When we think of a video surveillance system, we typically think of it in terms of loss prevention. However, modern video surveillance systems are being used for much more than security. Today’s companies use them for applications like employee training, production control, inventory tracking, and quality assurance.

As the uses for video surveillance systems evolve, so is the technology, and many companies are taking a new look at modern video surveillance capabilities. If your company is currently looking to invest in a video surveillance system, then you’ve probably heard about two types of storage technologies: digital video recorder (DVR) and network video recorder (NVR).

Both technologies store video in a format that can be accessed and reviewed later. However, the two technologies differ in how they achieve this goal. Understanding what the difference is between NVR and DVR is critical to optimizing your video surveillance system.

Digital Video Recorder

DVR technology was developed many decades ago to process and store video captured from analog cameras. These cameras did not process the raw video information they captured. Instead, analog cameras send electrical signals through coaxial cables to a DVR, where the video is processed into digital files and stored for later review.

When it comes to answering the question — “What’s the difference between NVR and DVR technologies?”— a key answer is coaxial cables: A DVR system is based on sending information over coaxial cables. These cables are only capable of sending video information. Sending audio information from an analog camera requires a separate connection, typically done through an RCA connection. Complicating matters is the fact that DVRs have a limited number of audio inputs. Companies with many different analog cameras may have to pick and choose which cameras will send audio.

There are also issues for installing and maintaining coaxial cables. They are effective up to 500 meters, which can be limiting in larger surveillance systems. Furthermore, analog cameras need separate wiring for power because coaxial cables do not supply power. These cables are also relatively stiff, making them difficult to install.

Network Video Recorder

Developed much more recently than DVR technology, NVR technology uses the internet to transmit and store recorded video. An NVR works with internet protocol cameras or IP cameras. These cameras are capable of capturing and then processing data for transmission. Video data is then sent over Ethernet cables or wirelessly to an NVR recorder for storage and later review.

When answering the question — “What’s the difference between NVR and DVR technologies?”— a key aspect is the use of IP cameras. These cameras have much more capability than analog cameras, as they can process the video they capture into digital information. IP cameras are also capable of capturing, processing, and transmitting audio. IP camera technology is also continuing to evolve, unlike analog technology. One of the most recent developments involves using video analytics for facial recognition and license plate identification.

 An NVR system is also based on ethernet cables, not coaxial cables. Although these cables are only effective up to around 100 meters, they offer several advantages over coaxial cables. Many IP cameras have Power over Ethernet (PoE) capabilities that allow them to be powered through an ethernet cable. This means an IP camera can transmit audio and video while being powered all through a single cable. Ethernet cables are also thin and flexible, which helps with installation.

Because they are designed with high-quality digital video in mind, NVRs tend to have a greater storage capacity than DVR systems. In fact, NVR systems based in the cloud can be expanded significantly to store massive amounts of video data for later review.

The Main Differences Between These Options

So now that we understand DVR and NVR technology, we can get down to the question: What’s the difference between NVR and DVR?

The primary differences come down to how these devices receive and process video information. A DVR is designed to receive an analog video signal over a coaxial cable. It converts the analog signal into digital information for storage and later retrieval. An NVR is designed to receive a digital video signal, and it can receive the signal through either a wired or wireless connection.

Pros and Cons of Each

There are benefits and drawbacks to using both systems. Let’s break down the pros and cons of each.

DVR Pros and Cons

When considering the pros and cons of a DVR system, the first factor to consider is the type of camera you need. DVR technology was developed with analog or CCTV cameras in mind. The technology isn’t designed to accept newer types of cameras, limiting video surveillance options. However, because analog cameras use legacy technology, they tend to be less expensive than digital cameras, and companies looking to save money on a video surveillance system can realize savings with analog cameras.

The use of coaxial cable is another big factor to consider when looking at the pros and cons of DVR technology. These cables are designed only for video transmission. Coaxial cables can’t send audio, and they can’t be used to power a camera. That means cameras that use coaxial cables must have separate cords for audio and power. This can significantly restrict the application of these cameras and a DVR system. Furthermore, coaxial cables are relatively thick and stiff, making insulation challenging in tight spaces.

For the DVR recorder itself, it uses a video encoder to process incoming video signals and convert them into digital video recordings. A DVR must be physically connected in order to receive incoming video for processing and storage. Also, DVRs are somewhat limited when it comes to compatibility with different camera types and mounting systems.

As we have mentioned, DVR technology was developed with analog video in mind, and legacy systems still have very limited video quality by modern standards. However, analog video camera technology has evolved and there are some analog cameras that are capable of capturing high-definition video. But if that video is sent through coaxial cable over long distances, there can be a significant drop off in quality.

One of the biggest advantages of DVR technology is the fact that it’s been around for decades. Many companies already have the infrastructure for these cameras, and coaxial cabling can often be found in older buildings. This can significantly reduce costs associated with installation.

NVR Pros and Cons

NVR technology was developed much more recently than DVR technology. Therefore, it is capable of hiding higher quality and more capabilities. NVR systems are also more flexible than legacy video systems.

One of the biggest differences between NVR and DVR video systems is the use of IP cameras. Unlike legacy video surveillance cameras. IP cameras process the video they capture so it can be sent as digital information. This information can then be sent to an NVR through either a wired or wireless connection. Most IP cameras are also capable of capturing audio along with video, which can also be sent over a wireless connection. Some advanced IP cameras also have cutting-edge functionality, such as license plate and facial recognition technology.

Wired IP cameras connect to an NVR through Ethernet wiring. Ethernet cables like Cat5e can transmit data at high speeds, which translates to high-quality video recordings. Ethernet cables are also capable of powering IP cameras through a technology called Power over Ethernet (PoE). This means an IP camera only requires a single connection to send video, send audio, and receive power. Ethernet cabling is also thinner and much more flexible than coaxial cabling.

Many modern buildings are wired for Ethernet, but even companies in an older building or space can easily install Ethernet cabling. This type of cabling is readily available and cost-effective.  Installers also have significant experience when it comes to setting up Ethernet cabling for video surveillance. By comparison, installing coaxial cabling for a DVR system is much less practical.

The maximum length of an Ethernet cable is 100 meters, but network switches can extend this distance. That being said, IP cameras for an NVR system do not need to be physically connected to send audio and video information. They simply need to be on the same network as an NVR or connected to the internet. 

This makes an NVR system much more flexible and versatile than a legacy video surveillance system. For example, company leaders could access their video surveillance system from anywhere with an internet connection. Companies could also have a security monitoring room for multiple locations that displays feeds from an entire network of IP cameras.

Modern NVR systems also take an open-platform approach. This means your system could incorporate products from many different manufacturers based on the specific capabilities of each device. An NVR video surveillance system could also be incorporated into a much larger digital security system.

NVR technology was developed with high-definition video in mind. Companies that switch to a high-definition video surveillance system from an old legacy system are in a much better position to identify suspicious activity and persons of interest.

Modern NVR systems can be very approachable in terms of cost. However, installing and maintaining an NVR system does require a financial investment, which isn’t necessary if a company decides to stick with its legacy video surveillance system.

What’s Best for Your Business?

So, what’s the difference between NVR and DVR, and what’s best for your business? Both technologies store video footage as digital files on a hard drive, but the way they go about doing that can make a big difference for your company. It’s also important to consider your surveillance needs and finances.

Start by considering any video surveillance hardware your company currently has in place. Are you already using a legacy video system and considering a switch? Is your building already wired with Ethernet or coaxial cable? What is the coverage of your wireless network?

It’s also important to consider your organization’s technical capabilities. If you don’t have the technical capability to install and maintain a video surveillance system, you’ll need to find a provider that is capable of handling those aspects for you. Next, you should consider your security needs and how a video surveillance system can help to meet those needs. Will your company need advanced surveillance features like facial recognition? Do you need to store video for long periods of time? Should your system have night vision capabilities?

You should also consider aspects that are specific to your organization and industry. Companies that anticipate growth or relocation should go with an NVR surveillance system, which is more scalable and flexible. Organizations with critical security concerns must consider the security measures needed for remote access capabilities.

Taylored Systems Can Provide the Video Surveillance Solution Your Business Needs

At Taylored Systems, we’ve been providing custom video surveillance systems to Indiana companies for many years. We’ve watched the technology evolve and helped our clients embrace modern solutions that fit their surveillance needs. While we have installed many security systems, we’ve also helped companies use video surveillance systems for other purposes, such as inventory control and employee training.

We also specialize in providing custom school video security systems. Unfortunately, school administrators must be more vigilant than ever, and a video surveillance system can help with everything from bullying to unauthorized intruders. Simply having visible security cameras can deter unwanted behavior, such as theft or vandalism. A security system can also help during times of crisis and document evidence for future legal action.

Whether you are a school administrator or a company leader, our experts would like to know your unique security challenges and help you design a video system solution. Please contact us today to set up a consultation and learn how a modern video surveillance system can make your facility a safer and better place.