11 Tips to Get the Most from Your Video Security DVR

Video security digital video recorders are the heart of your surveillance system and are therefore a critical component of your system. We've compiled 11 tips to help you get the most out of your DVR purchase:

1. Choose the right recording equipment and features

Start by considering your video security needs. Do you need a DVR that has a lot of channel inputs to support many cameras in order to monitor multiple buildings and entrances? Do you need a DVR a lot of hard drive storage or remote monitoring capabilities to view and manage your video remotely?

2. Select a Security DVR with an optimal number of channels

When selecting your DVR, make sure you have the appropriate number of channels for your current and future security needs.

Analog DVRs

Most analog DVRs provide inputs for 4, 8 and 16 cameras. It's best to select a DVR with more camera channels than you currently need; in order to give you the flexibility to add more cameras to the system to handle greater security demands.

Hybrid DVRs

With a hybrid DVR you can utilize existing analog cameras and have the ability to transition to an IP or HD based security solution. Just make sure the hybrid digital video recorder you choose has analog and IP or analog and HD inputs, depending on your needs.

3. Set the right frame rate

Frame rate is the number of frames a DVR can record every second at a set resolution. A lower frame rate records less realistic motion allowing your DVR to record for longer periods of time, and requires less processing power and storage than a high frame rate. A high frame rate records more detailed, realistic motion and requires more processing power and storage.

4. Keep your DVR recording with the overwrite feature

Many DVRs provide overwrite protection and will stop recording once the hard drive is full. If you need your DVR to continue recording, you need to activate the overwrite feature which will allow your video security DVR to continue recording over previously video footage, once the hard drive is at capacity.

5. Turn your Security DVR into a full-time security guard

Some security DVRs have alarm inputs and outputs that you can integrate with an existing alarm system. These connections can be used in combination with security features such as motion detection and loss detection alert. Having security features like these on your DVR is like having your own personal security guard on duty.

Motion Detection

The DVR's motion detection feature allows you to pre-define zones for each camera and program the camera to start recording when motion is detected within the zone, saving hard drive space and optimizing recorded video. This feature also enables you to get alerted by alarm and email when there is an incident.

Loss Detection

Some DVRs also include a loss detection feature to alert you when the camera has lost signal due to a power failure, volatile weather, criminal tampering or some other incident. This feature allows you to trigger a recording with other cameras or get an alert from external devices such as an alarm.

6. Don't let conversations go unheard

Recording audio with your video is a great feature to have. Most DVRs have audio recording capabilities, allowing you to add a high quality mic or leverage the microphones built into your camera to capture audio.

7. Make sure your Security DVR is tamper-proof

Use password protection, conceal the DVR and/or use a security DVR lock box to prevent unauthorized access to your recorded video. A DVR enclosure also helps to protect your equipment from the accidental damage and fluid spills.

8. Protect your investment from surges & failures

You should protect your investment and plug your DVR and cameras into an uninterruptable power supply (UPS) to prevent recording interruptions and safeguard against power outages and brown outs. You'll also want to frequently check your UPS to make sure the battery is fully-charged and isn't showing any warning lights.

9. Access & manage your Video Security DVR virtually anywhere

Most modern DVRs have the capability to view and manage your system remotely. With remote access you can view your DVR video over the Internet or via a smartphone app, and remotely. A high speed internet connection is best for remote monitoring.

10. Be prepared to offload your video (and audio)

Some security DVRs feature easy offloading, so you can load your data from the DVR onto a DVD, network or USB thumb drive. Offloaded data is especially important for sharing recorded surveillance video with law enforcement agencies and other agencies when evidence of a crime is needed.

11. Get enough hard drive storage

The hard drive storage capacity of your security DVR is very important for security applications because these applications can place considerable demands on storage. The greater your recording needs—the more hard drive storage space you will need to store the video. It's always best to choose a DVR with more built-in hard drive space than you think you may need.

Consider Your Storage Needs

When selecting a security DVR with a built-in security grade hard drive, there are a few things you need to consider when calculating the amount of hard drive storage you may need:

  • Number of days of video storage needed
  • Number of cameras
  • FPS per camera
  • Hours per day of recording
  • Days per week of recording
  • Recording resolution
  • Video compression

DVR Storage Calculator

Our DVR storage calculator can help you figure out the amount of storage you may need for your security applications. Try DVR Storage Calculator »

Need more information about determining hard drive storage needs? Find out more »