TiVO DVR Recording and Burning

Posted on 2013-11-24
Medium Priority
Last Modified: 2013-11-25
Television is our #1 source of entertainment.  We have four TiVO units, two of which have always been connected to external DVD burners to allow us to copy shows to DVDs.  I assume because of copyright abuses the TiVO boxes have now stopped allowing the "Save to VCR" function.  We generally watch most of our backlogged shows while on vacation, and now that I won't have DVDs I don't know how to keep the shows stored for later watching.  Is there any combination of technologies that will allow me to record the shows and then transfer them to DVDs?  I tried using TiVO Desktop software on my Windows 7 computer, but it's the most unreliable and buggy program I've ever used.


Question by:philsimmons
LVL 97

Accepted Solution

Lee W, MVP earned 2000 total points
ID: 39673459
Just a thought - switch away from TiVo to Media Center.  When you run low on space, buy a hard drive and add it.  Offload the videos to other systems on the network.  I'm a little bummed because I've been planning on setting up a parity storage space to store my library and I JUST had one of my 2TB drives fail the other day... funny thing is... I don't know what was on it as I've got so much recorded, I'm not sure what I lost.  Just make sure to use a NEW systems with Win7 and move the files to a network system with redundancy on storage.  Then add space when you need it (my library is > 10 TB, even after the 2TB failure and has been accumulating since December 2010.

(As for tuning devices, if you have cable, use a cable card and a Ceton 6 Tuner device... or multiple tuners - and it behaves like a multi-room DVR with XBox and Media Center Extenders).

Oh, and NO MONTHLY FEE for Media Center or the guide... unlike TiVo (unless you paid them insane amounts of money to lifetime activate).

Author Closing Comment

ID: 39673587
Thank you!
LVL 44

Expert Comment

ID: 39673617
Closed while I was typing, so I've deleted my solution.
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LVL 70

Expert Comment

by:Gary Case
ID: 39673660
The general concept leew outlined works well ... HOWEVER => there is a MAJOR flaw in it.

If you use a Ceton 6-tuner card (as he suggested) with a cable card, you'll be subject to the same copy controls you're now struggling with on your Tivo's.    Just how much of a burden this is depends on your provider, but some are VERY restrictive.    Time Warner, for example, sets a very restrictive CCI flag on ALL of their channels -- whether or not the actual provider requires that level of restriction.

The result is you can't watch material that's recorded on one PC using Media Center on another PC; nor can you copy it to a network storage location for archival storage or burn it to a DVD.

As a result, I changed from the Ceton cable-card tuners to Hauppauge 2250 dual-tuner cards, and only record HD material that's available via ClearQAM, and just record the SD channels for everything else.    This completely eliminates that hassle => you can freely copy anything; burn DVDs; watch the recordings on other systems in the house; etc.

Note that if you DO want to use the Ceton card, you'll need Media Center Extenders on any other system you want to watch the recordings on [e.g. Xbox 360's].
LVL 97

Expert Comment

by:Lee W, MVP
ID: 39673835
It's flawed and not flawed... ClearQAM is disappearing EXCEPT for over the air broadcasts.  RCN Cable no longer offers ClearQAM.  Further, cable systems have varying degrees of encryption.  The following information is accurate to the last time I checked (which was in all cases some time in the last 3 years) SOME channels on Cablevision's systems are not encrypted.  Some channels on RCN are not encrypted.  ONLY WCBS is encrypted on FiOS, TimeWarner encrypts everything (even infomercials).  No idea about Comcast and others.  

Files that are not encrypted are huge (about 6 GB per hour HD but can vary) but CAN be watched on any other PC with Media Center installed.  Otherwise, extenders will allow you to watch even encrypted programs on any other TV (with the extender attached).

What I would recommend is to start with a new PC with good quality motherboard and at least 6 core CPU to start.  Then BACKUP.  IMAGE BACKUP.  So long as you never have to replace the motherboard, you shouldn't have any problems keeping the system going for years to come.
LVL 70

Expert Comment

by:Gary Case
ID: 39673897
As I noted, different cable systems choose to set the CCI flag differently.   Every broadcast has a setting they require -- i.e. HBO, ShowTime, etc. are generally the most restrictive, whereas the primary networks don't require any copy restrictions => but the cable operator decides what flag they'll actually use.    As I noted above (and leew also confirmed) Time Warner is VERY restrictive ... setting the max restriction on all of their programming.

If you use extenders (X-Box 360s' are the most common) then your setup will work seamlessly with a cable-card setup (e.g. a Ceton) ... but that doesn't help with the issue asked about here => you still can't bypass the CCI restrictions, which is what's causing problems with your Tivo's.    In other words, you can WATCH your recordings freely, but you won't be able to copy them to DVDs or move them to a NAS for archival storage.

What you CAN do -- which may be all you need -- is build your system initially so the data store for the recordings is a large RAID-5 array.    You won't be able to move or copy any recordings; but if it's large enough, you'll probably never need to.   With modern drives, a 3-drive RAID-5 using 4TB drives would give you 8TB of storage for the recordings.

I agree that the selection of ClearQAM channels is dwindling => I only get 8 ClearQAM channels on our setup.    But I don't have a problem simply recording SD channels for everything else.   My NEXT HPTC may use Ceton cards (a pair of 6-tuner cards) with perhaps 15TB of storage ... but with 8 tuners and 8TB of storage -- all of which can be archived to my 30TB fault-tolerant backup server ... it's likely going to be a while before I need to build another one :-)

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