How to Recover Deleted CCTV Footage?

Summary: CCTVs are used for security and surveillance. Thus, it is important to safeguard the data on the CCTV systems. This blog discusses the scenarios that may lead to the loss of CCTV footage and methods to retrieve deleted CCTV footages using Photo recovery software.

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If your CCTV footage is lost or has got deleted due to unforeseen reasons and you need to recover it, then you will need photo recovery software. CCTV data recovery is an easy task if you are using the right tools. Stellar Photo Recovery software uses powerful algorithms to retrieve lost video footage. You can download the free demo version of the Stellar Photo Recovery software to preview the recovered CCTV video footage before saving it.

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Why CCTV Cameras Are Important In Our Daily Lives?

For Safety At Public Places: One of the most important and common uses of CCTV cameras is surveillance of public places. The world has become more dangerous and CCTV helps fight crime. 

In Business Organizations: CCTV cameras are very common in business premises. They help to keep intruders away and offer safety to both human resources as well as intellectual property. CCTV cameras also help cut back costs by reducing the number of security guards. 

By Individuals: A lot of homeowners are investing in CCTV cameras to keep their homes secure and also to keep an eye on kids and pets. A complete home surveillance system is available inexpensively and acts as a deterrent to criminals.

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Why CCTV Video is Deleted from the DVR or Hard Drive?

Here are a few main reasons that can result in damage or loss of recorded footage in CCTV systems.

  • Accidental deletion of CCTV footage.
  • Failed DVR or hard drive (logical and physical failure).
  • Damage caused by fire.
  • Damage due to water seepage and moisture.
  • Bad sectors in DVR hard disk drive.
  • Formatted SD card, corrupt or damaged CCTV SD card or DVR.
  • Malware or virus attack on CCTV hard drive/SD card.

Does CCTV Footage Get Deleted Automatically?

There is no automated deletion. What happens is the hard drive (or SSD as the case may be) runs out of space periodically and writes over old footage. 

The frequency of overwriting varies with three factors contributing to it:

  • Size of storage media
  • Number of cameras
  • Resolution of cameras

Unlike other media, CCTV footage is not meant for permanent storage. But if you want you can increase the capacity of the HDD and increase the “reset” period.

How to Recover Deleted CCTV Footage?

The recovery solution depends on the type of damage caused. You can easily recover deleted CCTV footage with the help of photo recovery software or video/photo recovery services provided by Stellar Data Recovery Services. Below we will discuss CCTV footage recovery methods that are effective in restoring the deleted CCTV footage.

1. Restore Deleted CCTV Footage using Backup

If you have a backup, you can access the files by following these simple steps:

  • Look for the footage backup folder and open it.
  • Find the deleted video from the DVR hard drive or SD card and copy it back to the disk or SD card.

2. Recover Deleted Footage from CCTV Using CMD

You can use Control Prompt Command or CMD to retrieve lost or deleted CCTV footage. Follow the steps below:

  • Type “cmd” in the search box and hit Enter.
  • Right click and select “Run as administrator”. 
  • It will open Command Prompt. Check that it mentions system32 (admin level opens system32).
  • Type CHKDSK <drive letter>:/f/r. 
  • F fixes corrupted files and R tries to isolate bad sectors. After it has executed the CMD window will display a short report.

Drawbacks of Command Prompt (CMD)

Though the Command Prompt does not require any other additional device to recover the deleted CCTV footage, it has a few limitations when it comes to CCTV data recovery.

  • It isn’t ideal for amateur or technically un-savvy users.
  • If the files are bug infected, the chance of restoring the deleted data of CCTV cameras decreases.
  • Recovery of permanently deleted files is a complicated process. Inadequate knowledge will lead to corruption or permanent loss of data.

Also Read: How to recover deleted photos from Nikon Camera?

3.  Recover Deleted CCTV Footage with Stellar Photo Recovery Software

In the absence of a backup, you can recover deleted CCTV footage with data recovery software, like Stellar Photo Recovery. It supports a wide variety of formats captured by different CCTV cameras, including Hikvision, CP Plus, Dahua, Sony, and Bosch, among others.

How to recover CCTV footage using the software:

  • Download and install Stellar Photo Recovery on your Windows or Mac system.
  • Launch the software; the software will open. It has a very simple and customer-friendly UI that you would intuitively understand.

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  • From the main screen, select your CCTV SD card (or other storage device) to recover the CCTV footage.
  • Click on Scan to start the scanning process.

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  • When the scanning is complete, the software will display CCTV photos and videos. Select and preview.
    [Note]: You can also opt for the deep scan option if you do not see the required footage in the list.

For customizable and speedy recovery of photos check What are the Advanced Settings Options of Stellar Photo Recovery Software

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  • Select the files which you want to restore and click Recover.
  • After selecting the Recover option, a dialog box will appear asking you to specify the location to save the videos. Click Save.

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  • All the CCTV files get saved at the specified location.

Note that the free version will allow you to preview but not CCTV data recovery.

To get activation key of stellar photos recovery software you can either directly purchase from the website or using a free demo version click on ‘Get it now’ tab to buy the software.

4. Seek Help of Stellar Data Recovery Services to Recover CCTV Footage

If the software doesn’t accomplish the CCTV data recovery, contact experts. The team of experts at Stellar Data Recovery Services has expertise in deleted CCTV footage recovery.

Benefits of Deleted CCTV Footage Recovery Services

CCTV/DVR data recovery is a challenging task and requires technical expertise to restore deleted video footage. Technical know-how is necessary not only to retrieve lost footage but maintain clarity and resolution.  

Stellar’s team of data recovery experts is skilled in handling simple as well as complex CCTV data loss scenarios, such as accidental deletion, formatting, crash, physically damaged storage media, burnt footage, etc.

Stellar Data Recovery is an ISO 9001:2008 & ISO 27001:2013 certified company.

We operate a Class 100 Clean Room lab, which is necessary to open sensitive DVR hard drives for safe CCTV data recovery. A team of exceptionally trained recovery specialists recover deleted data stored in a damaged DVR with 100% efficiency and accuracy.

Do you know that by using Stellar Photo Recovery you can perform digital camera recovery in any data loss situation?

How to Avoid Further Damage to the CCTV Footage?

Water Damage: If your CCTV/DVR hard drive is damaged due to exposure to water, do not dry it. Drying the hard drive by placing it in strong sunlight or close to a source of heat such as a hair dryer would further damage the platters, reducing the chances of data recovery. Maintain it as you found it in a clean and dry place. 

Physical Damage: If you hear clicking sounds from the DVR hard drive, stop using it. Any noise emanating from the storage drive indicates physical damage, which requires professional assistance to recover data. HDDs make a clicking sound when the actuator arm assembly is failing. 

Fire Damage: If a CCTV/DVR hard drive gets damaged due to fire, do not try to clean or dismantle it on your own. This may lead to permanent data loss. An HDD or SSD is a delicate device. Seek professional help to recover video footage from burnt CCTV hard drives.

CCTV/DVR Failure: If you get errors or the system is sluggish or overheating, it is a warning sign of impending drive failure. Shut down the system till an expert can take a look under the hood. 

Watch the video on “How to Recover Deleted Photos and Videos with the help of Stellar Data Recovery Software


  • How to recover overwritten CCTV footage

At Stellar we offer CCTV data recovery in case of data deletion, partition lost, or if the drive is formatted,  

If the hard disk has physical damage or is unable to show files due to logical problems (e.g. quick formatting) we can retrieve data. 

If your CCTV is in continuous use after data loss, there is a very high probability that data or footage recorded on a CCTV hard drive has been overwritten. In such cases where data is overwritten it is not possible to recover old data. However you can still submit your drive in our data recovery lab to confirm the possibility of data.  There can be some scenarios where data is not completely overwritten and our experts are able to recover some data for you.

  • Can I get CCTV footage from six months back?

You cannot get it back unless your system was built with the specs in mind. If the CCTV system you have can store data for two weeks, before it gets overwritten, then by six months it has been overwritten a dozen times.

There is a second scenario. Due to some reason, a CCTV system stopped working six months back (say the mall closed down). The storage device was never touched and later you found that there was damage due to water, moisture etc. In that case, CCTV data recovery is highly feasible. 

  • How big storage space do I need?

It entirely depends on the resolution, frame rate and codec used. Most CCTV systems are by default set to 1080p (the definition of full HD tv in your home). But you can set it to 720p (HD) and even 480p (VGA). The frame rate is usually 30 fps. 1080p at 30 fps using H.264 codec would take up about 130 MB. That is a little over 3 GB daily. If there are six cameras then 30 GB daily. A 1 TB hard disk would be rewritten once a month. Of course, the actual number might vary considerably in real application.  

  • Should I enable TRIM?

TRIM is an SSD-specific command. Unlike HDD, an SSD cannot simply be overwritten. It first has to erase a block. 

TRIM command allows the OS to inform the SSD which blocks are no longer in use and ready for erasing.

  1. The upside – write speeds are faster. 
  2. The downside – old files are deleted.

If your system works without enabling TRIM (i.e. does not slow down when all cameras are recording many events) then disable it. If the recording becomes patchy as six cameras provide images of a hundred different things then enable TRIM. But be aware it would make CCTV data recovery that much more difficult. 

  • Are event-driven CCTV systems better at space usage? 

These are new CCTV cameras that turn on when something changes. They don’t have a shutter but analyse individual pixels to find any change. If there is a change the camera switches on. Say nothing is happening in your garden on a hot afternoon. The camera hibernates. Then the neighbour’s cat crosses it and the camera starts recording. 

  1. Good – requires less storage. 
  2. Bad – prohibitively expensive (till now). For the same price, you can buy a dozen 2 TB SSDs and set up a home NAS that maintains the last two years’ CCTV footage (and also your collection of music and Blurays).
  • How soon should I change the CCTV hard disk?

The CCTV is always on. At least, it is meant to be. The power on time is as important as rewrite cycles in estimating longevity. It is best to change once every 8 months (6,000 hours). They are designed to last 20,000 hours but that is with a shut down once a day or so. The rapidly dropping cost of HDD (about $40 for 1 TB) makes it feasible.  


CCTV or surveillance cameras are increasingly becoming intrinsic to our lives. It is, thus, important to safeguard the data on the CCTV systems. In this blog, we’ve discussed the scenarios of footage loss in CCTV systems and the methods to retrieve the footage. We have also discussed some tips that can help in avoiding damage to CCTV footage. In situations when easy DIY solutions don’t work, opt for a reliable software solution, like Stellar Photo Recovery Software or Stellar Photo Recovery Services.

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