Video Surveillance + CCTV Systems

Making Sense of Your Video Surveillance Storage Options

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Making Sense of Your Video Surveillance Storage Options

Video surveillance is an integral part of a business’ security system. It serves as both a crime deterrent and a convenient method of documentation.

Once you invest in a video surveillance system, there are many ways that you can view the live (or recorded) video feed. When deciding which storage option is right for your needs, consider the following factors.

Available Storage Technologies

There are four main on-premise video storage technologies:

  • Digital Video Recorders (DVRs)
  • Hybrid Video Recorders (HVRs)
  • Network Video Recorders (NVRs)
  • Video Management Software (VMS) systems

Each system offers its own unique benefits and compromises, so knowing which one is the best fit for your business can be a guessing game – but this blog can help. Continue reading to better understand a few of the key pros and cons of each system.

Differences Between DVR, HVR, NVR and VMS

Digital Video Recorders (DVRs)

A DVR is an analog and/or IP-based recorder that uses a consumer electronic device or application software that records video in a digital format. DVRs enable you to search footage by date, time, event, and camera, and some DVRs even have video analytic capabilities.

There are also options for HD analog recorders that offer enhanced video resolution while transmitting footage via traditional analog coax cabling.

All in all, DVRs are easy to install and operate right out of the box. However, since the cameras require a point-to-point connection, you may need to run additional cables (and be prepared for the associated labor costs).

DVRs at a glance


  • Generally lower system cost
  • Simple integration
  • Can be monitored remotely
  • Typically standard definition, but HD analog DVRs can achieve up to 5 MP resolution
  • Mobile app capable
  • Capable of leveraging existing coax cable infrastructure


  • Limited number of physical camera inputs
  • Generally lower image quality
  • Point-to-point connection – requires more cabling
  • Space limitations
  • Limited scalability

Hybrid Video Recorders (HVRs)

An HVR is the perfect bridge between your legacy analog technology and infrastructure and newer IP cameras.

These devices cost slightly more than a DVR and often require a larger equipment footprint. However, they offer a blended design that is purpose-built for a combination of analog and a limited expansion of IP cameras – meaning that while they can support a small additional subset of IP cameras, they are not designed to support an entire array of high megapixel IP cameras.

HVRs at a glance


  • Leverages existing analog infrastructure and expands to support IP technology
  • Simple integration
  • Can be monitored remotely
  • Can support higher resolution cameras (1080p or greater)
  • Mobile app capable


  • Higher cost over DVRs
  • Generally less processing power than an NVR
  • Typically requires larger equipment footprint
  • Limited scalability

Network Video Recorders (NVRs)

Unlike DVRs, NVRs don’t need to be directly tethered to your cameras, and they use IP cameras for HD (or even 4K) resolution. This unit can be placed virtually anywhere, and just needs to be on the same LAN network as the IP-based cameras.

With DVRs, video data is encoded and processed within the DVR itself; in an NVR environment, this takes place directly at the camera. NVRs are basically a software program that records your video footage to a digital format – whether to a hard drive, USB or some other type of mass storage device.

Apart from ease of installation, the key benefit of NVRs is that they allow you to capture higher quality video, which can be much more useful for facial recognition or even forensic evidence. HD-quality footage, in tandem with various software systems, can even help generate analytics that drive business intelligence.

However, NVRs are limited in terms of network bandwidth and scalability. To achieve maximum performance from your cameras, your network needs to be able to meet their bandwidth requirements. In terms of scalability, generally NVRs are purpose-built for each location, so integrating additional cameras to the network can be difficult or, in some cases, impossible.

NVRs at a glance


  • Can be placed anywhere
  • Single connection via network cable
  • Optional PoE port support
  • Uses higher resolution IP cameras
  • Can be monitored remotely
  • Mobile app capable


  • Higher cost of cameras
  • Video quality is dependent on network bandwidth
  • Limited scalability

Video Management Software (VMS) Systems

VMS systems are generally the most robust, scalable video storage option. With a VMS system, you can combine the best of both worlds by utilizing video encoders to add older or existing analog cameras to your network, while also leveraging the enhanced quality and convenience of IP cameras.

VMS systems also allow you to gain many features and functions that make it easier to research an incident after it has occurred, watch live video and access analytics. You can even access your live video feed via the internet or a mobile app.

If you anticipate adding more cameras and locations to your network over time and you’re interested in gaining insight and analytics from your system, a VMS system will be your best bet.

VMS systems at a glance


  • Most robust and scalable system
  • Can utilize any cameras
  • Remote monitoring via web browser or client
  • Advanced analytics capabilities
  • High integration flexibility
  • Fully featured mobile applications


  • Higher solution cost
  • More complex user interface

Next Steps

Partnering with the right security integrator removes the burden of determining the right solution for your business needs.

Every business application comes with its own unique challenges and concerns that need to be addressed, and many video surveillance providers often provide customized solutions to meet these unique needs.

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