Recently I went to watch The Tiger Who Came To Tea with my two-year-old, only to find that the recording had disappeared. It'd vanished, like all the sandwiches on the plate scoffed by the eponymous big cat of Judith Kerr's classic.
I hadn't accidentally deleted it, as it was a years-old recording which required scrolling to the bottom of the page to find. And while we hadn't viewed it in a while, it has immense re-watch value (for two-year-olds, that is) and so wouldn't have been deleted on purpose. By a curious coincidence, it was now available to buy on the Sky Store for £5.99 (it originally aired for free on Channel 4). So what's going on?
Back of the Q
This was on Sky Q. I've stuck with Q for several reasons, one of the main ones being that it allows me to record shows and store them locally. The newer ways of watching Sky (Sky Glass and Stream) lack a hard drive and thus don't have the option of recording or downloading shows. Instead, you add what you want to watch to the Playlist section, which keeps everything on Sky's servers ready to be viewed at a later date. Mostly, anyway...
Rights issues mean that some live events can't be added to Playlist. The function also occasionally cuts off the end of what you're recording (or 'Playlisting'). But perhaps the biggest warning klaxon for me is that items can vanish from your Playlist if the service you Playlisted them from loses the rights to show them.
Glass and Stream have a lot going for them. In this day and age, watching TV through a satellite dish feels as quaint as riding a steam train. But if it's a choice between locally stored shows I can keep ad infinitum or having my recordings snatched away based on what syndication deals Netflix or Sky happen to have done that month, give me the former any day.
Or so I thought. Because it turns out Sky Q's recordings aren't quite as permanent as you might think...
Keep an eye out
Sky Q records shows straight to the box's hard drive – either 1TB or 2TB. While these sizes are slightly misleading – 300MB of each is taken up by Sky, so you only get 700GB and 1.7TB respectively – they still hold an awful lot of content. The 1TB holds around 500 hours of shows, the 2TB around 1,000. That's in standard definition, by the way; HD and 4K content takes up more space.
Once a show is recorded it is yours to keep. But if the box is approaching capacity, it will start deleting your oldest recordings that have been watched or partly watched to free up space. This happens automatically when you schedule any new recordings (or when your 'helpful' two-year-old plays with the remote and series links Morning Live).
You can stop this happening by opting to keep a recording. To do this, select the recording, scroll right and select Keep. If you try to delete a recording marked Keep, it'll ask if you really want to delete it, making accidental deletions less likely.
But beware. Keep doesn't necessarily keep a recording forever. Should Sky lose the broadcasting rights to a particular show, it will be deleted from your Sky Q box, Keep be damned.
Me? I bought The Tiger Who Came To Tea on DVD for £4.99 – one pound less than what Sky was asking. And thanks to this amazing feature called a 'case', it's still there when you go to watch it. Unless the two-year-old buries it in the garden, of course. Maybe it'll catch on.
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