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What’s the difference between DVR and NVR?

What’s the difference between DVR and NVR?
Hi everyone Joe here, and we have another exciting article and accompanying video today in which we answer a very common question. “What’s the difference between DVR and NVR?  We’re happy that you have joined us, but keep in mind that the video will provide a lot of visual aid to the information here, and we highly recommend you check it out while following along! As you can see in the video, and in the images below the DVR and NVR subsections of this article, we are working with two different recorders.  One is a DVR and the other one is an NVR. You probably already know that both of these recorder types are used in the CCTV industry to store recorded video footage from your cameras.  You may have heard these terms used quite a bit and may have even gotten the impression that the terms NVR and DVR are interchangeable. The fact is they are actually different pieces of hardware, and they each serve varying purposes. Let’s learn a little more about each, which will reveal their key differences.

What’s the difference between DVR and NVR? I – DVRs

Firstly, know that DVRs have been around longer than NVRs, and have been regularly available for commercial and residential use since about 1999.  DVR stands for Digital Video Recorder. A DVR is a device that can digitally capture, encode, and store video data from a source other than itself called an ‘external source’. DVRs are used for multiple purposes, as you know they are used in CCTV for security cameras just about everywhere. They have also been used commonly for in-home Television applications. You may even have a DVR at home from your cable company that’s used for recording live TV shows that you might otherwise have missed.

In the CCTV industry, however, DVRs are used to capture the incoming video signal from security cameras. This data is transmitted over a Coaxile  -or COAX- cable which is connected to the ports on the back of the DVR. The signal transmitted can be analog, but more commonly in modern times is a digital signal. The DVR has a computer processor capable of capturing, encoding, and compress, and store the incoming video signal to make better use of space. This space is located on as many Hard Drives as are installed in the DVR.  The user can then poll this video data later to be viewed, or exported.

What’s the difference between DVR and NVR? - DVR

What’s the difference between DVR and NVR? – DVR


What’s the difference between DVR and NVR? II – DVR benefits

Most Modern DVRs are hybrid systems capable of using more than one digital or analog video signal type. Additionally, DVRs can usually add a certain number of IP cameras over the network- but how many cameras and which channels depend on the model of DVR. Many CCTV installations that are currently existing, are older and therefor already COAX based. This means installing a newer DVR at these locations might be more cost-effective than installing an IP camera system, which leads us right into our next topic.


What’s the difference between DVR and NVR? III – NVRs

So doesn’t an NVR do all those same things as a DVR? Not entirely, there are some important key differences between the two technologies. NVR stands for Network Video Recorder, which leads right into one of the major and more obvious differences between DVRs and NVRs. NVRs only work with IP, or network cameras. An NVR can not take the analog or digital video signal input from a COAX camera. 

What’s the difference between DVR and NVR? - NVR

What’s the difference between DVR and NVR? – NVR

What’s the difference between DVR and NVR? IV – NVR benefits

Some NVRs supply power over ethernet, or POE, directly to IP cameras from an onboard POE port cluster. Other NVRs only connect to cameras on an external POE switch on the local network. The POE NVRs can usually do both. Additionally unlike DVRs, the vast majority if not all of the processing done to encode the video data and compress it does not take place on the NVR. IP cameras usually do their own data compression and encoding, then send this data to the NVR to be recorded to its hard drives(S).

This is an advantage because this frees the NVRs processing power up for other activities with less bogging down, including:

  • Remote viewing
  • Playback and exporting
  • And advanced features like Artificial intelligence


In other words, Because the NVR as a central station doesn’t have to do nearly a much of the encoding work, NVRs tend to be a little better at those features listed above, and often deal with cameras that hit higher resolutions such as 4k or more.

What’s the difference between DVR and NVR? V – The Lowdown

So to sum it up DVRs and coax cameras are better for simpler more cost-effective solutions- Particularly locations that may already have previous installations. NVRs and IP cameras are great for brand new installations, or for higher-end applications. Both have their place and purpose in the CCTV world. We have two great videos on IP cameras and Coax cameras and the benefits of each. For more info on why we think each of these setups is great in their own way, we suggest you check those out- links in the bottom of the page. Additionally if you enjoyed the video, or found it helpful toss us a like and dont forget to subscribe for more content!

Until Next time, Have a Great one, and stay safe!

Related: What’s the difference between H264 and H265?
Related: IP PTZ Security Cameras – All There is to Know
Related: Resolution, and why does it matter?
Related: What are active deterrence cameras?

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