How to get a security camera recording all the time? Or how do you record events or footage that you want on a security camera recorder?

And what security camera recorders should you get?

Today, the most pop recorders include: a NVR (Network Video Recorder), a DVR (Digital Video Recorder), a computer (the hard drive on the computer actually), a Micro SD card, the FTP server, and Cloud.

So, in this post we’re gonna talk about the methods in detail to record your security cameras to those recorders.

Option 1. Recording IP Cameras to DVR/NVR
Option 2. Recording Security Cameras to SD Card
Option 3. Recording Security Cameras to Computer
Option 4. Recording Security Cameras to FTP Server
Option 5. Recording Security Cameras to Cloud

Try these 5 options to record your security camera video for 24/7. And another thing you need to know is that, all these methods allow you to record only the motion events you want onto the recorder, not necessarily for 24/7.

Record Security Camera

Option 1. Recording Security Camera Video on NVR/DVR All the Time

The best way to record a security camera is to use a NVR (Network Video Recorder) or a DVR (Digital Video Recorder).

Most NVRs and DVRs come with a built-in HDD with large capacity, such as 1TB, 2TB, 3TB, etc. And you can install an external hard disk drive via e-SATA on the NVR/DVR for more storage.

Recording a security camera to NVR or DVR means recording the video to the HDD. Thus the HDD capacity will have a big influence on how long you can record the video and whether you can do the 24/7 video recording.

A NVR can get your security cameras recording all the time, not only the video but also the voice, Reolink RLK8-410B4, a PoE security camera NVR system, for example.

Reolink RLK8-410B4

8-Channel PoE Security System

4 pcs 5MP/4MP Security Cameras; 2TB HDD 8-Channel NVR for 24/7 Reliable Recording; Plug & Play; 2 Network Solutions.

Here is the Car Accident captured and recorded by this product. Shared by Jim C, one of the customers.

And the recording won’t mess up with your network, because they have their proprietary network to transmit the video, which means the video recording won’t “eat up” your bandwidths. Only when you need remote viewing on your mobile phone or you want to get live streaming via a computer, will the security camera system access the Internet.

The most important thing you need to consider when recording security cameras is to select a suitable NVR or DVR. Many standalone NVRs and DVRs only work for the cameras from the same brand, and other brands’ products may have incompatible issues.

Therefore, the best solution is to buy the cameras and a NVR/DVR from the same brand, or you can select a whole set.

Steps for Continuous Recording Security Camera Video to NVR/DVR

Recording security camera video and voice to the NVR/DVR HDD is very simple. Let’s take Reolink cameras and NVR as the example.

Step 1. Connect the cameras to the recorder, NVR.

Step 2. Make sure the products have power supply. Now the cameras and the NVR are connected to each other, and they can start communication.

Step 3. Connect the NVR to a monitor (or an HD TV). The monitor will display the setting screen.

Step 4. Navigate to the video recording settings.

Step 5. You can set up the recording now, such as 24/7 recording, or motion detection recording (which means only when the cameras detect a moving action will the recording begin).

Now you’ve succeeded to get the surveillance cameras recording on the NVR. You can play back the video later to check what’s happening if you are not around there. You can also export the video to an SD card and transfer it to where you want it to be saved.

If you want remote viewing, like you want to get live streaming on your mobile phone when you are at work, connect the NVR to your network (connect the NVR to the router).

Option 2. Recording IP Cameras to SD Card

Many IP cameras have a built in SD card. The capacity of the SD card normally is 16GB or 32GB, and it’s only for motion event recording. That is, only when there is a motion event, will the camera record to the SD card.

And some security cameras, like Reolink Argus 2, have an SD card slot, which allows you to have the option to put into your own Micro SD card for motion event recording.

Here is the video recording shared by Emilio De Pasquale, one of the customers.

Steps for Recording IP Cameras onto SD Card

Step 1. Make sure your IP camera supports an SD card and has an SD card inserted.
Step 2. Connect the security camera to the network.
Step 3. On the computer with the same network, run the surveillance camera software/app.
Step 4. After the software connect to the camera, start all the settings you want.
Step 5. Normally, recording IP camera to the SD card is a default setting. To 100% guarantee that, check if this option has been selected.

And even if the camera is offline, it can still record motion events to the SD card.

Option 3. 24/7 Recording Security Camera Footage Online on Laptop/PC Computer

The cheapest way to record a security camera to a recorder is to record the footage on a laptop or a desktop computer. Check your budget and if you find buying the NVR/DVR is beyond the budget, you can try the free surveillance camera software/app for recording the IP camera without DVR/NVR onto a Windows PC or Mac computer.

Recording a wired IP camera or a wireless security camera to a computer means recording the footage to the computer hard drive (and you can plug in a flash drive or a USB drive to record the security camera to it). The very important thing to get the security camera to record (without DVR/NVR) on laptop or desktop computer, is to keep the computer running all the time. See the detailed steps below.

Security Cameras and Security Systems

Your Best Security Camera or Security System Solutions; Plug and Play; 5MP/4MP Super HD; Smartphone Remote Access; Night Vision & Motion Detection

Steps for Recording a Security Camera to Laptop/Computer/Mac

Step 1. Connect the security camera to the network. See the problems and solutions to connect a wireless security camera to network.

Step 2. On the computer with the same network, run the surveillance camera software/app.

Step 3. After the software connect to the camera, navigate to the video recording settings.

Step 4. Set up the video recording, such as 24/7 recording and scheduled time recording.

Step 5. Select the recoding path where you want to save the footage.

Step 6. Keep the software and the computer running all the time. If you shut off the software or the computer, the recording will stop.

Editor’s Note: Since we’ve covered all in the post: 5 Methods to Connect Your IP Cam to PC, you may refer to it to see all the information.

Here is the night vision video recording shared by Chris, one of the customers of RLC-410.

Option 4. Recording Surveillance Cameras on an FTP Server Round-the-Clock

If you want to remotely record a security camera, you can try to set up the recording to an FTP server. Most security cameras are allowed to record footage to a remote FTP server, and that would be a cheap way to get the security camera to record all the time. If your FTP server is within the same network with the cameras, that would be better.

Recording the surveillance camera to an FTP server is similar with the recording on a computer. You need to set up the settings via the software/app on computer.

Security Cameras and Security Systems

Your Best Security Camera or Security System Solutions; Plug and Play; 5MP/4MP Super HD; Smartphone Remote Access; Night Vision & Motion Detection

Steps to Record Surveillance Cameras on an FTP Server Round-the-Clock

Step 1. Connect the security camera to the network.

Step 2. On the computer with the same network, run the surveillance camera software/app.

Step 3. After the software connect to the camera, navigate to the video recording settings.

Step 4. Set up the video recording, such as 24/7 recording or motion detection recording.

Step 5. Select the recoding path on the FTP server where you want to save the footage.

Step 6. Now you can close the software and the computer.

Do remember that you need to keep the FTP server running all the time during the recording.

Option 5. Recording a Security IP Camera to Cloud

The most expensive way to record a security camera all the time is to record the video to cloud. You may have some free storage/capacity in the cloud, but that’s far not enough. You have to pay for more cloud storage to save the footage and that would be a big money.

And good news is, Reolink is going to launch its cloud and you may get free capacity in the right time. And for more information about cloud storage, you may refer to: Top Things to Know About Free IP Camera Cloud Storage.

Steps to Record a Security Camera to Cloud

Step 1. Find a cloud storage service provider.

Step 2. Sign in to get an account.

Step 3. Select a plan according to your needs and budget.

Step 4. Contact the company for more details.

Step 5. Follow the guide offered by the company to record security camera video to cloud.

Normally, it only takes a few minutes to set up the settings for recording security cameras to the recorders, such as on to a NVR/DVR, an SD card, a computer, an FTP server or the cloud.

  • FongJeng Kum

    Can I ask if I can use REOLINK app on my phone to playback recordings from the FTP Server?

    • Hi FongJeng Kum. It’s available to playback recording from the SD card. Actually, it’s a thing of access. Reolink App can access the camera, so you can see live views and playback recordings from the camera’s SD card. However, till now, no apps in the world can access a computer or a FTP server without permission. Hope this is clear.

      • FongJeng Kum

        Thanks for such a quick reply and clear answer!
        I will get one of your RLC-410 unit very soon.

  • Anton Perez

    If I have the camera set to record AND also record on my computer, does it mean it’ll record twice (i.e. on the SD card and on my computer’s HDD)?

    • Hi Anton, if you have the camera set to record both onboard and on your computer, then the recorded videos will be saved to the SD card as well as the computer’s HDD. For your second question, it is recommended to keep both. Note that if you use your computer to record on motion detection, you need to login on the Reolink Client all the time. And in case of power failure or network fault, you may fail to record motion events to your computer.

  • Barb Cantrell-Chastain

    I just bought a Xmarto 4-camera WIFI surveillance system NVR, no hard drive, Question, can I just use a DVR recorder with hard drive or do I need a hard drive for nvr also ?

    • Hi Barb, you can either use a DVR recorder with hard drive or buy an external hard drive for your NVR.

  • Kenneth Nicklowicz

    I bought a bosch Video converter. I was going to setup nvr but was able to connect a usb drive diectly to it and configure it to record directly to the drive. 4 cameras and 0 network traffic! I then can use their video software to view live and recorded footage anywhere. Also love the analytics of being able to search motion etc! this is awesome way to take analog technology to the next level. Anyone wants a video I can do one as there wasnt much on this subject. THe converter cost 1,700 but I got it for about 100.00 on ebay!

    • Kenneth Nicklowicz

      I beleive it is referred to as decentralized recording

  • mle1111

    I have 4 RLC-410WS 4MP wi-fi cameras and want to purchase a compatible NVR to record 24/7. Which Reolink model would work best?

    • Yolanda

      Hi there, thank you for the big support of our products. Both the 8-channel NVR Reolink RLN8-410, /product/rln8-410/ and the 16-channel NVR Reolink RLN16-410, /product/rln16-410/ can be compatible with your cameras to record 24/7. And you may read this guide to learn how to add your Reolink IP cameras to an NVR: /faq/add-ip-camera-to-poe-nvr/. If you need any further assistance, please don’t hesitate to let us know.

  • anhthoai

    Free Backup Your IP Security Cameras to the Cloud
    That is very simple. Just buy any IP camera/NVR that supports FTP.
    Then sign up and you will get free 10GB FTP account.
    Now go to your account at cloudbox247 and authorize to your google drive account.
    Go to camera/NVR settings, put your ftp account there. Select upload trigger (Motion detection) for recording.
    Now all videos/images will be uploaded to google drive for free (15GB) or any storage you buy from Google

  • Yolanda

    Hi there, you’ll need a hard drive to record the footage, and actually most NVRs and DVRs for sale now come with a built-in HDD, like Reolink NVR systems, so you don’t need to shell out extra money to buy one. And yes, the NVR/DVR security systems can still record videos without WiFi access. As long as you power on the NVR/DVR and the cameras, they can connect to each other and allow you to do 24/7 recording.

  • rohit bhutani


    Two questions:
    1. In case of long continuous recording on both NVR and PC, the recording is saved as one single file or does it split every few mins or Mbs? Also I am assuming that the file can be saved as AVI file in both the cases (NVR and PC)
    2. In case there is a power failure for a few mins in between the continuous record (nvr and cameras both lose power), will the scheduled continuous recording resume on its own after power is back and will the recording be saved in the same file or will a new file be created?

    • Yolanda

      Hi Rohit, for continuous recording on both NVR and PC, the recordings will be split into different files every 1 hour (for NVR) OR every 5 minutes (for PC) by default. And you may adjust the recording file duration on your own.
      In case there is a power failure in between the continuous recording, the scheduled recording will resume on its own and the footage will be saved in a new file. Hope this will help.

      • rohit bhutani

        Thanks a lot for quick response. When you say the recording file duration can be adjusted, can I record a single file of lets say 4 hours at HD quality by changing the setting?

        • Yolanda

          Hi Robit, for continuous recording on PC, the maximum recording file duration is 60 minutes, just as the picture below shows.

          • rohit bhutani

            Thanks a lot Yolanda. All your answers were really helpful and clear. Just one last final confirmation: recording file duration wont affect the quality of the recording right? I can make a 60 mins recording file at full HD?

          • Yolanda

            Hi Robit, of course, the recording file duration won’t affect the quality of your footage. You can select the “Stream Type” (as showed above) of your recordings based on your own needs.

  • OJ

    I have two RLC-422 WiFi security cameras on my home network (no PoE connection, only WiFi). Is it possible to record videos on WiFi without video cable connection on NVR?

    • Yolanda

      Hi there, yes, you can use your WiFi router as a bridge to connect your WiFi IP cameras to your NVR wirelessly without running video cables. And please let us know if you have any more questions.

  • Paul Cameron

    I want to back up the files stored on NVR hard disk to the cloud. Is there anyway of accessing the NVR Hard disk and possibly set up Network Drive for the files on the NVR hard disk from a PC?

  • Yolanda

    Hi Margot, yes, you may also refer to the guide above to add Reolink RLC-410WS security cameras to the RLN8-410 NVR. And they won’t use your WiFi or slow it down unless you access the security cameras for remote viewing or the cameras send you alerts when motion is detected.

    For your second question, as long as your security camera is successfully connected to the NVR, the NVR will continue to record 24/7 nonstop. Please let me know if you have more questions.

  • Yolanda

    Hi Margot, to avoid possible misunderstandings, please let me explain more thoroughly: When you add your 410WS security cameras to the RLN8-410 NVR, a router is needed to connect the WiFi cameras and the PoE NVR. But once you finish the setup, the security camera system can start recording 24/7 and it won’t eat up your bandwidth or slow down the WiFi network unless you access the security cameras for remote viewing or the cameras send you alerts when motion is detected. Hope this would help.

  • Kent Thompson

    I have five 411S cameras along with the 8 channel NVR. I would like to set up FTP settings for each camera, but I have noticed that you can only set up FTP settings for the NVR and that applies to all cameras. But if the camera is not plugged into the NVR but rather on the same network, then the FTP settings can be adjusted separately for each camera. Is this correct or is there some way to set up the FTP settings for each camera separately when the camera is plugged into the NVR?

    • Yolanda

      Hi, Kent, please refer to this guide for the detailed steps about how to set up FTP settings via Reolink Client, /faq/set-up-ftp-in-reolink-client/. Hope this would help.

      • Kent Thompson

        My question is how to set up separate FTP settings for each individual camera that is plugged directly into the NVR ports. There does not appear to be a way to do this in the software. It seems like all Reolink software only allows one FTP configuration per “device” on the right menu, so the NVR is treated as one device, and each camera that is found on the network is treated as a device, but any camera plugged into the NVR is not treated as a separate device and just inherits the FTP settings of the NVR. What I would like is the ability to be able to select the camera from the drop-down box when editing the FTP settings for the NVR, in the same way you can select the camera when editing OSD, Mask, Recording Schedule, etc… Right now in order to overcome this limitation is that I have to use a separate POE router and cannot plug the cameras directly into the NVR. Then I can edit the FTP settings directly for the camera as it appears separately on the right menu.

        • Yolanda

          Hi, Kent, yes, this is actually the way the software works. But I will forward your advice to our R&D team. Thank you for your suggestions. 🙂

  • Yolanda

    Hi, there, thank you for reaching out.
    1. The recording duration of Reolink security camera system depends on multiple factors, such as the bitrate, your recording plan, number of cameras, etc. If you want longer recording time, you can add an external HDD to the NVR or set motion triggered recording/scheduled recording based on your needs.
    2. If you have ticked record audio in the camera settings and still get no audio, please make sure you have upgraded your security cameras and the NVR to the latest version. Hope this would help.

  • Adomas Brazdilis

    Is there any way I can access ALL files on SD card to copy them to pc (backup)?
    copying a bunch of small files by the date take a lot of time…
    and I want to have archive of all recordings.

  • Maiden Marissa

    How can i transfer the security footage from my nvr to a dvd? I dont want to store video on my computer. I would like to be able to burn a dvd once a week and keep them indefinitely. Or be able to burn the dvd in real time and change out the disk as it get full. Any suggestions for the easiest way to do this.

    • Olivia

      Hi, there, you may firstly connect your NVR to your PC. Then, with official or third-party Client, you can download the security camera footage from the NVR to your computer or to DVDs directly. Please also remember to backup CCTV footage regularly. Otherwise, when the storage space is full, the NVR will start loop recording and you may lose the previous footage. Hope this helps.

  • Yolanda

    Hi, Dom, Reolink Go is not designed for continuous recording in order to save the battery usage and cellular data consumption. But with a highly sensitive PIR sensor and intelligent alerts, Reolink Go will be able to keep you informed of any important motion events day and night.

  • Danielle

    If I hook up the Argus 2 camera system wirelessly, do these cameras record continuously & can I look at them live? We don’t want to run wires but want to look back at footage as well as view live.

    • Yolanda

      Hi, Danielle, Reolink Argus 2 is designed to record motion-triggered events rather than record continuously. But you are able to view live feed as well as play back the footage easily on your phone or computer.

  • Roland

    Hello. What happens if the motion sensor is triggered, And I am watching footage on my phone, but the camera is removed so I lose the SD card. Can that footage be saved? Thanks

    • Yolanda

      Hi, Roland, check if your camera is still connected to the APP on your phone first. If yes, you may click Playback to see all the motion detection videos and download them to your phone. To avoid data loss, we suggest you back up footage regularly to your computers or FTP servers. Hope this helps.

  • ken


  • Marky Mark

    I own the RLC-410W and am quite surprised to find that it will not record 24/7 to the installed sd card. Only records motion events!! This is not the norm, my other security camera’s record 24/7 to the sd card and this is unacceptable. This should be advertised in BOLD LETTERS for people searching for a camera!! Please get R&D on this stat.

  • Yolanda

    Hi, there, these PoE IP cameras can be your ideal options for recording to the FTP or to a PC. And you may follow the steps in the post for the setup. Please let me know if you have more questions.