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Quick Guide to Surveillance Hard Drive & Security Camera Systems with Hard Drive

Quick Guide to Surveillance Hard Drive & Security Camera Systems with Hard Drive

We are often asked by users about the surveillance hard drive for the NVR security camera systems. The questions go like this: how to replace the internal hard drive of home security system? Can I use an external hard drive instead of an NVR? Today, we share our insights into security camera hard drive, and help consumers find the best surveillance hard drive and best security cameras and systems with the hard drive.

The information below is what you need to know before reading this article:

Hard Drive Used for video storage 24/7
Capacity 3TB/4TB/6TB
FAQs How to choose/install, etc.
Recommendation Reolink security systems

Security Camera Hard Drive 101

Earlier we share some of the common ways to store surveillance footage, like Micro SD card, NVRs/DVRs, FTP, and Cloud storage.

Security camera hard drive, or known as a surveillance-rated hard disk drive (HDD), is primarily used for surveillance video footage storage 24/7 locally.

Many security camera hard drives are pre-installed inside a digital video recorder (DVR) or network video recorder (NVR) while some external hard drive for security cameras can be installed to a DVR or NVR.

Security camera systems with hard drive either an internal built-in hard drive or external hard disk drive (HDD) are popular with users who prefer recording surveillance videos around the clock and having their video footage saved locally.

Security Camera Hard Drive FAQs

We list out some of the frequently asked questions regarding CCTV/wireless security camera hard drive and CCTV/wireless security camera systems with a hard drive.

What are the Differences between PC Hard Drive and Surveillance Hard Drive

Many will wrongly assume that regular desktop hard drive is not much different from the surveillance hard drive.

The truth is a dedicated surveillance hard disk drive (HDD) is more reliable, durable, and advanced than desktop hard drive in many ways.

Here are performance differences between desktop HDDs and HDDs for surveillance CCTV setup.

Then another question pops up: can you use surveillance hard drive on a laptop/desktop for daily use or gaming?

The quick answer is “yes” but there could be differences in terms of read-write speed, which could impact the way your computer responds.

Here is one user discussing using Western Digital (WD) purple surveillance hard drive for a gaming desktop.

How to Choose Surveillance Hard Drive for DVRs/NVRs

If you want to record 24/7 surveillance videos to a security camera hard drive, then you could either go for security cameras with a hard drive like CCTV DVR CCTV system or NVR camera systems like Reolink RLK8-810B4-A IP camera system with 2TB pre-installed HDD.

If you are hoping to add an external hard drive to your existing CCTV DVRs/NVRs, then you need to take this factor into account.

Many NVRs or DVRs have a limit on the capacity of external surveillance hard drive; for instance, Reolink RLK8-810B4-A allows an external hard drive or HDD of less than 4TB.

It sets such threshold because it helps boost overall functionality and performance of the security camera NVRs/DVRs with hard drives.

Sometimes, overloading the NVRs/DVRs with HDD over the required capacity limit will lead to problems like HDD not recognized, no HDD available for recording, can’t see network hard drive, can’t record to external hard drive, the hard drive is not detected, DVR hard drive error etc.

Which Hard Drive is Best for My Security Cameras or DVRs/NVRs

There are some popular surveillance hard drives for CCTV DVRs and NVRs.

For example, Western Digital Purple 4TB surveillance hard disk drive. It is specially engineered for DVR/NVR security system and works with surveillance camera systems of different brands including the Reolink, Hikvision, Qsee, Amcrest, and more.
Seagate SkyHawk 4TB surveillance hard drive is also a great alternative for your network video recorders (NVR), embedded surveillance DVRs (SDVR), hybrid surveillance DVRs, surveillance DVRs, including Reolink, Hikvision, Amcrest.

It’s important to make sure the security camera hard drive will be compatible with your new or existing surveillance system before purchase; you could consult the manufacturers first.

How to Install an External Surveillance Hard Drive to DVRs/NVRs

Proper installation of internal and external hard drive to wireless security camera systems with DVR and NVR security camera systems is very important.

If the internal hard drive not properly installed, technical glitches like CCTV hard drive not working, CCTV hard drive failure, DVR hard drive not detected, DVR no available HDD for recording, and CCTV HDD error are very likely to occur.

When installing the internal surveillance hard drive, make sure the hard drive cables are firmly connected. Here is a helpful guide to add security camera hard drive to the NVR.

Here is also a video demo showing adding a new external hard drive to the NVR.

What to Do When DVR Hard Drive is Not Detected

New security camera systems with a hard drive are likely to experience problems like CCTV DVR hard drive not recognized, external hard drive for CCTV DVR not detected, CCTV hard drive error, DVR not detecting hard drive, DVR no available HDD for recording.

The possible culprits for such CCTV hard drive detection failure are like to be detective HDD, a loose connection of SATA cable inside DVRs/NVRs, inadequate power supply to the CCTV DVR and NVR system, HDD not compatible with the CCTV DVR/NVR.

To resolve the surveillance hard drive not detecting issue, first of all, try rebooting the DVR/NVR system by disconnecting cables between video recorders DVR/NVR and the HDD.

If there is no error message shown on the screen after reconnecting them, then the problem possibly lies in somewhere else.

Make sure the SATA or eSATA power cable connecting DVR/NVR Hard Disk Power Port is not loose or the SATA power port is not damaged or faulty. Try connecting the cable to a different port.

Add External HDD to NVR

Make sure to use the right power adapter for the DVR/NVR system.

If the problem remains unresolved, try formatting the hard drive on the device or using a computer to format the HDD.

Can You Use an External Hard Drive instead of an NVR

There are some users wondering whether they could use their computer PC to record surveillance footage to a 3TB, 4TB, or 6TB external hard drive.

The answer is yes. Users could use Blue Iris video monitoring software and connect the external surveillance hard drive to the computer via USB cable.

To do so, there are a few things to consider: your computer for running Blue Iris must get enough horsepower and RAM like 8G RAM, you need to have the good bandwidth for recording 24/7, a 500GB/1TB/2TB/4TB/6TB external hard drive, and some networking know-how.

Which One to Go, Security Camera Hard Drive or PC-based Storage

Some people suggest using the computer or laptop to record and store CCTV surveillance footage instead of to a dedicated hard drive video recorder like NVR and DVR.

Which one should you choose?

A dedicated CCTV DVR and NVR with a hard drive and PC-based video recording and storage all have their pros and cons.

It all depends on your needs. For example, if you want no more than 2 or 3 security cameras running 24/7, a PC-based video recording and storage is not a bad idea.

If you have over 4 surveillance cameras, security camera DVR/NVR with a hard drive is better.

For those who are looking for a solid and reliable NVR system with hard drive built-in, Reolink RLK8-810B4-A is no doubt a very good security camera system for both home and business.

It comes with four 4K ultra HD IP security cameras RLC-810A, one of the best-selling security cameras, and a dedicated network video recorder with 2TB HDD built-in (expandable to 6TB with up to 4TB external hard drive).

This surveillance camera system with a hard drive is estimated to store about 8 days /a week worth video footage of four 4K 8MP security cameras before it overwrites the old footage. (See how long a 2TB NVR hard drive can record before it overwrites)

RLK8-810B4-A is widely used in residential areas to monitor entrances like the front door, backyard, driveway/garage, and side areas and works reliably on workshops, offices, hallways, stores, and more.

Reolink RLK8-810B4-A

Smart 4K 8-Channel PoE Security System

4 pcs 4K Ultral HD Security Cameras with Person/Vehicle Detection; 2TB HDD 8-Channel NVR for 24/7 Recording; Plug & Play.

The NVR can also support up to 8 cameras, which allows users to expand existing surveillance setup to up to 8 security cameras.

It records surveillance footage 24/7 to the 2TB surveillance hard drive and could store a week of footage.

All footage can be accessed locally and remotely via Smartphone, computer (Windows/Mac), and web browsers (IE & Firefox)

If you are looking for NVR camera systems with more cameras and HDD capacity, sort of future-proof, it’s always a good call to go for these 16-channel security camera systems like RLK16-810B8-A.

Important Notes

Many DVR/NVR camera systems are packed with a fan to draw the heat out as the always-on surveillance systems will generate a lot of heats. Meanwhile, it’s important to have the CCTV DVRs/NVRs box in places with good ventilation.

DVRs/NVRs store important surveillance footage, which makes it vulnerable to theft and damage. Try using an NVR/DVR lockbox that mounts to the wall or a locked server cabinet.

Of course, backing up surveillance footage to a Cloud server or NAS also helps secure surveillance footage.


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