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DVR expander eSATA drive not recognized on Arris DCX3600-M Enhanced DVR in NYC

lmastrolmastro Posts: 4
in TV Equipment Mar 12, 2020

According to the Spectrum online support page my Enhanced DVR (Arris DCD3600-M) should support eSATA hard drives that are compatible with DVRs:

DVR External Hard Drive (eSATA) Port | Spectrum Support

I purchased one that claims to be compatible:

The support page says to plug the external drive into the eSATA port of the DVR once the drive has been powered up for 15-30 seconds. It claims that the DVR will display a prompt to format the new drive or a message if the drive is not compatible.

I get no prompt at all when connecting the drive to the DVR. I tried rebooting my DVR and that didn’t help. I checked the diagnostics and they only show the internal drive. The extended diagnostics don’t even mention the eSATA port.

I called technical support and they said they couldn’t help with 3rd party hardware.

I saw one relevant forum entry claiming the eSATA port is disabled for copy protection but that doesn’t make sense because the data on each drive is encrypted so it’s only useful on the DVR it was formatted on. Also, why is there a support page for it if it’s not supported?

I’m a Spectrum triple play and Enhanced DVR customer in NY, NY 10002. He support page mentions a few other areas of NY where this won’t work but NYC is not one of those:

“Ineligible Areas:
New York: Berlin, Chatham, West Stockbridge”

Has anyone had luck trying this in NYC?



  • SatchSatch Posts: 3,636 helper
    Mar 13, 2020



    I understand that ALL DVR expansion ports are disabled on all DVR boxes at this time to maintain copy protection of any programing to external devices.



  • LGTLGT Posts: 94 ✭✭✭✭
    Mar 14, 2020

    I have seen conflicting stories about this on the internet.  Some people, Satch included, say Spectrum does not allow external storage devices period. The Spectrum link the OP points to is fairly clear saying they are allowed if certain requirements are met. The last group of people say the ports are disabled by default, but can be enabled if you can get to the right tech. 

    My only advice would be to call Spectrum again and try to get to a higher level of tech. The people that answer the phones are going to take the path of least resistance for themselves, which is to give you the old third party equipment excuse. You will probably have to push back and say it is their box that is the problem, not your equipment. You may even have to be a pest and request a new box and keep at them.  If they finally say they don't support external devices than you should tell them to fix their website because it says the opposite. I don't know if doing this will get you external storage, but at least you might get a definitive answer about whether or not it is allowed.  

    if you do pursue this I would be curious to see what happens. 

  • lmastrolmastro Posts: 4
    Mar 18, 2020
    I was told by one of the moderators that the Enhanced DVR is not compatible with adding external drives while the regular DVRs with eSATA are. No reason was given why it’s not compatible. This makes no sense to me because my so-called Enhanced DVR has an eSATA port as well.

    They also said they would try to make the support page clearer.

    I will call support again soon and see if I can get another opinion.

    In the midst of the COVID-19 crisis I realize there are more important problems for the support folks to solve like helping zillions of people with their Internet access so they can work or take classes from home.
  • krel_2018krel_2018 Posts: 256
    Apr 01, 2020

    the E SATA ports are locked on all of the boxes across the board, if it's a big issue there are other providers that allow the use of an external drive.. if there box has a usb thumb drive those are locked across the board also. i imagine the usb ports are just used to reinstall software..

  • krel_2018krel_2018 Posts: 256
    Apr 02, 2020

    i tried a higher level of tech support. the answer i got was all the e sata and usb ports are locked across the board on all of the boxes

  • lmastrolmastro Posts: 4
    Apr 07, 2020
    I appreciate your reply.

    If that’s the answer they should have clarified the support page (linked in my original post) when they enacted the policy, not after customers encountered the issue. I assume I’m not the first. Then I wouldn’t have purchased a DVR-specific external hard drive. It won’t go to waste but I probably would have gotten a more portable drive if I wasn’t going to use it for DVR expansion.

    They already encrypt the content on the drives so they are useless on another DVR[*] so I don’t understand why they disable the eSATA port too.

    [*]: I guess if the DVR fails for reasons other than a broken hard drive, all content is lost. It would be better if an encryption key was on a removable card so they could swap the hard drives and key card into a replacement DVR so customers wouldn’t lose all recorded content and subscriptions.

  • cp0015cp0015 Posts: 23
    May 19, 2020

    On the Rented Cable Box/DVR provided by Spectrum TV Cable Service, only the internal drive built into the unit must be used for recordings, nothing else.


    From time to time, managing the recorded programs (watching them and deleting it when no longer needed) on a weekly basis can free up space for future scheduled recordings. When doing series (recurring) recordings of new (first-run) episodes, for example, I keep the most recent 2 episodes, while older ones after that are auto-deleted as a new one is added. This can solve an issue with the practice of conservation.

  • lmastrolmastro Posts: 4
    May 19, 2020
    Thanks for the tips cp0015. I’m aware of the DVR storage management features you described.

    Regarding your statement:
    “On the Rented Cable Box/DVR provided by Spectrum TV Cable Service, only the internal drive built into the unit must be used for recordings, nothing else.”

    Are you a customer or do you work for Spectrum? Who are you to set policy? How would you know what “must” be done?

    Before purchasing my external drive I checked and found:
    1) The DVR has an eSATA port for external storage expansion.
    2) Companies sell external hard drives specifically designed to expand DVRs including the model I rent.
    3) The online support pages include instructions (linked in my original post) for expanding DVR storage with external drives.
    4) The support page even lists regions where DVR expansion is not supported but my region is not on that list.
    5) The DVR diagnostics screens show the number of attached drives as 1. If adding drives wasn’t a possibility then there’s no reason to show the number.
    6) Customers on other cable providers have posted articles about expanding their DVRs.

    Having purchased an external drive and having it fail to be recognized by my DVR despite the drive being otherwise healthy, I conclude that Spectrum has disabled the expansion capability in software. I don’t know their motivation. Perhaps it simplifies their support. Copy protection is not a valid reason because I’m pretty certain that they already encrypt the data on the internal drive and external drives with a key tied to the DVR they are attached to so they couldn’t be used to move content to another DVR.

    I hope to revisit this soon and get an answer more substantial than “we don’t support 3rd party hardware” when as I mentioned the website said this was supported.

  • krel_2018krel_2018 Posts: 256
    Jun 03, 2020

    if you want to use an external HDD then goto diretv i have the genie with an external 12 TB HDD. or you could get a tivo. spectrum won't let you use an external HDD wich is lame. not saying spectrum does this. but some cable co's have been known to down scale the resolution so they can fit more channels onto there system..

  • krel_2018krel_2018 Posts: 256
    Jun 04, 2020

    BTW from what i was told. since you don't own the boxes there leased you don't own the content. wich should have nothing to do with expanding your storage on your DVR. i am sure it's encrypted..

  • krel_2018krel_2018 Posts: 256
    Jun 17, 2020

    if you buy a tivo. some of the older ones will also let you dump what you recorded on to a pc as well. i think the romios will. but the bolt won't nor will the edge...

This discussion has been closed.