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NVR vs. DVR Surveillance Systems

Home Security Tips Security Cameras Security Systems Apr 6, 2020 2:00:00 PM General Security 4 min read

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When considering purchasing a closed-circuit television (CCTV) system, its recording capabilities, quality, and required components should be carefully weighed. Network video recorders (NVRs) and digital video recorders (DVRs) constitute the two primary options, with other significant factors including: budget, wireless signal reliability, cables, and camera coverage. 

Here’s a useful breakdown of each recorder’s features, pros and cons, costs, and more: 


A CCTV video surveillance system differs from standard security cameras chiefly due to its extended recording, larger storage, and video compression capabilities.

Recorded video can’t be transmitted to an external device, hence the closed-circuit designation. Many government organizations and public safety agencies choose CCTV for this reason. These systems are also primarily utilized in commercial settings—with the largest advantages reaped by those requiring more than five cameras. 

The crux of this technology resides in its camera and accompanying video recorders, with the main differentiator camera/recorder compatibility. Internet Protocol (IP) cameras—digital video cameras that send and receive data via the internet—require an NVR, while an analog system operates with a DVR.

These shouldn’t be confused with hybrid video recorders (HVRs). Compatible with IP and analog cameras, this higher-priced technology is suitable for larger corporations.


NVR Features

NVRs feature newer capabilities that especially benefit Do-It-Yourselfers (DIYers), such as better image quality, greater flexibility, IP camera compatibility, and wireless connection. 

Network video recorder  IP cameras connect through Power over Ethernet (PoE)—twisted pair cabling relaying data and power—and a wireless router, providing more flexibility with placement. 

The PoE cable is slimmer and comprises less space. DIYers will appreciate its easy install and operation features.

Since NVRs mainly rely on wireless signals, there’s a concern about interrupted or dropped signals, and cybersecurity breaches. These can be remedied through improved protocols, such as advanced wireless encryption.

NVRs can record both video and audio; DVRs record video only, since they’re compatible with analog cameras, which can process images/videos only. 

IP cameras provide higher resolution of between 1 and 5 megapixels producing clearer images and a higher vision field.  


Video Analytics Capabilities

A CCTV video surveillance system differs from standard security cameras chiefly due to its extended recording, larger storage, and video compression capabilities.

An NVR with an IP-compatible camera can analyze video for specific elements such as motion, smoke, and suspicious activities. 

Such software monitors activities coinciding with certain behaviors, including differentiating between people and animals, or time of day.

Video footage can be viewed remotely from any mobile device with accompanying event alerts. It’s also useful for data-tracking analysis to determine how to handle similar events going forward.  

Some systems also directly connect with law enforcement through central station  monitoring offered by professional service providers, such as General Security.

It’s recommended to purchase a complete system instead of piecemeal components, as not every IP camera is compatible with NVR systems. 


  • Compatible With Advanced, High-Definition IP Cameras
  • Only Requires One PoE Cable
  • Easy Setup Is Suitable for DIYers
  • Video Analytics 
  • Can Record Audio & Video


  • Higher Cost
  • Unreliable Wi-Fi Can Cause Signal Losses

DVR Features

A DVR surveillance solution is a budget-friendly option that while compatible with only lower-resolution analog cameras, is tremendously useful for smaller businesses and properties requiring one or two cameras. 

If you have an existing analog security system, it’s best to upgrade with this similar technology to save time and installation costs.

DVR surveillance with analog cameras requires a wired connection with accompanying coaxial cables. This might be the better option if Wi-Fi interruptions and instability are concerns. 

DVRs require an extra layer of care due to the aforementioned coaxial cables. If cameras are installed outdoors, proper maintenance is required to prevent damage from extreme weather pattern exposure. Such maintenance services are provided by professionals, such as General Security. 

DVR systems don’t support wireless cameras because coaxial cables limit flexibility. Positioning cameras close to these can minimize related issues, however. 

Remember: DVR systems only provide video, not audio. 


  • Appropriate for Smaller Budgets
  • Easy Set Up & Operation
  • Fewer Service Interruptions Due to Wired-Only Connection
  • Image & Video Quality


  • Can Only Be Used With Coaxial Cables
  • Less Flexibility
  • Limited Coverage for Larger Properties or Commercial Spaces
  • Video Transmission Only 
  • Lower Image Resolution Than NVRs

Making the Best Decision

 It's best to work with a professional services provider to outline best practices for a surveillance system. They can also help DIYers with design, configuration, and installation. 


General Security installs and services advanced surveillance systems designed to provide consumers and business owners with invaluable peace of mind. Request a quote from us today.