My cable TV company gives me a Cisco Explorer 8640HDC DVR box that can record shows from TV. I know that it contains a hard drive to save the shows on. What format and file system are used to store the videos on the hard drive? I have looked at the documentation for this DVR box and there is no technical information about the manner in which recordings are stored. Is it possible to connect the hard drive to a computer and extract the recordings from it?
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It depends. In the US the streams are often sent as encrypted MPEG streams, the drive will just save a copy of the encrypted stream and play it back as need be. If that is done you need to be able to decrypt the stream which you won't have because the key is in the firmware of the DVR. If they did not save it in encrypted form you just need any player that can play a standerd MPEG stream (VLC does).
The only other option is use the fire-wire port on the Cable Box. They are required by law to have one and enabled.
If they do not give one to you that works you can complain to the FCC and they will back you up.
However not everything is sunshine and roses. a little farther down
So the distributor of the show can enable copy protection on the MPEG Stream of their choosing, and MANY choose to set the protection to
The simplest (?) way to get the video recordings out of the DVR is to obtain a DVD recorder (like a VCR except it records programs onto DVDs), connect that to the cable DVR, play the programs and record them onto a DVD. Then take that to your computer and see what you find.