What is the Use of USB Port in Tata Sky, Airtel, Videocon and Other DTH Set Top Box?

UPDATE: Now the USB port in the set top box can also be used to connect the USB Wi-Fi Dongle which is used to connect the STB to broadband Internet connection wirelessly to access VoD (Video on Demand) content delivered by the DTH service provider or to use your mobile phone as a remote for the STB with the help of mobile application supplied by DTH company.

We have posted many reviews and guides about various DTH (Direct-To-Home) services available in India such as Tata Sky, Airtel Digital TV (ADTV), Dish TV, Videocon D2H, etc. We have compared Tata Sky with Dish TV and Airtel Digital TV. We have also shared secret tricks to reveal hidden Service Menus in Tata Sky, Airtel and Dish TV set top boxes.

Ever since we started posting about DTH services, many people have asked us about mysterious USB port available on these DTH set top boxes. People regularly ask us what is the use or function of this USB port present in set top boxes?

So today we decided to write an article about the use of USB ports given in almost all DTH set top boxes. Some DTH service providers provide USB ports on all kind of set top boxes whether its a normal SD box or HD/HD+ box. But some DTH provide USB ports only on HD/HD+ boxes. Also some set top boxes contain the USB port in front and some set top boxes contain it at backside.

Basically USB port on a set top box is used for recording purposes. It is provided to store recordings of live programs telecasting via your set top box. Some DTH services allow customers to attach their USB drives in this USB port to play videos, songs or view photos stored on their USB drive.

For example, Dish TV provides USB port on its True HD+ set top box so that users can record TV programs on USB drives attached to the port. Dish TV provides this USB port because Dish TV set top box doesn't contain any internal hard disk to store data.


Other DTH services such as Tata Sky, Airtel and Videocon also provide USB ports on their HD/HD+ set top boxes but it doesn't allow you to record programs or view content stored on your USB drive. If you insert your USB drive into this USB port, nothing will happen. So the question comes why do they provide USB port if its not functional?

The answer is, Tata Sky and other DTH services have blocked the functionality of this USB port available on their set top boxes via its firmware. Currently this USB port is used by their engineers to reinstall STB software in case its not working properly. If the companies want, they can make the USB port functional via a firmware upgrade in future and then you'll be able to use it to store programs or to attach your USB drive to view its contents.

At the moment the only use of this USB port is to charge your USB devices such as mobile phones, portable FMs, etc. You can attach your mobile phone to the USB port of your DTH set top box using a USB cable and it'll start charging your mobile phone.

Did you know that you can charge your mobile phone or other USB devices using the USB port available on DTH set top boxes? Do you know any other use of these USB ports? Feel free to share your suggestions and feedback in your comment...

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  • You can use all types of USB ports to recharge your phone,VG.
    I was able to recharge my phone on DVD player USB port,you got it?

  • VG

    ^^ Hmmm. All USB ports can be used to charge devices, thats why I suggested to use the USB port present in STB to charge your mobile phone. I hope you got the point. :)

  • Yeah I was really disappointed that not even Tata Sky Plus (or any other service provider) gives the option of transferring their recorded content to PC. I got egreat's R4B (L1050) model for DVR: egreat.in/store/r4b,%20recorder,%20dvr

  • VG

    ^^ Looks an interesting box. Have your tried Openbox brand?

  • I have a videocon zapper box , the USB port was recently enabled , so we can now record to a pendrive , hdd etc but its encrypted and can't be read in a pc....
    Is it possible to read it in Linux coz the stb seems to be running Linux

  • VG

    ^^ Not possible.

  • I found the system info tab where it mentions linux and it can now record stuff to a pendrive or even a hdd (tried my friends 320gb spare hdd (salvaged from his old laptop). I tried opening it in linux and it shows clear references of a linux based encrypted format,imo it is a variant of fat32 or a higher common format but it literally self destructs when I connect it to my pc and formats itself

  • Another interesting find is my local cable company's own hd dvr stb which has linux written all over it as well and has a ethernet port and its recordings etc can be opened in a pc just like a normal pendrive. I just started out with learning more abt these set top boxes and I'm actually surprised that they are in reality very similiar or even the same under the hood but a few differences here and there which result in a different experience with each firmware. Btw VG, do u know how to enable Videocon D2H's hdmi control ,so I could use my Bravia's remote as well,this used to work with my old stb but doesn't with the zapper box and neither with my cable wala's HD STB

  • VG

    ^^ Sorry no idea.

  • ohh thanks anyways and awesome website btw :)

  • I want to know how to convert video files recorded from my Airtel digital tv's USB port.
    My set top box is HD+ type & files are getting recorded in *.str format i guess

    Thanks in Advance..


  • VG

    ^^ I dont think its possible.

  • You should try to get a software known as Any Video Converter for pc I think it should convert .str to .avi or .mkv but I am not sure You should search Google for that. I want to know that if there is any hidden trick to record TV

  • for Airtel digital TV

  • Purposely I took out the internal hardisk and tried to fix that once again but the hardisk is not detecting, but I can see USB led glows which is not usual.

    How can I fit back the internal hardisk back to its position with working condition?

  • VG

    ^^ Did you try to format the drive using STB options?

  • @VG

    I didn't do any format. I use Airtel Digital HD. I tried to copy the files from the hard disk in my PC, without formatting I tried to fix it back in the setup box.

    After I fix it, there is no life for setup box itself :( then I had to unplug the hard disk SATA cable and switch on once again and it's working fine.

    I removed the hard disk and plugged in again, will that cause this much? Please help.

  • VG

    ^^ I was trying to say that you should try to format the hard drive using STB options after re-attaching it to STB. But it'll delete all your recordings.

  • linux can access it properly!! just tried it!!! use a live cd or a native install for airtel, it should read it perfectly

  • Tata Sky's remote looks exactly like the Foxtel iQ's remote.

  • why do a tata sky like brand wont allow you to watch content on your usb, simple they its easy to block a port instead of working on how to provide good options to users

  • i want know that how could we play the pen drive videos by using set top box airtel ( i mean which format)

  • my setup box is aadhar. i have recorded function in my box. but it not play in pc and only play in setup box only. i want to play that recorded video file in pc , it is in mpeg-2 ts format.

  • Hey , My airtel Digital TV , allows me to connect a Pen Drive to record programs .

  • Hey
    I have a vediocon d2h HD setup box & Sony Bravia.
    I also have 4 GB pendrive which i am using for recording .
    Problem is that, after recording i connect my pendrive to computer for my daily use then error comes- You Need To Formet This Drive Before Use
    I also formet the drive but size of my pendrive decreased to only 74 MB.
    Why it is happening ?
    Why my 4 gb pd turn to 74 mb
    Please Help Me .........

  • VG

    ^^ When you format the drive, click on restore default or similar button in format dialog box. Also try to format using set top box. It seems the STB has stored some system files on it or it created some hidden partitions on your pen drive.

  • plz plz plz dont buy the DISHTV setup box, ( zee network )
    1. there is no good service from customer care,
    2. online recharge always get transaction failure,
    3. there is no recharge out let at hyderabad city,
    4. i am suffering form 5 months, by using dishtv setup box.
    i want to exchange my dishtv setup box, plz tel me how to exchange.

  • videocon d2h connection etna bak bas soch nahi sakte ke 4months se compliant karne ka bad ve koye thik karne nahi aeya

  • I connected my external hard disk to record a show to my set-top box. The dialog appeared that this format is not supported and asked to continue or go back. I continued and after continuing a dialog box appeared saying formatting. As soon as it appeared, I ejected the hard disk and now it is not detected on my laptop. Please help me on this. There are data very important to me. I dont want to lose it.

  • VG

    ^^ You made a wrong decision. It seems the STB started formatting the HDD before you removed it from the USB port. You can try the data recovery software but chances are less.

  • i have a relaince big tv setup box,...also contain usb port...how can i enable or update/change firmware to watch move in my usb?(watching tv dosent matter)

  • VG

    ^^ You cant unless the DTH service provider releases an update to enable the port.

  • ok...thank u VG

  • i have to use USB to run set up box in camputer it is possibal?

  • VG

    ^^ No.

  • I use cable connection f9r tv.skynet set top b9x is us.
    but n9w i want to use dish,not cable.
    is it possible to use use this set top b9x ?
    is it possible t9 use another network ?

  • VG

    ^^ I dont think its possible. You cant use other brand STB with DTH services.

  • Hey Guys,how to install Airtel digital tv after letting it at rest for abt 1 Year.how to Open Installation menu,what r the settings to b set

  • I have SONY bravia BX 300 tv which has facility to play FM band. But my tv does not catch FM radio. I complained to authorised sony dealer from whom the tv was purchased they expressed their inability There is no connection port for external antenna on tv. Is it possible to attach external antenna for FM band on tv?

  • VG

    ^^ No idea. If the TV doesnt have a port to connect external antenna, you are out of luck.

  • Can we watch mobile videos on tv with using tata sky.... While connecting with usb port??? Did u got the point?

  • VG

    ^^ No. You cant.

  • Can I watch FTA channel in TATA SKY (sd) box????

  • VG

    ^^ No way.

  • I want record videos from airtel digital receiver recording start but how can i remove usb safely i remve usb but no any videos need safely remove please tell me the method of recording.

  • sr mere pas Dishtv hai usme USB slot hailekin jab main pendrive dalta hu to mujeh mere pendrive ke video anderdikhai nahi dete ...esa kyu?
    or kya ham apne pendrive ke audio video file and pic dishtv setop box main opret nhi kar sakte ?

  • Can I play videos in pendrive connecting to tata sky hd?

  • VG

    ^^ As I have said in previous comments, No.

  • can i work existing vedio file in pen drive use in st box

  • sir, i want to run movie through usb port provided in my vediocon setof box. i need the procedure to do it.

  • VG

    You cant run any media files in set top box using USB pen drive.

  • I connected the pen drive to the computer after running it on the Videocon d2h, but the computer is not even detecting the drive. I read in the comments above that you suggested formatting the pen drive using the STB. How to do that?

  • ^I reformatted it using the STB. The computer isn't detecting the pen drive now too. :(

  • VG

    ^^ It seems STB changed file system of the USB drive, thats why your computer is not detecting it. If you have Linux OS installed, you can try to format the USB drive using Linux as well.

  • After connecting the PENDRIVE TO Sony Bravia TV the TV Stopped working. Please help.

  • Can I watch my mobile content using usb to the stb?

  • For FM reception to your TV (FM enabled TV set), connect a small length coaxial cable to the TV antenna port.

  • From all above discussion regarding the usb recording facility of STB, it is understood that, you can not retrieve the data recorded in the pendrive or HDD. Because, a drive working in PC need formatting when inserted to the STB, and the same drive not recognised by PC thereafter. Again it require formatting to use in the PC resulting loosing all recorded data.

  • when i connected pen drive to d2h & testing on computer its size is very less ,can we increase the size as origin.

  • VG

    ^^ You'll need to format the USB drive to get all available space.

  • TATA Sky USB port now can be used for Wi-Fi dongle supplied by TATA Sky. I have recently purchased the same ( Around Rs. 250) and now using mobile application of TATA Sky I can connect to set top box through Wi Fi. For services like Mobile as a remote control, Anywhere TV so that I can watch live TV programs through WI FI.

  • I have found an answer for the usb used on a d2h and not being detected on windows.
    Follow the following steps for the formatting of the usb

    Formatting with Windows

    To format a USB stick to FAT with Windows, follow these instructions:
    Open the Control Panel,
    Select Administrative Tools, then go to Computer Management,
    Select Disk Management,
    Right click on the drive letter corresponding to the USB drive and select Format,
    If this option is grey out then select delete partition. Post deleting give a new name and then format option is exhibited by windows. Follow the below steps.
    If the key has a capacity of more than 2 GB, choose FAT32.
    Confirm with OK.
    To format a USB flash drive to NTFS, follow these steps:
    Put the key into the USB port and wait for it to be recognized as a mass medium.
    Go to Start/My Computer.
    The USB key is visible in Devices with Removable Storage.
    Right click on the key, then go to Properties/Hardware.
    Double click on the USB drive icon.
    Go to the Policies tab and select Optimise for performance.
    Click on OK.
    Go back to My Computer.
    Right click on the USB drive and then choose Format.
    Choosing NTFS has become possible, in addition to FAT option.

    Note: The following tool can help you format your USB key under Windows XP:

    HP USB Disk Storage Format Tool

    This is extremely useful, for example when Windows tells you your USB key is read-only when you try to format it. On the latest versions of Windows, run it as administrator.
    Formatting with Linux
    GParted can create partitions in various formats, including FAT16, FAT32 and NTFS formats without any problem. It is available for most distributions.

    You can also use a GParted Live CD.
    Format on Mac OS
    To format a USB flash drive to FAT in Mac OS, do the following:
    Open Disk Utility,
    Select the icon of the USB key on the left side of the window.
    Click the Partition tab in the right part of the window.
    Replace Current with 1 partition.
    Click on Options.
    Choose Master Boot Record (MBR).
    Click OK to confirm the selection. Then back in the main window, choose the MS-DOS (FAT).
    Give a title to this volume and the bottom of the window, click Apply.

  • Hi Videocon D2H Team,

    Yesterday i was insert sd card into videocon d2h USB port, Videocon setup formatting my SD card, its display only 291MB out of 14.5GB. Can you please let me know how to format SD card completely, Because after manually format my SD card its still display only 291MB.

    Thanks & Regards
    Ranjan Kumar

  • dear all ,

    i have require dis tv in supported usb port in case of rercharge time period over this time use usb other sources picture and song

  • Can we connect USB to Mobile and can see TV programs in our mobile without having TV

  • VG

    ^^ No. Not possible.

  • Can i connect my external USB DVD Writer to set top box and can see movies by inserting dvd ? Will it play my DVD

  • VG

    ^^ Never. Its not possible.

  • I have TATA Sky HD set up box can it possible that i can play any video or movies get connect pan drive through USB Port ? now or in Future ?

  • VG

    ^^ Now its not possible but if Tata Sky wants, they can enable such kind of feature in future via firmware update.

  • Dear VG,

    I have TataSky+ connection at my home for my Samsung Smart TV. I have started facing problem. After running for some time it hangs. I am to switch off power supply and re-start the same, it starts working. Any remedy pl?

  • VG

    ^^ Try to reset the STB:


  • Thanks a lot for for valuable tips and instructions.

    Is it possible to use DREAMBOX HD Se800 puchased in singapore to use in india for viewing tv channels.

    Kindly guide me

    Thank you
    Svs Ram

  • VG

    ^^ You can use it to watch FTA channels using a dish antenna but you can't use it with any DTH. I think it'll also work with DD Free Dish.

  • Hi VG
    Which OS they ( DTH Provider) used while giving feature recording in internal HDD & in which format they record video content.
    pl guide

    Pushkaraj Joshi

  • VG

    ^^ The file formats are unknown and cant be opened in any OS and the OS used by STB is Linux based.

  • Which USB Wifi dongle you recommend for Airtel HD Recorder+?

  • VG

    ^^ I have not tried any Wi-Fi dongle with ADTV so cant recommend any. I have only tried the official Wi-Fi dongle with TS STB.

  • dear iwant tried a my stb videocon hd box & ihav do install android in the box & i want play thin this box my pen drive or enternet acces/

    pls give solution /

    thnaks pls

  • how to records films to use USB on artel dish TV how to connect and records.......

  • sir, How can i use my USB port for recording in my STB?

  • VG

    ^^ You can use only if the DTH company allows on the STB.

  • How to transfer the recorded programmes in the settop box to other gadgets like PC or

    eagerly waiting for your reply

  • VG

    ^^ If you have a set top box with USB pen drive, you can try to attach the USB drive to your PC and copy the content but most of the time PC will not able to open the USB drive because of invalid/unknown file format. Dish TV USB drive content can be copied and watched on PC using any data recovery software.

  • My Tata sky+ HD Set top box sometimes automatically goes in on/off mode constantly which is very irritating every time it switches itself off and then on and goes to Channel 100.

    But sometimes is working good continueously. The people from the company say that this set will be replaced with re-furbished (repaired) one with a warranty of 1 month of only.

    What shall I do? Can this set top box be repaired outside tata sky company?

  • VG

    ^^ First check Settings and make sure Power saving mode or similar option is set to Off. Also double check the power cord and board socket and make sure nothing is loose or faulty. If everything is fine, then you can get the STB replaced.

  • Hi,
    I want to connect my Tata Sky HD to Laptop to use like a TV. How it can be done?

  • VG

    ^^ You'll need to use a TV tuner card or box.

  • Hi,
    how to copy the recorded video in Tata Sky internal HDD into Pen drive.

  • VG

    ^^ Not possible atm.

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