A DVR or NVR security system is a choice you have to make before setting up a video surveillance system. It matters a lot since it decides the cost, the installation, the best video quality you could expect.

Now scroll down to find all you need to know about the DVR and NVR, including what does the NVR or DVR stand for, the differences between NVR and DVR, the top digital or network video recorders, and the DVR or NVR system that works best for you.


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What's NVR, DVR, HVR

The NVR full form is network video recorder. As the name suggests, NVR recorders record videos from the network directly using Cat5 or Cat6 Ethernet cables with RJ45 plugs. The NVR system is used with IP (Internet Protocol) cameras.

There are two types of network video recorders: The PoE NVRs, generally with Ethernet ports to connect PoE cameras, and the WiFi NVRs with NO camera ports because it connects WiFi IP cameras wirelessly.

WiFi & PoE NVR

1. RJ45 port to connect PoE cameras
2. eSATA port to connect external disk drives
3. VGA & HDMI port to connect the monitor
4. LAN port to connect the router

DVR stands for digital video recorder. DVR recorders process uncompressed videos with coaxial cables and compress the video to digital signal before sending it out. The DVR system works with analog cameras.

DVR System

1. Coaxial port to connect analog cameras
2. eSATA port to connect external disk drives
3. VGA & HDMI port to connect the monitor
4. LAN port to connect the router

Heard about HVR? What is HVR exactly? Simply put, a HVR (hybrid video recorder) is a combination of the DVR and NVR, which could work with both analog cameras and the IP cameras. The HVR system is usually priced much higher (over $1000) and beyond the consumer grade.

Note: Generally, you will see NVR and DVR systems with 4 channels, 8 channels and 16 channels. The channel indicates how many cameras can be used within the DVR or NVR system. For example, a 16 channel DVR enables you to have up to 16 cameras connected to the system.

How Does the NVR/DVR Work?

The network video recorder (NVR) saves the encoded videos from IP cameras from the network. That's to say, an NVR system needs no dedicated video processing hardware.

By contrast, the digital video recorder (DVR) has a small chip inside to encode and process the analog videos into digital format first so that you can view and playback the recordings.

Both NVRs and DVRs are used for video recording and storage. After connected with a monitor, the NVR and DVR cameras can be easily accessed, viewed, and configured.

NVR vs DVR, What's the Difference

NVR vs DVR sum-up: The biggest difference between NVR and DVR is the cameras and cabling they use. A network video recorder (NVR) records IP cameras wirelessly (WiFi NVR) or via Ethernet cables (PoE NVR), while a digital video recorder (DVR) records analog cameras via coaxial cables.

That's to say, the NVR is for IP camera recording and the DVR is for analog or coax-based camera recording.

Differences Between NVR and DVR Security System
Comparison Full Form NVR/DVR Cameras Transmission Cables
NVR Network Video Recorder IP (Internet Protocol) Cameras Ethernet Cables
DVR Digital Video Recorder Analog & Coax Based Cameras Coax Cables

DVR vs NVR System

Digital & Network Video Recorders Without Internet

Before we dig further into the difference between DVR and NVR, it could be good to know that both NVR and DVR security systems can work without the Internet connection!

If you want the NVR or DVR systems to record to a hard drive so you can look back when needed, the NVR or DVR CCTVs don't need to hook up with the Internet (no need to connect to your router). The DVR and NVR cameras will work on their own proprietary network once powered up.

The Internet is only needed if you want to view the DVR/NVR camera systems live off site or push alerts.

Related: 2 Solutions for Wireless Security Cameras Without Internet

DVR vs NVR, Which One to Choose

After learning what the NVR and DVR system is and their differences, let's explore the advantages and disadvantages of NVR and DVR, and you will then know which one suits you better.

Check the table below for a quick comparison between the NVR recorder and DVR recorder:

Comparison NVR (Network Video Recorder) DVR (Digital Video Recorder)
NVR/DVR cameras IP cameras Analog or coax based cameras
Recording quality Higher Lower
NVR/DVR system setup Easier Tougher
NVR/DVR camera cost Higher Lower

NVR Systems

The network video recorders has already become the mainstream at this age of Internet, with more and more camera manufacturers and homeowners swap from producing and using DVRs to NVRS.

And all these happened for big reasons. Check the following advantages of NVR systems:

#1. NVR CCTV records higher quality videos

The network video recorders or NVRs are paired up with IP cameras, with a resolution starting from 2MP to 12MP (or higher), which is out of the question for analog cameras in a DVR security system.

And that's why so many users and tech experts suggest that the NVR systems should be a clear winner, considering that you need enough resolution to identify the intruders' face and plate number.

Difference Between DVR and NVR in Resolution
NVR System 2MP, 4MP, 5MP, and 12MP (4K) systems are commonly seen
DVR System 720p, 2MP (1080p) are most popular

* Some security brands have produced 4K DVR security camera systems. However, with improved clarity, the DVR system will lose its price edge, since they need highly priced video processor chips to produce high quality images.

#2. NVR security system is easy to wire

The cabling work is definitely a headache in setting up an NVR or DVR system. Good news is that the NVR security system makes the cable work easy enough even for a beginner:

The WiFi NVR visits cameras through the network wirelessly, so you don't need to worry about how to run wires to the network video recorder. The PoE (Power over Ethernet) NVR provides both power and network to the cameras via a single Ethernet cable. You may also use an PoE switch to make the long-distance wiring even easier.

Here is a PoE NVR setup diagram for your reference (system model: Reolink RLK8-410B4):

IP Camera Cable Connection

Compared with NVR systems, the DVR system needs exact point-to-point connection between the cameras and the digital network recorder, and the analog cameras require both wires for power and data transmission.

Difference Between DVR and NVR in Wiring
NVR System Wireless or via single Ethernet cable for power & data
DVR System Both power cable and audio/video cable needed

#3. NVR recorder is flexible in placement

As mentioned before, the NVR uses IP network cameras. That's to say, you can place the NVR virtually anywhere as long as the network is available. By contrast, the DVR CCTVs are rather limited by the coax cable, with a max transmission distance of about 300 ft.

So you are free to place the network video recorder to record anywhere you want, like the front door, backyard, garage, or even the remote shed. And it's easier to hide the NVR in some hard-to-access spots like the attic, ceiling, inside walls, closet, or even crawlspace if you worry about your NVR gets stolen.

Difference Between DVR and NVR in Placement
NVR Cameras Anywhere with network access
DVR Cameras Limited by the coax cables

#4. NVR systems are easy to use and configure

NVR systems may give you an impression that it involves lots of network configurations.

But that's WRONG.

Thanks to the P2P NVR security cameras, you may set up the NVR system with literally ZERO configuration.

You only need to download the network video recorder software, Reolink Client, for example, the IP cameras will automatically show up in the LAN network device list. Just add the cameras to the client with your password, the setup is done!

No complex portforwarding and configuration.

To access the camera via phone, just enter the UID (unique ID number) of the network video recorder and its password in the NVR camera app.

Editor's Note: You can see the camera live and recordings without network! Just follow this guide to connect your NVR camera system to a monitor (TV or PC), you can then see the live view and recordings right away, without connecting it to a router.

Other Things You Need to Know About NVR Systems

Here are more notes for you to make the best purchase of NVR CCTV systems.

#1. NVR surveillance systems do NOT use more bandwidth than the DVR system.

Note that NVR camera systems do NOT need Internet to record and save footage.

The security systems will consume bandwidth only when you access it remotely via phone or PC software, which makes no difference between the DVR and NVR systems.

And some network-friendly brands like Reolink offers choices of fluent and clear video streams to save your bandwidth.

#2. Buy the NVR and cameras from the same manufacturer to avoid compatibility issues.

Not all IP cameras will work with the network video recorder (NVR) from a certain brand. If you want to add more cameras or find a recorder for your cameras, remember to purchase from the same manufacturer to avoid compatibility issues.

#3. If you are keen to WiFi NVR camera systems, choose the one with the dual-band WiFi signal.

Due to the dependency on the Internet, the wireless NVR may suffer a signal loss when you use other wireless electronic devices (like phones) at the same time. So choose a high-quality WiFi NVR system that features dual-band boosted WiFi signal is the best option.

DVR Security Systems:

Admittedly, the DVR (digital video recorder) has its price advantage, it seems to be less competitive these days with some obvious inconveniences.

#1. Running cable is challenging for DVR systems.

The hard wiring is the biggest disadvantage of DVR security cameras.

First off, each camera will have two cables to deal with, one for power and one for audio and video. And it could be more difficult if your monitoring places are out of reach of the coax cable.

#2. DVR CCTV systems deliver lower-quality videos.

Even though emerging technology has greatly improved the recording quality of analog cameras, it still can not catch up with the NVR cameras.

Some MPX (megapixel over coax) cameras could handle higher resolution, but they will cost you considerably, even more than NVR cameras.

4K vs 1440p vs 1080p vs 720p

#3. The equipment needs to be closer in DVR security systems.

The DVR IP cameras could be placed no more than 300 feet away from the DVR for the decaying signal over the coax cable.

#4. DVR camera systems have a higher maintenance cost.

As I mentioned, the DVR system transmits the signal via coax cable, which is much more vulnerable to the environments like the rain or strong wind with the pass of time. If they are exposed outside, you'll much likely to pay an extra bill in fixing the cable issues.

#5. Digital video recorders have lots of potential issues to deal with.

The DVR system, not to say it is outdated but it is definitely not something futuristic, gains decreasing market share every year.

And that will lead to many potential problems you might have never thought of. For example, some new house owners will find that there is no coax cable prewired to support the DVR system, and you may even find it difficult to get a local DVR system repair man in the future when it becomes truly outdated.

The Verdict: NVR vs. DVR System, What You Need to Consider

To make the choice easy enough for you, the prominent thing to consider is actually the wiring task.

If you are new to security cameras, and by no means a tech guy, then an NVR security camera system will make the whole installation and configuration easier for you. Well, if you have some analog cameras or coax cable installed, a DVR camera system may be a handy solution.

Actually, I'll recommend NVR systems to anyone who wants to have a higher level of security in home or business, since you'll have so much more to gain with just a little more cost these days.

DVR/NVR Security System Recommendation

Have an idea of whether DVR or NVR video recorder will suit you best? There is only one last step to get your best pick: choose a trustworthy and reputable brand with great reviews.

If you don't want to get contracted into the monthly fees and subscriptions for video storage, which will be a huge cost in the long run, you may want to take a look at Reolink NVR and DVR security systems.

Best Pick

Reolink RLK8-410B4

PoE Network Video Recorder System

Bandwidth saving, budget friendly and high quality CCTV NVR security system; Featured in the tech media like VueVille, SecurityBros.

Shop now

Except for all the advantages of NVR security systems, the Reolink RLK8-410B4 could record for weeks' long at 4MP or 5MP super clear resolution with built-in 2TB HDD. It's easy to set up and view via Reolink customized software.

Also check out the video footage of the NVR camera:

Basically, a 4 camera system could build up comprehensive protection: one installed at the front door looking down the driveway and porches; one for the backyard; one for securing the off-street windows; and one for indoor use or other critical positions you may have. (For more suggestions about where to place security cameras, click here.)

Have even more places to cover? You may purchase additional Reolink PoE cameras to work with this NVR system – Yes, it can support up to 8 cameras. Or you may get a 16 channel NVR kit RLK16-410B8 with more camera channels.

Hot Questions & Quick Answers for NVR/DVR Systems

Here we also collected some frequently asked questions about DVR and NVR IP camera systems.

#1. How can I tell if I'm able to get full 1080p on each channel given it's an 8ch or 16ch NVR?

You can easily check the video resolution for each channel via the resolution page of your NVR camera system.

Camera Resolution

#2. Is there battery backup for the video recorder in case the power is tripped or there is a blackout?

DVR and NVR security systems don't provide battery backup, but you can add a UPS to your digital or network recorder system to prevent these incidents. A battery powered security camera is also a good idea to act as a backup when the power is out.

Reolink Argus 2

100% Wire-Free Starlight Camera

Rechargeable Battery & Solar Powered; Outdoor/Indoor Protection; 1080 Full HD; Starlight Night Vision; 2-Way Audio; Live View Anytime Anywhere.

#3. Is there any network lag with the NVR camera systems?

Still hesitant about going the IP camera route and getting a NVR due to the network lag? You don't need worry too much about it. A properly configured network will have no such problems at all.

For example, you can view the 8ch NVR IP camera system RLK8-410B4 at 4MP full resolution without any network lag with a stable 6-8Mbps upstream of bandwidth.

#4. How far can I go with the NVR and DVR camera systems?

There is a major difference between the NVR and DVR camera systems concerning their transmission distance. For an NVR IP camera system, you are actually not limited by the wires. Well, for DVR camera system, it can typically receive signals within the range of 1000ft.

Bonus Tips About NVR/DVR Security Systems

  • What if someone breaks in and steals your DVR/NVR? What's the safest place around the house to place or hide the little box?

Read these expert tips to prevent your NVR/DVR from being stolen.

  • Yes, it's easy to run wires of NVR systems, yet how to do it in specific steps? And what's the best NVR/DVR wires solution?

Get detailed ideas to run NVR/DVR wires here (explained in steps).

  • Have searched around and still can't find a quality as well as affordable one? Or want to save more money for your perfect DVR/NVR security solution?

Grasp the chance to save big on the upcoming Reolink Christmas sales – the NVR systems always get the most dollars off, you know? (Subscribe to us to be the first one to know when any NVR deal is available.) And you can always try these bonus tips to save money when buying a NVR/DVR system.

  • Want to have a quick decision to get a cost-effective NVR/DVR system for home with under $500 or $1000?

Here is a top NVR system list with affordable price. You'll definitely find your best match here in 1 minute without regret!

  • C.h. Cobb

    One thing I don't recall seeing in your article is the bandwidth impact of NVR. An installation with 8 or 16 NVR cameras would seem to bring a non-fiber LAN to its knees. Am I wrong?

    • Rey Davila

      What if the NVR had its own subnet? Or on its own wired network.

      • Hello Rey Davila. Yes, the NVR has its own subnet. The NVR and IP cameras will create a private LAN.

    • Hello, C.h. Cobb. Yes, the NVR system will consume network bandwidth. NVR is the network recorder for IP cameras. And the bandwidth it consumes is determined by the number of IP cameras and the code stream. Reolink cameras offer you options for the different code streams. That's to say you can change between clear and fluent modes to save the bandwidth.

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  • Josh Bensadon

    You missed some pro's and con's and imho, got one wrong. Camera's supported, you said NVR-Flexible, DVR-Fixed. It's the other way around. DVR uses standard NTSC (or PAL) camera signals, any analog camera will work. NVR's on the other hand may not talk to all IP camera's, check the list of supported cameras by that NVR. DVR's require home run cables, right, and that also makes them harder to ”hide”, while NVR's just require a single network cable (or even a wireless bridge). One thing that was not discussed was the use of encoders, these would covert Analog cameras to work as IP cameras (You don't magically get more pixels, just network connectibility). ie, if you already have analog cameras, you don't have to buy a DVR if you really prefer to modernize with an NVR. Just buy the NVR, add an encoder for the exiting cameras, then go with IP cameras moving forward. Otherwise, the rest of this article is a great read and good advice! Well done!

    • Flora

      Hi Josh, thanks for your input and share! I'm with you on the point that DVR's flexible in supporting different types of cameras. Well, the DVR need exactly point-to-point connection, which makes it kind of fixed and limited in placement. Thanks again for sharing all these good points. Please let me know if you have any further insights or questions.

  • What Is The Difference Between DVR vs NVR vs HVR?
    NVR vs DVR, What's the Difference. NVR vs DVR sum-up: The biggest difference between NVR and DVR is the cameras and cabling they use. A network video recorder (NVR) records IP cameras wirelessly (WiFi NVR) or via Ethernet cables (PoE NVR), while a digital video recorder (DVR) records analog cameras via coaxial cables.

  • mike dee

    how do you power the wireless nvr cameras?

    • Flora

      Hi Mike, the wireless cameras need to be plugged in to an electrical outlet for power supply. : )

  • Grecs

    Not having Poe ports on an nvr doesn't necessarily make it a wifi nvr just fyi there's nvrs with a single ethernet port to connect to cameras on the local or a network powered over poe or have their own local power..

  • itdsuser1

    When my nvr system sends me an email the picture file is no longer available, what setting is incorrect?

    • Flora

      Hi there, may I know which NVR system model you are using and the version of your system? You may find all these required information on the Device Info page via Reolink app and send us a screenshot of it.

      If you are not using a Reolink NVR system, it's better to contact the camera producer for a detailed troubleshoot.

  • Dan

    I have an existing network with various switches and Access points.
    My cameras may be on another network segment on the other side of the building with no single direct cable.

    Assuming routing is configured correctly do reolink devices care how they are connected?
    i.e. can I attach your NVR to my existing network via a single ethernet cable?

    Also do NVR's / cameras support vlans?

    • Flora

      Hello Dan, Reolink cameras and NVRs do support VLAN and you can access the cameras via NVR remotely as long as they are under the same LAN network. However, the Reolink NVR does not compatible with cameras from other brands currently. Hope this clarifies your confusion and let me know if you have more questions 😉

      • Dan


        It's a shame about the lack of support for 3rd party cameras. That is a deal breaker. Even RTSP support would be enough. I can't afford to make a wholesale replacement. I do like your offering otherwise and your cameras are preferable.

        I'd also like to see : external dome camera with audio capability, a box camera and 180dg camera.

        • Flora

          Hi Dan, thank you for your suggestions. I'll forward them to the R&D development and bring them to attention 😉

          By the way, you may check out Reolink RLC-422 /product/rlc-420/ for the dome camera with audio, and you can have up to 360 degree of view with the Reolink PT camera like Reolink Argus PT /product/argus-pt/ (although it comes with a fixed lens with 105° diagonal field of view).

          • Dan

            Sorry I meant the vandal dome style for external use. Either built in or remote mic connection.
            I was looking for a 180 to allow for a continuous view of one side of the whole building.
            It serves as an accompaniment to a PTZ. Some systems allow you to pair them but that is more sophisticated than i need.

  • Neil Letap

    I'd suggest using a NVR system purely for the ease of installation and access to newly improved technology. There is no other factor that justifies picking an NVR over a DVR for me.

    If you have existing co-axial/power wiring for an older dvr system, you can simply buy a newer DVR system and replace the old DVR/Cameras with the new. This is for people who are upgrading their old DVR systems. Wiring still takes time and you can avoid having to wire anything else since the existing wire can be used again.

    Technically, DVR also sends over one intertwined wire (just splits into two connectors on each end for power and co-axial). But you need a power source which is the biggest pain of using DVRs. Older DVRs came with a power supply box (requires stripping wires) and newer ones come with a standard wall plug unit (no stripping). However, the fact you are dealing with two connectors at the end of each wire gives the set-up a messy look (compared to a couple singular ethernet wires). The take away is that wiring for a NVR is going to make life very easy.

    The article does mention a DVR can match the quality of a NVR but pricing is steep for high-end DVR units. However, pricing for 4k with 8MP cameras is similar for system (actually much cheaper than NVR substitutions). I'd say these are good enough for a majority consumers and small to medium sized businesses. As such, users upgrading their existing dvr set-up won't take a detrimental hit. However, NVR systems are improving quickly (more options, more price drops, and the latest technology). DVR is lagging in terms of technology turn-around (and thus the latest and greatest will be expensive). If you are looking to buy a system for a couple grand, your decision will affect you (I'd go with NVR all day). In terms of planning for the future, NVR is probably the way to go. But as mentioned before, people with existing co-axial wiring can take full advantage of the fact consumer level DVRs/NVRs are in a similar place in terms of quality and pricing.

    You can do some cool wiring techniques to limit the amount of wiring for NVR systems. You can link a couple IP cameras in an small area to a switch. The switch can plug right into your router and your NVR will see the cameras. That eliminates the need to run multiple lengthy wires to the NVR unit for EACH camera. This is something you cannot do with DVR units (or not easily done). In the end, you are looking at a much cleaner installation.

    The NVR systems use IP cameras. These can potentially be used as standalone devices since you can connect them to your computer much easier with a ethernet cord. Obviously things won't always be compatible with each other, but ethernet ports are much more commonplace these days.

    For those installing new, NVR is probably the best bet to become future-proof. But if you want an decent system, don't want to install new wiring yet, and plan on upgrading to NVR some day..then feel free to save a couple hundred and add it to a future NVR upgrade.

    • Flora

      Great tips! Thank you for sharing 😉

  • Temwo

    Hi my name is Temidayo am a Nigerian. You got lovely n helpful videos n I hope to see more of same.
    I need ur guide with my wireless cctv setup. I bought a wireless 8 channel Nvr using 8 wireless ip cams with no physical LAN ports to plug in any cable, is got just power port for 12v dc. The set-up was pretty direct until when 2 cameras were out of d wireless Nvr Wi-Fi signal range.
    The NVR doesn't have a repeater function under the video menu thus by itself there's no way to extend it's signal range.

    To resolve this I want to use my Tp-link TL-MR3240 router as the Nvr's repeater but this is were I've gotten stuck n do need ur help.

    The routers default ip addy is,

    Nvr basic ip:
    Pri. Dns:

    Nvr ntwrk ip:

    All ip cams ip are: 172.20.18.xxx

    I've not been able to connect the router to the NVR , it's not seeing the NVR WiFi signal. I'll appreciate if u can walk me through step by step on how to 1stly connect the router(wirelessly) to the NVR, then set it as a wireless repeater to extend the NVR signal then finally connect the ip cams that were out of range to it. Thanks
    All ip addresses stated above are all default ips of the individual devices, nothing have been tweaked yet.

    • Flora

      Hi Temidayo, you may not connect your NVR and cameras to the router because their IP addresses are not correct. IP camera data transmission is based on the IP camera address assigned by the router or the NVR. So typically, you will need to find the right IP camera address to access the camera on the Internet.
      Please reset your NVR and cameras first and follow this detailed tutorial to reconfigure the network settings of your WiFi system, /ip-camera-configuration/. Hope this helps.

  • Flora

    Hello Dennis, are you using Reolink cameras and NVR? If yes, please specify the camera model and the NVR model and submit a request here, https://support.reolink.com/hc/en-us/requests/new. Our support team will help you out asap.
    If you are not using Reolink products, you'd better contact the support team of your security camera brand for further assistance.

  • Sckar

    I need a DVR that can connect my 8 existing coax cameras but I want to be able to connect the DVR to my wifi network so I can access the camera streams through an app on my phone



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