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Way to Back Up Security Camera DVRs Offsite

Posted on 2012-03-21
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Last Modified: 2012-06-21
Does anyone know of a way to back up a security camera DVR offsite?  These DVRs have a USB port that you can use to manually back up footage but is there a more automated way to do this?  Possibly with an online backup service?

Thank You
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Question by:jceo
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by:Callandor
ID: 37752156
If the DVR has a network port (it needs it for IP cameras), you may be able to access it like a networked drive from any PC, and then you can use any backup synchronization program like SyncBack.  Video recording footage is very large, especially if it is high resolution, so such a plan will require a lot of network bandwidth, possibly more than your internet provider can supply.
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by:kode99
ID: 37755645
Depends on the specific make and model.  Some manufacturers do provide management tools that can do backup though often not automated.  Though you would need to pull from the DVR to a computer then go to an online service from the computer.  Though as Callandor pointed out,  the amount of data is usually far to big to send to a online service.

In general non PC based DVRs or appliance style DVR's cannot be accessed like a PC drive share.  Often they do not store the video in a 'file' but use the hard drive as a single big indexed storage space,  more like a database.  So even if you pull the hard drive a PC would not recognize a partition or any files.

If your unit was not a high end or some type of enterprise type model the backup options are pretty limited.

PC based units can even be a issue depending on how the video is stored, assuming the OS is not fully locked down.

If you post your hardware info I will take a look at it.
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by:jceo
ID: 37757022
Thank you both for the great information. It is a network DVR. The unit I have is: http://swann.com/s/products/view/?product=1361

Thank You
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by:Callandor
ID: 37759592
I don't see any way to access those files from another PC remotely.  You might be able to clone the drive in a PC by removing it, but the file format might be proprietary.
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kode99 earned 250 total points
ID: 37760038
The hard drive is actually FAT32 so it is possible to pull the drive and hook it to a pc,  just have to open up the DVR's case to do it.  Might involve a bunch of screws.  Too bad it does not have removable drive cartridge.

While the files are proprietary Swann does provide a player for PC and mac so you can play the files back.  Also you set the 'pack size' which is how big it makes each file as it records.  The time index is built into the file format and the file names are likely date and time formatted for easy reference.

Keeping video in the original recorded format is the best way.  Quite often there is significant loss of frames and or quality when a video is exported to avi or other standard computer formats from a dvr.

Backing up to USB is very slow - 2.5 MB/s and it likely only supports small flash drives.  So even if you could plug a external drive in it would take a long time to copy the data.  It really only intended to copy off incidents and not actually backup whole drives.

Units like the Swann models are pretty minimal.  I've run across older units that had no ability to export video,  had to hook 2nd recording system up to the output and play it back into the 2nd unit to 'export' video.  

Good news is these units are cheap.  You could have a much more expensive unit and still be facing the same problem.
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by:aleghart
aleghart earned 250 total points
ID: 37763784
Backup methods say "USB to flash drive / Network".  At the very least, this should include FTP to a local or remote host.

Best to call their tech support, since the PDF manual says only USB flash.

A decent DVR would record locally, then batch transfer via FTP.  Best to keep file size to a fixed maximum size like 50-100MB, depending on your upload speed and stability.

Motion detection will help greatly, as a single camera could use 2GB/day or 200MB with sensible motion settings.  Even 200MB/day x 8 cams is 1.6GB.  With only a 384kbps uplink, that will take quite a bit of time.
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