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NVR vs DVR: Pros and Cons

If you’re shopping around for a video surveillance system, you’ll need to choose between the following 2 types of systems:

  1. NVR (Network Video Recorder) systems
  2. DVR (Digital Video Recorder) systems

Both systems above perform the same function—they record video footage. They just differ in how they record the footage.

Our professional advice? If you’re building your security camera system from scratch, choose an NVR system. NVR systems rely on newer, more advanced technology and therefore offer higher image/video quality (among other benefits).

We’ll explain how both NVR and DVR systems work then we’ll outline the pros and cons of each system below.

Want professional advice that’s customized to your home, security needs and budget? Just schedule a free quote with Richmond Alarm. Our knowledgeable techs will inspect your home then help you pick the video surveillance solutions that make sense for you and your home.

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NVR vs DVR: How they Work

How Does NVR vs DVR Work

At first glance, IP and analog cameras look almost identical but analog cameras (left) have more LED lights than IP cameras (right).

NVR stands for Network Video Recorder. NVR systems record and store video footage directly from the network it lives on. These systems work with an advanced type of camera, called IP cameras. IP cameras can actually capture and process video and audio data themselves. They do so using either an ethernet cable or wirelessly via an existing WiFi network.

DVR stands for Digital Video Recorder. These systems are considered the older “legacy” option. Unlike an NVR system, DVR systems work with analog cameras, which can’t process video footage. Instead, the analog cameras stream raw video footage to recorders via coaxial cables. From there, the recorder processes the video footage.

Once the video is processed, both DVR and NVR systems work the same. After connecting to a smartphone or any other viewing device, you can easily access and view your video footage as needed.

Now that we know the difference between how NVR and DVR systems works, let’s look at what those differences mean in terms of pros and cons of each system.

NVR Surveillance System: Pros & cons


Can record video and audio; DVR only records video

Cost, typically NVR systems are more expensive

Better image quality

Software can be harder to use

More system flexibility

Better coverage, 1 camera has multiple lenses

Can be wired or wireless; DVR cannot be wireless

Only needs 1 cable for video, audio and power

Can be used to identify faces, license plates, etc. due to higher image quality

DVR Surveillance System: Pros & Cons


Less expensive than NVR systems

Lower frame rates and lower image quality than NVR systems

Simplicity, easier to set up and operate than NVR systems

Requires extra cables and wires, more complex installation process

Image quality is improving (for systems using HD over Coaxial technology)

Separate power source required

Less coverage, it takes multiple analog cameras to cover the same area as 1 IP camera

Only good for observing, can’t record audio

Have questions on NVR vs DVR camera systems? Just ask our Virginia security pros

We’ve helped thousands of Virginia homeowners and business owners build customized video surveillance systems. Our experts will assess your security needs then help you pick the specific cameras and recorders that will keep your home or business fully protected.

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