CCTV Security Camera Storage Options [A Full Guide + Tips]

With any CCTV camera system, you have several significant components that need to be considered during the purchasing phase and even before you reach the purchasing stage if you are going about this process correctly. Several components of these CCTV systems carry substantial weight with the overall ability of your system after install and can make or break your ability to ultimately achieve what you originally wanted to accomplish when initially purchasing the equipment.

CCTV storage happens to be one of the topics and components that deserves more attention and explaining. Consider this your guide or a general overview of your different CCTV storage options.

By the end of this post, you should be able to effectively understand the following information concerning your CCTV camera system purchase.

  1. What are the different options for CCTV storage?
  2. Which storage options make the most sense for your current situation?
  3. Which CCTV storage options are the cheapest or most expensive that you can choose?
  4. What can you do to free up additional space for your CCTV system?
  5. How much storage do you really need for your CCTV system?

The plan is to break down all 5 of these questions in depth and cover every form of CCTV storage that you have. Reading this post before you make any purchase should not only save you money in the long run but should also have you in a much better situation to purchase a CCTV system that can truly fit your needs and desires for protection and peace of mind when you lay your head down to sleep at night.

Outside of the 5 primary options that we will discuss in this post, it’s also essential that you understand which CCTV storage options are capable of being user-friendly, budget-friendly and can provide you with the most peace of mind.

Without further ado, let’s dive into the details and get started.

The 5 Options You Can Consider for Your CCTV Footage (CCTV Storage Breakdown)

DVR/ NVR and HVR With Non-Stop Continuous Recording

DVR (digital video recording), NVR (network video recording) and HVR (hybrid video recording) are the most common forms of CCTV storage currently available and what consumers tend to migrate towards when purchasing CCTV camera systems.

They are popular for a good reason. DVR and NVR are perhaps the top two options you have for storage abilities for your CCTV footage. Part of the reason for this is not only because of significant storage capabilities, but you can also add external storage to your original NVR/DVR system using an external hard drive.

This takes your storage abilities to a new level and keeps you from buying new equipment along the way.

When you opt to use an NVR or DVR system, you are essentially transferring your data and footage to a hard drive or HDD. The difference between the two is how the data is transferred. With a DVR, you will have an old school and well-known method to connect the DVR to the cameras using a coaxial cable.

On the NVR system, the data is going to be transferred using a home network or a network in your business.

A wireless (so to speak) data transfer set up is what you are purchasing when you go with the NVR option for your storage.

Storage Size Considerations with DVR and NVR Systems

One drawback when considering using a DVR or NVR system is the actual storage size that will be required to meet your needs. Keep in mind that NVR and DVR are the storage type, not the storage size.

It’s important because you have considerations such as 24/7 recording capabilities (takes up more hard drive space) and need to know how often the footage will be deleted or “wrote over” by new footage.

For many individuals, this isn’t the end of the world or that important of a consideration to make, but other individuals using CCTV systems for business use may have specific needs such as 24/7 recording for 30 days or longer.

Checking into these options can save you a lot of time and headache down the road.

In most circumstances, with DVR and NVR CCTV storage, you will be selecting between the following storage or hard drive sizes. Larger sizes are also available, but the sizes below are very common.

  • 1 TB
  • 2 TB
  • 3 TB

This is also not factoring the ability to use an external hard drive if necessary. This is helpful for the mere fact that if you decide to go to small in the beginning, you do have the option to add additional space without breaking the budget or doing a complete re-install of your CCTV system.

Power Over Ethernet DVR and NVR CCTV Systems, The Superior Choice

If you ask me, power over ethernet is perhaps the best options you have all the way around. You get to enjoy the storage abilities of NVR and DVR, but you also get to use a separate private network not bogging down bandwidth and ruining your internet speeds in your home or business.

Power over Ethernet will also allow for smooth live streaming from any mobile device or computer to view your footage. Unfortunately, at this time, you would be tapping into your bandwidth on your home or business internet, but this is the only time that would occur (during the viewing of the footage from your mobile device or computer)

CCTV Storage Choice #2- for CCTV Footage-SD Storage Cards

This option for your CCTV footage is going to be primarily used for IP cameras. IP cameras under most circumstances will allow or come equipped with an SD card already pre-built into the system. One of the major downfalls to using this method is the total storage capacity you will be afforded compared to other options.

You will no longer be using the 1TB, 2TB and 3TB options that we discussed previously which is a fair amount of footage storage. With IP cameras and SD cards, you will likely be using either 16 GB, 32 GB or 64 GB although some models may offer higher storage capabilities.

You will also always want to make sure you are purchasing cameras that are going to support SD cards if this is the route you plan on taking.

While this is a decent option for your CCTV camera system, it wouldn’t be my number 1 pick if I was given a choice.

CCTV Storage Choice #3-Online Recording If You Are Tight on A Budget

A lot of individuals probably aren’t aware this is an option, but you can always just opt to record your CCTV footage on a laptop or desktop device/computer. What you are mostly doing if this is the route you take is removing the entire purchase of the DVR or NVR components of the CCTV system.

Clearly, you still must go out of pocket to purchase the actual cameras. Wireless or hard-wired cameras will be an option. Some small businesses in the past used these methods quite frequently, but it seems to be leaning towards one of the less favorable methods for storing footage on the market currently.

You also must keep in mind that footage still must go somewhere no matter what. What this means is that your footage moving through the software on your laptop or desktop is going to begin tying up your computer hard drive space.

However, just like the first option with your DVR and NVR purchase, you could always just opt to purchase a separate external hard drive if you begin to run low on storage on your computer and need additional space moved around or need space on your computer for a completely separate unrelated task which is very common.

If this is the route you take, you will want to make sure you have adequate space on your computer hard drive available and if you haven’t purchased a computer at all yet, you will want to attempt to spring for a computer with a larger hard drive to make up for the space you will be losing to your footage being transferred over.

By no means, if this is a bad idea or option for your CCTV storage but if you have the budget available, I’d undoubtedly be leaning more towards an NVR, DVR or even cloud storage before I’d consider taking this approach. Ultimately the choice is yours, not mine, so I will let you be the judge of that.

CCTV Storage Choice 4-Server Recordings with CCTV Security Systems

This, in a way, is no different or at least very similar to recording your CCTV footage directly to your own computer. It’s not a very popular option, but nonetheless, it’s an option. It’s also one of the cheaper methods you can use to record your CCTV footage.

All that’s required to complete this form of storage is to change your settings on your network and software for your cameras. Some individuals will use remote servers, and other individuals will record their CCTV footage through their own network on an FTP server.

Again, this method is typically only used if you are trying to spare some dollars throughout the purchasing portion of installing a CCTV system and I’d still lean heavily on considering an NVR, DVR or HVR system for your storage needs.

CCTV Storage Choice 5- Cloud Storage and Your CCTV Cameras

Cloud storage is becoming a fan favorite rapidly in recent years. It makes sense. Think of all the other devices and situations where we rely on the cloud to store our data. Our iPhone devices, music and even certain documents are beginning to use cloud storage as a viable method to keep our digital possessions safe.

It only makes senses that CCTV cameras would begin implementing this as well to make the user experience that much easier which enhances your overall experience.

When using cloud storage, you do need to plan on opening the wallet. It may be easy to use cloud storage for your CCTV footage storage needs, but it’s not the cheapest option by any means. That’s life, however.

Ease of use often comes with a heftier price tag. If this is what you are looking for, the price isn’t something to necessarily frown about or make you turn away over.

One thing to be careful with when using cloud storage for your footage is to ensure you have enough. Often, you can be either approached or incentivized by “free” cloud storage for “X amount of days.”

This is usually going to be where you need to begin spending more money to fill your storage needs. If you don’t have massive storage needs, you could probably still use the cloud method without breaking the bank.

Just make sure you go into this method with the understanding that it could quickly get expensive for you in the future as your storage needs increase.

Durations Considerations and How Long You Can Keep Security Footage, Plus Tips to Increase Storage

Next on your list is going to be reverting to your storage needs and how long you need the storage to last. Depending on how many cameras are recording and what settings you are using such as (motion activated only) will determine what the best option may be for you.

Cameras that are going to record all day long 7 days a week 24/7 are going to eat up the most space. These are going to be typically used most often in business type environments. However, some individuals prefer this method for residential use as well.

If this is likely going to be you, you will want to lean on a system with a large storage capacity. Something such as the 2 TB or 3 TB hard drives if you are leaning towards the DVR and NVR and if you are considering cloud storage, you will want to make sure you have purchased adequate cloud space.

How to Reduce the Total Amount of Space Needed for Your CCTV System

If you are wanting to reduce the total amount of storage capabilities that you need for your CCTV system, you can use a few methods to help save storage. First and foremost, you can use cameras that only kick on based on motion detection. This way they are not recording all day long 365 days a year.

Newer CCTV cameras will even allow you to use touch screen technology through mobile devices to select your zones and rotate your cameras to pick up motion in certain areas of the yard, home or business.

This is an excellent way to reduce the total amount of recordings taking place and storing to your hard drive or to the cloud.

Consider Higher Quality Cameras with Better Field of Views

Additionally, you can consider purchasing cameras with more field of view and using fewer cameras. The smaller the number of cameras you have capturing video that needs to be stored, the better off you will ultimately be and the more storage you will be able to keep free and available.

Lower Your Resolution Requirements for Your CCTV System to Open Up More Space

Another method you can use would be to drop down your resolution expectations. The higher the resolution, the more space it will require on your hard drive. Think back to the days where individuals frequently downloaded movies.

Well, if you downloaded the movies in full HD, 4K or even 1080P, it took longer and required more space on your hard drive. The same holds true for your CCTV system. If you are using high-quality resolution, it’s going to eat up more space.

The best part of this is the fact that you can purchase high-quality cameras and use them when you choose too, but most high-quality cameras are also capable of recording in lower quality resolutions.

If you are currently struggling and running out space frequently on your CCTV hard drives or even in the cloud, consider dropping down to a lower resolution to start freeing up some space and saving some money on the good old bank account.

Don’t Use Audio on Your CCTV Cameras to Increase How Far You Can Stretch Your Storage Capacity

If you are using a CCTV camera system that’s also capable of recording audio, you may be using up space for no good reason at all. While audio isn’t a bad thing by any means, it does require more space on the old hard drive compared to recording audio free.

If you are currently running your system and are noticing that your space is running low faster than you expected, consider recording without audio to stretch your storing capabilities for longer durations of time.

Frames Per Second Can Also Impact Your Storage Capabilities with CCTV Camera Systems

Frames per seconds is a piece of the equation that accounts for your total quality and resolution you will be afforded with your CCTV camera system. Using a great camera system that can do something such as 30 frames per seconds is going to require more space to store the footage after recording.

This somewhat falls back into the discussion about your total resolution expectation but nonetheless, reducing your total frames per second can help free up space and allow you to keep more of your CCTV footage for longer periods of time.

Cost Considerations with Different CCTV Storage Options

Up next on the to-do list with your CCTV storage capabilities is considering the total cost that will be involved. Using CCTV systems typically isn’t the cheapest upgrade to a home or business you can do, but it can be relatively budget-friendly if you do some homework in advance and understand what you are genuinely looking for.

For example, your cloud storage and DVR, NVR, HVR CCTV storage options are going to be on the high end of the budget spectrum compared to other methods you could opt to use.

In the middle of the road, you could opt for the IP camera using the SD card if you don’t want to spend the amount required for the first option.

Lastly, if the SD card method is still stretching the budget you have allotted for your CCTV system, I’d recommend giving the cheapest options a try which would entail either using your server (FTP server) to store your footage or allow the footage to record straight to your computer hard drive if you have the space available.

The cheaper options may not be the most desirable options we have discussed in this post, but they can certainly save you money.

Additionally, on top of the money savings involved using the computer hard drive method, you will also have the power and control to delete footage as you please to free up more space or you can consider purchasing several external hard drives if you need the ability to store your footage for more extended periods.

While cheap and not the most popular options you can choose, they certainly work and can work for you as well while saving you some extra money to use on other fun equipment like the actual cameras or even additional upgrades like doorbell cameras.

Ease of Use Considerations with Your CCTV System and Storage Abilities

One of the last considerations on the list that you need to consider is which storage option is going to be the easiest for you. The point is to protect our homes, businesses, assets, and families.

In addition, we clearly want our systems to serve as a strong deterrent and keep bad activities away from our properties.

What you don’t want to lose sight of during the process, however, is how easy the CCTV storage option you are deciding to use will be to use at the end of the day. It’s more important than people think and often what’s going to send you packing back to the store to purchase a different option.

Just take a minute to think about that for a second. Do we typically buy electronic devices that don’t enhance our lives or make them more manageable? Absolutely not. CCTV camera systems are no different in this fashion.

DVR, NVR and HVR systems are straightforward to use and one of the best options. It’s a plug and play set up with remote access from nearly anywhere that you can establish a reliable internet connection. In addition, cloud storage will also be one of the easiest methods you can use but also carries perhaps the highest price tag.

Depending on your budget, you need to consider these items. Are you even capable of changing the settings to use the server or computer-based options? Do you even have a computer that will support this idea altogether?

If not, clearly you want just to make your life easy and use one of the popular methods whether they cost additional money out of your pocket or not.

Having a great set of cameras to record your property and valuables does you no good if you have no clue how to work it or if it takes several hours for you to figure it out.

At the end of the day, CCTV systems are meant to deliver peace of mind, protection, and ease of use. This is how they enhance our lives and keep us protected.

The primary take way to remember is to pick a system you are entirely comfortable with using or speak to a professional before making your final decisions and spending the money.

Final Word, You Have Several Options for CCTV Footage Storage, Find What Suits You the Best

After looking at all the options we have laid out for you here in this post, it’s clear that you have tons of options that you can consider when choosing a method to store your CCTV footage. I’m sure more will be available in the future as well. That’s how technology works and likely will never change.

The key is not becoming an expert in CCTV storage but finding an option that suits you the best from every angle. This would include making sure that you have an affordable option or one that least fits your budget.

In addition, you need to use a system that will continue to provide you peace of mind and that you can use with ease. Again, if you can’t use the system or at least can’t use it easily, it really serves you no good, and most would consider this purchase to be useless or not worth it.

Do your homework and read over your different options and shop for a reputable brand and a reliable option for storing your footage. You never know when you may need it or when your CCTV camera system may save your assets, family, home or business. I’d love to hear your thoughts on this subject as well.

What do you believe is the best method for storing CCTV footage? Do you have any specific models or brands you recommend? What do you do to free up more space and get more duration out of your storage capabilities? Be sure to drop a comment below.

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