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DVR vs. NVR: Understanding Your Surveillance System Options

So, you want to protect your home from package theft, vandalism, and burglary while also keeping your kids and pets away from your table saw and unfinished woodworking project?

If you don’t have room in your budget for a home security system, a simple CCTV surveillance system could be just what you need.

With a CCTV system, you can set up connected cameras inside and outside your home to watch over your back door, garage, and front porch without losing sight of your basement.

Most CCTV systems use either a DVR or an NVR. But what’s the difference between them, and which system is right for you? We’ll help break it down.

Our top picks

DVRNVR
Product nameAmcrest ProHD 8-Channel DVR (AMDV10818)Amcrest 8-Channel POE NVR (NV2108E)
Product image
PriceView on AmazonView on Amazon
ReviewRead reviewRead review
Product name
Product image
Price
Review
DVRNVR
Amcrest ProHD 8-Channel DVR (AMDV10818)Amcrest 8-Channel POE NVR (NV2108E)
View on AmazonView on Amazon
Read reviewRead review

What is the difference between a DVR and an NVR?

DVRs and NVRs connect to multiple cameras and let you view and store the video files in one convenient place. For the most part, DVRs and NVRs serve the same purpose, but there are a few key differences, so it’s important to make sure you choose the recorder that meets your needs.

DVR: Lower price, less flexibility

DVR stands for digital video recorder; DVRs work with analog cameras (as in cameras that must connect directly to the DVR through cables). Because DVRs use wired cameras, the signal is more reliable, but the setup is harder and you don’t have as many options when you’re deciding where to put the cameras.

NVR: Easier camera setup, higher price

NVR stands for network video recorder; NVRs work with IP (internet protocol) cameras, which means the cameras can connect wirelessly. A big advantage of NVRs is that you get more flexibility when choosing where to place cameras. However, since the cameras are wireless, the signal is less reliable than it would be with a wired camera and DVR.

Type of systemDVRNVR
Camera compatibilityWired analog camerasWireless IP cameras
SetupComplicatedSimple
BudgetLess expensiveMore expensive
Signal reliabilityMore stableLess stable
Camera placement optionsLimitedFlexible
Type of system
Camera compatibility
Setup
Budget
Signal reliability
Camera placement options
DVRNVR
Wired analog camerasWireless IP cameras
ComplicatedSimple
Less expensiveMore expensive
More stableLess stable
LimitedFlexible

DVR vs NVR: Which is better?

In most cases, we recommend buying an NVR because they’re compatible with modern, high-quality cameras. Plus, since NVRs work with wireless IP cameras, you can set up your system where you need it instead of being limited to places that can be reached with a cable.

However, if you’re on a tighter budget or you’re worried about a signal going out, a DVR is a solid alternative.

A few companies also sell HVRs (hybrid video recorders) that work with both analog cameras and IP cameras. However, most of those systems are marketed toward larger businesses, and their high cost makes them an impractical choice for basic home security.

Our top recommendations

The whole point of buying a DVR or an NVR is to see the feed from your cameras—so you’ll also want high-quality security cameras.

That’s why we recommend Amcrest video recorders.

Amcrest offers a huge selection of affordable, capable cameras that can be used both inside and outside your home. That makes it easy to find cameras that work for you whether you need something with night vision to protect your front door or something with two-way audio so you can communicate with your kids if you see them getting into an area of the house that is supposed to be off-limits.

Amcrest ProHD Eight-Channel DVR (AMDV10818)

DVR vs NVR*If Amcrest ProHD Eight-Channel DVR (AMDV10818) is out of stock on Amazon, try Amcrest 1080P-Lite 8CH HD Video Security DVR as a substitution.

Standout features

  • Compatibility with up to 8 cameras
  • Remote viewing access
  • Local storage (hard drive must be purchased separately)
  • Cloud storage and FTP storage
  • Affordable price

NVR: Amcrest 8-Channel POE NVR (NV2108E)

DVR vs NVR

Standout features

  • Compatibility with up to 8 cameras
  • Some compatibility with third-party cameras
  • Remote viewing access
  • Local storage (hard drive must be purchased separately)
  • Cloud storage and FTP storage
  • Easy setup

While these Amcrest video recorders are our top picks, they aren’t your only options. If Amcrest doesn’t have a system that suits your specific needs, we suggest checking out Swann or Night Owl.

Choosing your system

Both DVRs and NVRs can help you protect your home and your loved ones—choosing the right system really comes down to your specific preferences.

Reasons to go with a DVR

  • You have a limited budget
  • You want a constant, reliable signal
  • You don’t mind spending extra time getting set up
  • You need flexibility when it comes to camera placement

Reasons to go with an NVR

  • You want a system that is compatible with newer, higher-definition cameras
  • You don’t want to spend much time setting up your system
  • You want to be able to place cameras around your house without using coaxial cables
  • You don’t mind the fact that your signal strength depends on an internet connection

Either option will give your home added protection; it just comes down to finding the option that is best for you.

Do you have a DVR or NVR security camera system at your home? We’d love to hear from you. Share your experiences and your advice in the comments below.

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