Mobile Video Guard - Video Camera Security Systems

DVR vs. NVR: Which One Is Right for Your Business?

Table of Contents
    Add a header to begin generating the table of contents

    Security surveillance technology has improved by leaps and bounds in the past few years, with the features from once high-end enterprise systems now available for small commercial systems. This opens up more options for companies of all sizes, but it also can make decisions more difficult. No matter what kind of business you are protecting, an effective video security system includes a way to record, save and search events. One of the first decisions you’ll need to make when purchasing a video security system for any business from storage facilities to office buildings to medical practices is whether to use an NVR vs. DVR. Let’s look at which system is right for your business.

    What Is a DVR?

    The Digital Video Recorder, or DVR, is the older of the two types of security recording devices and converts analog input from cameras into a digital format. All video data sent to the DVR is processed at the recorder and then saved to a hard drive or storage device. The entire system is wired with coax and typically installed by a professional.

    What Is an NVR?

    The Network Video Recorder, or NVR, is digital all the way. It works with IP cameras that encode video and then send it to the NVR for storage. The NVR is connected via Ethernet, though some components may communicate through a wireless network. Smaller and more flexible cables and connectors, paired with wireless connectivity, can make NVR-based systems easier to install.

    The Pros and Cons: NVR vs. DVR

    Your decision of whether to use an NVR or DVR in your video security system may be simplified by carefully considering your environment, your existing security equipment and your needs. When you evaluate these areas, you’re likely to find that one option stands above the other and makes your choice easy.

    Existing Equipment

    If you already have and use quality analog cameras, the DVR may make more sense. Don’t completely rule out an NVR if its other benefits appeal to you, as it is possible to add an analog-to-IP converter at each camera. You may also be able to create a hybrid system, where analog cameras are in use at some points and IP cameras at others. Why would you want this mix? Analog cameras may be better in low light environments, while IP cameras provide more clarity and an ability to zoom in on an image.


    If you are installing a brand-new security system, the NVR has obvious benefits. It is easier to put in because it uses Ethernet cable and can be partially wireless. IP cameras used with an NVR just need to be on the same network — they don’t have to be wired to a physical system. That makes it possible to have cameras more spread out over a campus, or even at entirely different locations.

    In contrast, the DVR uses coaxial cable that’s thicker and uses larger BNC connectors that may be harder to thread and more challenging to install. You have to run coax between each camera and the recorder, making it more difficult or impossible to have cameras spread across a larger location.


    If you have an analog or partial analog system, each camera or component must have its own power source (you can use a splitter). This makes for more wires, more installation hassles and increased power usage. IP cameras used with the NVR use power over Ethernet (POE) from the recorder so there’s no need for splitters or sockets close by each camera. IP systems also use much less electricity, saving you money on utility costs.

    Quality of Video and Audio

    Images from analog cameras used with a DVR may lack in quality compared to the picture from digital cameras. If image quality is important to you — such as when you need to identify faces or see specific details — you may want to consider an NVR.

    NVR vs. DVR: Which One is Right for Your Business?

    If you want audio included with your video recording, you can do it all through one Ethernet cable in the NVR system. But if you want to add audio to a DVR system, you’ll need to install an additional RCA connection for each camera. As well, a DVR may have limited audio input ports so your system may not support multiple cameras with sound. The sound through digital may be better.


    If you’re looking for features like facial recognition or analytics that determine if motion is caused by a human or animal, the digital option is your best bet. While DVR systems may have some analytics at the recorder, in an NVR system, the cameras can more quickly process video data and so these features are possible. 


    The NVR is newer and still more expensive than a comparable DVR system. As it increases in popularity, prices may come down. In particular, the analog cameras used with a DVR are much less expensive than their IP counterparts. 

    In contrast, installation of a DVR system can potentially cost more than for an NVR system. It’s important to get a quote that includes installation from your security provider so you can make an informed cost comparison. Costs can vary widely depending on type of system, the amount of wiring necessary and distance for cables to run, the number of cameras and the features you want. Estimate that a basic system will cost between $1,350 and $3,500 based on similar installations.

    Making the Decision: NVR vs. DVR, Which Is Best for You?

    For the best flexibility and features, an NVR system is your best bet. But for many small businesses, a less expensive and complex DVR system will meet your needs.

    Need more help with evaluating your needs and the best solution for your business? The experts at Smart Security Pros offer top-notch customer service, professional assistance, and product knowledge that can ensure your system is right for your company. We can help you build a new video surveillance system or upgrade and add to an existing system. Contact us today to ask questions and get a free quote.


    More great security articles to explore:

    Scroll to Top