Best CCTV DVR Hard Drives of 2019 (User Reviews)

Securely store your surveillance footage with the best hard drives on the market today.

A security camera is always a good investment until you realise you have no evidence to prove that a burglar tried to break into your house, yet you saw the entire action on camera.

Modern CCTV cameras have improved features which enable you to stream what they capture live through your phone. The video quality is unbelievably clear but no one tells you about storage. CCTV cameras capture everything within their field of view but they do not record unless they’re connected to a security camera recorder fitted with a hard drive. Most cameras will have a micro SD card but their capacity to store footage may be limited. With need a reliable and powerful tool to record footage seamlessly.

best cctv dvr hard drive

What is a CCTV hard drive?

A hard drive is a digital data storage device whose capacity to store data is measured in terms of gigabytes and terabytes. If you’re familiar with popular technological devices, you may have heard of this term when purchasing a desktop computer or a laptop. However, a CCTV surveillance hard disk drive (HDD) is not the type you use in a computer. CCTV hard drives are built to receive and store data 24/7, unlike computer hard disks which are structured to work for limited hours in a day.

Why you need a CCTV hard drive?

Whether you need a hard drive for your security camera(s) or not depends on why you purchased the camera in the first place. If you want a front door camera to see guests as they arrive, or a pet camera to monitor and interact with your pet while away, you don’t need to store footage. However, if your camera is supposed to keep a watchful eye on your property while you’re busy or asleep, then you definitely need extra storage.

A hard drive allows you to revisit footage stored weeks earlier, replay it and delete it to free up space (at least if nothing interesting has been captured). It can be a crucial asset if something out of the ordinary happens. For instance, if a crime takes place within the camera’s field of view, stored footage may be the only way to catch the culprits and close the case.

What affects a CCTV hard drive's performance?

The most important feature in a hard drive is the storage capacity. A 500 GB hard drive has less storage than a 1 terabyte (TB) hard drive. This means you’re likely to store more footage in the 1 TB hard drive. However, your camera’s features and your security camera recorder also affect the drive’s performance.

Factors to consider when choosing a hard drive

Reliability

Security cameras have a cheeky way of failing when you desperately need them to work. Similarly, a hard drive can fail to store the most vital evidence simply because you chose an unreliable brand. Unreliable CCTV hard drives can crash for no reason, thus losing your footage in the process. When buying a hard drive, go for brands with good reputations. Reviews can help you determine which brands to consider and the ones to stay away from.

Storage Capacities

Depending on how often you review and playback your footage, you will need a hard drive that can store data for long hours without sending the “memory full” signal. If you want to review your footage every day, you may settle for hard drives with less than 500 GB. However, if you want to go for a week or two without going through the recorded videos, invest in drives with high storage capacity. For home-based security cameras, 500GB is enough. It’s also important to consider your schedule and the nature of your profession. If you often travel for weeks or months, you may need 1TB or more so that your recorder can store more footage for longer periods of time while you're away.

Recording in HD/4k

Modern cameras do not just record in standard HD (1080p) quality. Advanced cameras will give you videos whose clarity is almost similar to that of a modern TV, Unfortunately, there is a price to pay for such clarity. As mentioned above, the higher the resolution the more storage space you need. 4k quality videos, for instance, offer double the resolution of HD (1080p) quality. This means that your storage needs will double if you invest in an extremely high-resolution camera. Check your camera's specifications to determine the quality of videos you're dealing with and invest purchase a CCTV hard drive according to those specifications.

Compatibility

To use a surveillance hard drive, you need to install it in a Digital Video Recorder (DVR) system. It’s just like installing a hard drive to your CPU and viewing the footage through the monitor. Your DVR needs to be compatible with your cameras and the hard drive you purchase should be compatible with your DVR. If a CCTV hard drive is not compatible with your DVR, you might see common error messages such as “hard drive not recognized” or “hard drive not found” The most basic compatibility test is the generation of your cameras. An analogue camera or DVR will definitely not store data in a new generation hard drive. Another important consideration is your camera's brand. Each brand uses specific technology to manufacture their cameras or DVRs. If possible, purchase a DVR system from the same brand as your camera. You may also seek the input of an expert in matching up the devices to avoid costly mistakes.

Cloud storage

Capturing footage all day every day is a waste of time if you cannot access it at all times. Today, homeowners are busy but that doesn't mean they should wait until Christmas to review their security camera footage. With cloud storage, you can access stored footage from anywhere at any time using your devices (phone, tablet or laptop). Modern generation DVRs can transmit stored data to cloud servers through Wi-Fi or cellular networks.

Cloud storage is a reliable backup for your footage compared to storing all your data on the Hard Disk which is prone to damage or getting lost. Luckily, there are numerous brands offering cloud storage services. It's important to look into available plans and the requirements for subscribing to such services before purchasing a DVR system and a hard drive. Your hard drive's storage capacity can easily affect the quality of videos sent to the cloud servers. A high capacity drive, for instance, will be able to store a lot of high-quality footage for a longer period of time before the DVR sends it to the cloud servers. However, the quality received by the cloud servers may be compromised given that the servers will be receiving a lot of footage at the same time. A smaller capacity hard drive would, therefore, be suitable if you're working with a reliable cloud storage company.

Multi-channel DVR

If you want to record footage from more than one camera, you will need a multi-channel DVR. A multi-channel DVR system can record footage from several cameras at the same time. The data will then be stored to one disk. If you're dealing with multiple cameras, you need to purchase a DRV system suited for the number of cameras in your premise. For instance, the best CCTV DVR when you're dealing with 8 cameras is an 8-channel DRV system. Bear in mind that such a DVR system demands more storage space and you may need to invest in CCTV hard drives with higher storage capacity.

Conclusively, security cameras are not complete without proper recording devices. It's however important to assess your needs and the available options before rushing to buy recording tools. It's almost a mathematical affair. You need to understand the relationship between your camera's resolution, the number of camera's you're operating, your schedule and most importantly, why you bought the cameras. If all this seems too complex, engage an expert or shoot your questions in the comment section.

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