What exactly is a DVR camera system, and how does it work?

In this article, we’ll break down the ins and outs of DVR systems, their features, pros and cons, and guide you on how to choose the right one for your needs.

What is a DVR Camera System?

A DVR camera system, short for Digital Video Recorder, is a device that capture video received from a security camera, stores it and makes it available for viewing. Unlike the old days of grainy VHS tapes, a DVR system records high definition video footage from security cameras in a digital format. This means no more deteriorating quality over time and a host of advanced features.

In contrast there is another technology, NVR or network video recorder that provides the same functionality when paired with IP (Internet Protocol) cameras that connect and transmit video wirelessly.

How Do DVR Camera Systems Work?

DVR process

Digital video recorder operate 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. Digital video recorders 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.

Important to note is that digital video recorders 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.

Main Features of DVR

Digital video recorder camera systems come with a range of features that make them a popular choice for both homes and businesses:

Remote Monitoring

With a digital video recorder system, you can keep an eye on your property from anywhere. Simply connect the DVR to your network and access the cameras remotely using a computer or mobile device. This can be used to outsource security to remote teams as well.

Search and Sort

DVRs offer advanced search capabilities. You can quickly find specific events by sorting recordings by time, date, or event type. This makes sure you do not have to sift through hours of video footage to find what you are looking for.

Overwrite Functionality

Worried about running out of storage space? Digital video recorders can automatically overwrite the oldest footage when the storage becomes full, ensuring you always have the latest recordings

Higher Quality

Unlike its predecessors, DVR systems maintain consistent video quality over time. They are used for the ease and affordability they provide, in addition to the capability to scale up when needed by adding more cameras into the system.

Other Features

Since digital video recorders connect with analog cameras, people get the impression that they would not have the latest features. DVR camera systems do come with time stamping capabilities and motion detection.

Benefits of DVR systems


DVR systems are more budget-friendly than other options, making them a great choice for small businesses and homeowners.

Secure from cyber attacks

Since these camera systems are not connected to the internet, and operate in a closed circuit, they are less susceptible to cyber attacks and surveillance hacks.

Simple Operation

DVRs are user-friendly and easy to set up. Connecting them to analog cameras and a power source to operate them is fairly simple, and adding new cameras is intuitive as well.

Local Storage

Digital video recorder store video footage on hard drives that again reduce the risk of video loss or breach in data or hacking.

Challenges of DVR systems

Limited Flexibility

DVRs require physical connection to cameras, limiting installation options. Since each camera requires a power source and a data transfer cable, it leads to wiring taking up space that limits the expansion capability of the security system.

Maintenance Costs

Hardware malfunctions can be costly to fix or replace SInce there are wires and connections for power and data transfer, the potential malfunctioning parts are greater compared to NVRs and wireless alternatives.

Lower Image Quality

While improved, Digital video recorders might not match the image quality of higher-end alternatives like IP cameras that have affordable full HD and 4K video resolutions.

Limited storage

Since DVRs are connected to hard drives to store data and do not have access to the internet, they do not provide access to cloud storage capabilities. In case more storage is needed, hard drives have to be physically added.

What DVR System Should You Get?

Choosing the right Digital video recorder system involves considering your specific needs:

Number of Cameras

Determine how many cameras you need to cover your property effectively.

Remote Access

If remote monitoring is crucial, ensure the Digital video recorder offers remote access features.

Storage Capacity

Estimate how much storage you’ll require based on the number of cameras and recording quality.


Think about whether you might want to add more cameras in the future.

Selecting the perfect DVR system involves assessing your requirements, budget, and long-term goals. Research reputable brands, read customer reviews, and consult with experts if needed. Consider factors like ease of use, reliability, and the level of customer support provided. Alternatively, hiring a trusted security company can help you decide which system to go for.


A DVR camera system is a valuable asset for enhancing security and surveillance. Its advanced features, easy operation, and cost-effectiveness make it a popular choice for various applications. By understanding your needs and evaluating the features of different systems, you can confidently select the right DVR system to keep your property safe and secure.

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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