A lost or forgotten password for a device or app is usually at most an annoyance. In typical circumstances, it is relatively easy to recover a lost password; a user can simply click the “forgot password” button on a website or app, or call technical support, wherein the user will be sent an email, text or call with instructions for recovery. Unfortunately, most DVR CCTV systems do not follow the same user-friendly approach for a password reset.
Once you or a fellow user has forgotten or lost the Digital Video Recorder (DVR) or Network Video Recorder (NVR) password, you will become completely locked out of the system. Unfortunately, in the short term, there is not a great deal you can do in this case. Rebooting the device will not fix the issue, and built-in guest accounts won’t help either. You are likely to face an uphill struggle to get this issue sorted out!
A Digital Video Recorder, like most digital consumer devices, has a built-in user management system included in the user interface. During the initial setup of your DVR, you are prompted to create a primary username and additional sub-accounts. Most DVR GUIs will automatically initiate changing the default password for security purposes; if not, you will find the selection in the main menu. All such DVRs or security system appliances have an administrator or superuser account and a password that is set during the manufacturing process.
The default passwords for DVRs are either formatted as a standard plaintext password or the serial number of the system. Plaintext passwords for DVRs are usually documented in the device user manual, and a PDF copy of the manual will be available online at the manufacturer’s website; a quick Google search will find you what you need. There are many default username and password combinations for DVRs, the common ones are; admin/admin, admin/123456, admin/secure, admin/password, but it should be noted that we are seeing these default credentials being phased out in the very latest releases of H.264 DVR products.
Like all critical appliance passwords, we recommend that the password is documented within a secured password repository application. There are many available, most are open-source and free. A few good apps are KeePass, Password Manager, and LastPass. This software protects your passwords in an encrypted, password-protected database, and the database can be shared between authorized users for concurrent access. This approach may prove useful for your business.
There are many reasons why users forget or misplace passwords, and it is best practice to have a more complex password for a DVR; this is especially important for businesses who need to protect confidential CCTV recordings that are kept on the DVR. Please note that CCTV and sound recordings may be subject to data privacy regulations.
Complex passwords are easy to forget, though you might learn the password after several months of entering it every day. Often, complex passwords need to be “written down” in a password repo. Never write down the password on a whiteboard or notepad.
There are many reasons why a user may forget the DVR admin user. Some of the most common explanations the Gillware data recovery engineers witness are caused by:
Consider how your organization will manage if the DVR password is changed by a temporary employee or as part of a scheduled monthly password cycle, and for whatever reason, the login credentials are not shared. The DVR may become locked out.
An admin password is required for nearly all DVR system actions, such as configuring the live feed, rebooting/shutting down the device, and locking the user interface. Most recorders, by default, come with two user accounts as standard: these are the administrator account and the guest account.
The administrator account has the authority to add, delete, or reconfigure parameters for most system functions. The guest account typically has no password and has very limited functionality; usually, the account can just view a basic live CCTV video feed or selected cameras on screen.
During the initial setup, you may have been prompted to change the default admin account or create a new password for login. If you are not prompted, it is still best practice to change the default admin account. If someone stole your DVR, a quick search online would give them the default credentials in no time, and potentially give access to the DVR with free reign to all the footage!
Gillware recommends adding new remote or local users to your device, and the number of available users varies per device. The minimum is usually 5 users and up to 30, and you can grant permissions per user to different functions on the DVR. It is not recommended to use the admin account after the initial user setup process is complete. Each person responsible for the DVR should have their own personal login credentials, and the administrator account details should be stored in a passcode application, or better still, in a fire safe.
If you did not change the administrator password when you initially set up the DVR, you may be in luck. Check the user manual and search for instructions about the default password. Alternatively, this website link has a concise list of default DVR passwords. You just need to know the brand, make and model, locate the password, and then enter the login information.
If you have changed the default password, and no other user can log in and fix the issue, in nearly all circumstances you will need to reset the password by completing a factory reset. The complexity of this task varies with the respective DVR model.
If you need to reset or create a new password on the DVR, some additional considerations are needed. The first step is to call or email the vendor or your supplier to request a password reset and further technical support. If the DVR is still covered by the manufacturer’s warranty, or if you pay an additional support contract, call or email their people to reset your password and revert to factory default.
In most cases you will need the serial number of the DVR; this is located on a sticker on the back of the DVR. The serial number is unique to every single device. Send the information to the manufacturer’s email address and they can generate a unique code hash to unlock the DVR. Once you have reset your password, you can reboot the DVR and start the initial configuration again. Make sure you create new accounts and document them. Your CCTV recordings will be saved. as the link to the video files is normally located on a separate disk partition or mount point.
Everything gets a lot harder if your security system is out of support from the manufacturer. Maybe the vendor no longer exists or the DVR is now deprecated. This scenario is not uncommon, under normal operation, a DVR/NVR can last for many years, and sometimes they outlast the makers.
So what can you do if you have lost access to your DVR/NVR? You have two choices: you can either attempt a home fix, or you can dispatch the DVR to the data recovery experts at Gillware. It all depends on how critical keeping the CCTV recordings or information archives that reside on the internal hard disk. Also, remember that if you intend to buy a new security DVR and simply swap the disks over, please note that this WILL NOT work. DVR/NVR appliances encrypt data held on disk, and the key is located on a ROM chip on the system board of the DVR. If you swap the disk, the data will not be readable.
In all circumstances, we recommend that our customers send their DVRs to a specialist team like Gillware.
The steps to reset security DVRs to factory defaults varies per device. Each brand and model will have a slightly different process, and we will include steps for five of the most popular later on.
The first step is to check if your DVR/NVR has a web interface for management; it’s possible you may have saved the login credentials in your web browser. Check your manual or search the internet for your security systems default web interface IP address, or speak to your company network engineer if you have one. Most newer devices have a web interface and all NVR devices have one. It’s definitely worth checking, because most web interfaces have a lost password feature, allowing a user to reset their password directly.
Many manufacturers allow you to use USB Recovery to reset your DVR. DVRs are essentially Linux computers, they have a CPU, Disk, and Memory, and because DVRs are computers, you can use a boot disk to start the recovery process. They all have at least one USB input, and the manufacturer can provide a boot image, usually containing a guid.xml to reset to factory defaults and the administrator password back to default.
If you have a remote control, the manufacturer may have embedded a remote control reset keystroke. Typically step 1 would be to start with the DVR powered off; you may need to unplug it or switch it off. For step 2, hold the recommended combination on the remote control and power on the device. Step 3 is easy; if the keystroke is accepted, the DVR will give off an audible tone. The DVR will rebuild itself using a default image kept on a recovery partition, or on an EPROM chip located on the system board. The combinations vary; check your manual if this applies to your device.
An intrusive fix can be attempted if the user is confident enough to take the device apart. Please remember that opening up hardware will likely void the warranty, so only attempt this if your DVR is out of support or if you can accept the risk of losing your data. Some system boards allow the user to reset the administrator password via a reset button located on the PCB. Press and hold the reset button to clear the CMOS, then boot the appliance and you will be prompted to create a fresh configuration as well as a new password.
The next possible fix to consider is a firmware reload. Updating the firmware of a DVR/NVR is something that most users will explore during the lifetime of the device; the firmware updates include new feature sets, bug fixes, and stability updates. The upgrade tool features are usually locked by the vendors, and a simple call or email to the supplier with your serial number will get you a superuser account or a USB recovery file. A firmware reload will allow you to reset the password and rebuild the CCTV system.
HIKVISION is a Chinese company that specializes in HD CCTV and Network Surveillance Systems. HIKVISION makes high-end CCTV DVRs and NVR systems targeted at small and medium businesses. The security of HIKVISION is robust, making them difficult to fix, and different HIKVISION devices share different password strategies.
The recommended method to reset the password on a HIKVISION is to use their Search Active Devices Protocol (SADP) software, which you can download it from this link. The tool scans the local network for a HIKVISION DVR. Once located, simply click the “forgot password” button to initiate the password reset process.
There are 3 techniques to fix a lost password, the method applicable to you depends on the model number and firmware version of your CCTV device:
Method 1: DVR requires a security code
Method 2: DVR requires an encrypt file import
Method 3: DVR requires an encrypted file or key
For every CCTV system, you must contact HIKVISION technical support; they will either give you the security code, or you will be requested to output an XML file from the SADP tool, send it to tech support, and they will send you an unlock key or file. You will be sent a series of codes to enter that is set by date; choose the key that corresponds with your security system’s current date and time. The new reset password will be 12345.
Samsung, the South Korean technology powerhouse, has a wide range of Network and Digital Video Recorders available. They target the home market and the commercial CCTV sector with various models. Thankfully, Samsung has included some straightforward fixes to recover lost CCTV passwords, including a handy factory reset feature built into their DVR.
There are many different ways to reset the admin password on their DVR; please note that the reset wipes out all of your existing configurations.
Option 1: Nearly all Samsung DVRs come with a remote control, and the easiest method to reset the DVR is with the remote control.
Option 2: If you do not have the remote control, don’t worry; it may still be possible to reset the Samsung recorder. Some models have the Freeze, Alarm, and Return buttons on the front panel. If not, look for the MODE and PTZ buttons, holding these down for more than 5 seconds will force a factory reset.
Lorex is a Canadian video surveillance company, and their brand of Lorex DVR is very popular in North America. Lorex targets the home and business sectors and is well known for its night vision cameras, digital IP, and MPX analog systems.
There are several different ways to reset the administrator password on their DVR.
Option 1: The official way is to get in touch with Lorex customer support with your serial number, and they will respond with a superuser password to unlock the device.
Option 2: If you haven’t changed the default admin password, it is worth noting that the default passwords are:
Username: admin Password: 000000
Username: admin Password: 00000000
There are more unofficial ways to create a Lorex new password; please proceed with caution, as these fixes will more than likely void your warranty.
Option 3: Reset the Lorax administrator password using the PCB reset switch. Almost all models of Lorex digital recorders have a reset button located on the system board. The location of the button varies per device, but they nearly all have one. It’s a small black plastic button sat upon a raised metal block.
Option 4: Use a password keygen. This may not be the most ethical way to gain access to the DVR, but it is a hack that works well. There is a tool called the Dahau password generator – located here – all you need is the current timestamp of your DVR, and it will generate a code for you. Results are hit and miss, but it’s worth a try if all else fails. Always proceed with caution when downloading zip files from the Intenet.
Option 5: Remove the internal battery. Just like every computer, a DVR has an onboard battery which is used to keep the system’s time and date correct. On certain Lorex devices, if you remove the battery and leave the system for a good five minutes, the time and date of the device will be reset to zero. Power up the DVR and you can use the default passwords mentioned in section 2 above.
Swann is an Australian company that specializes in security monitoring, consumer electronics, and security-centric solutions. The Swann range of digital recorders is very popular across the United States and Europe.
There are several different ways to reset the administrator password on their DVR.
Option 1: Swann provides a device config tool that is installed on a laptop or computer. Step 1 is to install the tool, ensuring that the laptop is connected to the same network as the DVR. The tool should automatically detect the DVR. If not hit the search button or enter the IP address of your device. Make a note of your DVR MAC address, as you will need this for the reset.
Reboot your Swann DVR, then, at the Login screen, click on the forgot password button and input your MAC address as the password. Make sure you change the dashes “-” to colons “:” – for example AB-12-CD-34-EF-56 will become AB:12:CD:34:EF:56.
H.264 is a generic term for all non-branded DVR products. They are called H.264 because that is the video codec used to format the recordings. Generic H.264 DVRs are usually much more affordable, and all things considered, they are great little devices. We would only recommend H.264 DVR devices for home and personal security.
Option 1: Read the manual (if you have one) – hopefully, your H.264 DVR came with a manual, and hopefully the device comes with some level of technical support. The default passwords and, on occasion, superuser passwords are located in the manual. Here is a very good list of common default administrator passwords.
Option 2: Use a password key generator. There is a tool called the Dahau password generator – located here – all you need is the current timestamp of your H.264 DVR and it will generate a code for you. Results are hit and miss, but it’s worth a try if all else fails. Another popular H.264 password generator automatically selects the date and time and generates you the current code for the DVR. You can download it here.
Many of these fixes require a more advanced level of technical expertise, if you are not confident to attempt any of these fixes, or if the CCTV footage is of utmost importance, then please get in touch with the data recovery experts at Gillware.
Gillware performs more than 15,000 recoveries every year. Our Madison, Wisconsin-based recovery lab is SOC 2 Type II security audited and equipped with ISO-5 Class 100 cleanroom facilities. Gillware is the preferred data recovery provider for industry-leading technology companies, including Western Digital and Dell. If you are in need of data recovery services, no matter what the device or issue is, please feel free to get in touch. We’re more than happy to help.
Is your security DVR locked with no way to get access? Do you need to get footage off of a security DVR as part of an investigation? If you need to get video off of a security DVR with a lost password and are not sure what to do next, get in touch with the experts at GIllware Data Recovery. We can assist with all DVR video recovery scenarios and have helped legal teams, insurance adjusters, and businesses with missing, deleted, or locked DVR footage. Get in touch today!