NVR vs DVR: Key Differences and Which One Should You Go For?

When it comes to looking for security solutions, you’ll have to make a choice between an NVR or DVR recorder. 

While both of these perform the exact same task, they differ in how they function and in the type of cameras they use. So, it is natural to come across ‘NVR vs DVR’ discussions when you’re evaluating the right security solution for your needs. 

In this blog post, we aim to help you make the right choice by helping you figure out the basic difference between NVR and DVR and go through some basic NVR vs DVR pros and cons. 

Let’s jump right in, shall we? 

The Basic Difference Between NVR and DVR

Let’s not make things too technical that it’s hard for you to understand. I’ll try to make them as simple to understand as possible. 
After all, not everyone has a degree in Electronics Engineering, right? 
A DVR, as well as an NVR, are responsible for the same thing–to record data–that is, the video. However, the main difference between the two lies in how they process the data. 

DVR Security Cameras

dvr vs nvr

A Digital Video Recorder (DVR) is an electronic device used widely in home surveillance systems. These come with a hard drive and digitally record and store the surveillance footage. 
They are a part of a closed surveillance system, which means, that they’re connected locally, not to any external networks like the Internet. 

This comprises of: 

  • DVR device 
  • Set of CCTV cameras 

The DVR security system works like a computer to save the videos from the CCTV cameras onto its hard drive. Since CCTV cameras capture analog images, a DVR first converts them to digital, compresses them, and stores them. 

Types of DVRs

Currently, there are three types of DVRs in use. These include the following:

1. PC-based DVRs: These come integrated with your personal computer and contain the following: 

  • Memory drive 
  • Network card 
  • Motherboard 
  • DVR capture 
  • Network board 

The main advantage of having a PC-based DVR is that you can expand its memory by adding more HDDs when necessary.

2. Embedded DVRs

The way that this system works is basic. It takes input from an analog CCTV camera, converts it into digital before compressing and saving it to its local HDD. These come with an exclusive OS on a chip that isn’t open to external networks.

This, of course, makes your data highly secure as it is safe from hackers, viruses, malware, and other attacks.

3. Hybrid DVRs

This takes video inputs from IP as well as CCTV cameras and works well if you’re transitioning from an analog system to an IP one. This means that you can have the best of both worlds at your home: 

High-resolution IP cameras: In high-risk areas 

Low-resolution CCTV cameras: In low-risk, less vulnerable spots 

NVR Security System

nvr vs dvr

A Network Video Recorder System is actually a specialized computer system that comes with a software program. This allows you to record video directly in digital format (unlike that in DVR) directly to a mass storage device such as: 

  • Memory card 
  • Disk drive 
  • USB flash drive 

An NVR doesn’t come with a dedicated video recording hardware, but, it comes with software to do just that. The operating system in an NVR uses Microsoft Windows or Linux along with an Intex processor. 

These are used in IP surveillance systems, are wireless and easy to use and set up. You get e-mail notifications when the alarm is triggered and the cameras can be accessed using a web browser. 

Types of NVRs 

There are three types of NVR systems available to choose from. 

1. 4-Channel NVR Security System

The entry-level NVR has applications for your home, a small office or a retail store. It works well with IP cameras and doesn’t come with additional hardware or software requirements.

All you need to do is to connect the NVR to a router and it’ll automatically search for and connect to the IP cameras. With this, you can connect to up to 4 cameras.

2. 8-Channel NVR Security System

This works like a 4-Channel NVR system but is compatible with up to 8 IP cameras. The procedure of connecting to the cameras remains the same, the NVR automatically searches for and connects to the cameras.

3. 16-Channel NVR Security System

This is ideal for a large house, warehouse, departmental store, etc. where multiple cameras become necessary. This works like the 4-channel and 8-channel systems do, but, can connect to up to 16 IP cameras at a time.

However, you need to have a big enough HDD to store data from 16 cameras.   

NVR vs DVR: Pros and Cons 

The NVR and DVR systems are still relevant when it comes to home surveillance. Naturally, each of these systems come with their pros and cons. What may work for me may not work for you. 

So, in this section of the blog post, I’ll make the decision-making process easier for you by weighing pros against the cons. 

Let’s begin.

Pros and Cons of the DVR Security System 

The DVR security system comes at a cheaper price point which attracts most of the consumers–especially when on the budget. But, in the long run, does money even matter? Let’s find out. 

Analog Camera

The standard CCTV cameras which record the video in analog are used in the DVR security system. This is why a DVR security system comes so cheap. You can use an IP camera with a hybrid DVR, but, that’s only rare. 

The DVR converts the analog signal from the CCTV camera to digital, compresses it and stores it. This system eliminates the need for you to have a complex camera as it does most of the work. 

Recorder 

An AD encoder is a hardware chipset in DVRs that processes the raw data streaming from the camera to a video recording. Every camera must be directly connected to the DVR for it to record the footage. However, in an NVR system, all cameras must be connected to the same network. 

Coaxial BNC Cable 

The coaxial BNC cable connects the CCTV camera to the DVR and has the following limitations: 

  • The cable is rigid and thick which makes installation a difficult task 
  • It doesn’t provide power to the DVR so, the DVR will still need to be near a power outlet 
  • It doesn’t support audio and needs an extra connection to do so. So, your video won’t have any sound 
  • Low-quality cable equals low video quality 

Overall Quality 

The overall quality of the image is lower in comparison to an NVR system since the cameras transmit what the analog data record via the coaxial cable and the DVR converts it to digital and compresses it. The cables also don’t audio signals. 

Pros and Cons of the NVR Security System 

This feature-rich security system is not easy on the wallet but comes with state-of-the-art features. 

IP Cameras 

These cameras are standalone devices that capture images. Each camera is equipped with a chipset and is capable of processing the video and transmitting it to the recorder. The cameras record video as well as audio.

These also come with facial recognition and video analytics. 

Recorder

As mentioned earlier, an NVR system doesn’t process video data as a DVR system does. In this system, the cameras process the video and transmit it to the NVR. The system is used to store and view the footage. 

Ethernet Cable 

Ethernet cables have certain advantages over coaxial cables. These include: 

  • Using PoE (Power over Ethernet) these cables power the cameras which eliminate the need for splitters like in DVR systems
  • Easy to route and install 
  • Cheaper compared to coaxial cables and easily available 
  • All cameras can send audio as ethernet can send and receive audio data natively 
  • Doesn’t require multiple cables 

Overall Quality 

The video quality and resolution is better in comparison to that of the DVR system. All cameras come equipped with a microphone and ethernet cable natively transmits audio, which means that you get a full audio-video recording. 

Summing it Up 

When it comes to choosing between NVR vs DVR, it comes down to which of these suits your needs the best. 

  • A DVR system is cheap and secure from misuse or hacks 
  • An NVR system, on the other hand, comes with high-resolution audio-video recording and the cameras are connected to the network 

Did we answer all of your questions? Let us know in the comments. 

A former home security advisor who quit his job to contribute to this blog and provide the valuable information that he gained over the years to secure home.

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