Where Is Security Camera Footage Stored?

As I sit deleting saved cloud clips, I wonder if there is a better alternative.

“Where is security camera footage stored?” Security camera footage is primarily stored in one of two places: local or cloud storage. Storage can be stored on hard drives, flash drives, compact disks, or other computers. Cloud storage means being stored on your network. The cloud storage can be through the manufacturer of the device, or through a third party.

Keep reading to see the differences between the two storage options, benefits, drawbacks, and examples of each.

Local storage

Closed Circuit Television (CCTV) systems primarily use local storage by way of a digital video recorder (DVR). Within the DVR, there is at least one hard drive that saves all of the video transmissions. Physical storage may also consist of flash drives, compact disks, and memory cards. Depending on the system you may be able to add additional storage to the DVR. Otherwise you will have to purchase additional DVRs.


  • Inexpensive – as the move to the cloud storage grows, and technology advances, the price for physical hardware shrinks. For example, the cost of a hard drive decreased in the last two years. 
  • Easy to use – working with hard drives is as easy as drag and drop. Simply, click the file and move it to the location.
  • Data is local – the benefit of local data is it can only be accessed locally, which is more secure than cloud storage. 


  • Data not easily mobile – In order to make this data mobile, someone has to either disconnect the DVR (not likely) or transfer the data to another piece of hardware. Depending on the size of the file(s), computer, and external hardware, this can take minutes or hours.  The time maybe cut in have if you send this to the cloud.
  • High failure rate – external hard drives have a very high failure rate when compared to cloud storage. Eventually, your external hard drive will fail.
  • Manual backups – similar to making data mobile, you will need to manually set up hard drive backups. The good news is that you can back the data up to any other type of media (including cloud storage).
  • Can be stolen – while it is a benefit that all of the data is local, the downside is that once someone gains access to your location, they can just take the DVR and any hard drive you have laying around. If you don’t have any backups all of the data you’ve collected is lost
  • Not elastic – elastic means you will either have too much hard drive space, or not enough. Too much extra space means you are wasting money, and not enough space means you will have to delete previously saved data. 
  • Old school – physical hard drives are yesterday’s technology. Everything is migrating to the cloud. Not future proof. 


Here are a few examples of external storage used for local storage

  • Western Digital 2 TB External Hard drive
  • ScanDisk 32 GB Flash Drive
  • PNY Flash card

Cloud storage

Cloud storage is storing data on someone else’s hard drive or server. This location can be the manufacture of the security system or a third party. In this section I will discuss the benefits and drawbacks of saving data to the cloud


  • Accessible for the internet – you can access data from anywhere as long as it connects to the internet. You can use computers, laptops, or smartphones to access this information. Cloud storage provides maximum mobility.
  • Automatic backups – cloud storage can be configured to backup all data automatically. You can schedule backups as frequently as needed. In addition,  companies will store your data in multiple data centers to ensure that no data is lost.
  • No additional hardware – The only additional hardware that may be needed is additional security cameras. You no longer have to run out to the store to purchase additional hard drives
  • The future – Eventually the only option to save data will be in the cloud. If you don’t think that’s true, try and find a CD player on a new car.
  • Elastic – cloud storage can grow and shrink as you do. You will always pay for the exact amount of data you need. No more wasting money to have hardware sitting around “just in case”
  • Sharable – cloud data can be shared at the click of a button. 


  • Expensive – since cloud storage is still a newer technology, the price per byte is much more expensive than physical hard drives
  • More opportunities for theft – criminals from all over the world can steal your information. Weak passwords lead to missing or stole data
  • Must have internet connection – you will not be able to access any data without an internet connection. It is very difficult to not have an internet connection everywhere, but its still possible.


Here are a few examples of cloud storage:

  • Amazon Web Service – Simple Storage Service (S3)
  • Manufacture of Ring Cameras
  • Google Drive

Which storage type is right for you?

I would only use local storage if security is the number one concern. Even though cloud is more expensive, it is will worth not dealing with physical equipment. The only other reason to use local storage is if you already have a CCTV system that uses DVR.

If you have to have a CCTV system, I recommend using a combination of local and hard drive. You can move old data files to cloud storage, this will help to keep the costs low, and not purchase additional hard drive.

My take

I currently use cloud storage for my wireless security cameras. I believe that cloud storage is the most efficient storage solution available. I don’t have to worry about purchasing additional equipment, or running out of hard drive space. The only downside is I pay any additional monthly fee to use the service.


As I’ve noted there are only two places for security camera footage to be stored: local and in the cloud. local storage is older technology that is slowly being phased out. However, it is cheaper, and easier to use than cloud storage.

Cloud storage is the wave of the future as everything is migrating to the cloud. The benefit of cloud storage is that it can be accessed from anywhere that has an internet connection. While cloud storage is more expensive, it can be elastic and grow and shrink as needed. 

Additional questions

  • Where and how are the CCTV footages stored? CCTV footage is stored on local physical drives. Footage can be stored on flash drives, hard drives, compact disks, or any type of storage hardware. CCTV videos are transmitted by an analog signal to a digital video recording (DVR). From there, the DVR writes the recording to a disk.
  • CCTV camera storage capacity in days? The capacity per day varies depending on several factors including number of cameras, quality (low, medium, high), megapixel, bitrate, and file format. You can assume that you could save 11 GB of storage per camera per day.
  • How long can CCTV footage be kept for? CCTV footage can be saved until space is needed or manually deleted. Because CCTV footage is saved to a local disk it can be saved forever. You do have the ability to schedule auto deletes.

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