Will my DVR still record if a program’s time changes?

Probably.

We’ve all been there. Our favorite show is on and we’re out of the house. Hey, that’s what a DVR is for, right? And then, you’re out and about and you catch wind of a presidential address or football game or something running long. Your favorite program could start late or could get rescheduled altogether. What should you do?

DIRECTV’s scheduling systems are pretty smart, and as long as they have the right information, you won’t be left without anything to watch. The details of the system are top secret, but after several years of watching, it seems to me that there are three separate processes that take place.

When you first boot up your receiver., you get about six hours of guide data. If there was data there before the reboot, it’s sometimes preserved as well. These six hours of data are the most comprehensive and they are actually checked against the satellite several times an hour. If something changes and DIRECTV knows about it, they can publish new guide data and the receiver will pull it down and reschedule the recording as needed.

If a schedule change is known in advance, it goes into the long-term guide data stream which can give you about 2 weeks’ notice of upcoming changes. This means that if the show you wanted to watch was completely rescheduled, it can be recorded at a later date. This will work fine as long as your DVR knows it didn’t record the show the first time. If you get home expecting to see Dancing with the Stars and you see a news desk instead, your DVR might not know the program was pre-empted. In a case like this you might want to start checking upcoming episodes to make sure they’re correctly set to record.

Then, there are the weird problems. Like, if a show changes titles (like American Horror Story has) or if the guide data itself is corrupt. Any computer is only as good as the data it gets, and sometimes that data is pretty wacky. I’ve missed shows (specifically BBC Top Gear) because I set the DVR to record only new episodes, and then it thinks all the new shows are reruns. Why? Because they already aired in Britain once. That’s pretty messed up.

When you look at all the wacky things that go wrong with all the different information coming into your DVR for the hundreds of channels of TV you could potentially get, it’s pretty impressive that it works as well as it does. Yet, it’s not perfect. If you have concerns about what will record and what has recorded, press {MENU}, scroll down to “Recordings” and choose “Manage Recordings.” Here you can see the To Do list, which shows what will record, as well as the history which shows what did (and didn’t) record. There’s a lot of information to dig through, but if you really want to be sure to catch something, it’s worth it.

Finally, don’t forget that you can set recordings on your DVR from anywhere by using the DIRECTV apps for smartphones and tablets. If you think your show might start late, it might be worth it to record the show just after it, to be safe.