Bell PVR External Hard Drive – Can I Copy the Files to a Computer?

After blogging about the Bell Expressvu 9241 / 9242 HD PVR Plus receivers and the Bell Expressvu 6141 HD Receiver with external hard drive, many people have been emailing me and asking the same question –  ”Can I copy the movies from my PVR to my computer and watch them?”

Well, that’s a 2 part question and there are actually 2 answers.  From what I have experimented with, yes you can copy the files to your computer system but no, you cannot watch them on your computer system or burn them on a DVD and watch them later.

The external hard drives that you attach to your Bell Expressvu receivers will be formatted by the receiver.  The format is not directly compatible with Windows.  The external hard disk drives on the Expressvu PVRs is actually formatted in EXT3 format – which means they can be read by systems with Linux.  I have successfully copy the files from an external hard drive I had attached to my Bell Expressvu 6141 HD Receiver and move it to my Windows XP computer system.  However, the file type was not recognized and could not be played in any media player that I had.

It is apparent that files copied from the Bell Expressvu PVR are in MPEG format, but they are obviously encrypted and require the receiver to play back.

If anyone has any tips, I would greatly appreciate hearing them.

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About Barry Wheeler

Barry Wheeler is a blogger, novice SEO, geek and passionate Newfoundlander. Operating several successful websites and online communities, Barry has started exploring the social internet and its impact on all facets of society including personal life and business relationships. Find Barry on Twitter @barrywheeler and FaceBook or on his website Barry Wheeler - Blogging for Success.
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60 Responses to Bell PVR External Hard Drive – Can I Copy the Files to a Computer?

  1. Mr. X says:

    Hi – I’ve successfully “copied” recordings from my Bell Expressvu receiver to my computer and even transferred them to DVD. It’s not the simplest of processes, but it is possible. I connected my receiver to my Canon GL2 camcorder “in” ports and recorded the desired program to a digital tape in the camcorder. From there I downloaded the camcorder’s tape into a cheap movie editing program on my computer by means of the editing program’s “capture” button. I opened up the capture for editing and added a “menu” in preparation for transfer to a DVD. In fact, this menu had only one clickable option and that was the project I was going to transfer…but I added the menu because I knew of no other way to get the copied program to play once it was on the DVD and in the DVD player. It all worked perfectly!

    The nice part of intermediately transfering from the camcorder into a movie program provides you the opportunity to “edit” out commercials or any other undesirable parts of the recording. You can also adjust things like colour and contrast. It certainly yielded me great results!

  2. Michael says:

    Capture cards are a sure-shot solution when video data can’t be transferred from a device to a PC. No matter what the Device!

    Local video equipment shops will have a wide range of capture cards. Good ones running from $100+. Find one with HDMI or at least component-IN. Then simply playback the content into the card while it captures it on your PC. File sizes will be huge so you’ll want to re encode the content with x264 or DiVX. With a good 2-pass x264 re encode the quality will be very close to original!

  3. Francois says:

    I would be really interested to know if a software permits us to copy from the external drive to our laptop, or at least gives us the opportunity to carry the external drive and play on a laptop via USB

    Please keep me posted!

    • danny says:

      You cannot even use that external hard drive on another bell reciever, it can only be recognized by the receiver that recorded it. If you plug that hard drive into another receiver, it will only reformat the drive.

  4. William says:

    Is there a way to reformat (under Windows) the external drive that has been formated with the Bell receiver?
    I need help fast!!!

  5. Chris says:

    William – Attach to your Windows computer, open Disk Manager, you will see the drives that don’t show in Windows explorer. From there you can reformat or do whatever needs to be done, but you will lose all the data on them, including any recorded shows and you will need to set it up again if you want to use it as a pvr.

  6. nysscb@yahoo.com says:

    i had the same problem and had to use disk partition to clean the disk first-if you are still having a problem mail me and ill send u instructions

  7. Chris says:

    I used to do this with my FTA receiver, I woudl take the external HD which was formatted with EXT2 I think, then I woudl run a program on my winxp / vista machine that woudl allow me to read this.

    I think the program was called. Ext2Fsd I could then copy it to the computer HD, Then I used a program called videoredo which could read the files when the video was loaded, I could then remove the commercials with this program in 1 click, then save as Mpeg. Worked great a bit tedious but it did work. I haven’t tried this with my bell PVR i dont’ know if I can read EXT3 but I will try this week and report back.

  8. RavRob says:

    Yes Chris. Ext3 and Ext2 are basically the same thing and both will be read with Ext2fsd. The problem is I can’t recognize the file format. It is not a known format to me. I have seen TS, TRP etc with my FTA Receiver but none of those are on that HDD.

    Still digging though. I am itching to find an answer to this.

    • Obed says:

      Hii am loilong for BELL HD PVR 9242. Can you let me know where and for how much i can buy this

    • danny says:

      Bell has this locked up tight due to the fact that recording is illegal so the only way we can record Bell programs is that Bell proved to the FCC CRTC and many others that they got it locked up tight

  9. Help! says:

    Hi,
    My Bell HD Receiver wants to re-format my external hardrive, which will cause all data to be lost.
    Can I copy the data to my mac computer, reformat the external hardrive, and copy it back to the external hardrive and watch it through ‘My PVR’ on Bell ExpressVu?
    Thanks a million.

  10. norman says:

    help !

    i need to copy my picture folders to a HD which is formatted by bellexpresvu as pvr , but when i connect the drive with my pc as USB external its not reading it ,is there any way that i could copy my picture files as well as keep the drive in use with bell HD receiver , pl if anyone can help me , thanks

    • Won’t be as easy as you think unless you know Linux or have EXT3 extensions installed on your PC. This is how the drive gets formatted by the receiver. Plugging it into a computer now will require you to format it under Windows.

  11. Mike says:

    Barry,

    I want to format a hard drive that I had been using with BEV
    but Windows XP doesn’t give me a format option in the drive properties. Is there a way around this?

  12. Dave says:

    Why do you find disk manager on Windows XP?
    I seem not to be able to see my external hard drive when connecting to the PC from the Bell receiver. I want to format it back so that I can use the HDD again versus having it as a PVR.

    Please help!

  13. Gerry says:

    Hi Barry,

    Do you know of a way to play video files stored on a computer to television without using a PC? I use the Bell PVR yet I have many movies and videos on my PC. I used to use Windows Media Center so I now have lots of media. I don’t want to have my computer in my living room any more, however.
    Gerry

  14. Phil Nicholls says:

    A lot of different answers here. So if I had a drive on mycomputer with no data., and I downloaded whatever extensions I needed, I could transfer TV shows to a TV…then give them on a portable storage device to a friend, who could play them on his PVR.

  15. John says:

    Please expain “step by step” how to transfer recorded movies from 9241 pvr receiver to external hard drive. There must be a way!

  16. robin D says:

    I want to know how to :

    transfert pvr 9241/9242 data to –> windows PC and decrypt them and convert them to .avi

    thank

  17. robin D says:

    EDIT : i do not want a solution using a tv capture card… i want direct transfert (HD–>HD)

  18. Chris says:

    Anyone able to do a direct transfer from a 6131 to pc then to dvd?

    has anyone figured this out?

  19. Bob says:

    Re: John November 14, 2010 at 3:58 pm
    I have done it from a 9241 using the s-video output to the s-video input on my Pinnacle capture card and Pinnacle Studio 9 set to analogue capture. I used to do it with the old Bell receiver via RCA composite out and in but now with the PVR the operation can be done later from its hard drive. In both cases AVI files were written, edited, rendered and burned to DVD. I now plan to get a quad core pc with 8 gigs ram and HDMI input plus Cyberlink PowerDirector 9 Ultra 64. I’m hoping to repeat the above in HD and burn Bluray Disc. so maybe someone out there can advise me.

  20. elk says:

    Well a simple way is to just play them on the PVR right into a computers video card maybe ? storin them,will that work? I got a LG-250 and it records I guess in the same formats,and cant be seen by the XP,but I will get a new video card with all the super duper new formats and then we will see who wins !! the pvr or me lol

  21. Tracy says:

    @DAVE – Did you get an answer to your question? I have the same problem!

  22. Joe Rogan says:

    So.. Im trying to reformat my bell external hd (simply because it has started acting funny and I think it may be corrupted a little). Trying to do it with windows and i can see it in device manager but I cant choose to format it there. Does anyone know how to do this with windows xp? Chris I have tried the method you mentioned but it doesn’t provide a format option there.

    Any help would be appreciated!
    Thanks

    • Joe,

      The drive is formatted with an EXT3 filesystem – primarily used by Linux.

      If you right click on “My Computer”, you should get the option to “Manage” your system. From that screen you should see an option there for “Disk Management” In there you should see your external hard drive. There’s where you should be able to format it by right clicking the drive and choosing from the menu that appears.

      Word of caution, make sure it is your external hard drive you have selected before you try to format. It will erase everything that’s on the drive and if you select the wrong drive, it’s more than a little “oops”.

      Hope this helps!

      Barry

  23. Mike says:

    @ Tracy and Dave. Did you get a solutuion, i have the same problem. Used my external HD as a PVR now will not work on my Laptop.

    • Mike,

      Once you use the external HDD on the PVR, it gets formatted with a different file system. It can be resolved by reformatting the drive on the laptop or PC.

      You can do this in Disk Management. To start Disk Management do the following:

      - Click Start, click Run, type compmgmt.msc, and then click OK.
      - In the console tree, click Disk Management. The Disk Management window appears. Your disks and volumes appear in a graphical view and list view.

      You should see your external hard drive listed there. You can highlight it and delete the volume. Once you have the volume deleted, you can then reformat it under Windows and use it again.

      Barry

  24. Pamela Laing says:

    Maybe I am misreading this, but it sounds like if I had a Linux partition and opened the files in it, it would work? Or am I missing a step?

  25. Don says:

    Hey Guys and Gals,
    I took the easiest way for accomplishing this. I bought a DVD recorder, hooked it up to my receiver, hit play and record and voila! PPV content on a DVD that is playable anywhere.

  26. Prasn says:

    I need help extracting files from 6131 HD Receiver with an External HD attached.I dont want to loose the contents on the HD but the reciever is having trouble reding the HD and wants to format it torestart using it. Any help on this please
    Thanks

  27. Tom says:

    I realise the previous problems with formatting the drives for Windows use again and the detection problems have most likely been sorted because of the age of the posts, but I just wanted to point you guys/gals to a great little Freeware application called SwissKnife.
    It instantly detects the PVR formatted USB drive and Bob’s your uncle. ;)

    http://www.softpedia.com/get/System/Hard-Disk-Utils/SwissKnife.shtml

    • Great tip Tom! Thanks for sharing.

      • James says:

        The SwissKnife application didn’t work on Win7 32 bit (installed but Windows warns of compatibility issues) but would not detect the external HDD in the list of devices. I tried PVRExplorer but it does not work on a drive formatted by a Bell 6131. Anyone else find a solution?

  28. Taj says:

    So seing how it wont work on a computer to playback shows/movies. Would it be playable throught an unsubscribed bel reciver say at a camp or camper

  29. Tom says:

    Unfortunately, absolutely not. The hard drive gets married to the receiver you have originally recorded the files with, so to speak.
    The second you plug the drive into another receiver, it will tell you you need to format the drive to that receiver, thus losing all your saved stuff. So, the drive is only good for the receiver it has been working with. :(

    • Brad says:

      Is there a way to copy the files from the external drive, then connect the external drive to another pvr and let the pvr format the drive, then copy the recorded contents back to it,allowing you to then watch the recorded content on that pvr?

    • Steve says:

      Not necessarily… you can delete + create the partition with disc manager, then, plug to a different receiver… receiver will `format` it but keep all the files… at-least I was able to do so..

  30. Jedster says:

    Contrary to being married to a single receiver, this is not true. Married to your subscription as a whole, possible. Have an external USB drive loaded with recordings off Bell ExpressVu and I can hot swap the drive from receiver to receiver in the house and not lose anything. Yes each receiver wants to setup the drive once detected, but I lose nothing.

  31. Denis says:

    Hi, I just want to share a fact. I blow my bell pvr then bell send me a new one, When I plug back my old HDD to the new pvr it ask me to reformat it. I say no because I want to keep the stuff I have on it and voilà evething work fine. Then I dont think that the pvr is married with the hdd by it serial number or anything else. I thing bell use a proprietary encoding more then an encrypt file. We should find it.

  32. David Nelson says:

    I have 2 Model 9210 PVR-s and I can swap external drives between the two.

  33. Peter Frank Lee says:

    Got Fibe installed a week ago, works great but now I have this 9241 PVR and an external hard drive with about 50-60 movies and no way to able to play them. Will keep reading your posts to find some way of viewing the saved movies, not necessarily to copy the movies. Am newbee to this so whatever method you prescribe, please give precise details, whether it means purchasing a card for my PC or
    a program, am willing to try. Good luck.

    Peter Frank Lee

    • Scott MacDonald says:

      Hey Peter,
      In case you ever look back here, you can watch your pvr events with your 9241. It doesn’t need and satellite feed to watch the pvr events. The screen will continually say no signal or something like that but just push the pvr button and play what you want.

    • JTJohnstoon says:

      What is fibe?
      I’m some glad I didn,t plug my virgin external in tonight :D
      I’ll go buy another drive. But I’d certainly like to crack it and extract the vids in mpeg format, if someone figures it out.

  34. Chris says:

    Thank you so much ! Bad suprise when I lost my external drive to this bell receiver. Could not use it anymore with my laptop. Tks to you i now have reformated and recovered my drive. Did I learn my lesson well !
    Great help !

  35. Caroline says:

    Thanks Barry for this (always out there exploring new things!). Been reading the thread and hopefully someone can help me out. Have two EHD that were formatted on same PVR 9241, One no longer is recognized for some unknown reason. Of course it is the one with most of the really good movies!! My questions is… since one is still recognized and I know I can not watch the movies on my computer but can I transfer the files from one EHD to another by copying them onto my computer?

  36. Richard says:

    Interesting set of posts…..Here’s a question that occured to me while reading through them.

    If I want to increase the size of my PVR disk, can I setup a linux box, mount both the old and new disks as EXT3 and then use dd (or another std unix/linux command) to copy all the content from the old smaller disk to the new bigger one, then put the bigger one on the PVR and have lots of extra space?

    If the files are individually encrypted (as opposed the filesystem itself being encrypted), then this should work shouldn’t it?

  37. lijo says:

    How to play sundirect plus pvr file in pc

  38. Gary says:

    Yes I just found a way to get programs off a bell PVR receiver. The quality is not HD. I used a Diamond One Touch Video capture device that enabled my computer to hook up to the PVE using the AV cables. You then play the movie or recording and it is captured on your computer in it’s own recording. The quality is not HD but it’s better then losing your recordings.

  39. jp says:

    Hi everyone!

    My old pvr was replaced with two new ones (multiroom).

    I would like to simply copy the shows I had on a hard drive recorded on a bell receiver and move them to another hard drive. So I can use it in another room.

    Can I just copy the hard drive?

    Thanks

  40. JET says:

    Hello,

    I have a Bell 6131 HD receiver, with an attached 1 TB external drive.

    I want to upgrade to a 2TB drive. But I’d like to transfer all the content from the 1TB, to the new 2TB.
    (I don’t want to have to switch back and forth between drives to access the content)

    Does anyone know how I can go about doing a transfer like this?

    I know if you have a Bell PVR, you can copy that data TO an external drive right from the PVR’s menu.
    But I can’t see a way to copy from external to external.

    Perhaps some sort of “data backup” software might do the trick?
    Plug in both drives to a windows system, and use the software to “back up” the 1TB bell drive, to the new 2TB drive? Or is the bell formatted drive going to be totally unrecognized?

  41. Learning says:

    Just to let everyone know you can use a 64 GB USB flash drive and above with your Bell System I would just make sure it is USB 2.0 as the power requirements meet the console requirement, USB 3.0 require more power, although will probably work anyhow

    To get the data off the drive just use recovery software that supports EXT2/3 Fat12/16/32 and NTFS etc…

  42. scott says:

    I used an external hard drive as a pvr for a while then unplugged it and tried to hook it back up to my computer.. For some reason it does not recognize it anymore.. should have have done something to re-format it back while still connected to my bell receiver? It does not show up when I go to my computer.. Please help.
    Thanks!

  43. Sonya says:

    I have an external hard drive that I purchased and connected to my bell receiver, can I transfer movies that I have on my pvr receiver to an usb and then transfer it to my external hard drive via computer..

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