DVR Security Systems!

DVR security systems & CCTV (closed circuit television) surveillance cameras have become a very popular purchase with residential consumers over the past several years.

This is mainly due to more affordable prices along with beneficial technical advancements in video, electronic & computer technology.

Over the past decade new technical innovations have really revolutionized how we view, capture & record surveillance video. It is due to today’s security DVR’s that analog equipment used with CCTV cameras like quads, multiplexers, time-lapse VCR’s & video-cassette tapes have basically become obsolete.

The “Stand Alone” & “PC-Based” DVR are the two different types of DVR security systems that are available in today’s market.

You can acquire either one these security DVR’s separately or they can be purchased with a select number of cameras as a complete video surveillance system.

If you are considering purchasing a video surveillance system & are not sure which of these security DVR’s is right for your needs, the following content should prove to be beneficial for you. 

The content below provides detailed information about these two systems & discusses the various differences that exists between them.

Many people who have a limited knowledge & experience with DVR security systems are asking: “Which is the better system the stand alone or the PC-based DVR”?

While there are many similarities in how both of these security DVR’s function & operate, there are also some very notable differences between them as well.

It is due to how significant these differences are, that a straight up comparison of which one is better is not an evaluation that can really be made.

With some major differences between both systems & the fact that PC-based DVR’s are generally retailed at a higher price, a more appropriate question would be: “Which DVR is the most suitable for my budget & security needs?”

The information on both DVR security systems below should provide you with the knowledge & insight you need to answer this important question.

Stand Alone & PC-Based DVR Security Systems!

Stand alone DVR’s are generally housed in small cases that are similar in size & shape to a VCR. Many of the physical components inside this DVR system are the same as you would find inside a personal computer, but they are much more condensed as they are manufactured on a signal circuit board.

These security DVR’s are run on Linux, UNIX or some other proprietary operating system. Its application software along with the DVR’s operating system are also embedded on an IC (integrated Circuit) chip as firmware or read only memory.

A PC-based system also known as a “computer” DVR is comprised of a “video capture card” that is inserted into the motherboard of a PC. The video cards application or surveillance software is also installed on the computer which runs on a windows operating system.


PC-based & stand alone DVR’s are specifically designed to work with CCTV cameras, as they convert the CCTV analog signal to a digital format so the captured video can be saved to the DVR’s digital hard-drive.

Having the analog signal converted to digital is also what allows the captured surveillance video to be streamed over the internet in real time.

Many people today view their surveillance video live from anywhere around the world using their smart phones, laptops, and tablets or visiting an internet café.

Security DVR’s can easily be setup to start recording at a designated time or you can have them record motion only.

To only record when something moves within the cameras FOV (field of view), is a very beneficial feature to have.

This feature can significantly reduce the amount of disk space your surveillance video will need to consume & allow you to view recorded events without sitting through long recordings where nothing occurs. You would also not have to worry about missing any recorded events fast forwarding through it.

Motion that is captured & recorded within a cameras field of view is actually detected by the DVR security systems application software & not the camera itself.

Without any activity the software receives a still image & once motion occurs it detects pixels in the image changing & immediately triggers the DVR’s hard-drive to start recording.

Application software on a security DVR can also be setup to alert you by phone, text message or email if motion is detected from any camera(s) of your choosing.

It would depend on the application software installed on each security DVR as to which of these communication methods could be used to send an alert when motion is detected.

Pros & Cons of Stand Alone DVR Security Systems!

If you are working with a limited budget, you will find stand alone DVR’s are generally much more affordably priced than PC-based systems.

Having the stand alone DVR’s software & system files embedded on an IC chip prevents them from being altered or changed & this makes it a more stable & reliable system to operate than a PC-based DVR.

This also makes this DVR security system far less susceptible to receiving malware or viruses that could corrupt its software & operating system.

With it being such an extremely stable system to operate, it would be much more user friendly system for anyone who has little to no experience working with PC’s.

With a stand alone DVR they would not be subjected to problems that are inherent to MS windows like system errors & various software & hardware compatibility issues.

Every stand alone system comes with some type of “TV Output” while there are many computer DVR’s that do not have this feature.

While the large majority of both stand alone & computer DVR security systems have a history of being extremely reliable, the stand alone DVR cannot be maintained or upgraded like a PC-based system.

With the components in a stand alone system fixed to a single circuit board, replacing or upgrading its internal parts would be very difficult or impossible to achieve.

If you choose to purchase a stand alone DVR, you really should consider acquiring one that supports more cameras than what you will currently need.

For Example: If you presently require a surveillance system with 4 CCTV cameras, you may want to acquire an 8 channel DVR, as this will provide you with the flexibility to add up to 4 additional cameras in the future if needed.

If you obtain a stand alone DVR that only supports the exact number of cameras you currently require, the only option you will have in the future to add an additional camera(s) is to purchase another DVR.

Pros & Cons of PC-Based DVR Security Systems!

PC-based DVR’s like the stand alone systems can be purchased separately or with a select number of interior and/or exterior cameras.

With a computer based system you also have the option of purchasing a video capture card, inserting it into an open slot on the motherboard of a PC & installing the application software that comes with it.

If you can achieve this by using an older PC that meets or exceeds the system requirements for a specific capture card & its software, you will end up with a PC-based DVR at a much lower cost.

Turning an older computer into a PC-based DVR security system is much better than using a newer one that is being used for other purposes. A PC-based DVR is far more stable system if it is used for video surveillance only.

After all a video surveillance systems main objective is to increase the overall security of your home & family & the last thing you would want is for it not to function at a time when it is needed most.

One of the biggest benefits of PC-based DVR’s is they are a very easy system to upgrade & maintain. These computer DVR’s are just like any PC where the end user can simply replace a failed component in the system.

Various upgrades can also be easily made like adding or increasing hard disk space and/or expanding the number of cameras the systems supports by installing an additional capture card(s).

IP (Internet Protocol) cameras can also be easily added to any PC-based DVR security system. The integration of PTZ (Pan, Tilt & Zoom) cameras is also easier & better with computer based DVR’s.

PC-based systems communication options are far more advanced then stand alone DVR’s. Many businesses, government facilities & financial institutions use computer DVR’s to network with other surveillance cameras & systems in other parts of the country & around the world.

Depending on one’s security needs some people will install video enhancement, editing, intelligent surveillance and/or other types of software on a PC-based DVR. Increasing one’s video surveillance capabilities by installing additional software is not an option with stand alone DVR security systems.


Prior to assessing which security DVR is right for your needs, you may want to establish how much more it will cost you for a PC-based video surveillance system compared to a stand alone system.

Any of the additional options, features & functions that can be acquired from a PC-based DVR are only beneficial if they provide what is needed for addressing your video surveillance & security needs.

If more benefit can be obtained from a PC-based DVR, you will want to access if the extra security value it provides is important enough to justify paying a higher price for the system.

Understanding FPS (Frames per Second) is Very Important!

Whichever DVR security system you acquire, it is important to ensure it can record & display your surveillance video at an adequate number of FPS.

Most security DVR’s record & display the video it captures at the same number of FPS. For example: Looking at the description of an 8 channel (cameras) DVR you may see it has a rating of 120 fps.

This basically means that with all 8 cameras connected to the DVR, each camera will be recorded & displayed at 15 fps (120 fps ÷ 8 cameras = 15 fps).

There are some security DVR’s that are capable of recording video at a lower number of FPS & display the video at a higher FPS rate.

The lower number of FPS video can be recorded, the less amount of hard disk space it will consume & the higher number of FPS it displays the more normal the video will appear.

30 fps is what is commonly referred to as real time. All programs & movies shown on American & Canadian TV’s are displayed & viewed at 30 fps.

While 7.5 fps is considered acceptable for seeing the hand movements of someone who is adding and/or removing money from a cash register, you may find this FPS rate too low for your video surveillance needs.

To view your surveillance video where it does not appear choppy & looks more normal, you may not want to acquire a DVR that displays the captured video lower than 12 fps.

I sincerely hope that this DVR security systems web page was able to provide you with some helpful & beneficial information. You may want to consider bookmarking this site as new & updated content is uploaded weakly.


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