Video recorders are surveillance devices that are used for security purposes. In the past, these devices were mostly used in shops to keep an eye on customers and employees. But today they are commonly used as a security feature for business and residential purposes. There are two types of surveillance recorders Network Video Recorder (NVR) and Digital Video Recorder (DVR). Both have their own unique features and which one is suitable for your need depends on many factors. Here’s an analysis of NVR vs DVR to help you make the right choice.

NVR (Network Video Recorder)

NVRs are used for security surveillance to record video over the network. As compared to DVR (Digital Video Recorder); NVRs offer flexibility and ease of installation. They offer high-quality recording with and without audio and requires lesser wires to complete the installation. However; they come at a higher price than DVR.

What do you need to install an NVR with analog cameras?

IP Cameras (as many as you want):

These cameras are different from analog cameras (used in DVRs) in the way that; IP camera records the video within the camera itself and then streams it to a device like a mobile phone or uploads it to physical storage connected over the internet like a NAS server or cloud. They offer much better recording quality than analog cameras but they come at a higher price than analog cameras. 


With IP cameras; the user can access these cameras from anywhere in the world. If we want to record the video than NVR can be a NAS server or a cloud.  But if you want to monitor only; then most of the IP cameras come with a mobile app where we can access and manage these cameras.

Ethernet cable: 


This cable is required for connecting the cameras to the internet.  The same cable can provide power to the cameras using Power over Ethernet (PoE) protocol.  

What costs are involved in NVR?

IP Cameras costs usually start from $70 and above and depending on the number of cameras needed, you can multiply the total cost of cameras. 

NAS server can be a small CPU size box, (if for regular home use) or it can come in different shapes and sizes depending on the purpose and requirement.  Home servers are usually quieter than the commercial servers because of the cooling fans running 24×7.  The minimum cost of a home-based NAS server can anywhere from $400 and up.

NAS server disks are different from our everyday laptop or desktop disks because these are made for regular and continuous use supporting the 24×7 operation. Depending upon the disk capacity, manufacturer, and type, it costs at least $100 per disk.  You may need more than one disk to run a NAS server to cover the risk of disk failure supporting RAID (“Redundant Array of Inexpensive Disks” or “Redundant Array of Independent Disks”).  

Installation costs can be there if you not doing it yourself.  Depending on the number of cameras, it can take anywhere from 1 hour to multiple hours to get the installation complete which can be factored with hourly charges based on your country. 

DVR (Digital Video Recorder)

DVRs are used for security surveillance to record video using analog cameras and audio to digital encoders (AD encoder). As compared to NVRs (Network Video Recorders); DVRs need more wires to complete the installation. They are usually cost-effective than NVRs but the quality of the recording is lesser than the NVRs and usually, the audio component is difficult to record or need additional RCA cables. Installation is also difficult because of the need for coaxial cables which are required to connect cameras with the DVR.

What do you need to install a DVR with analog cameras?

  • One DVR with hard drives of desirable capacity. You will need more storage if you have multiple cameras
  • Analog Cameras (as many as you want)
  • Coaxial Cable which you generally see as the cable for internet
  • Power source with a splitter depending on the number of cameras you are going to use
Coaxial Cable
Power Splitter


nvr vs dvr

Now, what the difference and which one to choose. Well, this choice depends on various factors including cost, time, space, and operational requirements. For some NVR may serve the purpose while for others, DVR comes out as the best option.

Let’s compare some key differentiating factors which may you choose one over another. Overall, we will be talking about cameras, connectivity, power source, installation, and costs involved.

NVR (Network Video Recorder)

  1. Expensive because of IP Cameras and storage solutions over the internet. An IP camera can connect to the internet via ethernet cable or by using wifi.
  2. Very easy to install if connecting via wifi. With ethernet cable, its a little more work as you will need an ethernet cable to be plugged into the router or other networking device having the ethernet port. But it is still way less difficult than running DVR coaxial cable.
  3. IP camera network connectivity is done by ethernet cable or by wifi depending on which model you choose.
  4. No separate power source required as an ethernet cable may also serve as a power source. Ethernet cables can be an “active” (deliver power only when the device needs it) or “passive” (deliver continuous power) and not all ethernet cables deliver power. But IP cameras can also run by using separate power adapters. The later is not desirable because of the limited length to which these adapters can be extended without compromising the power supply. But if you are using IP camera over wifi then power adapters play an important role as there is no ethernet cable involved.
  5. High-quality video recording which does not deteriorate over long distances.
  6. Audio recording using the same ethernet cable.
  7. Ethernet cables can be extended to any length using internet extenders without compromising the audio/video quality. Ethernet cables are available up to 330 feet in length and you can extend those by joining multiple cables.

You can see one ethernet cable serves multiple functions when using NVR. This not only makes the installation easy but also reduces the time to install the NVR. But for sure all this comes at a price. Even easier, you can install the camera with wifi if you have an available power source near to all cameras. This further reduces the installation steps making it a super easy and do it yourself job.

DVR (Digital Video Recorder)

  1. Cost-effective because analog cameras come at a lower price from IP cameras
  2. Difficult to install because of thick and long wires. You can imagine running coaxial cables over a long distance and twisting
  3. Analog camera connectivity is done using a coaxial cable
  4. Separate power source or splitters are required because each camera need its own power supply and power cord
  5. Low-quality video recording
  6. Audio may not possible and if possible; then we will need separate RCA cables. RCA stands for Radio Corporation of America who actually designed these cables. You might have seen these cables while connecting DVD/CD players to TV or speakers. For audio-only, this comes in a pair of two cables, right and white where right is for the right speaker and white for left. They also come bundled with a video cable (blue) in case RCA is for audio and video.
  7. DVR and camera can be placed at a limited length after which video quality drops significantly 

When to use NVR:

  • When cost is not a concern for you
  • You need better quality audio and video
  • You want to avoid the messy network of wires. Remember you only need the ethernet cable to run the IP camera
  • You do not want to run long cables or dig holes in the wall to pass the cables to the other end
  • You want easy assembly and disassembly because you have only the camera and the ethernet cable to install and uninstall.
  • You want to remotely operate the cameras and store the data at a different place than the cameras. This provides you additional security where if the cameras are stolen, you still have your data.
  • You want to do it yourself (DIY). You may however some basic skills to screw in the cameras and some tools like screwdrivers, ladder, gloves, wire clamps to hold the ethernet cable with an understanding of operating the NVR with or without NAS server.
  • You need data to be transferred over a bigger distance like you want to monitor your office from your home or you want to monitor your home in Canada while visiting the USA.

When to use a DVR:

  • When cost is a concern for you
  • You are not concerned about the quality of video and/or you do not need audio
  • You do not need data transferred over to long distances
  • You have space to run the thick wires
  • You either want to do it yourself or do not mind having a technician install the devices for you.  It may cost you additional for installation
  • You do not want to access data remotely. There are some options using which you can access the data remotely as well but the usually DVRs data access is local only


For someone who only wants to stream it to a mobile phone or any gadget without requiring it to store the data, IP cameras may be a cost-effective solution. This is because with DVRs the user has to buy the DVR plus the analog cameras but in this case, the user only needs IP cameras which are way easier to install as compared to a DVR.