Cloud Surveillance or On-Premises NVR?

Investing in cloud surveillance or an on-premises NVR is a great way to secure your business assets. But, how your security feed is recorded and later stored will differ depending on your system. Choosing the setup that makes the most sense for your business is all that matters. So, let’s discuss the differences between traditional on-premises NVRs and newer cloud surveillance options. 

Breaking Down NVRs

An NVR, or “network video recorder,” is a physical device that records and stores video footage on a hard disk or mass storage device. NVR camera systems can have just a few cameras or encompass thousands on the same network. The key to understanding this kind of system is recognizing how its three parts– cameras, NVRs, and network connection– work together. 

First, NVRs normally use IP security cameras. IP cameras are able to receive and send video footage over an IP network – the same type of network that runs your business operations. These cameras can connect to your NVR using either hardwired connection, such as an ethernet cable, or wireless connection. Most cameras also have the capability to use local storage, such as an SD card, similar to those found in a digital camera. This allows for video images to be retained even if the connection to the NVR is disrupted.

So in essence, the entire footage storage process begins once any video is recorded. Afterward, the IP camera  converts the recording into a digital file and transmits it to the NVR via the local IP network. 

After the NVR receives the audio and visual data from your security camera, it is stored for future review. The number of days of image storage time depends on the quality of your images and the amount of storage space. A minimum of 30 days retained storage is typical and best practice is determined by the type of risk you are protecting. It is not uncommon to retain 90 days of video. Additional storage can usually be added with larger hard drives, and archiving critical events increases available storage space.  If your NVR system has been enabled for remote access, you can view the recordings from any location using secure mobile apps or software. This convenient option can come in handy when you are away from the office. 

But, like any system, there are upsides and downsides to using NVRs. Some positives include better image quality, greater system flexibility, the ability to record both visual and audio and adding speakers for voice-down alerting. Additionally, NVR systems can operate either wired or wireless– allowing you to customize your system based on your business needs.   

 A dedicated NVR appliance is generally more costly than other surveillance systems that run on a shared server or PC. And in order to view cameras remotely, the system will require a strong internet connection. This can create security concerns for remote viewing during unpredictable internet connection breaks, but the footage will still be recorded locally.  

Cloud Surveillance

Cloud surveillance has grown in popularity over the past decade as the use of smartphones and mobile applications has become mainstream. This kind of system stores video recordings on the internet in a completely remote manner. 

This process begins once a cloud-based security camera records any footage. Once recorded, the footage is converted to a digital file and transmitted to a “storage host” online. Your video surveillance storage host technically has unlimited storage capacity.  This is nice, but it comes at a price– the more you store, the more you are charged. This “host” is normally a web landing page that requires an authorized user to sign in with unique login credentials. After you are properly logged in, you can access any recorded videos and even control your security cameras from any remote location. 

But, just like NVRs, cloud surveillance systems do not come without their pros and cons. Cloud systems have gained traction due to their easy set up. The systems are also praised for their easy accessibility, the ability to remotely adjust cameras, and that you do not need a physical NVR. The availability of unlimited storage also allows a business to retain large amounts of video footage at an incremental cost.

Nonetheless, these systems can slow down your business’ internet connection speed and often can benefit from a separate Internet circuit. Cloud systems also typically require ongoing licensing fees which, over time, can make these systems more expensive than a purchased NVR system

And, perhaps more alarmingly, cloud surveillance systems can be more susceptible to data hacks since hackers do not need to be on a local network in order to infiltrate your system. In 2021, a group of hackers claimed to have breached a massive inventory of security-camera data collected by Silicon Valley startup Verkada Inc. The hackers gained access to live feeds of 150,000 surveillance cameras inside hospitals, companies, police departments, prisons and schools, including carmaker Tesla Inc. You also run the risk of losing recordings if the cameras do not have local storage when your internet connection is down. To learn more about different hacking methods, you can visit our blog published earlier this month entitled Are Your Security Cameras At Risk Of Hacking?

The Key Differences

NVRs and cloud surveillance systems are both viable options for storing your business’ security footage. But, they vary in accessibility, convenience, price, and needed cybersecurity measures. 

First, since NVRs are physical systems, they will require on-site set up. Additionally, you never want your NVR to be tampered with or stolen in a theft,  so the system should be kept in a locked cabinet or secured area at all times. In many cases, your video security system can operate over your existing IP network to save installation and maintenance costs.

Second, if your business spans multiple sites, utilizing NVR systems may lower convenience since each site will need its own NVR. However, each site having its own NVR allows for you to pull data as needed to a central monitoring station and you can access each local NVR from another NVR if configured to do so. 

On the other hand, cloud surveillance systems only need an internet connection to function– allowing for reduced local hardware equipment, relatively easy set-up and the ability to remotely control your system from nearly any device, such as smartphones, tablets, and computers. If the ongoing licensing fees are within your budget, this may be the solution for you.

In either case,  you will have to implement strong cybersecurity safeguards to ensure no unwanted parties can access your system remotely. This should include a secure network connection, encrypted data, malware and firewalls, consistently updated software, and a commitment to password best practices. 

Finding What Works Best For You

Your business’ operations, budget, and security needs will ultimately dictate what kind of surveillance system is optimal for you. After identifying your key goals for establishing a security network, you can always contact a trusted security partner for further guidance. 

RESOLUTE Partners offers Commercial Surveillance Systems, Live Video Monitoring Services, and video security solutions for commercial and government enterprises. Contact Us to learn more.


  1. […] storage option is not immune to failure. In fact, arguably nothing is worse than an incidence of NVR failure, which can result in the loss of all video and image data across your network and lead to […]

  2. […] an NVR– also known as a “network video recorder”– is a computer system that actively records video footage and stores these feeds on a mass […]

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