6 Differences Between DVR and NVR (Simple Guide)

CCTV has become part of our everyday lives from workplaces to private residences, to our cars.

Despite this, it is not uncommon that people do not know the differences between two of the main recording devices used for CCTV.


If you are looking at installing CCTV you will need to know the differences and benefits of DVR and NVR set-ups. 

This short guide will aim to give a crash course on both these solutions and should give you a good idea of which is best for your business.

  • DVR Background
  • NVR Background
  • Benefits of DVR
  • Benefits of NVR
  • DVR vs NVR – 6 Differences

What's in this Guide?

What is DVR?

So what is a DVR? Well, it stands for Digital Video Recorder or DVR for short. A DVR is an electronic device that captures and records video digitally and saves it to a storage device such as an SSD, memory card, or disk drive.

DVR is recognised as a legacy or traditional system and has been popular in the security industry for a long time. Digital Video Recorders were, and are, one of the staples for business and private security.

How Does DVR Work?

Raw footage on a DVR is recorded with analog cameras which do not process video footage. The cameras will transfer raw video to recorders through coaxial cables and the reader processes the footage.

Digital Video Recorders are connected to analog cameras which record video. DVRs have a hardware chip that allows them to process and store video that is transmitted from the cameras.

In short, a DVR captures, encodes, and stores video signals, and then stores them on a digital storage device.

What is NVR?

NVR or Network Video Recorders refers to the newer type of recording equipment. The video data is created via network security cameras, otherwise known as IP cameras

There are two major types of IP cameras:

Wireless IP Cameras – these require connection to a WiFi network and a power source and are often called WiFi Security Cameras.

PoE Cameras – this is a wired camera that uses a networking or Ethernet cable to provide data and power. PoE or Power over Ethernet Cameras uses one cable to get both the information and electricity from one point to another.

How does NVR Work?

NVR systems use an IP (Internet Protocol) camera, which is a more advanced type of camera that captures audio and video data and simultaneously processes it too. The video and audio data are recorded and stored on the local network.

People often refer to these devices as ‘internet storage’ as opposed to digital storage. The IP cameras can be wired or wireless and will transmit their footage via the network to a recording device.

The footage can then be accessed remotely or viewed via linked screens. The ability to be either wired or wireless gives a lot of flexibility and ease for installation for NVR systems.

NVR systems store video that a camera (typically IP) encodes.

What Are The Pros of DVR?

DVR systems have been popular in the security industry for a long time, and for good reason, they have a lot of uses and applications. Here are a few of the pros for the majority of users regardless of your business type.

Cost-Effective Solution 

DVRs are known for being the cheaper option, which makes installing them a much more cost-effective solution for your business. 

A DVR is often preferred by smaller businesses and organisations for this exact reason. If you are not looking for a high-end solution and do not have items of high value to secure, this is a viable solution.

Simple Everyday Option

As implied above, DVRs are widely used and have been successful in a range of scenarios. The basic goal with any security system is as a deterrent, criminals are less likely to target places with CCTV or obvious higher levels of security.

DVRs offer a simple solution that can be implemented in almost any situation to great effect.

Set-Up and Operation is Easy

DVRs have been popular for a while due to their easy operation and set-up. Anyone can get the system set-up quickly.

The term fool-proof is often thrown around, but in security, it is normally best if things are not overly simple. A DVR is the right amount of user-friendly without being vulnerable or susceptible to breaches.

What Are The Pros of NVR?

NVR has a lot of different pros and can work for a range of industries and businesses. We are going to cover some of the popular ones that should encompass most needs.

One Cable to Do It All

One of the best benefits of an NVR is how simple it is to implement into your current security set-up. An NVR system only needs one cable for power, video, and audio. This makes it easy to install and increases the flexibility of where you can wire it.


Typically NVR systems are very high quality so they can have a wide range of applications. You can normally use your NVR system to identify license plates, people, and unauthorized visitors. 

This means you will find these systems can be used by companies with advanced security needs and vehicle management solutions.


A major plus side of an NVR system is the fact that it can record both audio and video. With the flexibility of wired or wireless options plus the ability to capture both A&V makes these systems very versatile and gives more options for where you set them up.

This might not always be a deal-breaker for companies, but for some, it is important and could be a deciding factor when picking your system.

What Are The Main Differences between DVR and NVR?

When choosing between two systems, it is incredibly useful to compare and contrast them to get a better understanding of what will work best for you. 

These are just some examples of the differences between DVR and NVR systems.

Video Quality 

The quality of the video footage captured could be a deciding factor when you are looking to implement a CCTV system in your business.

Again, this is dependent on the system you pick as there is a lot of variance in different models. As a rule of thumb, NVR has better image quality as opposed to a DVR.


One of the most important differences between a DVR and an NVR is the ability to record audio. DVR systems only record video, whereas NVR records both video and audio. 

This can be a deciding factor when a business is looking at a system, but depending on your requirements, you may not need the audio. 

For instance, an outdoor camera may not benefit from audio as it could be disturbed by external noises and not pick up usable audio anyway.


One of the major differences between NVR and DVR is the cost, and this is often relevant for a lot of businesses, especially smaller ones with less need for high-end security.

A DVR is a much cheaper option and is viable for any business size, whereas an NVR can prove costly and make the decision between these two systems for you. This is a general theme, obviously different systems can be cheaper or more expensive for a range of factors.


As we have alluded to earlier, the two systems have a different set-up. An NVR system is able to use one cable, whereas a DVR needs extra wires and cables and can be a more complex system to set-up.

When planning which system is best for you, it is worth considering which type of CCTV camera you want to use too.


NVR systems offer a lot more flexibility due to their ability to connect with both wired and wireless security systems and cameras. DVR can only connect to wired systems, this limits the amount of flexibility you will have.

You typically will need a power outlet for each camera and routing a coaxial cable can be tricky, limiting the places you might be able to set-up your DVR system and cameras.

Compatibility with Existing Systems

As we mentioned in the previous point, there is a lot less flexibility with a DVR and therefore it is harder to integrate into current systems. 

NVR on the other hand is normally more compatible with your existing systems and less intrusive.

DVR vs NVR Summary

To summarise, both of the systems capture and record video data and are widely renowned for being reliable.

Traditionally there was more of a gap between the two systems, but as of late, that has been lessened and the playing field is now more equal. With the use of HD over Coaxial this helps narrow this gap.

The final decision will come down to not only the factors listed in this guide, but also your business needs, your budget, your current set-up, and the level of security you require.

Regardless of which system you decide on, hopefully, this guide gave you a good grounding and information on both of these options.

Other CCTV Camera Guides

Interested to learn more about other CCTV FAQs? Check out our detailed guides to help you become a CCTV expert.

Guide on Can CCTV Cameras Work Without Internet

CCTV technology has found its way into all aspects of our lives, whether you are at work, at the shops or even at home, you

Read More
Guide on CCTV Legal Requirements

When it comes to installing CCTV cameras in the UK, there is a lot to think about, especially with recent updates to data protection, it

Read More
Guide on CCTV Policy in the Workplace

It is incredibly common for us to see CCTV cameras wherever we go, whether that is in our neighbourhoods, on the way to work, in

Read More
Guide on CCTV by Country

Depending on where you grew up, you may not have realised that CCTV has had a massive impact and presence in society for decades. We

Read More
Steve White

Steve White

Steve is an experienced security professional with over 20 years in security installation and consulting. He's here to help you answer your security questions.

Leave a comment

Steve White

Steve White

Steve is an experienced security professional with over 20 years in security installation and consulting. He's here to help you answer your security questions.

About Upcoming Security

The UK’s best resource for all things business security and security installation.

Recently Published Guides