Reliable NVR Remote Viewing System

152bobby

Active Member
I currently have a Swann NVR 7400 with 8 Swann cameras attached.

I have been using Swann CCTV for over 15 years, so I know all about their products and their customer support.

What I find very frustrating about this system, is the lack of reliable remote access when I am away from the house, using excellent 4g, 5g or super fast broadband .

I have had some suggestions from Forum members on here and I have spent numerous hours on the phone to Swann Support. I just think they will never admit they have a serious problem with remote viewing. I use apps such as Swannview Link, Alwaysafe and even Reolink apps for both Android and IOS and we are lucky to access the system 1 out of 10 times, so totally useless to me now. Apart from this one issue, I have absolutely no other issues, which is a shame.

So to be honest, I passed the point of any more suggestions on how to fix or do more troubleshooting, it's been going on for years and I reckon I have tried just about everything under every scenario possible .

So I'm going to sell this Swann system and I want a SIMPLE reliable alternative. Hikvision pops up a lot in my research, but very mixed reviews and some up and coming Chinese brands, such as Annke and Sannce and of course Reolink.

Can anyone recommend a reliable NVR system that is good for remote access.

My real concern is, if I do buy another system and have rubbish remote access, then I'm buggered again. Bearing in mind most of these systems are all the same and just branded accordingly

Thanks in advance for any suggestions .
 

Fabien

Active Member
Have you tried a home router that supports VPN access? I know you state that you’ve tried everything, however with this method of remote access, the NVR ‘thinks’ you are accessing as if you are at home.

Fabien
 

152bobby

Active Member
I have a BT Smart Hub 2 router which I think doesn't support VPN, so that means doing port forwarding etc !!
 

Fabien

Active Member
Your router supports VPN pass through and doesn’t seem to offer a VPN service. Therefore, ideally you would need to swap your router to one that supports VPNs.

This actually maybe more cost effective than retiring your current cctv system as in any case, newer systems may still rely on cloud access (or some funky port forward) to your cctv, which means your data may not local.

Examples of good routers with this function are UniFi Dream Machine or Draytec

I have BT fibre and have used both of the above with ease.

Fabien
 

Harkon321

Well-known Member
I've never had issues with HIK vision remote access via the phone app for my home system.

Also have it at work but never got that working, due to the very strict firewalls.
 

152bobby

Active Member
Thanks. My BT Smart Hub 2 is bedded in and works flawlessly at the moment. Over the years, I have had a few issues with the BT Routers as I have upgraded, so as this one is giving me the speeds as advertised and has no issues, I really don't want to mess with my broadband at all.

Over the last few days, I have been trying various Remote CCTV viewing apps from the android store, hoping that I'll stumble across one that will work with my Swann system.

I did find one, IP Cam (Basic) by a developer called Robert Chou, this is a app that states that it will connect to most cctv systems. It did recognise and connect to my NVR and cameras when I'm in the house using the home WiFi, but it's slow and when tested for remote viewing when away from the house using 4g or 5g, it doesn't connect.

So needless to say, I'm still looking for a solution, before the last resort of changing my whole CCTV system. It would be wonderful if Swann got their act together and sorted out remote viewing.
 

Fabien

Active Member
For clarity (and to ensure you understand how the connectivity works), when at home and your phone is on your network, the app will be able to connect to your camera system as it is on the same IP subnet.

When on 4/5G, you are in the ‘Wild West’ of the Internet and your phone is unable to connect to your cctv system as it doesn’t know how to route the connection.

This is where VPNs come in, as they create a persistent tunnel into your home network (in a secure manner) from the internet so your connection can get routed to your cctv system.

Your options are:

Swap out your router to one that supports VPNs
or
Have a VPN server on the inside of your network, setup VPN pass through on your BT HH, and then configure DDNS for the public connection.

If your head is now starting to hurt with all the terminology, then you either want to get a professional in to set this all up (there are many superb ones on this forum), or retire the system and get a Cloud based one.

The latter option will constantly be pushing images off your network into the Cloud so make sure you have enough upstream bandwidth.

Fabien
 

152bobby

Active Member
That all totally makes sense Fabien, thanks.

However, these systems are meant to be sold to the public as Plug & Play, no Degree needed to get them online and keep them online.

What bugs me the most, is this system always worked the vast majority of the time when accessing my cameras remotely...and nothing has really changed with my set up !!

Thanks again.
 

Fabien

Active Member
What usually happens is the cost of hosting their infrastructure in the Cloud starts to impact on the profit margins (especially when most cameras are now high-resolution) and they start pulling functionality

Fabien
 

152bobby

Active Member
But I'm not using any Cloud storage, it's all on my NVR hard drive, but I suppose what you mean is the so called Swann Gateway for me to then get to my own NVR.

I actually dread to think what it would be like to actually use a CCTVs company's own Cloud for the storage of my footage... I just never want to go down that road 🤣
 

Fabien

Active Member
Kind of. If you think about how Swann instigate your NVR to open up a connection via their gateway (transparently through your router - likely to be leveraging upnp !! Eeek), it’s only a small lateral move to subvert that connection and have a wander round your home network. Lots of vendors outsource the ip stack development side of things to a third party (for pennies)

Yours needs to be an informed choice at the end of the day. Cheap / Fast / Secure - Pick 2….

Fabien
 

152bobby

Active Member
I found a thread on the BT Forum and it mentions a option called Port Clamping, which I'm going to try.

I have turned this on, it states...

"Your BT Smart Hub has been designed to work with most virtual private network (VPN) software. If you are having problems connecting, try turning Port Clamping on.
This will set the internet key exchange to UDP port 500, rather than allowing a floating port - a setting which is sometimes required by older VPN clients"
 

Fabien

Active Member
….and what are you using as your VPN server behind your BT HH?

(Forums also mention VPN pass through)

Fabien
 

152bobby

Active Member
You've lost me, all I've done is turn this option on. I'm going to try and access my cameras when I'm out tonight.
 

Fabien

Active Member
Not being familiar with Swann it could work, however the ‘clamping’ option you mention is to do with the ports associated with the VPN key exchange. You still need a VPN server to exchange the keys with!

Like is said earlier, you may want to get a professional in to ensure your connection works remotely AND has not opened up your network in the process

Fabien
 

Markr123

Active Member
What is your ISP uplink speed? When away from home, you can have the best 4G / 5G connection in the world but with 8 cameras, if your uplink is weak, it won’t make any difference. You have to look at the weakest link in the chain. Also, it’s unlikely Swann have done much to optimise the video stream so may quickly saturate you bandwidth. I’d check this before investing in new kit to avoid disappointment.
One assumes you have checked any settings to reduce the streaming bit rate on the NVR?
 

152bobby

Active Member
Using Speedtest the upload speed in the house is 15Mbps, when our and about on 5g, this is anything from about 50Mbps to a 100 +

The bitrate was the first thing the Swann Support team looked at and was reduced considerably, any further reduction will just give me crap footage and then what's the point having 5mp 4k cameras !!
 

152bobby

Active Member
VERY good question and that's ALWAYS been on my mind. I have a Ring doorbell and that works EVERY time no matter where I am (in the world) albeit the response time differs, but that is expected.
 

oneman

Well-known Member
That all totally makes sense Fabien, thanks.

However, these systems are meant to be sold to the public as Plug & Play, no Degree needed to get them online and keep them online.

What bugs me the most, is this system always worked the vast majority of the time when accessing my cameras remotely...and nothing has really changed with my set up !!

Thanks again.
There are several ways that Swann could have set this up.

First and probably in a way the easiest is the way that Ring, Nest and most modern system work by the device (the NVR) connects to the Swann backend system in the cloud and authenticates. The app also logs into the Swann system in the cloud and the service in the cloud knows your home IP address (because the NVR connected from it) and redirects the app to your home address IP address. One major advantage is that you don't have to do anything to your router, the NVR opens the tunnel that will be used by the app. It should also be encrypting the connection between the app and the NVR so its secure.

The other option is the app connects directly to your home IP address and opens the tunnel from outside in, we will get to that in a minute. The problem here is that app doesn't know your home IP so it uses a Dynamic DNS service (DDNS), probably provided by Swann. The DDNS is connected by the NVR periodically and updates DDNS system with your home IP address. The app then also connects to the same DDNS to retrieve your home IP address.

So now we have overcome the hurdle of knowing where your system is on the public internet. The next problem is that your router needs to be configured to allow the incoming connection from the app. It can do this by port forwarding which the NVR uses uPnP protocol to configure your router with the NVR internal IP address and port automatically when you setup the NVR. There isn't anything fundamentally wrong with this, it's still safe and secure as long as the app is using encryption (for example something based on TSL 1.2 or above) for the connection and you trust Swann to have a secure OS on their NVR.

What can happen is that NVR knows the connection is coming from internet rather then internal network so will vary the quality of the stream and maybe adjust timeout values for communication to cater for higher latency, this would be a good thing as long as its done correctly. What a VPN can do for you is make the NVR think the app is running on local network which MAY actually make your connection worse. VPN POTENTIALLY might make the connection more secure but only if Swann has poor security, if Swann are doing things correctly then it won't make any difference but if they are using an unencrypted protocol like RTSP then VPN can that stream more secure. BTW, VPN service still needs DDNS server to know where to connect to.

So going back to your issue, there are two things I think are worth checking. See how often your public IP address is changing, if its changing frequently then maybe the DDNS updates are not happening frequently enough. Generally your ISP should keep giving you the same address but it does depend on your ISP and from past experience with BT the address hasn't changed for months at a time unless I've left the router off for a period of time. Second thing is maybe change the NVR to reserved or static IP address. If the connection is working at home then hopefully this isn't the issue.

What would be worth doing is looking at the port forwarding configuration of the router. If you know your public IP address it might be possible to configure the app to talk directly to your home IP address and required port. Personally I would say that adding a VPN right now is adding more complexity and likely to cause more issues that aren't easy to resolve.

Hopefully that makes sense.
 

152bobby

Active Member
Really appreciate this feedback, ideas and possible solutions to my problem. This all gives me something to work on and try and get this issue fixed once and for all.

Cheers
 

152bobby

Active Member
Not being familiar with Swann it could work, however the ‘clamping’ option you mention is to do with the ports associated with the VPN key exchange. You still need a VPN server to exchange the keys with!

Like is said earlier, you may want to get a professional in to ensure your connection works remotely AND has not opened up your network in the process

Fabien
Update: I got a local CCTV company to pop in and all port forwarding is now set up and working and assured me that it IS secure. Access remotely has not failed yet. So all good.

Thanks for everyone's help on this.
 

The latest video from AVForums

Movies Podcast: Star Trek in 4K. Is the new boxset worth it?
Subscribe to our YouTube channel

Latest News

T+A announces high end 200 Series audio components
  • By Andy Bassett
  • Published
Trinnov Altitude update adds new features
  • By Andy Bassett
  • Published
Panasonic TVs welcome Disney+
  • By Andy Bassett
  • Published
Audio Research announces I/50 integrated valve amp
  • By Andy Bassett
  • Published
Loewe confirms return to luxury TV market
  • By Andy Bassett
  • Published

Full fat HDMI teeshirts

Support AVForums with Patreon

Top Bottom