How to set up an IP camera without DVRs? Is it possible to control a single CCTV camera without DVRs? And how can you connect and record an IP security camera without DVRs or NVRs?

These are the questions I see a lot on the forums and the Q & A sites.

So today I want to talk through all the aspects about how to set up, connect and record security cameras without a DVR or NVR.

Does an IP CCTV Camera Work without a DVR/NVR

Before we go any further, firstly you need to figure out whether a CCTV security camera can work without DVRs or NVRs.

The short answer: absolutely YES!

To simply put, a DVR or NVR is mainly designed to store the security camera footage. Without DVRs or NVRs, IP cameras can still work independently as standalone surveillance devices, just like the security cameras with SD card.

Better yet, you can also connect an IP camera to your phone, computer, laptop, TV without a DVR/NVR to stream live feed.

For the detailed steps about how to set up, connect and record a security camera without DVRs or NVRs, continue reading the following parts.

How to Set Up an IP Camera without a DVR/NVR

Basically, there are two ways for you to set up an IP camera without DVRs and NVRs, that is, through entering the UID (for P2P cameras) and port forwarding.

Simple Steps to Hook Up a Security Cameras without a DVR/NVR via UID Method

If your security cameras support P2P technology, like the ones sold by Reolink, it can be quite easy to set up your IP cameras without DVR/NVR for live viewing.

Taking the P2P IP camera Reolink Argus® 2 for example, below are the quick 3 steps to accomplish the security camera setup without a DVR or NVR.

Step 1: Download the free security camera software provided by the seller, such as the Reolink App and Client.

Step 2: Enter the camera UID and password to add the camera device.

Enter Camera UID

Step 3: Click the camera on the App/Client and then you can view Reolink Argus® 2 over Internet.

Here is a video shared by the user of Reolink Argus® 2.

Reolink Argus 2

100% Wire-Free Starlight Camera

Rechargeable Battery & Solar Powered; Outdoor/Indoor Protection; 1080 Full HD; Starlight Night Vision; 2-Way Audio; Live View Anytime Anywhere.

Quick Procedures to Set Up an IP Camera without a DVR/NVR via Port Forwarding

Your CCTV security cameras don't support P2P or you want to access your IP cameras from a web browser?

Here we use Reolink RLC-410 in our test and below are the detailed produces below to set up the IP camera without DVRs and NVRs via Port Forwarding.

Step 1: Find the IP address of your security camera from the "Device Settings" > "Network Status" (read this to learn how).

Find IP Camera Address

Step 2: Check the "HTTP port" and "RTMP port" of your IP camera in the "Device Settings" > "Network" > "Advanced" > "Setup" > "Port Settings".

Step 3: Log into the web interface of your router and forward the HTTP port and RTMP port to the camera's IP address on the router.

Port Forwarding

Step 4: Locate the WAN IP address of your home network here.

Step 5: Open a web browser and enter the URL address in the format of http://(wanip):(httpport).

How to Connect PoE & Wireless Security Cameras to Laptops/Computers without DVRs/NVRs

The methods to connect PoE cameras and wireless CCTV cameras to your PC or laptop can be a bit different, so we'll instruct you separately in the following detailed steps.

How to Connect Wireless CCTV Cameras to PC/Mac without DVRs/NVRs

Step 1: Charge your wireless security camera with the power adapter.

Step 2: Connect your WiFi IP camera to the router via the network cable for initial setup.

Connect WiFi Security Cameras to PC

Step 3: Launch the security camera software on your computer or laptop to add and view the camera.

Step 4: Choose the WiFi network and enter the password under the "Device Settings" > "Network" menu. Then you can remove the network cable and the wireless security camera connects to your PC/Mac successfully.

Below is a video of the wireless security camera Reolink RLC-511W.

Reolink RLC-511W

5MP Dual-Band WiFi 4X Optical Zoom Camera

5-Megapixel Super HD; Outdoor/Indoor Protection; Dual-Band WiFi 2.4 GHz and 5 GHz; 4X Optical Zoom; Built-in Micro SD Card Slot.

Note: The above steps apply for the connection of Reolink non-battery powered wireless security cameras to the computers and laptops without DVRs or NVRs. Cameras from other brands may have different rules.

How to Connect PoE Security Cameras to PC/Mac without DVRs/NVRs

Step 1: Connect your wired security camera to the router with the network cable, which provides video and power transmission for your PoE camera.

Connect PoE Security Cameras to PC

Step 2: Launch the security camera software on your computer or laptop to add the camera.

Below is a high quality video shared by a user of the PoE security camera Reolink RLC-410.

Reolink RLC-410

PoE Bullet IP Security Camera with Audio

5MP/4MP Super HD; Outdoor/Indoor Protection; 100ft Infrared Night Vision; Audio Recording; Mobile Remote Access & Control.

Note: If your router does not support PoE, a PoE injector or PoE switch is needed to connect your PoE security IP camera to your computer or laptop without DVRs or NVRs (refer to the image below for the connection method).

Connect Wired Security Cameras to PC

How to Connect CCTV Security Cameras to a TV/Monitor without DVRs/NVRs

Want to watch the live viewing of your CCTV security cameras without a DVR/NVR?

Check out the steps below to learn how to connect analog CCTV cameras to a TV or monitor without DVRs.

Step 1: Connect your camera to the VCR with an RCA cable.

Step 2: Plug your camera into the power source with the power adapter.

Step 3: Hook up the VCR to your TV via another RCA cable.

Step 4: Adjust the TV and VCR into channel 3 or 4 to get the live viewing.

Step 5: Insert a VHS tape into the VCR, and then press the Record button to get video recordings.

Mind that the steps above only apply to connecting analog CCTV cameras to your TV without DVRs.

In case you need to view an IP camera on a TV/monitor without NVR, the third-party devices are required to help with the connection.

Taking NetcamViewer Monitor for example, which claims to support any IP camera on a monitor or TV, you can plug your IP cameras into this device via Ethernet cable and connect to the TV HDMI port, then you may switch the channel to watch TV or check out IP camera video feeds.

How to Record an IP Camera without DVRs/NVRs

As mentioned above, DVRs and NVRs are the common security camera recorders to save IP camera video footage. Even without a DVR or NVR, there are also other alternatives for you to record an IP camera.

Solution 1: Choose a security camera with built-in Micro SD card or insert a memory card to the IP cameras with Micro SD card slot.

Note that the SD cards are designed to record motion triggered events only. And when the storage space is full, the older files will be automatically overwritten by the new ones.

Security Cameras with SD Card

Solution 2: If you have a spare computer or laptop at hand, you can also record the CCTV camera footage to the PC directly. But you will need to keep your PC/Mac running all the time.

Solution 3: Upload and store your security camera videos to an FTP server without needing a DVR/NVR. You can also have easy access to your files from anywhere via your mobile devices.

Solution 4: If your security camera seller provides cloud storage service, you can also record your IP camera to the cloud without a DVR/NVR.

Though the monthly subscription fees are required, the advantage is that the cloud service allows for off-site backup of your sensitive and important files, and also allow you to access them anytime and anywhere.

If you do have any other questions about how to set up, connect and record a CCTV camera without a DVR or NVR, please feel free to let us know.

  • LowCountryBuzz

    Great article, thanks! I hope you'll be able to answer my [related] question as eloquently, as well!

    The online has been flooded with tiny, Chinese made, inexpensive cameras that were adapted to RC [FPV] use from covert security and CCTV applications.
    Unfortunately, while I initially saved a bunch of money (they are usually marked up by US sellers by 4x or more), I now have a bunch of small cameras that I cannot connect correctly to my CCTV system. I am not totally sure if the issue is the wiring – trying to find a genuine mfg and wiring diagram or pinout has turned out to be impossible – or that the output isn't suited to my DVR, TV, computer (iDevice or PC).
    I've tried everything, including trying to deal with my CCTV mfg, only to find that they either don't know, or don't care to assist since the cameras weren't purchased from them.
    Bottom line, how can I use these amazing little cameras? I don't want to burn them up by connecting wrongly, but I am at my wits end trying to figure out why nothing happens when they are wired in. Yes, they are all wired, come with annoying brown, 3-pin Molex connectors (as though they're still being marketed as FPV cameras), and are set for NTSC output. I have adapters, including 4-pin for those with sound (let's not even go there yet, lol) to allow them to function via RCA/AV cable, but I'm stumped.

    Just as an example, if you search, ”Super mini wide angle,” on eBay, you'll get a funky little cam with a long lens – I have 4 – but its a good example. The others are comparable and all are bases either on a Philips 3299 chip or the standard Sony chip.

    Thanks for any help you can give!!

    • Jenny Hu

      Hi, there, FPV cameras are mainly designed to work with drones. Due to different video formats and other tech specs, these small cameras might not be compatible with your CCTV system or PC. If you need any help upgrading or replacing your existing CCTV system, plz feel free to let me know.

  • Kwame A. Amofa

    I have bought 3 cloud ip cameras for my shop, plz can u give me step by step instruction on how to configure and access them online?

  • Douglas Cobb

    Yes I have a question, I have a Night Owl Stand Along HD Camera it has a microSD Slot but I am not using it. I would like to know how to send and store live video feed from the wireless camera to my External HDD that are attacthed to my laptop and are on my network. My Orbi Router is showing the live feed from the Wifi but is there anyway to keep my live video feed with out using the cloud or DVR/NVR I have plenty of room on my HDD's I have the Night Owl App also have it on my laptop so I can watch the camera live but can not record at the moment. I want to send live feed to my HDD's I don't want to have to pay for cloud service or buy a NVR box from Night Owl...

    • Jenny Hu

      Hi, Douglas, it depends on your security camera brand. You may check if you are allowed to change the record path settings to the HDD attached to your PC via the Client on your laptop. If this won't work, it is best to consult the support team of your security brand for further assistance.

      • Douglas Cobb

        I bought a arlo hoping it would work better for the transmission of still shots to WU Weather Underground and so far this is nothing yet. I am trying to figure out why they Netgear can not get this as an FTP or URL option from my own IP camera. I should be able to share it how I please if I own it?

  • Ray

    Hi everyone. Great write up. Just one thing missing. I have a new camera that I want to test before installing. I want to do this by connecting it to my router. Problem is that it only has power and coax connectors. No RJ45. Is there a cable that will connect this to the my router? The camera is rated as IP66. Can anyone suggest anything? Thanks.

    • Flora

      Hello Ray, the new camera that you buy is an analog camera rather than an IP camera. You can't connect an analog camera to a router directly since the analog cameras work with DVR only. Hope this clarifies.

      • Ray

        Hello Flora.

        Thanks for taking the time to respond to me. That certainly makes sense now that I think about it. No RJ45 = no LAN.. Could you spare a little extra inforamtion please? Here's the camera specification below. It has two dip switches that can be set to four different positions to give four configs.

        They are :

        HD CVI
        HD TVI

        Are these four formats all analogue? None of them digital?

        Thanks again


        Technical Data
        Colour: Grey
        Image Sensor: 1/2.7" 1080P Full HD digital image sensor
        Signal System: PAL/NTSC
        Active Pixels: 1928(H) × 1088(V)
        Lens: 2.8 mm – 12 mm Varifocal Lens
        Angle of View: H:97°
        Horizontal Resolution: 1080P
        S/N Radio: >50 dB ( AGC off )
        Min Illumination: 0 Lux (IR ON – IR-cut technology)
        Video Output: CVBS
        Power Supply: DC12V±10%
        Current Consumption: 90 mA (IR OFF), 330 mA (IR ON)
        IR Led: 36 pcs
        IR Distance: in Effect Up to 30M
        IP Rating: IP66
        Dimension: Φ120*86mm
        Weight: 800g
        NTSC:1/60 – 1/100,000 sec

        • Flora

          Hello Ray, the four configs that you mentioned above refer to the video quality and transport technology. So, none of these 4 configs can be used for network connection. If you just purchase the analog camera, you may negotiate a return with the security camera brand's sales team.
          If you want to keep the camera, here's a detailed guide on how to connect an analog camera to the router directly, Hope this helps.

          • Ray

            Thanks for that Flora. I will read the link that you posted. Much appreciated.

  • Anthony Pucci

    Hello Jenny, i have IP cameras that are different brand (not reolink) i have connected them to the reolink nvr and they are displaying, but they are not recording to the harddrive. How do you set this up?

    • Jenny Hu

      Hi Anthony, you may lower the resolution via Reolink Client on your NVR and see if those IP cameras can record to the hard drive now. Hope this helps.

  • Jenny Hu

    Hello Harmish, you may connect the analog camera to a monitor with a BNC connector. You may check if it is possible to record videos captured with your camera to an SD card, FTP server or any other storage devices. Or, you may need to use a PC to record the camera onto a hard drive.
    In terms of the raspberry pi connection, we have covered this topic in another post. Check it out, Hope these help.

    • Harmish Mevasia

      Hello Jenny, How would i use a FTP server in this scenario, also is there any other way besides using a raspberry pi to watch the footage live and record without using a PC, or is the Raspberry pie the best option. Also the camera does not have a SD card slot.

    • Harmish Mevasia

      Also as you linked to a raspberry pi page, does that also work for non ip cameras ?

  • Jenny Hu

    Hello Kenneth, please make sure that you have powered on the CCTV camera. If this won't help, you'd better contact the support team of your security camera brand and ask them for help.

  • Jenny,

    Your article states that you can record to pc without a NVR but does not include the details how.

    Can you point me to where I can do this?

  • Somya Prakash Sinha

    Hello, i have ip cameras i want to view camera remotely without NVR, this going to view in laptop. how to do?

    • Jenny Hu

      Hello Somya, you may use a PoE switch between the cameras and the router and make sure the router can access the Internet. In this way, you will be able to view the camera remotely. In terms of video storage, you may put an SD card in the cameras. Hope this helps.

  • Jesper

    I have access to my two Rlc-410W-5MP in my summer house via both app and windows pc.
    Can I find the ip route to the cam. I don't have the Wan IP can I find that in the app or the Reolink Client ?
    I will try to connect the cam i Norway to my BlueIris server i Denmark, but need a IP/Url to both cams. I never visit the summer house between september and may and now it is not possible do to corona, so I hope there is a way to see the route from the client to the cams.

  • Ashik Rahman

    Hi I am with a doubt wheher there is any option available for connecting cameras live view in a long distant mobile with dvr and network router??



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