The most popular video storage device today is Network Video Recorders, or NVR. Network IP cameras have been dominating the market for the last few years. There are countless benefits of using IP cameras, and that was the main reason why IP cameras have become dominant. Network cameras have been around since early 2000', but very limited bandwidth of the older networks, poor quality of the video, complicated installation often requiring good networking knowledge, and a very high price, compared to analog cameras, kept IP cameras in the shadow. There was no good reason to use them. However many security professionals knew that IP cameras would be the future. It took probably a little longer than anticipated, but finally in the half of 2010' IP cameras started surfacing. They were getting more and more affordable, newer networks offered much higher bandwidth, installation was becoming easier with Plug&Play NVRs equipped with built-in PoE switches, and advanced features not offered with anaolog and analog HD cameras. That shift in video surveillance technology required new video recording device. Up until then, IP cameras would often use a computer and its hard drive for recording. It wasn't very efficient and required a software to run on the PC. It was simply too unreliable and expensive. First standalone NVRs started coming to the market in the late 2000' and in the late 2010' first standalone NVRs with a built-in PoE switch started surfacing and very quickly gained huge popularity. Currently we have a few different types on network video recorders:

- Software based NVR, running on a computer and recording onto a local hard drive or any other storage device connected to the computer directly or through the network. Cameras are connected to the unit through the network (LAN or WAN). Bandwidth is limited by the network bandwidth, network adapter or WAN connection. This type of NVRs are less and less popular as there are simply better and more reliable alternatives out there.

- Standalone NVR, connected to the network. Those devices are usually Linux based and often have built-in storage. Usually a hard drive or a few, with additional capacity for network attached storage or eSATA storage. Like with the software based NVRs, standalone NVRs connect with the cameras via LAN or WAN. Standalone NVR uses network infrastructure to interact with the cameras usually utilizing network switches, routers etc. There is no direct connection between the NVR and the camera(s). Those are often use in large commercial installations where it is often more efficient to use existing network infrastructure. Examples are schools, hospitals, large office and apartment buildings and hotels, warehouses and manufacturing facilities.

- Standalone NVR with a built-in PoE switch (Plug&Play). This type of NVRs do not require any network to communicate with the cameras. Optionally most of the units can be used the same way as Standalone NVRs. The beauty and simplicity of those units made them installers favorite. They basically work the same way as DVRs, so installers familiar with the analog camera setup, could easily switch to IP cameras without a need for any additional networking knowledge. In this case, every camera is connected directly to the NVR via Cat5 or CaT6 cable. NVR powers all the cameras using built-in PoE switch. NVR acts as a router assigning IP address to each and every camera. Bandwidth is limited to the processing capacity of the NVR and they usually come with 4, 8 or 16 port switch built-in. Some unit have 24 or even 32 port switch. It's a great solution for residential customers as well as small businesses like retail stores, shops, bars, saloons etc. Any place where running cables is fairly easy and all the cameras are within 300ft (800ft with some NVRs).


Digital video recorders or DVRs are still extremely popular video recording and storage devices. They have been around for over 20 years now. DVR started as a replacement for VCR and a multiplexer. It was a very innovative device back then where most of the video was stored on VHS tapes. A standard VHS tape could only store up to 4h of a full motion video. That was extended with a use of time lapse recording. Security VCR would record a frame every 3 seconds or even more. Video was choppy, it was very hard to retrieve and it required a lot of room to store all those tapes. Multiplexer offered the way to record a video from several cameras onto one VHS tape, but again, the quality simply wasn't there. And to find an event could easily take days for fast forwarding through the tapes.

Digital Video Recorders solved a lot of those issues. They were capable of recording a video from many cameras (up to 32) with a much better quality and a better frame rate. There was no need for changing and storing VHS tapes and the motion activated recording and search made it so much more efficient to record and store the video. The invention of the DVR made video surveillance system affordable for almost any business and many home owners. CCTV cameras were also getting better and more affordable. Video surveillance market was booming. We started to see security cameras popping up at the gas stations, retail stores and even residential homes. Over the years DVRs were becoming more and more advanced and more reliable. New features like remote access and live video broadcasting made it possible to keep an eye on your property from anywhere in the world utilizing the internet. The newest DVRs offer basically all the same features as NVRs and IP cameras. Video analytics, full remote access and management, on site and off site backup, user management, alarm and access control integration are just a few. Recording resolution have been improving over the years as well. Starting from 320x240 CIF resolution to currently up to 8MP 4K Ultra HD. The main difference between current DVRs and NVRs is that DVRs are used to process, record and store the video from every single camera connected. NVR basically just stores the video, while all the processing is done at the camera level. That is a huge bottle neck in the DVR based surveillance systems. Sending uncompressed full motion and high resolution video from the camera to the DVR requires a lot of bandwidth and that's why all the cameras are directly connected to the DVR usually via coaxial type cable. DVRs are also not capable of utilizing local area network for communication. All the wiring needs to be 100% dedicated for the video surveillance. Modern HD DVRs can record resolution up to 16MP, 8K and are a great option for any facility already pre-wired with coaxial cable or as an upgrade for older analog systems. Those are basically the only two reason why some customers still purchase DVR based video surveillance system.

As with NVRs, there are a couple of different DVR types:

- PC Based DVR, usually utilizing a pretty standard PC computer. Instead of purchasing a standalone unit, customer can purchase multi-channel video capture board and install it in the standard PC. There are a few advantages to those systems, they tend to be a little less expensive than standalone DVR and since the software is already running on the computer, it is easy to backup the video or pictures, as well as edit, or print them. Since the majority of the system is assembled in similar way to the PC, when a part goes bad, it is fairly easily to replace it. It is worth to mention that PC based DVRs were really popular in 2010' but currently the market is dominated by standalone units and PC based DVRs are a very rare find. Some of the biggest names famous for their PC based DVRs are GeoVision and Eyemax.

- Standalone DVR are by far the more popular choice. They are very affordable and mass produced in many different models and configurations by many manufacturers, out of which big three are Hikvision, Dahua and Uniview. This type od DVRs are all in one units, equipped with a hard drive(s) for video storage, power supply, video card and video capture board. They are usually Linux based and are very reliable. They come in many different configurations. Some major differences are: number of the video channels (cameras) supported, number of audio channels, storage capacity (number of hard drives), recording resolution and frame rate, video analytics capabilities and finally the technology supported. There are currently 6 major video transmission technologies. Analog and analog HD include HD-CVI, HD-TVI, A-HD and CVBS (standard analog). There are also 2 digital technologies: HD-SDI and EX-SDI. When purchasing a DVR we need to make sure that our cameras and the DVR use the same video transmission technology. The good thing is that most of the DVRs on the market are either 4-in-1 or 2-in-1 or even 6-in-1. 4-in-1 usually support A-HD, HD-CVI, HD-TVI and CVBS. 2-in-1 are usually reserved to EX-SDI and HD-SDI. And 6-in-1 supports all the formats. New DVRs often support IP cameras as well and can work as a hybrid units. It's a great options for some installations where older system and wiring is being utilized but some new camera locations are also needed.


Mass storage devices come in a few major versions. Directly attached storage DAS, network attached storage NAS and Hybrid SAN which can be used in a few configurations. Why use mass storage devices for surveillance? They are extremely reliable and usually offer backup in case any hard drive or entire storage device fails. They are used where video surveillance storage is extremely important and extended video retention is needed. Those devices can serve as a backup for DVR or NVR hard drives, or be used independently for recording and storing the video directly from IP cameras. Since IP cameras can be easily managed using video management software, and the storage device is used for video recording, there is really no need for NVR anymore in this configuration. And this is where the industry seem to be heading next as with higher resolution video, more and more storage will be needed.


Our Technicians can work with virtually any surveillance equipment, but here are some of the brands we commonly use: Hikvision, Hanwha, Dahua, LTS, Verkada, Uniview, Avigilon, Axis, Bosch, Eyemax and Magic.


Venture Security offers residential and commercial video surveillance installation in the following areas: Chester County PA, Montgomery County PA, Delaware County PA, Bucks County PA, Berks County PA, Philadelphia Metro Area, Lehigh County and Lehigh Valley, and the entire New Jersey. If your home or business is located within our service area, please reach out and we will be happy to discuss the options for your future video surveillance system, which matches your needs and your budget.