CCTV DVR Recovery Process


CCTV DVR data recovery is a three-step process. First, data from a digital video recorder, or a DVR, is recovered by a trained expert. Second, the trained expert secures the recovered data. And finally, the expert uses forensic methods and best practices to produce copies. 


The methods used in CCTV DVR data recovery are based on best practices accepted in the forensic scientific community. In fact, law enforcement agencies around the world use the same practices. With this in mind, we will take a closer look at the recovery process below. And we will also explore how our team ensures the process is completed safely and accurately.


Warning Sign


It is important not to attempt data recovery by yourself! And we issue this warning for a number of reasons. Overuse, disassembly, recovery attempts, and other changes to the DVR can permanently destroy its data. Whether video files were deleted by accident or on purpose, both result in data loss. On the condition that hard drives and storage devices are physically damaged, files need to be carefully recovered. In order to recover damaged videos both safely and accurately, investigators rely on a qualified video forensic expert.


More often than not, DVR data was deleted from recording space by harmful intent. However, it is possible that the DVR data may have been damaged by accident. Such accidents include natural aging, fire, or water damage. Below are two methods which we use to recover data.

DVR Hard Drive Recovery


Our video technicians receive extensive training with accredited agencies. These agencies educate on how to recover CCTV DVR video recordings and preserve digital integrity. In addition to offering our trained techniques, we are also able to travel to your location for onsite recovery. We offer this service because these systems might be too heavy or fragile to ship.

dvr hard drive recovery


Once received, we perform a scanning process of the DVR's internal hard drive. The CCTV DVR recovery scanning process will determine if any fragments of the video data are recoverable.

The process uses forensic tools to document the procedure and authenticate the video. These tools also capture a video's date and time. Continue reading to learn more about the forensic software used in the recovery process.


We have the ability to scan and recover data from a variety of hard drives. This includes CCTV DVR, MDVR and NVR hard drives. And we can do so without administrative passwords. Popular makes and models of these systems include Swann, Zmodo, Q-See, HIKvision, and Samsung


In addition, we can also scan an array of file types.  This includes Ext 2/3/4, FAT, XFS, JFS and many others. In short, our tools have access to hundreds of DVR video formats necessary to recover lost video.


We have the ability to scan SATA, PATA and other hard disk connection types. This scan is our initial step. Next, we communicate our results to the client. 


A conversation with the client also provides us with a project scope and accurate cost estimate. Size, access to files, and the number of recovered files necessary for analysis all factor into cost estimate.


Most fixed and mobile DVR-based surveillance systems use computer operating systems and record digital video to proprietary formats. Evidence acquisition and rebuilding of proprietary video information often require specialized tools. 


For this reason, we often access law enforcement recovery software databases. Not only are these databases based on proprietary DVR systems, but they also update on a daily basis. This gives us access to the best recovery tools possible.  


CCTV DVR Data Recovery

It is critical that litigators understand the importance of proper CCTV DVR recovery techniques for their video evidence. Above all, recovery should include the help of a trained expert. There are three main reasons why expert training is necessary. 


  1. First, we often recover evidence onsite. When we do so, we document the process and video record it. This establishes an authentic chain of custody.
  2. Second, we take special precautions during the recovery process with the original recording.
  3. Third, we recover the recordings to minimize any loss in quality. For example, a multi-million dollar lawsuit may hinge on the analysis of surveillance video evidence. Therefore, it is best to trust the recovery of digital evidence to a trained technician.

If you have a recording that you question or need help understanding, please contact us for a pro bono consultation.

Primeau Forensics