Creating an off site cctv archive with FTP

A common concern for the owners and installers of CCTV DVR devices is that, in the event of a break-in, thieves will steal the DVR, eliminating any useful evidence.

There's very little that can be done to stop someone stealing your digital video recorder itself, though on this thread, they discuss everything from placing it into the ceiling (and then having to secure it so it doesn't drop down on someone's head!) to placing it in a gun safe (and figuring out some way of dealing with the excess heat).

The good news is, many suppliers of CCTV software support sending video and stills off-site, as do several hardware IP cameras and off-the-shelf DVR solutions. In fact, it's very likely that if you've bought a digital CCTV system in the last 5 years, it can already send stills and possibly video to an FTP server.

To test this out, I'm going to configure our office CCTV to use iWeb FTP as a remote backup.


Most closed circuit systems will have a similar set of questions. "Server IP". Where ever it's possible, I recommend using the DNS name for your account, like "". Some DVRs (including ours) only take an IP address, so we'll use - this is the current address for iWeb FTP and will not cease working without a large amount of notice. "User Name". This is the username to use for FTP. It should include the prefix for your account- you need this when logging over FTP, but you don't always need it if you only connect over the web. I'll use "insom-camera".

"Password". This will just be the password you entered when you created the account.

"Remote Directory". This should be the name of the space you just created. You might need to put a "/" at the start: I didn't on ours.

"File Length". On some DVRs this might be specified as a time period, and if you're using stills, it won't be visible at all. The larger you make this, the more footage your DVR will save up before uploading it. If you make it too large, you might miss crucial footage if your DVR is stolen. If you make it too small, you'll have many more video files to seek through if you need to refer it.

The other options can be left at their defaults, the only other important settings are the "alarm", "motion", "general" check boxes. These names may vary on your DVR, but similar functions will exist.

If you have integrated your alarm with the recorder then you can choose to only upload video and stills when the alarm has been triggered. If you have set up motion detection areas, you can upload footage only when movement is detected. Finally, if you just want a permanent off-site archive, you can select "General" to upload all of the time.

If you've followed these steps, you should start to see files appearing in your account.

After 24 hours or so, you should have some idea of how much storage a day's worth of footage will take up, and you can decide on how often you need to clean up old files, and what size of account you will need.

If you're using a different brand of CCTV software with iWeb FTP, we'd love to know.

Posted by Aaron Brady

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