This article describes the procedure necessary to view a CCTV system both locally on a local PC or Local area network (LAN), and on a Wide Area Network (WAN). The procedure refers specifically to DVRs and NVRs from Hikvision, but the general principles apply to other manufacturers.
It should be noted that the following procedure is not necessary when using Hikvision’s ‘EzViz’ web interface.
One of the great advantages of modern CCTV systems is the ability to remotely view and control CCTV systems from anywhere in the world via a PC, Smartphone, tablet, or other devices connected to the Internet.
It is essential that the CCTV system is working locally prior to configuring the CCTV system for viewing over the Internet. This is described later in this article.
Manufacturers of DVRs and NVRs provide software (and apps) specifically designed for their equipment. It is possible to use third party software such as Ispy, but it is usually better to use the software supplied with the DVR/NVR. Hikvision’s proprietary software is iVMS4200 (PC) and iVMS4500 (I-os and Android).
You should also note that in the case of IP cameras, these do not have to be connected to a Network Video Recorder (NVR) and can be connected directly to a LAN or WAN. However, if you want to have a fully-featured and fully secure CCTV system then you should use an NVR with one or more Hard disk drives installed.
Prior to attempting to connect your DVR or to a LAN or WAN you need some basic knowledge as to how the IP addressing and Ports work.
You will also need to have the login details for your router.
All computers and web-servers connected to the Internet must have a unique IP address. An IP address is in the format xxx.xxx.xxx.xxx, where each xxx can be a number between 0 and 255.
However when the devices are part of a LAN, it is the LAN that has the unique IP address for connection to the WAN. Connection of the LAN to the WAN is commonly through a router connected to an Internet Service Provider (ISP). The router thus has an internal IP address such as 192.168.0.1 and the router then connects to the internet (WAN) through a unique external IP address provided by the ISP.
If you go to the command prompt on a PC connected to a router and type ipconfig at the prompt you should see something similar to the following result on screen.
Where the ‘Default Gateway’ (192.168.0.1) is the IP address of the router and the ‘IPv4 Address’ (192.168.0.8) is the address of the PC you are using. Note that the two IP addresses share the first 3 segments of the IP address and are thus said to be on the same ‘Subnet’. For devices connected to the router to be part of the Local Area Network (LAN) they must be on the same subnet. If you go to another computer connected to the same router then this will also have the address 192.168.0.x where the x is a different number to other connected devices. No devices on the same subnet can have identical IP addresses.
Make a note of the Default Gateway address. It is the address you will use to log in to your router.
To log onto your router, type your default gateway address (like 192.168.0.1) into an Internet browser. Enter the password for the router when prompted.
When you login to your router you will be able to see what devices are connected to it. It will show wired and wireless devices as below in the example screenshot for the Virgin Media SuperHub. Other routers should be able to display similar results. Note that all device addresses belong to the same subnet 192.168.0.xxx.
The Local Area Network (LAN)
All modern Digital video recorders have an Ethernet port (RJ45) for connection to a PC or router. The diagram below shows a basic home network with two computers and a CCTV DVR or NVR connected to a hub/router. Most routers supplied by Internet Service Providers (ISPs) have the hub and router combined and will typically have four Ethernet (RJ45) ports available. The two PCs and the DVR/NVR are connected to the router ports using CAT5/6 network patch leads (straight NOT cross-over).
One of the great features of Hikvision DVRs and NVRs is their ease of setup. The recorders will automatically assign a local IP address for itself. For example, in the diagram above, there are two DVRs connected which have been assigned IP addresses – 192.168.0.12 and 192.168.0.16.
The router can be considered as the gateway to the internet (WAN) and also provides the connections for the LAN.
Viewing the CCTV System via the Local Area Network (LAN)
In order to view the system locally on a PC or other device, the DVRs or NVRs IP address must be on the same subnet as the router. See the related articles on setting up Hikvision DVR and Hikvision NVR (links).
The CCTV system can now be viewed and managed using the software supplied with the DVR or NVR. In Hikvision’s case, the software for PC use is iVMS4200 and for smartphone or tablet iVMS4500.
Wide Area Network (WAN)
In order to access the CCTV system over the Internet the system has to be allowed access. This is achieved by a method known as Port Forwarding. If this seems intimidating then you can always use Hikvision’s EzViz system which requires no IT skills.
The external address that the ISP has currently assigned to your internet connection can be found by typing ‘What’s my IP’ into a search engine on a PC connected to the router. This will give a four segment number which will look totally different from your subnet address. Ideally this external IP would remain constant (static IP address), but because ISPs usually reserve a finite number of IP addresses the external IP address usually changes on a regular basis (dynamic IP address) as the demand varies. Try typing the ‘What’s My IP’ query on different days to see how often the external IP address changes. The external IP address will not change during sessions when you are connected to the internet.
Having a dynamic IP address causes problems when accessing the system remotely – the IP address used to access the system will have to be changed in the viewing software every time the dynamic address changes. And if you are away from your router, you will not know what it has changed to. There are two solutions to this: Purchase a Static IP address (can be costly) or use a DDNS service such as No-IP or one of the other providers (Google DDNS) which will give you a URL to use and will connect whatever the underlying external IP address changes to.
Viewing the CCTV System via the Internet (WAN)
As previously mentioned, in order to view the CCTV system over the internet it is necessary to add port forwarding rules to the router. The screen-shot below shows the form for creating a port forwarding rule on the Virgin Media Super Hub. Visit Port Forwarding For information on port forwarding for other routers. It also shows 3 existing rules in operation on the router. The ports which need to be forwarded can be found on the DVR or NVR. In the case of Hikvision DVRs the default ports that need forwarding are 80, 554 an 8000. Note that if any of the default ports are already forwarded then the port can be changed on the DVR/NVR.
In the screenshot above, port 80 is already in use by another device. As such we changed the HTTP port on the DVR to 81.
We then added the 3 new port forwarding rules (hik, hik1 and hik2), as shown below.
The remote access can now be tested by entering your external (public) IP address followed by the HTTP port no into the address bar of a browser – for example 188.8.131.52:81 and press enter.
The following screen will appear. This is the internal viewer built into the DVR/NVR.
Enter the User Name and Password of the DVR/NVR and a screen similar to the one below will be displayed. If you are asked to install a plug-in follow the links to install the plug and ‘Allow’ it if required.
Double clicking on the Camera Labels on the left will show the live view of the camera.
Clicking the configuration tab allows the DVR/NVR and on-line cameras to be configured remotely from the device.
Viewing remotely using the Port Forwarding method is a relatively easy task but if you are a little nervous about attempting it then Hikvision have made it extremely easy using the ‘Ezviz’ system as described in the article Remote Viewing Using Ezviz.