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How DirecTV Stream’s DVR Works (And Its Limitations)

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DirecTV Stream provides subscribers with a cloud DVR making it possible to record episodes, movies, and more. However, there are some limitations and general things that are worth being aware of to maximize the recording experience. This is especially the case if switching from another live TV service.

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With streaming becoming more prevalent, the availability of cloud-based DVRs have become all the more common. Pretty much every live TV streaming service now offers some form of cloud DVR, although they are far from equal. There is a variety of ways in which the recording experience can differ, including the number of hours, the type of videos that can be recorded, and even the devices that be used to schedule recordings.

Almost all existing DirecTV Stream subscribers get access to an unlimited cloud DVR. However, there are some exceptions. For example, those that are still on a grandfathered plan may still be limited to just 20 hours of recording space. Likewise, those that have switched do DirecTV Stream from the standard DirecTV service or those that were previously U-verse customers may also find they don’t have access to the unlimited DVR. In some of these cases, they may need to pay an additional $10 per month to upgrade their DVR to unlimited. For any new subscribers signing up through the DirecTV Stream website today, they can also expect to get access to an unlimited recording experience. This is also irrespective of the plan chosen or the monthly cost they are paying.

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DirecTV Stream’s DVR is not totally unlimited

One of the first things to be aware of is that the DVR is not totally unlimited. It is unlimited in the sense that there are no restrictions on the number of hours that can be recorded. It is also unlimited in the sense that there are no restrictions on how many different channels can be recorded at the same time. However, DirecTV Stream does place a very clear limit on recording shows.

Specifically, if recording all of the episodes for one show, DirecTV Stream will only allow 30 episodes to be recorded and stored at the same time. If restricted to the 20-hour DVR, then only 10 episodes of the same TV series can be stored at any one time. Once either of these limits have been reached, DirecTV Stream will continue to record new episodes but it will delete the oldest ones first to make room. This is irrespective of whether those episodes have been watched or not. Seven days before any recording is due to expire, DirecTV Stream will display a warning advising of the episode(s) that are due to be deleted.

Another way the DVR is not totally unlimited is in relation to the length of time that recordings can be stored for. In general, DirecTV Stream will only store recordings for a maximum of nine months. In some cases, these recordings might actually be deleted even sooner. In fairness, this is somewhat common within the live TV streaming space with other services also adopting a time limit on how long recordings can be stored for. Still, it is something to be aware of in general when signing up to DirecTV Stream.

A last point to be aware of is that DirecTV Stream doesn’t currently offer any real option to add profiles. Due to this, there is no way to segment recordings based on the user. Whatever someone else records will automatically show up in the same list along with everyone else’s recordings as well. This is different to some other services, notably YouTube TV, which not only offers profiles, but also provides each subaccount with their own cloud DVR. Still, this is the best version of a cloud DVR that DirecTV Stream has offered to date, and it is likely to be further improved as time goes on.

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DirecTV Stream DVR summary

DirecTV Stream offers a good DVR experience overall, and one that is certainly better than previous versions. One of the main upgrades in recent times is the move to an unlimited DVR, making it possible for subscribers to record as many hours as they want. With the exception of some grandfathered subscribers, and those that might have switched from the standard DirecTV service, all new and existing DirecTV Stream subscribers will have access to the unlimited recording experience.

However, DirecTV Stream’s definition of unlimited does come with some caveats which may or may not prove a problem depending on the needs of the individual or household. One of the most obvious is the limit on episodes which restricts how many can be recorded and stored at the same time. Providing a subscriber is going to routinely watch recorded episodes, and is fine with them expiring soon after, this limitation may not prove to be an issue. Regardless of whether a show, movie, or any other video, DirecTV Stream only keeps recordings for up to nine months.

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John Finn

By John Finn

John started Streaming Better to help consumers navigate the live TV streaming and subscription service landscape. John has been writing about technology and TV-related services and devices since 2014 and believes the best streaming approach is to bounce between services as needed. Contact John via email at john@streamingbetter.com or on Twitter

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