Storage: Safely Managing and Deleting Surveillance Footage

How to Delete CCTV Footage off SD Card, DVR, NVR & PC

Proper management and secure deletion of CCTV footage are essential to ensure the privacy and security of surveillance data. This article will delve into the various methods and considerations for deleting CCTV footage from different storage devices, including SD cards, DVRs/NVRs, and PCs. Understanding the misconceptions and possibilities surrounding the deletion of surveillance recordings is crucial for anyone responsible for maintaining these systems.

A Common Misunderstanding

One common misunderstanding is that deleting CCTV footage completely removes it from existence. However, this is not always the case, as there are instances where deleted footage can potentially be recovered. We will explore this further later in the article, but first, let's address the question: Is it possible to erase CCTV footage permanently?

Is It Possible to Erase CCTV Footage

Yes, it is possible to delete CCTV footage from various storage devices. The effectiveness of the deletion depends on the type of storage and the method used.

Can someone delete surveillance recordings by hacking? While it is theoretically possible for someone to delete surveillance recordings by hacking into the system, modern CCTV systems are designed with robust security measures to prevent unauthorized access. The chances of an outsider remotely deleting footage are relatively low, especially if the system is properly configured and updated with the latest security patches. However, it's crucial to remain vigilant and employ best practices to protect your surveillance data.

How to Delete CCTV Footage off SD Card

When deleting CCTV footage from an SD card, follow these steps:

  1. Safely eject the SD card from the surveillance device.
  2. Insert the SD card into a computer or laptop with an SD card reader.
  3. Locate the SD card in the file explorer and open it.
  4. Select the footage files you wish to delete.
  5. Right-click and choose the "Delete" option.
  6. Empty the recycle bin or trash folder to permanently remove the files.

Remember to make sure you have backed up any critical footage before deleting it, as the process is irreversible.

How to Delete CCTV Footage from DVR/NVR

To delete CCTV footage from a DVR/NVR system, follow these steps:

  1. Access the DVR/NVR system's user interface using a computer or mobile device.
  2. Enter the login credentials to access the system settings.
  3. Navigate to the recorded footage section or playback menu.
  4. Locate the specific footage files or time range you want to delete.
  5. Select the desired files and choose the "Delete" or "Remove" option.
  6. Confirm the deletion and follow any additional prompts to complete the process.

Always ensure you have a backup of important footage before deleting it from the DVR/NVR system.

How to Delete Security Camera Data from PC

To delete security camera data from a PC, follow these steps:

  1. Open the surveillance software or file explorer on your PC.
  2. Locate the folder or directory where the footage is stored.
  3. Select the files you want to delete.
  4. Right-click on the selected files and choose the "Delete" option.
  5. Confirm the deletion when prompted.
  6. Empty the recycle bin or trash folder to permanently remove the files.

It's important to note that some surveillance software may have additional options for managing and deleting footage. Refer to the software's user manual or documentation for specific instructions tailored to your system.

How to Delete Individual Clips

Deleting individual clips from CCTV footage can be useful when you only need to remove specific segments. Follow these steps to delete individual clips:

  1. Open the playback or footage management section in your CCTV system's user interface.
  2. Locate the clip you want to delete by browsing through the recorded footage.
  3. Select the specific clip you wish to delete.
  4. Look for an option such as "Delete," "Remove," or a trash bin icon associated with the selected clip.
  5. Click on the option to delete the clip.
  6. Confirm the deletion if prompted.

By deleting individual clips, you can free up storage space and ensure that only the necessary footage is retained.

How Long Does Footage Stay on Security Cameras

The retention period for CCTV footage can vary depending on several factors, including storage capacity, system settings, and organizational policies. Here are some general guidelines:

  1. Local storage (SD cards, DVRs, NVRs): The duration of footage retention depends on the storage capacity and recording settings. It can range from a few days to several weeks or months. Once the storage reaches its capacity, the system may overwrite the oldest footage automatically.
  2. Cloud storage: If your CCTV system utilizes cloud storage, the retention period is typically determined by the subscription plan or service agreement. It can range from a few days to several months or even years, depending on the provider and plan chosen.

It's crucial to review and configure your CCTV system's settings to align with your specific needs and comply with any legal requirements regarding data retention.

Can CCTV Footage Be Recovered

In certain circumstances, it is possible to recover deleted CCTV footage. However, the success of recovery largely depends on several factors, including the storage medium, the method and time of deletion, and the availability of specialized tools or services.

If the footage was recently deleted and no new data has overwritten the storage space, data recovery software or forensic techniques might be employed to retrieve the deleted files. However, the chances of successful recovery decrease over time as the storage medium gets overwritten with new data. It's important to note that attempting data recovery yourself may lead to further data loss or damage. In critical situations, it's recommended to seek the assistance of professional data recovery services with expertise in CCTV systems.


Managing CCTV footage storage is a critical aspect of maintaining surveillance systems. By following the proper procedures for deleting footage from SD cards, DVRs/NVRs, and PCs, you can ensure the security and privacy of your surveillance data. Additionally, understanding the longevity of footage on security cameras, the possibilities of recovery, and the precautions against unauthorized access are crucial for effective data management.

Remember to regularly back up important footage to preserve crucial evidence and mitigate the risk of data loss. By implementing best practices and staying informed about the latest advancements in CCTV technology, you can confidently manage and delete CCTV footage while protecting the integrity of your surveillance system.