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DVR Setup Guide : The Basics of Setting Up a DVR for Remote Connections



As a support technician, one of the most frequent questions I am asked is how to setup a DVR so it can be viewed from another location or iPhone / Android / Blackberry smartphone. As you will soon see, this can be a complicated and time-consuming process; this is why companies usually charge to log in to a customers network to set this up for them.

When I describe the process of setting up a DVR for remote connections I use the following analogy to describe what has to happen:

For someone to go to your home or place of business, they must first have the address. This is the same when someone is trying to connect to the network where your DVR is located – they will require the address to get there.

The address for your network is the router or modem’s external IP address. You can find the external IP from any computer on the network (the same network with the DVR) by opening the internet browser and in the address line type in http://www.whatismyip.com and hit Enter. This will take you to a webpage and display the following screen (my address was blurred to keep my information private).

whatismyip.com

To get access to the network with your DVR, open your internet browser and type in the external IP address. Once you are there (if you have not forwarded the ports to the DVR), it’s kind of like entering an office building, walking into the lobby, and looking down a hallway with dozens of doors marked only by numbers such as 101, 102, 103, etc. You have arrived at the correct location, but you don’t know what room to go to find the DVR. When you forward the correct ports in the router (or modem) it is like putting a sign in the lobby telling you to go to room 102 or whatever (location of the DVR).

Now for the more complicated part (if you have never worked with networking).

To actually setup the DVR for remote connection, the first thing you need to do is find a valid IP address on your local network. To do this, you’ll need to log into your router and find the DHCP range being used. You’ll then want to select an IP address that is OUTSIDE of the DHCP range.

Ex: If the DHCP range is 192.168.1.2-192.168.1.50, you would select an IP for the DVR that is not in the range of addresses ending with 2-50.

Then using the command prompt, ping the address you have selected to see if the address is available. Once you find an address that is available, give the DVR that IP address and set the DVR so it no longer uses DHCP. If you do not do this you risk having an IP conflict with another device on the network.

You can then test the DVR by connecting to it on the local network by opening an internet browser and typing the IP address you gave it into the internet browser’s address line. If you have the DVR set to enable web service, you should get the login screen and be able to view cameras once you login with the ID and Password.

Once you are able to login on a local PC, you know the DVR is broadcasting, and the IP address you used is valid.

Next you’ll have to setup the router to allow remote access to the DVR.

Since there are a LOT of different routers and modems out there, I cannot go into detail on how you actually forward the ports on a specific router. There are different sources available on the internet describing how to forward ports on a specific router, such as searching the make and model of your router, or more generic sites like www.portforward.com, which will have screenshots on how to forward ports for a large list of routers.

To get the ports that need to be forwarded for your DVR, you will have to check the documentation that came with your DVR.

Once you have the ports forwarded in the router, you should be ready to connect to the DVR from a remote location or a smartphone. Some DVRs require a proprietary application to access from a remote PC, but most of the newer models will connect through Internet Explorer. Very few DVRs will connect through the Mac Safari program (I have never seen one that will). Usually if a DVR will connect with a Mac, you will have to load a specific program on the Mac and connect to the DVR through that program.

All of the DVRs that will connect to a smartphone will require an application loaded on the phone from the phone’s app stores. To get the correct app, check the documentation that came with you DVR.

For some examples of CCTV apps in motion, be sure to check out our smartphone security videosto  see software running on iPhones, Android, and Blackberry smartphones.

Referring back to my original analogy, you are now ready to go to the address of your network by entering the external IP address of the router (where the DVR is located) in the address line of your browser, and if everything has been done correctly, you’ll get the login screen for your DVR.

This describes a basic network connection setup for a DVR, where the network does not have any special setup that requires special permissions to change any network configuration or multiple routers. Some networks are simple and some are complex. Unless you are the network administrator for your system, networks are “like a box of chocolates, you never know what you are going to get.”