What Are DVR Security Systems and How Do They Work?

With a property crime happening every 3.7 seconds, you need no more reasons to provide your home, office or any other property with maximum protection. Being the best deterrents to theft, security camera technology has grown by leaps and bounds, creating products that can meet virtually any surveillance needs.

Before it comes to selecting the actual security cameras and systems you want to install in your home, the first decision you have to make is whether to use DVR systems or NVR/IP camera systems. While an NVR system seems more “modern”, there is no saying that it is better than DVR system. The choice that you make is limited only to your needs and preferences.

This guide is dedicated to DVR systems and takes you step by step through what they are and how they work to give you an overview of what you will be getting into when you purchase them. It goes further to help you make the purchase decision by reviewing three of the best DVR security systems available in the market.

Top three best DVR security systems

Our Top Pick

Amcrest 960H Video Security System

Amcrest 960H Video Security System
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As our number one best DVR security system, the Amcrest 960H had a couple of features that took our breath away.

First and most importantly, the number of positive review on most, if not all, reviewing sites proves that this unit is as practical as advertised. It has shown to be secure and reliable, great for most surveillance needs.

Secondly, the Amcrest 960H is perfect for night and day surveillance. Being a combination of 4 high-resolution 800+TVL security cameras fitted with 3.6mm lenses, it is capable of recording very clear footage. Apart from that, its 75-degree field of view is supported with 24 infrared LED lights, giving you unparalleled clarity at night. So clear is the footage, that you can identify small details up to a distance of 65 feet.

Third, the pre-installed hard drive on the unit measures 3TB, allowing you up to a whopping 6 days of continuous recording. If you know you will be away from home for a while, you can set it to record on slightly lower resolutions, which can run up to 30 days. Similar to the two option discussed above, this also allows you to access the feed remotely via an accompanying app.

What makes this such a darling is its excellent motion detection and alerts. The Amcrest 960H allows you to plan for your security alarm system every day of the week, and tune the motion sensor as per your requirements to prevent false alerts. When the sensors are tripped it can send you an email and start recording.

Its software has a very simple and user-friendly interface, earning the Amcrest 960H the number one position.


  • Very easy to install
  • Affordable
  • High-quality images and footage
  • Sturdy and waterproof
  • Amazing night vision
  • Can record for very long hours


  • The hard drive may be excessively big
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Our Second Pick

ZOSI 4PCS Megapixel 720P Wireless Outdoor IP Camera System

ZOSI 4PCS Megapixel 720P Wireless Outdoor IP Camera System
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If you are looking for a versatile option in DVR security camera systems, then look no further. The ZOSI 4PCS is perfect for parents, business owners, homeowners, and people looking to care for elderly parents and/or relatives.

There are a number of available packages, some supporting up to eight cameras. All of them come with a built-in 1TB storage hard drive to store as much footage as possible. The cameras record footage at a resolution of 720p and will need to be plugged into 120 volts of AC power.

Just like the Amcrest discussed above, the ZOSI 4PCS allows you to monitor remotely soon as you give it network ability. You can do this using an Ethernet wire running to the router. When everything is plugged in, the cameras automatically sync with the DVR. The unit also has a built-in Wi-Fi high performance and high stability module and can connect automatically between NVR and IPC.

With a night-vision magnification range of about 30 meters, IR LEDs, 4mm lenses and IR-CUT function, the ZOSI 4PCS delivers almost total visibility during day and night time. To further enhance the performance of the camera, the system is packed with a 1.0MP ¼” progressive scan sensor.

Even though it comes as a complete package, it is priced affordably so you won’t have to break your bank for it.


  • Excellent value for the price.
  • Practical
  • Relatively easy to install
  • Amazing resolution even during night time.
  • Backed by a number of satisfied customers.


  • The instructions are not very easy to understand so figuring it out may be difficult.
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Our Third Pick

Amcrest HD 1080P-Lite / 720P 8CH Video Security System

Amcrest HD 1080P-Lite : 720P 8CH Video Security System
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This sleek looking weatherproof camera from Amcrest produces good HD quality pictures in bright, and low-lit conditions. For a DVR system, it is exceptionally simple to install.

Initially, DVR systems relied only on the DVR device hooked to a screen to watch the footage. Latest models take an entirely different road, and some come featuring IP capabilities. An example is the Amcrest which went beyond internal UI, creating a simple-to-use smartphone interface. With this, you can view the footage stored in your DVR device when you are at home or access it via your smartphone remotely.

Using its HD Over Analog (HDCVI), Amcrest produces high-resolution images, such that you won’t have to struggle to identify some crucial details on your footage. This footage can be accessed remotely in real-time with neither gaps nor lags.

With 3.6mm lenses and a 75-degree field of view, you are assured that you won’t miss a thing. Its LEDs have a high IR-rating so you are certain you won’t miss a thing even when the lights are poor. The app that accompanies the DVR system is simple to install, requiring you to only scan the QR code on the packaging. You can use it to zoom, pan, tilt, playback footage, and switch between capturing screenshots and streams.


  • Provides HD images in real-time
  • Infrared mode activates automatically in low lighting conditions
  • Customizable motion sensors.
  • The cameras have an excellent build.


  • Footage recorded in low light conditions may be blurry.
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What are DVR security systems?

The performance of a DVR security system is similar to that of a video encoder that works solely with analog security cameras. Unlike IP cameras which process the footage in the camera, a DVR system receives an analog video signal from the cameras, and compresses it with H.264 standard, then records it to a hard disk drive. The cameras are connected to the DVR using coaxial cables.

The number of surveillance cameras that you need to install is dependent on the dimension and the range of the area that you want to monitor as well as its layout. Though affordable compared to IP cameras, they are capable of recording similar-quality video.

How do they work?

A DVR security system consists of a collection of security cameras that are connected to a computer or a DVR device. With the aid of the DVR card installed within the system, the signals captured from the security cameras are digitally stored on a hard drive. This allows the system to run for months without ever needing maintenance so if you plan on being away from home for long periods of time, a DVR system may be just what you need.

Unless set to overwrite the previous footage, when the capacity limit of the hard drive has been reached, the DVR alerts you via beeping. The quantity of documentation is determined by the number of cameras and the set frames per second, besides the hard drive capacity.

Unlike the traditional method of surveillance, DVR systems give you an easy way to retrieve data. Gone are the days when you needed to scan for long hours, looking for a particular frame. Since the videos recorded via a DVR system are stamped or labeled to specify the exact date and time, you can easily retrieve specific data from a mountain of footage.

Some DVR security systems come with the ability to detect stamping events and motion. This eliminates the need to have personnel constantly monitoring the footage, making them very efficient. Some even feature built-in audio, while others need an additional kit to record sound. 

If you feel that your VCR system is outdated, you can upgrade to DVR by only purchasing a DVR device, and plugging in the already existing CCTV camera system.


If you were for the notion that NVR security systems are better than DVR systems, you can see from the above options that they are just as good. Advancement in technology has bridged the gap between the two and changed the closed circuit security industry with all the remote access possibilities. Depending on your security needs, you can go for either an NVR or a DVR security system, and still get the same value. 

The below video explains quite well the differences between a DVR and an NVR. You can watch it directly on YouTube here.

9 thoughts on “What Are DVR Security Systems and How Do They Work?

  1. Victor Lee

    We use a DVR security system in our stockrooms and warehouses. When we received a report of pilfering, we were able to view the footage quickly because of the timestamp. Companies should invest in DVR systems not only for the protection of the business but of employees as well. The quality of DVRs are miles away from the traditional ones. We’ve only upgraded last year and we are seeing the great benefits.

  2. James Schisler

    DVR security systems are way ahead of traditional security systems. time stamping and the ability to manipulate frames to one’s desire makes it a better choice, But the latest innovation is on NVR. Network-based video recorder. You should make an article on it. Thanks!

  3. Richard F.

    Thank for this. I had someone trying to explain it to me who works with the company I have a security system with. I could not for the life of me understand what he was saying. Like I got the gist of it but it felt like I was missing something. Now that I know EXACTLY how DVR security systems work, I feel like this is worth the investment for me.

  4. Katy

    I really like how these work. I didn’t even consider this an option until just reading your post. I have been looking around on your site for a few days trying to decide on the best means of security for my home and I think a DVR system will be fantastic! I may not live in a bad area but that don’t mean robberies and break ins don’t happen.

  5. Barbra Smith

    So these are like DVR recording devices you use with your cable then? This reminds me of a more compact version of the things they use in stores. They ave to reply on video tapes though which is outdated and annoying. These don’t need tapes or anything huh?

  6. Aurthur

    DVR systems seem to be the trend going in to the future so I have been reading up on them. They sound fantastic to me! I am planning on getting a system with in the next month or so since I will be out of town a lot over the summer. I want to make every thing stays safe and just being able to see what is going on when I am gone will help.

  7. John T.

    I had no idea they were this easy to use. Thank you very much author! I am going to look over the rest of your site and get some recommendations. I was under the impression that DVR systems were incredibility hard to work and unreliable. Must have been security companies not wanting people to take care of themselves!

  8. Jake Davis

    DVR Security is FANTASTIC! As a garage owner, I always have people in and out of here. I wanted to update our security so people can feel safe leaving their cars here. We even have a TV that shows what we see in the waiting area so people know we are not ripping them off. I am able to allow my customers to feel better and I am able to save all the footage in case something ever did go wrong.

  9. Abe

    Thank you for this information. I am new to the world of security cameras. I always relied on my guns and my dogs for safety but now and myself and the misses are older now, we would like something more reliable. This helped a lot. I can at least say I know what DVR systems do and I may just consider one myself.

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