How to use your PC as a DVR

Milan Stanojevic
by Milan Stanojevic
Deputy Editor
Loading Comments
Affiliate Disclosure

use your PC as a DVR

Most folk born before the digital age may not understand the trouble of having to wait till a certain time to watch your favorite television show or movie.

Today, time is no longer a factor because with such technologies as cable TV, YouTube, torrents, and online subscription video-on-demand have changed the landscape such that you can watch your favorite flicks, or series, any time, and from any location.

Buying a standalone digital video recorder (DVR), or even renting one may be costly over time, so if you don’t have a DVR, there are various options available so that you won’t have to miss out on your favorite show or movies.  One of these options is to use your PC as a DVR.

While this may sound strange, especially if you’ve not tried or even heard of such a possibility before, it actually works, whether you’re using an old or new PC.

What you need so you can use your PC as a DVR

Before taking the steps we’ll list on how to use your PC as a DVR, there are four things you need including:

  • A TV tuner for your PC, which pulls the video signal and decodes it, and the software that handles the scheduling and recording of videos. If your PC doesn’t have one, you can buy an internal (plugged into your PC’s motherboard) or external one (plugged into USB port) that will pick the broadcast TV signals for Windows Media Center.  If you have a cable box, you don’t need a TV tuner card.


use your PC as a DVR

  • TV signals. Check that where you live is an area with sufficient OTA (over the air) reception for TV signals and local channels

use your PC as a DVR

  • 500 GB or more of hard drive space because one show may take up more than 7GB so you need much available space
  • The right software. In this case, use Windows operating system (except Windows RT which doesn’t include Windows Media Center software)

How to use your PC as a DVR

Once you have your TV tuner, TV signals, enough memory and the right Windows software, use the steps below to use your PC as a DVR:

  • If you use cable TV, plug the TV signal from the wall directly to the back of your computer
  • Use the Media Centre remote that came with your computer
  • Click on the green button at the center of the remote
  • From Start screen, scroll to Tasks
  • Click Settings
  • Click TV
  • Click Set up TV Signal so that Media Center knows which programs are on what channels. This is done once.
  • Go to Start screen
  • Go to TV and Movies
  • Click Recorded TV and then click Add recording
  • Use the Guide to find your favorite programs in Media Center
  • Find the program you want to record then click Record on your remote
  • Click More button for other options like Record Series

You can record as many as you like depending on the memory on your computer. Any recorded programs are saved on your computer’s hard drive as a .wtv file.  If you want to watch any programs you have saved, you can go to Recorded TV screen.

You can also rewind, pause, fast forward, or even watch live television, record programs and store for playback at a later time, record multiple programs at a go, and burn DVDs of your recorded programs.

Are you ready to use your PC as a DVR? Share with us your experience if you’ve tried it before, and if you’re just starting, let us know whether the steps listed here helped, by dropping your comment in the section below.