What is the largest hard drive you can attach to a DIRECTV Genie?

.If you’re one of the people who isn’t satisfied with the 450-hour recording capacity of your Genie DVR, you probably know that you can connect an eSATA drive to the DVR and it will use that external drive instead of the internal one. You should plan for this ahead of time, because once you connect the external drive, you’ll lose access to all the recordings on the internal one. But if you’re starting from square one, you probably won’t care about that.

So the questions then become: what is the biggest drive you can put on a Genie DVR and how many hours can be stored per gigabyte?

Hard to know the answers but…

To the first question, the answer is really that you can put the biggest drive you want. I’ve personally never known anyone to put more than a 4TB drive on a Genie, but I’m told that the device would support at last 16TB and probably 32TB. Drives that size aren’t made now so you’d have to go to an array and at that point it’s possible that you might be watching a little too much TV.

As for the amount of storage you need, it really depends. The compression on every channel is different and so there’s no single number that makes sense 100% of the time. I personally like to quote 4GB per hour of HD. It’s not always accurate but it’s probably good enough to get a rough estimate. That means that you’ll get 250 hours of recording time for every 1TB you add after the first one. The first terabyte will only hold about 200 hours because DIRECTV uses some of the first terabyte of space for its own purposes, pre-downloading on-demand content and custom advertising.

Simple answer: More stuff than you could actually watch

So let’s say for a moment that you have a 4TB drive, meaning that you can expect about 1,250 hours of HD programming. To fill that, you’d have to record three hours a day of programming and not delete any of it. To watch 1,250 hours of programming while skipping commercials would take you about 1,000 hours. That’s the equivalent of a full-time job lasting six months. That’s a pretty big commitment. Let’s face it, that’s probably more television viewing than you’re going to do. I mean, let’s say you’ve been stuck in the house for four months at this point. Even then you’re probably not watching that much recorded TV.

Ah, but some people just record things “to have them” rather than because they plan on watching them. Unfortunately these people inevitably end up disappointed. Keep in mind DIRECTV doesn’t let you move the recordings from one receiver to another. Sooner or later your current receiver will either wear out. Maybe it will be replaced by an upgraded model, or some evil will befall it. At that point all the recordings you did “just to have them” will be unplayable. If you’re seeking a better way to archive, there are very few good options. Realistically you’re better off relying on content providers or streaming services to do that. You may feel good about recording that Wonder Woman marathon. I understand that. Honestly though,  if you really want to keep that content, buy physical discs.

When you’re ready to add to your DIRECTV system, shop for all the parts and accessories you need at Solid Signal. 

About the Author

Stuart Sweet
Stuart Sweet is the editor-in-chief of The Solid Signal Blog and a "master plumber" at Signal Group, LLC. He is the author of over 6,000 articles and longform tutorials including many posted here. Reach him by clicking on "Contact the Editor" at the bottom of this page.