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More on the Free OnlineTVRecorder

Two months ago I reviewed the OnlineTVRecorder ( after about a week of use. After two months of using the OTR on a regular basis, I am still just as thrilled about stumbling across it as I was then. But the site is far from intuitive, and support is available from various sources but largely outdated and not easy to find. So I’d like to revisit the topic with some additional tips and tricks that might not be obvious to novice users:

  • Downloads are free during “happy hour” (0-8 am CET) but cost a few cents otherwise. But you can download files outside of the “happy hour” window for free if you download them from one of the listed mirror sites.
  • You will be able to download files that were not on your record list. However, you will not be able to decode them. This also means that you should not delete a recording once you have downloaded it until you also have decoded it — unless you have a Get-It-All-Wishlist.
  • If you make a Get-It-All-Wishlist then every show that OTR records will be available to you. You will be able to download it and decode it, even if you didn’t single it out for recording, as long as the Get-It-All-Wishlist was activated before the date of broadcast. And it seems you CAN use the GIA-Wishlist with a Beginner account, even though the guidelines state that you cannot.
  • If you didn’t record a program you wanted and you don’t/didn’t have a GIA-Wishlist, you can use the Buddy list to ask other users who recorded and the program to share it with you … in theory. I was unable to get the Buddy list to allow me to submit a request for a program, though I was able to share my programs with others.
  • Occasionally, something you slated for recording cannot be downloaded, either because it was recorded and the file is corrupted or because it was on a Pooling channel and didn’t get enough votes from users to be slated as a program to record for that time slot. Overall, however, this doesn’t affect a large number of programs.
  • Downloaded files typically contain not only the program you wanted but also several minutes of additional programming preceding the program and/or following the program. You will need to scan the files to find the beginning of the program you’re looking for. If you intend to save these programs onto DVDs or another storage device, you will probably want to use video-editing software (e.g. free, open-source Avidemux) to cut the extra programming and reduce file size.
  • If you start a Premium account, you may revert back to a Beginner account when you use all of your decodes or when your month is up. This way you get another free 15 decodes before activating and paying for Premium status for the next month.
  • Make sure you have reputable virus protection software installed on your computer before you start downloading. A few times I have encountered attempts from affiliated 3rd party websites to infect my computer (once successfully, and I had to spend a few hours purging it). Since installing Norton, I have seen a few attempts, but Norton has blocked them.
  • Lovers of German language and culture beware: the OTR is addicting and it is easy to lose hours searching the broad volume of available programming. Incidentally, 20 US channels are also available on the OTR, which means if you forget to DVR your favorite American shows, you can download them for free and watch them on your computer.

If I get any additional insights that seem worth sharing, I’ll post them in the comments.

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