A very popular DVR with the paranormal hobbiest is the Bunker Hill Security 68332 system (Harbor Freight). It is relatively inexpensive, widely sold, and is pretty much ready to go out of the box.
BUT...The company made a bit of a mistake recently. They "upgraded" the operating system without upgrading the software and instruction booklet that come with the unit. This means that while recording video on the system is super-idiot-easy (except for fixing the time stamp apparently - I messed that up twice), downloading the video from the unit to your computer takes a bit of research at the very least. A little knowledge of browser settings and how networks function doesn't hurt.
I have come to your rescue.
These instructions, if followed closely, should allow you to download your video files from the DVR unit to your computer's hard drive.
Let's start with the basics. You will need a Windows computer (I don't know if the system is Mac compatible or not) and access to open ports on your home network router or switch. Your computer should be HARD-WIRED to the network. I have had zero luck getting this to work on my laptop over a wireless connection. I will update the article if and when I figure that part out. Of course your DVR will need to be plugged into the network also.
Access the DVR normally via its video interface. Yes, you will need a television or laptop with video inputs to do this. From the main menu screen select the NETWORK option.
On that screen you will find an entry for your DVR's IP address (something like 192.168.001.149). WRITE DOWN THIS NUMBER.
Now we must prepare your computer to accept data from the DVR. In Internet Explorer (I haven't tinkered with the protocol for other browsers) select INTERNET OPTIONS from your TOOLS menu.
On the next menu, click on TRUSTED SITES and then click on the SITES button.
On the next menu, uncheck the dialog box that says "requires server verification". Now enter the IP address preceded with "http://" as shown below.
Close that menu, and on your way out reset the TRUSTED ZONE security level to LOW.
Your browser should be able to access the DVR's WEB APPLICATION MANAGER now. Just type in the IP address of your DVR into the address bar and the login screen should appear. You may get sometype of download warning from your browser, firewall, or antivirus software. Gently reassure your computer that everything is fine and continue.
The default login information should be blank. Just click LOGIN and continue.
Next you will want to select the REPLAY tab. On that screen you will be able to use the calendar on the right to navigate to your stored files.
Note that this calendar relies on your computer's calendar date and, if...like me...your DVR system date was wrong when you recorded them, you might have to click around a bit. Regardless, dates with data will be highlighted in BOLD print.
Selecting an active date will give you a file list. Using the drop down menus and search button can help you find the file you are looking for.
Once you have selected the file you want, you will be able to play it. For our purposes you will also be able to download it to your computer. This is done by selecting the BACKUP BUTTON.
Your file will download to your hard drive to a folder named "dvr". Unfortunately, it will download in .264 format which is essentially useless. Next you will need to convert that file to .avi format. This is accomplished by clicking on the 264 TO AVI button after it has downloaded.
A little box will pop up asking you to select your source and destination files. Navigate the source to the files stored on your c: drive. Navigate the destination to wherever you want the video file stored and give it a name that makes sense.
About the only problem you might encounter after this point is that your video viewing and editing software may be missing the necessary codecs to work with the new file. If that is the case you may need to convert the file yet once again to a more friendly format. The software I use for this is WinFX Free Video Convertor. It installs with some useless adware that you can uninstall, but works great for many types of video conversions.