One of the best resources available to you at a crime scene is the video footage found within nearby surveillance cameras. Whether you are a Crime Scene Investigator, a Detective, or a Digital Forensics Specialist… knowing how to properly and safely recover video from DVR surveillance is vital to the success of your investigation. There are four main ways to recover DVR surveillance footage, both on-scene and back in your crime lab.
Recovering video from DVRs is not without its challenges. Each DVR model behaves differently, with a different maze of menus to navigate. Even if you have the password for the device, some data might be deleted or “inaccessible” from these menus. In extreme cases, the DVR device might even be damaged. To bypass all these challenges and recover video directly from the hard drive, we recommend DVR Examiner.
DVR Examiner is the fastest and most effective method to recover video evidence from a surveillance DVR. You can use DVR Examiner by connecting your computer directly to the DVR hard drive in a write-protected manner. This method bypasses all menus and passwords, even identifying inaccessible data on the hard drive. This process is done in a forensically sound manner, and all of the video received is exactly what was originally on the hard drive.
However, there are cases where DVR Examiner might not be the best option. If you are unable to turn off the device to access the hard drive or if the DVR filesystem is not yet supported by DVR Examiner, try one of the following methods.
NOTE: Always remember to contact us if you find a DVR filesystem that is not yet supported by DVR Examiner. We are always working to provide new filesystem updated to the program and we need your assistance to determine which filesystems are high priority. Send us an email at firstname.lastname@example.org to report a found filesystem.
Export Video to an External Storage Device
Many DVRs provide the option to export video evidence to an external storage device. This is great if you know the password to the device, can operate the menus, and get a quick export. If the DVR is already running, and you are worried about the hard drive not turning on again, performing an export from the DVR may be your only option. Unfortunately, often this process is slow, results in lower quality videos, and can be infuriating with lost passwords and finicky with storage medium.
Record Video Out of the DVR Itself
If the device is too difficult to operate and you don’t have access to DVR Examiner, you may have to record the video evidence out from the DVR itself. We do NOT recommend using a phone or camera to record from the DVR screen as this is unreliable and does not provide you with the original data. However, if you have a capture card and a large and fast hard drive, you can pull data from the DVR. Unfortunately, overlays like time stamps may obscure important actions or details that are recorded.
DME Forensics Advanced Technical Services (ATS)
If you come across a particularly tough case, have no fear! The experts here at DME Forensics are available to help recover your vital video evidence. Our ATS professionals work under strict guidelines, ensuring your evidence is kept forensically sound. You will receive a thorough report of our findings, your video and audio files, a Chain of Custody for each case, along with any further information to aid you in your case. Schedule a consultation today to get started!
Compare DVR Recovery Methods
|DVR Examiner||DVR Exports||Analog Capture||DME Forensics ATS Solutions|
|Original Video Exported as stored on DVR Hard Drive||X||X|
|Forensically Sound Workflow||X||X|
|No Password Required||X||X|
|Quick Access to Videos||X|
|Easily search for relevant dates and times||X|
|Works with forensically created copy of DVR Hard Drive||X||/||/||X|
|No Player Required / Player Provided||X||X|
|Videos can be saved to USB Drive||X||X||X|
|DVR does not need to be turned off||X||X|
|DVR casing does not need to be opened||X||X|