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Add a Serial ATA Drive to a Scientific-Atlanta 8300 DVR

Digital video recorders (DVRs) are revolutionizing the way people watch television, offering unprecedented control over how and when you watch. DVRs are so useful that users can quickly fill them up saving programs. Now you can add hundreds of hours of additional storage to your DVR with just a SATA drive, engineered expressly for use with DVRs.

Determining which cable you need

Identify the cable type you need by looking at the jacks of both devices you need to connect together. Refer to the images at right for the two possible port types.

  1. Check the port of your external drive
  2. Check the port of your other device
  3. Order the correct cable - there are three different cable types, please select carefully.

Cable Choices:

Note: if one end is a USB connector, you need a USB to SATA adapter. We don't currently offer these adapters.

eSata Jack

Sata Jack
eSATA to SATA cable
External SATA to SATA Shielded Hard Drive Cable

eSATA to SATA hard drive cable for use with Scientific-Atlanta Explorer 8300 High Definition Cable boxes (Scientific-Atlanta Explorer 8300 series (8300 HD, 8300 MR, and 8300 HD-MR Digital Video Recorders). 1 meter long
Connects an external eSATA device to a SATA external drive or controller
  • eSATA 7 pin male to SATA 7 pin male
  • Supports SATA II speeds of up to 3Gbit/sec
  • Ideal for using newer eSATA equipped external drive housings with older SATA controllers
  • Made exclusively for us to our specifications

See technical info below to select the right cable
eSATA Cable



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SATA to SATA internal Hard Drive Cables
Internal SATA hard drive for use with internal connections for SATA drives. 1 meter long.

See info below to select the right cable
SATA Cable



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eSATA to eSATA Shielded Cable
Designed to connect eSATA external drives/enclosures to eSATA enabled systems standardized to work other eSATA products. Extra shielding and metal contacts provide better EMI protection. 1 meter long.
eSATA to eSATA  Cable



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SATA External Drive

The SATA external hard drive instantly adds more recording hours to your DVR or set-top box by attaching to your already installed DVR. The SATA external hard drive provides up to 150 hours of high-speed storage for set-top boxes equipped with external Serial ATA ports such as the Scientific-Atlanta 8300 HD. The drive takes advantage of the same serial ATA storage technology that powers most of today's DVRs. The SATA hard drive is designed for streaming media applications and offer exceptional performance and advanced features that enhance the digital entertainment experience.

  • Designed to work with Scientific-Atlanta Explorer 8300 series (8300 HD, 8300 MR, and 8300 HD-MR) Digital Video Recorders
  • Features 300 GB drive 7200 RPM and 16MB cache. Data Transfer up to 150 MB/sec
  • Flickering LED to note external drive activity during operation
  • Quiet operation
  • Sturdy and stylish compact aluminum case
  • Compete with external drive, power supply, and connecting cables
  • Quick and easy installation
  • 1-year warranty on hard drive
External Drive Case

eSata Drive Case

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Technical Information

Comparison of SATA to eSATA Technologies
In past several years, increasing hard disk transfer rates have forced the traditional PC ATA interface to be continuously updated to avoid becoming the limiting factor in disk I/O performance. As consumers embrace new technology such as digital video creation and editing, digital audio storage and playback, file sharing over high-speed networks, and other data intensive applications, demands on hard drive throughput are increasing even further. To keep pace, the storage interconnect must be developed beyond existing parallel ATA technology. A recent approach is Serial ATA or SATA, a serial implementation of the parallel Ultra ATA interface.

SATA plug
(note the notch)
External SATA

eSATA is a standard for how to connect SATA drives externally. Initially SATA was designed as an internal or inside-the-box interface technology, bringing improved performance and new features to internal PC or consumer storage. Creative designers quickly realized the innovative interface could reliably be expanded outside the PC, bringing the same performance and features to external storage needs instead of relying on USB or FireWire (IEEE 1394) interfaces. Called external SATA or eSATA, customers can now utilize shielded cable lengths up to two meters outside the PC to take advantage of the benefits the SATA interface brings to storage. SATA is now out of the box as an external standard, with specifically defined cables, connectors, and signal requirements released as new standards in 2004. eSATA is effectively an external SATA standard that allowed for longer SATA cable length as well as a more robust connector designed for more wear and tear.

eSATA gives external storage performance options that is faster than other external data exchange standards such as USB2 and FireWire.

eSATA includes a standard for cable type, cable length, and hot-swappability. , which is a follow up to the original SATA specs which didn't have an official definition for how to utilize SATA drives externally.

eSATA Plug
eSATA plug
(no notch)
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Connecting a SATA Drive to a DVR

Upgrading the Recording Storage Capacity your Scientific Atlanta 8300 DVR
Scientific-Atlanta Explorer 8300 HD, 8300 MR and 8300 HD-MR
DVR Rear Panel SATA Slot

SATA Drive to 8300 DVR

Steps to Connect your DVR to SATA Drive:
  • Verify your DVR supports an external SATA drive
  • Get an SATA external drive with a SATA connector
  • Connect the Scientific Atlanta 8300 to the drive using the eSATA to SATA cable
  • Connect the data cable for the SAT A drive to the 8300HD.
  • Make sure that both the 8300HD and the external SATA drive are unplugged from power.
  • Plug in power to the external SATA drive.
  • Plug in the 8300HD power cord, and then turn on the 8300HD.
  • Plug back in drive 8300 should now notice the new drive. If it is a new drive or one used on another device, you will be asked to format it. Follow the on-screen instructions. It should ask you "Format this drive now?" (Press A)" After formatting, external storage should be usable by DVR
  • If the drive is already formatted and will work with this 8300HD, you will get a confirmation that the drive is working.
  • Power off cable box for 10 seconds before turning off external drive.
Guidelines for Using the External SATA Hard Disk
The external SATA hard disk drive requires continuous power. If the SATA drive loses power while the Explorer 8300HD is plugged in, the 8300HD may stop current recordings or not provide enough space for future recordings. Follow these guidelines for using the SAT A drive:
  • Do not plug in the power cord for the SATA drive to a switched outlet or to the AC outlet on the 8300HD.
  • Do not turn off, disconnect, or unplug the SATA drive while the 8300HD is plugged in.

Recommendations for the SATA Drive
At a minimum, your SATA drive should have these capabilities:
  • External SATA Connector - eSATA or SATA 1/: Cable and Connector
  • Drive Speed: 7200 RPM (5400 RPM without Multi-room); 133 MB/sec
  • Capacity: Only one SATA drive can be connected to the 8300HD. The 8300HD will not support a separate port multiplier.
  • SATA Drive Power: The SATA drive should power on when plugged in and should not be controlled by a switch.
  • If you have questions contact your cable service provider for a list of external SATA hard disk drives.

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Frequently Asked Questions

The following FAQ is intended to help answer any questions you may have about using a SATA drive with a DVR.


What steps do I take to connect the external drive to the DVR?

See discussion above

What interfaces will be offered for connecting a SATA external to the DVR?

The interface available today is external SATA (eSATA). Regular SATA cables will not plug into the back panel of the Explorer 8300.

How can I tell which cable I need?

Study the above pictures of the SATA and eSATA plugs. Notice that the internal SATA cable has a notch in the connector and the eSATA cable does not. Check your DVRs connector for a notch.

Is it okay to disconnect a SATA external drive from a DVR?

Users are advised not to unplug, or disconnect the SATA drive while the DVR unit is plugged in or operating. To safely disconnect the drive from a DVR, first unplug the DVR from its power source, wait 10 seconds, and then disconnect the SATA drive.

Is a SATA external drive compatible with any DVR?

SATA external drive have been successfully used with the Scientific-Atlanta Explorer 8300 series (8300 HD, 8300 MR, and 8300 HD-MR Digital Video Recorders). It works with many cable companies/8300HD boxes, but not all. It depends primarily on which DVR operating software is running on your box.. Cable boxes that run the SARA software are compatible, those that run the Passport software are not. Most Cox cable subscribers with the 8300HD are fully compatible. Time Warner's 8300HD boxes are also compatible.

To check which software is on your cable box:

  1. Go into Diagnostic Mode. There are two ways to enter the Diagnostic Mode:
  2. Press and hold the Select button on the front of the unit until the Mail light starts to flash, then press the INFO button.
    Press and hold the Pause button on the remote until the Mail light starts to flash (around 10-15 seconds), then press the Page Up (-) button.
  3. Scroll through the pages until you see SARA or PASSPORT listed. If you see SARA, then your box is will most likely support an external drive!

Can I take all of my favorite shows that were previously saved to my DVR and move them to my SATA external drive?

No. Once your SATA external drive is connected to the DVR, it cannot be used as an archiving device. This means the DVR unit will not allow you to copy all of your saved programs to the SATA external drive once it is connected. Recording logic that is built in to the DVR decides where the next recorded program is stored. The drive with the most available space will store the next recorded program. The DVR will not allow you to specify the location of the next recording on the internal DVR drive or the external SATA drive. The DVR does not span recorded programs from the internal drive to the external drive.

What about digital rights management (DRM) and content protection?

The SATA external drive is designed to work in conjunction with the DRM protection scheme that currently exists in the Explorer 8300 series as implemented by Scientific-Atlanta. All recorded programs saved to the drive are encrypted and will only work with that specific DVR.

What if my DVR malfunctions or my cable provider decides to upgrade or swap out my DVR with a new one?

Any previously recorded content on your SATA external drive will not be available for viewing on your new DVR, and the SATA external drive will have to be reformatted before use, causing all recordings that were previously saved to be erased.

How can I tell if a recorded show is stored on the internal DVR drive or the external SATA external drive?

The DVR does not allow users to see where the content is stored, internally or externally. However, a list of recorded programs is stored on the internal DVR's drive. This can be useful when trying to diagnose and solve technical issues between the external SATA drive and the internal drive. To do this, the external SATA drive must first be safely disconnected. The programs that have been stored on the external drive will show up in the DVR's recorded list, but they won't be available to be viewed.

How will users know when the SATA external drive is almost out of recording space?

When trying to schedule the next recording, the DVR will provide an on screen warning if there is insufficient space available. If this is the case, users may find it necessary to delete some previously recorded programs.


What is a SATA external drive?

A SATA external drive plugs into a digital video recorder (DVR) to add up to 300 hours of recording time (depending on the drive size, system and signal quality), once the DVR is enabled by the provider for external recording. How many extra hours of recording time can users expect after adding the SATA external to a DVR? Results will vary. A 300GB SATA external drive recorded with standard definition television can store approximately 200 hours of content. A high-definition (HD) television signal is roughly 8 to 10 times larger than standard definition. Therefore, if you record the same 300GB drive with high-definition content, you will get about 20-25 hours of recorded HD content.

Is the SATA external drive "portable"?

No, the SATA external is not a portable drive. This drive is not designed to be used as an attachment to a PC or even another cable box.

Can I use a SATA external drive on multiple DVRs in the house?

Moving a SATA drive from one DVR unit to another will require reformatting before use on another DVR, causing all recordings that were previously saved to be erased.

What will happen if the SATA external drive is plugged into a PC?

If you connect the SATA external drive to a PC, the recorded content will not be viewable. Users will be prompted to reformat the drive before the device can be used, causing all content to be erased.

I always defragment the hard disk on my home computer. Does the SATA drive require defragmenting?

No. Your SATA drive does not require defragmenting. Hard disk fragmentation is caused by two things - small files that take up only a portion of a sector on the disk, plus constant addition, and deletion of small files that creates gaps in the media on the drive. Both situations make it hard to find a large continuous block of disk space for storing new content. Since DVRs record a small number of very large files, a disk defragmenter isn't necessary.

Additional Information Provided by Scientific-Atlanta Inc. and Maxtor Inc.

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