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I was just about to start writing today when I got an email from a reader.

“I have to replace my cable box because it is old. Is there any way to save the recorded programs?”

That’s a good question that most of us have faced. We are quite attached to our digital video recorders (DVRs), and unfortunately when we change TV providers we are forced to change DVR hardware as well.

If you are anything like me, there are a bunch of shows on your DVR that you don’t want to lose.

So how do you save those shows to watch another day?

The easy answer is there is no easy answer.

TV companies encrypt the files on your DVR’s hard drive. Those files can playback through the DVR only. This is to prevent easy video piracy.

But wait, just because there is no easy answer, don’t think there isn’t a way to copy the shows off. You just have to do it the slow way.

There are devices, like old-fashioned video cassette recorders and DVD recorders, that will record any video.

You can connect your DVR’s analog output (usually red, blue, green RCA jacks) to the inputs of a VCR or DVD recorder.

You’ll then need to start each TV show or movie and let it play through while it records.

There are also video capture devices you can use to connect your DVR to your computer.

I’ve had great success with Hauppauge HD PVR video capture devices (

If you’d like to read more about them, go to—hdpvr2.html.

You’ll have to let the video play through in real time, but the recordings look really good.

So the bottom line is copying the videos from your DVR isn’t as easy as copying files on your computer, but with enough time and preparation, it can be done.

Jim Rossman writes for The Dallas Morning News. He may be reached at

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