• Do you have your IP cameras?  Check! The NVR? Check!
  • The next step involves configuring the setup. This is the exciting, yet frustrating part for most people. Well, you might try to read the manual. Unfortunately, the user manuals that come with most recorders tend to be vague, which makes the whole process complicated.
  • But, you know what? I am going to share with you amazing tips that will help you configure your Security System. By the time you are through with this article, setting up your NVR will be a breeze.
  • Instead of getting annoyed and overwhelmed trying to understand the manual, put your attention elsewhere, like reading this post.
  • Also read: Best NVR Systems

What are the main things to configure an NVR?

To experience the amazing features of a recorder you need to start by setting some essential parameters. Not only do you get to explore the functionality of your NVR, but you get to safeguard your network as well.

There are four main things you need to do to configure your new NVR:

  • Use Strong Password
  • Calibrate Motion Detection
  • Configure Storage
  • Set Up Notifications

1. Use Strong Password

Having a password on your recorder protects your system from unauthorized access. Your new recorder might come with a default password set by the manufacturer.

Every NVR comes with a client desktop application that allows you to make changes to the recorder settings. The User Interface might be different, but the procedure is virtually the same.

If it is the first time plugging in your recorder to a monitor or TV, you will go through an install wizard. You can either use the wizard to configure everything at once, including the password, or change items individually.

To change the password, without using the install wizard, use the following systematic approach outlined below.

  • Login the system using the password provided or leave it blank if it does not have a default administrator password.
  • After logging into the system, click the System Admin Tab or System Configuration.
  • Click on the Users tab
  • Select Admin to make edits to that account
  • A set password wizard will appear where you can input your new password
  • Make sure under Username, Admin is selected
  • Enter your new password. Remember to use strong passwords for maximum security.
  • In the Confirm field, re-enter your new password
  • Once you are through, click OK.

2. Calibrate Motion Detection

Following the right steps when configuring motion detection in your NVR will prevent you from getting false alerts.

Keep in mind that the User Interface of recorders is different. Companies use different terms, but this breakdown will give you an idea of how to go about it.

To enable motion detection, follow this breakdown:

  • Log into your recorder
  • Click the Event / Recording tab
  • You will get a configuration screen where you can enable and make changes to the motion detection schedule.
  • Under the motion screen, you can change the following:
  • Detection sensitivity
  • Select the channel/ camera to use
  • Identify the detection area
  • Make a schedule
  • Set alarm trigger for the cameras
  • To reduce false alerts, you have to alter the detection sensitivity level. In order to increase sensitivity, you have to lower the figure indicated on the screen.  A low figure indicates higher detection sensitivity.
  • Depending on the model you have, some have a snapshot checkbox that allows the Camera to take a photo during motion.
  • Once you have made changes to the appropriate tabs, click Apply to close the configuration page.

3. Configure Storage

By setting storage parameters on your NVR, you can determine the primary storage device. You also have the freedom to alter archive settings.

ALSO READ: Best Hard Drives for Network Video Recorders

Nowadays you can set storage clusters based on the number of channels you have in your System. IP cameras with a higher definition like 4K require more storage capacity than a Full HD 1080p Camera.

To check or make changes to the NVR HDD follow these steps:

  • Log into the system
  • Under Settings, click the Storage tab
  • A window will appear where you can see all details and parameters concerning your storage device
  • Make changes as required
  • Click OK to complete the process

4. Set Up Notifications

You can configure push notification and email alerts on the desktop client application. This can be for the entire system or for specific channels.

For push notifications, it can be a badge or pop-up on your phone.

This is how you go about it:

  • Log into your recorder system
  • Click Push notifications to access the configuration window
  • Under configuration, select the camera you want to activate
  • Check the events you would like to receive notifications if triggered. This can be motion or face detection. It all depends on the video analytic capabilities of the camera.
  • Click OK to apply the changes.

5 Key Tips When Setting Up CCTV Network Video Recorders

It is time I let you in on a couple of secrets that will make configuration stress-free. How you set up your NVR can either ruin or fortify your Security System.

You might get a high-quality recorder but end up with a weak system. Your NVR acts as the entry point to your network, you need to enforce it at all times.

I am going to share with you simple, yet crucial points to get you started with your surveillance system. Configuration does not stop once you have your IP cameras plugged in and the system running. No. It also entails maintenance.

Why would you go through the process of configuring all settings only to dump your NVR in a dusty room?

These tips will have your recorder functioning properly and even save you money.

  • Change your password often

Since your NVR will be active on the network, there is the inherent risk that it might be hacked anytime. I’m not saying this to make you die of worry, but to have you prepare accordingly.

To begin, always use a long non-obvious password. Change it often and do not write it down or share it with anyone else.

  • Keep Recorder’s Firmware Updated

An NVR comes with an operating system. To safeguard it from malicious exploits, always check for software updates.

No matter how detailed you get with the configurations, you will end up with a useless black box if you do not update it on a regular basis.

Your NVR will have either a Linux or Windows OS. If you cannot get updates automatically, request for specific patches from your OS vendor.

  • Ensure Secure Home Network

If you have a home surveillance system, it can be indoors or outdoors. For a business location, you most likely have it in the high-risk locations.

There are a couple of things you should do to secure your home network:

  • Do not give your guests the password from your main home network
  • Update Router’s Firmware
  • Change defaults router password
  • Set up MAC security (only allow certain devices to connect)
  • Do not expose any ports on your router to outside internet
  • Use ZeroTier or OpenVPN to get access to the home network

Imagine if someone could get access to all the footage even before it gets to your NVR. That would be catastrophic. This is why you need video encryption.

Make sure the connection equipment you use has SSL encryption or something similar. Otherwise, literally, anyone can eavesdrop and get sensitive information about you.

  • Be conscious of the temperature

A recorder has many internal components that generate heat. Apart from that, it has a power supply unit that provides power to the storage device and IP cameras.

With high heat, production comes the need for proper cooling. Make sure you place the recorder in a dry, clean and properly ventilated room. 

  • Use Custom Network Topology

This is probably a bit more advanced, but if you use a default network topology (i.e. 192.168.1.0) you might reduce the security of your home set up.

If that is your current setup, you should change it. This creates high vulnerability whereby if your laptop gets a virus then your recorder is next.

At no point should your security system be on your main network. If you cannot have the two networks physically separate, you can set up your own VLAN.

2 Things You Should Do To Secure NVR

When it comes to securing you NVR, it can be a physical, lock and key situation or prevention from online intruders.

1. Secure Access To NVR

To reiterate, to safeguard your recorder from unauthorized access do the following:

  • Use a long, strong password with different characters
  • Change your password regularly
  • Put your recorder in a different network from your main network
  • Update your NVR frequently
  • Always use video encryption

2. Protect Your NVR from Being Stolen

Let us now talk about how to protect your recorder physically from thieves or destruction.

Get a Lockbox

You need to be a step ahead to beat thieves at their own game. Get a safe box that can survive a brute force attack. It needs to have room for ventilation to prevent the unit from overheating.

Hide the Unit

Find a good spot where you can hide your NVR. It can be a secret wall, closet or cabinet. Playing hide and seek with your recorder only applies if the fan does not produce a lot of noise.

Whatever spot you choose, it has to be dry and with good ventilation.

How To Configure Amcrest NVRs

If you have an Amcrest unit, I want to help you maximize the functionality of your NVR. Below are a few useful tips that work great for your Recorder. You can also check our in-depth review of Best Amcrest NVRs

  • If you plug your recorder to your TV and get a blank screen, you have to adjust the resolution settings. By default, the resolution is 1280 x 1024. Connect your unit to a TV using a VGA cable (not HDMI).  Once you access the system, change the resolution to 1920 x 1080.
  • Switch off the recorder and disconnect the power cable before you install an HDD.
  • You can only configure motion detection and continuous recording once you install an HDD.
  • You can configure snapshot alerts via email without installing a storage device.
  • When setting an alarm schedule, the recorder uses a 24-hour clock.
  • To get the correct IP address of your NVR, log into the system and click the Network Tab. Ensure the DHCP checkbox is active. Check the IP address textbox for the correct figure.

How To Configuring Reolink NVRs

For all Reolink fans, this is your section right here. If you follow these tips, you should have an easy time with your recorder. You can also have a look at our overview of Best Reolink NVRs

  • The default name for all cameras in your system is Camera 1. Change the names for easy identification.
  • Do not connect the cameras directly to the NVR adapter. A POE recorder uses 48V while a camera requires 12V. On the other hand, a WIFI NVR uses 12V.
  • You can only configure manual record settings if the recording schedule is off.
  • Schedule auto-reboot on the recorder to maintain its stability and functionality.
  • If you get numerous false motion alerts at night, increase the sensitivity level at night. Infrared night vision increases the motion sensor that makes the recorder interpret noise as motion.

Conclusion

By now, you have an idea of how to go about making the appropriate changes on your recorder. The instructions provided might slightly differ since NVR manufacturers use different naming schemes for their systems.

However, the basics remain the same. The goal is to help you find pleasure in configuring your own system. As long as you follow the few important tips I have mentioned, you will be fine.

You want your system to be secure from malicious exploits and physical destruction. Always use long passwords and get a lockbox to safeguard your unit from burglars.