DVR or NVR? Who does it better?

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First off, if you do not know what those two terms stand for, here is your answer:

DVR – Digital video recorder & NVR – Network video recorder.

Now that we’ve got those two things out of the way, it’s time for an evaluation. 

I get this question at least a couple times a day from several different customers: “Is it better to have an NVR system or a DVR system?” My answer is usually the same. I tell my customers that it really is based on your personal preference and your needs. Why do I leave it at such an ambiguous answer you ask? Well, this is mainly because there are several factors that make one better than the other and vice versa. I’ll cover a few of those main areas today to help you to have a better understanding of the two so as to help your final decision making process.



The NVR, or network video recorder, is one of the more popular choices these days. As with much of our other electronic devices, the option or capability of going wireless is always quite appealing. Gone are the days when our computers had to be constantly attached to a router via ethernet cord. We also look to avoid wiring as much as possible as the case may be in the increased interest in wireless adapters for car audio or bluetooth FM transmitters. All in all, cables and other wires are a big pain in the butt. As a result, the NVR is such a nice option because the only cables coming out of the box is essentially just the power cable. There’s no way to avoid the power cable unless you’d like to replace batteries just about everyday if not more often.

The NVR connects via your internet and connects with your cameras in the same fashion as opposed to having a direct connection from the camera to the box. This proves to be convenient for many because camera placement never becomes an issue. You have the freedom to move your camera to just about anywhere as long as it falls within range of your network. Also, if you have multiple places across the country or state that you’d like to monitor without having to pay for separate individual systems, the NVR allows users to simply connect the cameras onto your view as long as that camera has an internet connection at its location.

Everything sounds amazing up until this point in regards to the NVR; no cables, no hassle, and ultimate freedom. There are a few catches. The biggest fault to the NVR is that it is extremely dependent on the network. The use of phones, other wireless devices, walls, and other obstacles may serve as interference factors that often cause a loss in signal, spotty reception or loss in video quality. Also in some cases the remote access may require a great deal of network usage thereby increasing the load carried by your network as far as data usage is concerned.

In most cases, the cameras are not completely wireless as they require a power source. There are cameras out there or attachments that are sold that allow for battery powered cameras. Using a rechargeable lithium-ion battery is probably the best option but the hassle in it is that you’ll have to change the batteries fairly frequently.



The DVR, or digital video recorder, was the popular choice and is still one of the popular type of systems among consumers. Due to the constant upgrades being done on the DVR systems, they don’t fall too short of the features available on the NVR. The one main difference between the two is that the DVR can be used without an internet connection but has the capability of being connected online for remote viewing. In the case of the DVR, there usually isn’t cloud storage available as some NVR’s may have, but they do come encased with an internal hard drive that allows for storage.

The main usage of the DVR systems were for Analog cameras, but with today’s hybrids that have shown up there is a mix of digital cameras that are being used with the analog cameras. All the cameras that are connected to this DVR are wired cameras. In the case of the cameras being connected by RJ-45 cables, there is not separate power source needed as it all falls within one wire. The cameras being connected by BNC (majority of cameras) have a split end from which one carries video and the other carries the power.

This is the type of system that I personally prefer. Although wiring and positioning of the cameras may be difficult, I believe that you’re paying for the absolute security in which video feed is constant with no breaks. As with any electronic, one snip to the wire is more than enough to disrupt the signal, but as with most of these systems there is a feature where you are alerted when there is a disruption to the feed. This option is useful because there really isn’t any other reason why the video feed should go out unless it has been tampered with or if some electric surge blew them out.

Wiring in it of itself proves to make discrete installation a bit tricky. Because of that, many users will hire a professional and have it installed that way. For simple home installations, sometimes having a camera out in the open may be enough to discourage thieves and intruders so don’t be too worried about the wires. If you take some time and run the wires properly, you won’t even have to hire a professional.

The one big disadvantage to a wired system is indeed the installation of the cameras. Because all the wires need to run back to the DVR, most of the time there will be a need to drill a hole somewhere in your wall. No matter how you organize the wires, you’ll still find that you may need to drill a hole. The other part to the installation requires you to pick a camera location and be happy with it since moving it here and there can become quite a task.

Final Thoughts

Even after covering both the DVR and the NVR, my conclusion is still the same: your choice between an NVR and a DVR is really all dependent on your needs. Certain situations may call for the use of an NVR because you’re not allowed to drill holes in the house or using a DVR may be your best option since your internet speed and range isn’t exactly dependable. There are many factors that play into your decision between the two and don’t let one person’s opinion sway you one way or the other. It all comes down to your preference and what you’re looking for.

As I mentioned before, the DVR wired setting is my preferred setup. My internet has days when it’s slow and there are days when it goes down for no good reason whatsoever. In those situations I find that having a wired system proves to be much more secure. But as I said, it truly is a personal preference when it comes down to this decision.

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