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Wrestling with the Super Mini NVR


I’m not especially handy in terms of plumbing, heating or carpentry, but I like to think I can figure out anything that is inside of or connects to a computer.  So even though I could afford to pay someone to set it up for me, I’ve insisted on assembling and installing my own video surveillance system.

My first incarnation of my video surveillance system was built with Foscam IP cameras and ZoneMinder — the free network video recording application for Linux.  Not wanting to dedicate a whole physical computer to this, I installed ZoneMinder on a virtual machine on my KVM server. It ran alright, and most everything worked — albeit slow. But then, I wanted to upgrade my cameras to high-def versions, and ZoneMinder struggled.

I spent hours, days, trying to figure out the magic settings that would get video and images from my new cams into ZoneMinder, but even with all the tips from the various forums, nothing worked. So I thought it was time to move to something a little more robust, maybe even a commercial product.

I have a Synology-based NAS, an ioSafe N2, and it comes with a trial version of their SurveillanceStation application. It allows 2 cameras for free and then you have to license additional cameras for a fee.  SurveillanceStation, once told which models I have, was able to immediately get video and images from my cameras. I was overall fairly pleased with it, but after a couple weeks it started doing funny things like not rotating the video logs and just stopping when max disk space was reached. Also, the licensing scheme for SurveillanceStation is silly and gets ridiculously expensive really fast.  And, I didn’t want to chew up all my precious ioSafe NAS space with video logs.

At this point I decided I needed a stand-alone Network Video Recorder. I searched the forums and Amazon reviews and came across the Super Mini NVR.  The reviews were decent and it was cheap, so I bought the 8-channel version. After a couple firmware updates, I finally got it working with my 3 Foscam HD cameras and an external USB hard drive. I couldn’t find a drive that it liked with the e-SATA interface, but this hasn’t been a problem yet because I haven’t been able to make it actually record anything yet.

But back to those firmware updates. After much hunting for ANY help for this device on the Internet, I found a topic on the CCTV Forum where other Super Mini NVR users had congregated to share scraps of knowledge and frustrations. One contributor to the forum can speak Chinese and has been in contact with the makers of this NVR; his comments are very useful because the Super Mini NVR people tell him things that don’t seem to be documented anywhere else. This forum is the only place you’ll find news of new firmware or even instructions on how to install the new firmware.  Be warned though, the newest firmware brings a completely different control interface, and the only user manual I’ve been able to find has not been updated to match it.


So with the Super Mini NVR, I have video signal that I can monitor, but for some reason the e-sata port doesn’t seem to work, scheduled recording doesn’t work, the motion detection doesn’t work, and it doesn’t seem smart enough to switch between the main stream and the sub stream when motion is detected.  I could be doing something wrong, but it’s hard to tell when there are no instructions and the UI gives you error messages in Chinese.

I’ve ultimately spent way too much time trying to get this thing working the way I want it to work, so do you have any recommendations for what NVR solution I should try next?


14 comments on “Wrestling with the Super Mini NVR

  1. Matthew Bradley
    February 2, 2015

    I’m curious. I have the absolute cheapest version you can buy of these things (Cortier I think? Amazon sells them for $35). It had to be the easiest piece of tech I’ve used in years. I own an electronics store so I run into my share of gadgets that absolutely fall flat on their face when it comes to usability. I only use onvif 2.0 cameras so maybe thats it but I swear all I did was plug the thing in, follow the few prompts it gave and I’m good to go. 24×7 recording on 3 channels and motion on another with a 1TB USB HD attached. I spent more time taking it out of the package.

    • Matt Hovey
      May 25, 2016

      24×7 recording via USB worked for me too, but I wanted motion-triggered recording and scheduling to work. After more research, I learned that ONVIF isn’t as standard as it should be, with camera OEM’s often tweaking or implementing incorrectly, and my particular brand (Foscam) is one of the not-so-standard ONVIF implementations. I eventually sold this device ebay, though. Now I use the motion detection on the cameras themselves and they stream to an FTP server on my NAS when triggered. Good enough for now, but tedious to review.

      • Jim
        April 4, 2017

        Are you able to FTP videos which are the full resolution of the camera? On all my cheap no-brand chinese IP cameras, motion detection results in FTP’d files of low resolution (despite choosing a high-res stream for ftp’ing). Any hints?

      • Matt Hovey
        April 30, 2017

        I can FTP full res, but I’ve dialed back frame and bit rate because this is over WiFi. It is the primary stream (hi-res) that is FTP’d to the NAS, however.

    • Arturo
      October 10, 2016

      what brand of usb HD did you use??/ model # please.

      • Matt Hovey
        April 30, 2017

        I used a couple different ones, I don’t remember the model numbers. A LiteOn 256MB SSD I pulled from a laptop and a Toshiba 2TB drive.

  2. Damir
    March 23, 2015

    Hi there. I stumbled upon your article and had to respond. What you need is the Foscam brand of “Super Mini NVR” -> see You can get them on as well. Unfortunately they are 4 channel only.

    I have also set up a surveillance system, originally with ZModo cameras which didn’t work with the Foscam NVR, but as soon as I replaced the cameras with Foscam FI9803Ps, the system worked beautifully. It records to attached hard drive, and with motion detection. Happy to answer any more questions.


    • Matt Hovey
      May 25, 2016

      Thanks — I had seen the Foscam-branded NVR, but no way to purchase it here in the States at the time. I just checked though and the Foscam NVR is now available for purchase. I may give this one more shot.

  3. Laszlo Strelisky
    May 24, 2016


    do you have any idea how can i reset the nvr’s admin password?

    thanks a lot


  4. Mohd Zaki Abdullah
    September 1, 2016

    seem my mini NVR cannot detect the USB drive. any special format require? FAT32? exFat?

  5. Rudy
    November 27, 2016

    Hi, I have an issue with passwords after doing an update. Can you tell me what password should I use after the firmware update?

  6. Jack Denial
    January 9, 2017

    To reset the admin password you have to do a total default reset. But after reading these comments I have to add my two cents in. This unit is a piece of junk. Don’t waste your money and time on it. I had used three and they don’t work for long… even if it works at the start. my first one worked will, picked up all cams, but the cams have to be onvif, as soon as all configurations were done. But only least for about 6 months and died. I bought a second one, Now I’m finding it hard to find my cams. Talked to the dealers on Ebay, they said I had to update the firmware. I did that and yes, it did picked up the cams, but now it does not pick up the external hard drive. Thus, I can’t record but just view. Had to sent it back after two months working as a tech for Ebay seller trouble shooting the unit. I didn’t think anyone should do these type of work when you paid for something. Anyway, I build computers and work with computers thus I did it. The third one, the replacement came, and again every cam and external HD picked up easily, but however, motion sensors recording does not work. But at least, I can record, So for the purpose and headache of going through yet another return with the seller I kept it. LOL lonely to pay the price after another six months, the unit malfunction after one of its maintenance reboot. The little nvr does not read the Hard drive again, no matter what type and kind, from a 500 to 3tb of different brand. It seems these unit are made very cheaply and the motherboard does not least long duo to over heating and there’s no fan to cool the unit, because the unit is always on. Do yourself a favor and don’t waste your time and money, even if it’ s only 35.00 on these units or any unit that’s from an unknown china company. Just like all those Micro SD cards and USB sticks that are on EBay or Amazon selling for cheap for a 64gig, 128, 256, 512gig, ect… they will not work. They are rigged to read at that spec., but when you use them, they can only no more then 10gig and after that they crash and corrupted. Yes, they will read and continue to write, according to you CP out put, but when you tried to retrieve or use the data in those Micro SD and USB sticks, you will find nothing beyond a few gig of data. You have to think why it’s so cheap on Ebay or Amazon…. that’s why they always said you get what you pay for.

  7. Geoff
    April 27, 2017

    Hi, I have WD 1td hdd connected to super mini nvr, although I now that the hdd works the nvr will not power it and is not recording
    Any ideas and help would be appreciated

  8. Matt Hovey
    April 30, 2017

    A few people have posted here looking for help, but honestly, 2 years later, I don’t remember much about this unit other than it was a big waste of time. I may just break down and setup a Windows PC (ewwww) to run BlueIris, which seems to be the de facto standard.

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This entry was posted on December 28, 2014 by and tagged , , , , .



Anything Matt Hovey publishes online is his own personal opinion and does not reflect the opinion of his employers.
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