How to configure DVR for remote viewing

In this article, I teach how to configure DVR for remote viewing, step-by-step.

smartphone for DVR remote viewing

This topic is very important for users and professionals that want to have remote access to DVRs or IP cameras that are installed in homes or businesses.

There are different ways to set up a system, let's talk about that.

The types of DVR remote viewing

You can install the security cameras and set up the DVR using the manufacturer instructions and its cloud service or you can use port forwarding which is universal and works for any DVR or IP cameras no matter what the brand is.

Let's discuss those different types of configuration:

DVR cloud configuration

This is a basic and easy setup. You just need to use a mobile phone to read a QR code in the DVR or IP camera and it's done.

Popular brands such as Hikvision, Dahua, Reolink, and Zosi devices come with this feature that makes the installation and configuration very easy.

The first step to use the DVR cloud configuration is to download the manufacturer App and follow simple instructions on the screen.

The picture below shows the use of a mobile phone to read the QR code.

DVR QR Code for remote viewing

When the App on your mobile reads the code, it automatically communicates with the cloud server on the Internet and all the process is done transparently.

That's the easiest and fastest way to configure a DVR for remote viewing and I recommend to follow this route if you have this option available.

==> Read the article How to access Hikvision DVR from mobile to see an example on how to set up a DVR using an App and the cloud service.

However, if you are using a non-branded cheap DVR, chances are you don't have such an option available and need to get your hands dirty to set up the router.

Don't worry that's not that hard and you are going to learn how to do that.

Port forwarding configuration

OK, you don't have a well-know brand DVR but still want to have remote viewing.

So prepare yourself for some DVR and router configuration.

Don't get scared, this is not rocket science and you can do it.

Port forwarding is the process that allows the traffic from the Internet to reach a device in your local network. The setup is done on the router where some rules are created to direct the traffic based on specific virtual ports.

Port forwarding for DVR remote viewing

Click to enlarge

As you can see in the diagram the laptop on the left send a request over the Internet to the router that is located in the remote location and based on the rules the router forwards the data packets to the DVR in the local network. 

After receiving the request the DVR sends the video stream to the laptop.

All you have to do to make this port forwarding process to work is to set up the DVR and the router using the IP and port numbers.

Port forwarding for DVR remote viewing

OK, it's time to learn how to configure your DVR and router for port forwarding.

The first step is to get all the necessary information. Here's what you need: 

  1. DVR local IP address;
  2. DVR port number;
  3. Router local IP address;
  4. Router port number;
  5. Router username/password.

You need the DVR local IP address and port number to create the rule in the router.

It's necessary to know what's the router IP address so you can use it to open its menu via a web browser for configuration.

The diagram below shows a simplified diagram for your local network.

DVRs connected to a router

From your laptop (or PC) just open a web browser and type the IP address of your router. It should pop-up a screen asking for the username and password.

DVR remote viewing configuration for web browser

This configuration works to allow you to remotely access the DVR via a web browser by using a specific port (HTTP) that is found in the DVR's network menu.

As long as you have the necessary information you can configure the router.

Login into the router you need to look for the port forwarding menu, depending on the router you have, the menu can have different names such as Application &Gaming, Virtual Server, NAT, or PAT.

The picture below shows the Lynksys router E1200 with the configuration for the DVR port forwarding. it's using the port 8080 and IP address

Port forwarding router setup

I got the IP and port number from my DVR's network menu.

Obviously, your network is different from mine so the IP address should be another one but you can use this port number (8080) for your configuration.

Look at the picture, you can see the name rule, the port number that is repeated twice, the protocol "Both" which represents TCP and UDP and the IP address.

That's basically the information you need to input into your router.

Now when the request comes from the Internet the router will "think":

"OK, I got the request for the port 8080 and as far as I see on the rules I have to forward the packets to the IP also on port 8080".

And that's all the router does to get the port forwarding working for the DVR.

DVR remote viewing configuration for software

You just need to follow the same process and set up a different port to view your DVR remotely using software or App from a mobile phone.

Go to the DVR's network menu and check which port is used for software.

Let's say you are using a Dahua DVR, the default port is 37777 or if you are using a Hikvision DVR the default port is 80000. Make sure to check your DVR.

Open your web browser again and use the port for the configuration.

The picture below shows an example of the DVR port forwarding.

Port forwarding router setup for DVR

As you can see, now it's possible to use the DVR remote viewing feature using a web browser (port 8080) or a software (port 37777).

The router knows how to handle the request for both ports and will send the traffic to the DVR that inside your local network.

Video: Port forwarding for DVR remote viewing

Here's a video that shows all the details of the port forwarding for DVR.

It's not that hard, is it? I think you can do it if you just pay attention to the details.

You can use the same principle to configure IP cameras for remote viewing.

Extra information

Just in case you need extra information about DVRs and Apps, read the articles:

Want to learn more ? 

If you want to become a professional CCTV installer or designer, take a look at the material available in the blog. Just click the links below:

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