is “How often will I actually watch what I copied onto the DVD? When your DVR’s hard drive fills up, do you really want to take the time to make DVD copies, or is there content you can delete to make room for more?

For more information on what DVD burners can and can’t do, check out our full DVD burner FAQ.