Today, smart consumers are taking advantage of the explosion of technologic advancements that have made DIY security systems inexpensive and easy to use. After all, everyone is concerned about safety and theft prevention for homes and properties. These days, for just a few hundred dollars, a competent security system including surveillance cameras can be purchased and installed by any do-it-yourselfer.

But cameras are just one part of the security equation. In most cases, another essential component is necessary to capture, convert and store footage from cameras. This device replaces the inefficient VCRs and televisions that traditional CCTV systems used in the past. The main function of this key piece of equipment is to create digital footage that may be viewed and stored in a variety of ways. To do so, a DVR or an NVR system is used and the difference between the two is often an area of confusion for those new to security systems.

DVR Systems
The DVR or digital video recorder is a popular and widely used system on the market. The first thing to understand about this type of system is that all the cameras connected to a DVR system are wired cameras. Depending on the system they may include both analog and digital cameras and they can operate without an internet connection. The job of the DVR is to take the video feed from a camera and convert it into a digital, compressed format that can be stored on a computer, memory card or on-board hard drive.

Since DVRs are made to work with analog cameras connected by coaxial cables, they do the work that the camera cannot – processing the analog video feed into a digital format for storage on modern media. Converting to digital means that more footage can be collected and stored with a minimum of equipment. Because a DVR works with analog cameras they make a popular upgrade to existing CCTV systems that have cameras and coaxial wiring already in place.

Some DVRs can also work with newer digital cameras connected by RJ-45 network cables. In that case, growing or upgrading a security system using a hybrid of both types of cameras is a nice option for owners of existing systems.

Advantages of DVR Systems:
DVR systems have backward compatibility – they can be used to upgrade existing CCTV systems to digital, giving users a number of important advantages for viewing, processing and storage.

DVR systems are not network dependent. Since the system is ‘hard-wired’ there is no danger of network outages or interference that may hinder IP network or wireless systems.

Further, since they don’t operate on a network, DVR systems cannot be hacked online. They are safe and secure in most cases.

DVRs have a lower average cost than NVR systems.

Disadvantages of DVR Systems:
With a DVR system, all cameras and video go through one device and are processed centrally. If the DVR fails or malfunctions the entire system goes down.

The DVR system is not (generally) accessible online. This can limit the ability for remote monitoring and multi-point access.

Although safe from hackers, DVR systems can be compromised by cutting or accessing the physical wires of the system and the signal has no encryption to keep it safe from unauthorized viewing.

Using the DVR system requires a wire from each camera back to the device, therefore installation can be more costly and time-consuming.

If used with analog cameras, DVR systems lack advanced features such as motion detection and are limited to lower resolutions.

NVR Systems:
The NVR or network video recorder is a very popular choice for a number of reasons. There are two main features that make these systems appealing. First, they connect to a computer or storage device using a local area network or the internet. This eliminates the need for costly wiring and allows a great deal of choice when deciding where to place cameras in the area of surveillance.

Second, they work with wireless IP cameras that handle the processing of the video from analog to digital themselves meaning that one failure point will not affect the other cameras or the NVR’s ability to capture and store footage. This is a huge security advantage. It also means that upgrading the system with additional or newer cameras can be much easier and cheaper in the future.

These main features make NVR systems very appealing to new security system users however there are some disadvantages too. The main one being that NVRs are totally dependent on the stability of the network whether it is a local network or internet connection. If the network fails for any reason, valuable camera footage can be lost and security compromised. Not only can the network go down from time to time, but other devices such as phones or physical barriers such as walls can cause interference that may result in signal loss or degradation of video quality.

Advantages of NVR systems:
Easy to install and no wiring needed. Can work with IP camera systems for greater flexibility when placing cameras and designing the overall security protocol.

Processing from analog to digital takes place at camera level meaning that redundancy exists for a safer and more robust system.

Can connect to the internet for remote viewing capabilities and multiple storage locations.

Data over the system can be encrypted for better protection.
Can record at greater IPS (image per second) levels.
Allows cameras with advanced features such as motion detection and greater resolutions.

Disadvantages of NVR systems:
Dependence on network stability, can fail to record or experience interference if the network goes down or is affected by weather, obstructions or other devices.
Is susceptible to hacking attempts over LAN or the internet.
Operates over the network with a large amount of data and can affect network costs for data usage.
Higher average cost than typical DVR systems.

In closing…
Making the choice between an NVR system and a DVR system ultimately comes down to needs. For those with existing analog cameras or hybrid systems, a DVR is likely the best choice to make an older system digital ready. It may also be the best choice if online hacking is a concern.

For those who wish to use IP cameras exclusively or wish to avoid costly wiring, an NVR system is a smart choice. If remote access over the internet is desired the NVR system is a natural choice also.

Although great products exist for both systems, understanding one’s personal needs and preferences for features before making a buying decision is key to choosing the best system. Speak with a qualified expert and shop from a respected online dealer for the best information and pricing.

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