What is NVR (Network Video Recording)

In this article, I answer the question "What is NVR" and what it is used for.

If you have IP security cameras, certainly it's a good idea to have an NVR.

IP camera recording to NVR

NVR stands for Network Video Recorder which is a device used to record videos from IP security cameras. It uses a hard drive to store the data in a digital format.

The different types of NVRs

You can have dedicated hardware designed to work as a Network Video Recorder or a combination of a computer (preferably a server) that runs a piece of software. 

No matter which type of NVR you are using, the main idea is to receive the signals from the IP cameras and record them into a hard drive. 

Dedicated NVRs based on hardware are usually easier to install and set up.

Dedicated NVRs

Just imagine a black box designed to work only as a video recorder. 

This device runs a specific operating system designed to record, playback videos and transmit videos over the network. This is the description of a dedicated NVR.

This type of equipment comes with specific ports to connect the UTP (network) cables and everything else that is necessary to make the system run easily.

The picture below shows a system that is widely used in home and small business.

Dedicated NVR with PoE

Those types of NVR can also power the cameras using PoE (Power Over Ethernet).

PoE is a standard to power devices using network cables. It's widely used to power IP cameras either using a PoE switches or NVRs that have such a feature.

Some dedicated NVRs come with one network port per camera, thus allowing you to connect 4, 8 or 16 cameras directly to the recorder.

Other Network Video Recorders (usually professional models) come with only one or two network ports and must be connected to a switch that allows different devices to share resources in the network.

The picture below shows an IP camera connected to a switch and an NVR.

NVR connected to a switch

If you are looking for basic models for your home or small business, it's better to use a dedicated device with comes with the network ports to connect to each camera. 

There are tons of NVR kits available on stores but it's important to choose models from trusted brands, with good quality and technical support.

An example of a trusted manufacturer is Reolink, take a look at their Kits.

Software-based NVRs

A software-based NVR is a PC (Personal Computer) or a fancy server with a piece of software that can record the video from the IP cameras into a hard drive, 

Dedicated NVR connected to a switch

There is a lot of software that can record videos from IP cameras. Some of them are designed for home and small business and others are for professional use.

If you are looking for a simple solution to connect your IP cameras with the lowest possible cost it's possible to use a PoE Switch and the Blue Iris software.

Blue Iris is a popular software with cost less than $70 for up to 64 cameras.

I have an article on this blog with the Blue Iris review, just take a look...

If you are working with a professional system with dozens of professional cameras, it is recommended to use professional software such as Milestone Xprotect,  OnSSI Ocularis, ISS SecurOS, Digifort or other similar solution.

Those solutions are much more expensive because they are designed for high-end projects and corporate market. 

If you run a system integrator company, perhaps that could interest you.

Example of a basic NVR system

OK, let's take a look at a basic NVR for home and small business applications.

The picture below shows the connection for such a system.

NVR diagram

In the diagram, you can see an IP camera that is powered by the NVR using a UTP (cat5e) cable and the router allows all the devices to communicate.

By connecting your IP camera this way it's possible to watch the videos from a PC, laptop, tablet or mobile phone. You can also send the video to the Internet.

The system is not limited to only one camera, you can buy NVR that is ready to work with 4, 8 or 16 cameras (that's common for most models).

The picture below shows a 4-channel NVR connected on a local network.

Network Video Recorder Diagram

As you can see, the connections are very simple, just use a cat5e cable to connect the IP cameras directly to each one of the recorder ports.

The LAN port is connected to a router that allows the communication with other devices that are also connected to it using the Ethernet (network) ports or Wi-Fi.

Network Video Recorder Back

So, you can just buy an NVR kit and install yourself as long as you have basic skills and some tools to drill some holes, pull cables and connect them to the NVR. 

Usually, the setup is very simple and anybody can do following a step-by-step process.

I hope this article can help you to understand what is an NVR.

Please share this information with your friends.

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