Does a CCTV system work without a hard disk?

Does a CCTV system work without a hard disk drive (HDD)?

This article answers this question and explains the reasons for using HDDs.

Hand hold hdd

Here's a quick answer; Yes, a CCTV system works without a hard disk drive if you use alternative ways to record the footage, such as micro SD cards or cloud storage servers located on the Internet. But be aware that there are serious limitations.

Let's dive into this topic to understand it better.

Why CCTV systems use Hard Disk Drives (HDD)

A camera surveillance system's main objective is to record the footage with the best possible quality for a long time to be used as evidence when it's necessary.

The picture below shows a traditional analog camera that sends the video stream to a Digital Video Recorder (the camera can't record video by itself).

CCTV System with a DVR using HDD

Surveillance System with a DVR that used Hard Drive Disk (HDD)

The footage from security cameras is usually recorded into hard disk drives because high-quality videos require large storage systems. 

It's very common to record surveillance camera footage for 15 to 30 days. 

An alternative storage system such as a micro SD card does not have the same storage capacity or reliability as CCTV's hard disk drives. 

==> To learn more about hard drives for surveillance systems, please read the article How to choose the best hard drive for DVRs and NVRs.

Let's talk about the alternative way of recording the footage; micro SD cards.

Micro SD cards for surveillance cameras

A long time ago, it was impossible to use micro SD cards for surveillance cameras because all of them were analog models with no slot available for such cards.

Ohh, boy, that was really a long time ago; things are different now!

Modern IP cameras come with a slot to insert a fast micro SD card, so it's possible to use the camera to record the footage without the need of an external recorder.

YI Home Camera Micro SD Card Installation

IP cameras such as Axis used on surveillance systems can simultaneously record into micro SD cards and Network Video Recorders (NVR). Small smart cameras for homes such as the Wyze Cam and Yi Home do not use an NVR.

Depending on factors such a video quality, card capacity, and motion detection-based recordings, a camera with a micro SD card record for up to 15 days.

==> To learn more, read the article Best Micro SD Card for Security Cameras.

There's still another way to record the camera footage, the cloud...

Cloud recording for surveillance cameras

Here's another alternative for a CCTV system to work without a hard disk drive.

IP camera recording into the cloud

Cloud recording is pretty popular, and you can use such a system to record the footage of your IP cameras as long as you have an Internet connection available.

Yeah, in most cases, you need to spend some money on a monthly fee.

You can avoid paying a cloud storage subscription for security cameras, but the options are extremely limited, and the camera records only for a few seconds.

==> To learn more, read the article CCTV camera cloud recording.


I hope this article could address your concern about HDD for CCTV systems.

So, do you need a hard drive for security cameras?

I believe you have enough information to decide for yourself, right.

Please share this article with your friends.