CCTV NVR (Network video recording)

Are you wondering just what is an NVR?

The acronym ‘NVR’ will crop up when you research your home CCTV surveillance system.

It stands for ‘network video recorder’.

If you are building a custom security camera system for your home, you may need an NVR.

Where the recorder sits in your home CCTV system

Wherever you decide to place surveillance cameras around your home, whether its indoors or outdoors, the video streams need a destination.

Monitoring can be either active (someone sits and watches the video stream) or passive (you record and review footage as needed). Software can assist with active monitoring, sending you an alert to your phone when motion is detected by a camera. And passive monitoring is useful after a crime, for collecting evidence.

Either way, your security cameras need a destination for their footage. Since modern cameras are recording digital image data, this destination for your video will be a hard drive. The hard drive will often be housed in a dedicated device called a recorder.

And one type of recorder for CCTV video works as part of a network of IP cameras operating across a system of routers, switches, ethernet cables and Wifi signals.

These recorders are NVRs or ‘network video recorders’.


Old-style CCTV systems would stream video from cameras to a DVR or ‘digital video recorder’.

An unassuming black box or PC built for video recording purposes, DVRs consisted of software, a storage target and a video capture card.

Camera streams from analog or digital cameras passed through cables directly wired to the DVR. It could be a hassle running new cables from each camera back to your DVR. The DVR would run this video data through the capture care, and record the footage to a hard-drive.

DVRs did offer smart security monitoring systems with like motion detection and user alerts.

DVRs were a significant upgrade over geriatric VCR systems. They are still commonly used in video surveillance systems today.


NVRs freed CCTV security systems from the requirement to run cables directly between cameras and recorders. 

Internet protocol or IP cameras connect to computer networks using ethernet cables or WiFi. These computer networks pass IP camera video streams over protocols to a recorder with NVR software situated anywhere on the network.

Via network switches, NVR can record video from IP cameras situated far away from the recorder. NVRs can potentially be situated off-site for extra security.

These days, cloud-based services even offer video recording without any onsite recorder. The IP camera simply streams video data straight to the Internet, and on to a cloud recording service.

An NVR-based surveillance system streams encoded video directly from IP cam to NVR software. The camera itself handles the video encoding, so the recording device doesn’t need a video capture card.

NVR software looks much like DVR software. The camera control features are similar. The units housing NVR software can be less-resource hungry and act like a low-powered NAS. They chug away continuously saving video data from your camera direct to a hard drive or flash storage.


If you answer ‘Yes’ to any of the following questions, consider purchasing an NVR:

  • Do you want to store and review the footage from your home CCTV system?
  • Do you want to record large volumes of video data with your home IP cameras?
  • Do you want to keep local copies of your surveillance footage on your own storage?
  • Do you have existing hardware like a NAS or old PC that could act as an NVR?
  • Do you want the flexibility to use different surveillance capture software to review your CCTV footage?
  • Are you worried about relying on cloud-based services to access your old footage?
  • Are the subscription plans for cloud video recording services too expensive for the number of IP cams you will use?
  • Do you think it would be fun to administer your own NVR?


Learn more about the three main components of a CCTV system.


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