Are you researching video storage options for your IP camera and unsure about the best option? You’re not alone — we get a lot of questions on when customers should opt for an NVR or DVR solution vs. cloud storage. There is also a lot of confusion on the difference between DVRs and NVRs. We’ll try to answer those questions in this post.

IP camera storage options really come down to three choices.

1 – Digital Video Recorder (DVR). Standalone hardware device that connects directly to analog cameras via coax cables.

2 – Network Video Recorder (NVR). Network attached storage device that connects to IP cameras over a (typically) local IP network.

3 – Cloud Storage. Remote storage for IP cameras that can access cameras over the internet.


These definitions shift around depending on who you speak with or what vendor is doing the talking but those are the main differences between the three. It’s also important to note that the latest solutions in all these technology categories offer more than just “dumb storage” – most of them all include some good video management software (VMS) features.

So when to use one over the other? Here’s a quick Q&A that will help answer that for you.

  • Do you have multiple physical sites/networks? In this case cloud storage is probably the best option. An example would be a small business with 5 different retail outlets, each with 2-3 cameras. Do you really need to purchase a hardware device (either NVR or DVR) for each location with all the associated cost and management/setup overhead? Better solution would be to connect all the cameras to the cloud directly and bypass the need for any intermediate hardware.
  • Can you physically secure your network device properly? This is a key question. If you have a spot to secure your DVR or NVR, then that could be the best option for you. If not, consider cloud storage options.
  • What kind of wiring options exist from your desired camera location to either a router or DVR? This is a commonly overlooked consideration. If you have existing LAN drops (or good wireless) then going with an analog system probably doesn’t make sense. Probably best to jump directly to a full IP based system, either an NVR or cloud (or some combination). Conversely if you have legacy coax wires already run through the premises, then get yourself a snappy new DVR system.

Those are the common considerations we hear for non-power users of these solutions. Once you go really deep into this technology there are a lot of different features/functions to consider but this should help short-list your research.

Here’s a quick table that summarizes the options, along with some popular vendors to consider (full disclosure: this is the Camcloud blog so we’re obviously including ourselves in the available cloud storage options).