How to install hard drives in DVRs and NVRs

The majority of recorders have a hard drive already installed. But sometimes, one isn’t enough. This article will break down how to install a hard drive in a recorder (DVR/NVR).

Installing HDD in a NVR

It is also possible that you will need to replace the existing recorder, or you can add an additional one to expand the capability to record and store footage.

Furthermore, a few recorders in the market do not come with a pre-installed hard drive. So before purchasing, do your research and make sure if it comes with one.

Keep in mind that hard drives will work tirelessly and run 24/7. Thus, you should invest in one that is made for surveillance systems and CCTV footage storage. You might be wondering if a DVR can work without a hard drive. Check out my article for the answer.

Below you will find step-by-step directions on how to install a hard drive in a recorder (DVR/NVR). Each recorder is different, but the process is roughly the same each time, so it should work for you the same way.

Install a hard drive in a recorder (step by step)

Before you commence the process that is detailed below, there are a few things to know.

Before you install a hard drive in a recorder

Be cautious of working with a recorder when the system is on. The unit must be turned off prior to installing or removing the hard drive. Otherwise, you might be electrocuted and damage the recorder or hard drive.

So for your safety and to protect the device, turn everything off. If you would like to go a step further, you can use an anti-static wristband to protect yourself from any electricity circulating the recorder.

Furthermore, different recorders can hold different amounts of hard drives. Some can only hold one, while others can reach two or four hard drives simultaneously. That is why it is essential to first check prior to purchasing.

Be aware of the various hard drives, as they also range in size. Hard drives can store anywhere from 4TB all the way to 12TB. But they must be compatible with your recorder, so inspect your recorder’s spec sheet to find the right one.

Opening it up

On your recorder, you should locate two small screws that allow you to open and remove its cover. The location of the screws will vary from brand to brand.

They are most commonly found on the top rear side of the device but may also be found along the side or back parts of the recorder. Once you find them, go ahead and remove them using a screwdriver.

Inspect it well! You should not be removing big screws, usually silver, as they hold the fan in place. Instead, look for small screws that are commonly black and remove them.

Once you unscrew them, gently lift up the cover and take a peak inside. In specific models, the cover can pop right out; in others, you must first disconnect a plug to remove its casing.

After removing the said cover, you should see a motherboard inside. Let’s learn how to remove the old one and install a hard drive in a recorder. If your recorder has more slots, you can always add more without removing the older one.

Install a hard drive in a recorder

There are two scenarios. Either you have to remove a hard drive and then install it. Or you have to install one, whether it is because the recorder did not come with one or because you have the slot to add an additional one.

If you are ready to retire your old hard drive, you will need to find and unscrew the four screws that hold the unit in place. Then you must disconnect the data and power cable slowly to avoid damage.

Once the cables have been disconnected from the HDD slowly and carefully, you are ready to install a hard drive.

Installing the new hard drive

Just as we unscrewed the old hard drive out of place, you must screw the new one in place to secure it to the bottom of your recorder. Either use the screws that you removed previously or the ones that came with your new hard drive.

Connect the new hard drives to the recorder’s motherboard using SATA cables. Then do the same with the power cable and connect it to the new hard drive. Both of these processes should be done slowly, so there is no risk of damaging the equipment.

Installing SATA cable in a HDD

After you have connected everything, close up the cover as you opened it and screw it back together. Now the installation portion is complete, but you still must format the hard drives in order for them to work.

Installing SATA and Power cable in a HDD

Formatting the new hard drives

With the new hard drives in place, you will need to go through a formatting process. Remember that some recorders can auto-format the hard drives after they turn on; others require a manual format.

If the hard drives are not formatted, it is possible that nothing will be recorded. Thus, you should not skip this step if your recorder requires a manual format.

The same logic should apply to other recorders of various brands. Find settings that format or initialize the hard drive. You can always look it up or flip through the manual if needed.

Final Thoughts

Overall, the process of installing a hard drive in a recorder shouldn’t take long. It can be a relatively easy-going process and can be done alone. Watch out and keep yourself from being electrocuted through the process.