When it comes to video surveillance systems, two common options are NVR (Network Video Recorder) and DVR (Digital Video Recorder).

Understanding the differences between these NVR vs DVR, comparing the pros and cons can help you determine which is the better choice for your specific requirements.

NVR vs DVR: What’s the difference and which is better?

What is DVR and How Does it Work?

DVR, or Digital Video Recorder, is a type of video surveillance system for your business, that uses analog cameras to capture and record footage. It operates by transferring raw video through coaxial cables to the recorder in which they are stored.

This can further be encoded into a digital format, which can then be stored on a hard drive for safekeeping and access. DVRs typically come with built-in software that enables users to manage and access recorded video footage.

These require an additional power source and if required, an additional setup for audio recording in case that is required.

How does a DVR work?

DVRs are prevalent for their ease of use and affordability. They often support a range of analog camera types, making them a flexible option for both small and large-scale installations.

However, it’s important to note that DVRs have limitations when it comes to video quality and scalability. For instance, it only offers resolution of 720 x 576 pixels at max which limits video processing capabilities later on.

What is NVR and How Does it Work?

NVR, or Network Video Recorder relies on IP (Internet Protocol) cameras to capture and transmit video over a network. This can be achieved either through a physical connection with a PoE cable (Power over Ethernet) or it can be done through Wi-Fi.

The IP cameras used with NVRs capture digital video signals, which are then streamed directly to the NVR for storage and management.

How does an NVR work?

NVRs offer several advantages over analog cameras and DVRs, including superior video quality, scalability, and flexibility. With NVRs, users can access and manage video footage remotely through dedicated software, making it ideal for monitoring multiple locations or accessing the system on-the-go.

These systems can also upload footage directly to the cloud using internet access and make use of unlimited storage options with built-in capabilities of IP cameras. You can find more information on IP cameras and how they function.

NVR vs DVR – Pros & Cons:

Aspect DVR NVR
Video Quality Limited to analog camera resolution: 720 x 576 pixels. Can offer full HD resolution going up to 4K in some cases.
Scalability Limited scalability options as they must have a power source nearby, and coaxial cables cannot exceed a certain length (90m). Additional network switches or bandwidth is required.
Remote Access Difficult to incorporate remote access capability. Can be accessed from anywhere using web browsers or specialized software.
Installation Bulky cables and all the system has to be on-premises. PoE cables are leaner and installation is easier and audio/power is transmitted through the same cable.
Cost Cost-effective options available Generally more expensive to install and replace.
System Flexibility Can expand the system with other types and brands of analog cameras Compatibility has to be ensured first, after which system can be expanded easily.

Which is Better: NVR vs DVR?

NVR vs DVR: Choosing between NVR and DVR depends on your specific needs and budget. If you have an existing analog camera system and want a cost-effective solution, a DVR may suffice.

On the other hand, if you prioritize higher video quality, scalability, and remote accessibility, an NVR with IP cameras is the way to go.

Consider these scenarios:

  • Small-scale installations or tight budgets: A DVR system can be an economical choice, especially if you have a limited number of cameras and don’t require high-resolution video.
  • Large-scale installations or future scalability: NVRs are more suitable when you need to accommodate a large number of cameras or plan to expand your surveillance system in the future. The ability to use high-resolution IP cameras ensures superior video quality.
  • Remote monitoring and management: If remote access to your surveillance system is a priority, NVRs offer robust features for remote viewing and management, allowing you to monitor your premises from anywhere.

Another thing to consider in this regard is video analytics. The built-in capabilities of IP cameras include facial recognition, license plate reading, motion detection and more which make them a compelling option to consider. Newer systems like the ones offered by Avigilon come with video intelligence capabilities.


Both NVR and DVR have a lot going for them. Evaluating your specific requirements, budget, and future expansion plans can help determine which system fits your needs. Whichever you pick, going for a reputable brand will ensure a reliable and secure surveillance system for your site.

Written by : Carlo Di Leo

At the age of 24, with no experience in the security industry or any money in the bank, Carlo quit his job and started Spotter Security from his parent's basement. Founded in 2004, Spotter grew from a single man operation into a multi-million dollar security system integrator that caters to businessess and construction sites across Canada.

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