There are several options available today for video surveillance recording and management, but it’s fair to say the network video recorder (NVR) remains among the top choice for many businesses.
That’s because, unlike PC-based recording solutions, NVRs are relatively easy to deploy and don’t require a lot of IT expertise to set up. They’re also a good option if you’re using legacy infrastructure, as hybrid and tribrid NVRs can support both analog and IP cameras, and even HD analog cameras, without having to rip and replace coax cabling.
What you ultimately choose for video surveillance recording will depend on your technology infrastructure and budget, but it’s important to do your homework as not all recording solutions are alike.
There are some distinct differences between PC-based recording appliances and purpose-built NVRs. Knowing how these two options stack up can help you make the right choice and save you money in the long run.
In my experience, purpose-built NVRs are more reliable, and offer more investment protection with a longer product lifecycle than a PC-based recorder. Let’s take a closer look at why by examining the key advantages of purpose-built NVRs:
They’re incredibly secure
Purpose-built NVRs have embedded software that’s been custom-designed for video surveillance recording. In March Networks’ case, our recorders have custom-built Linux operating systems (OSs) that restrict access to the unit. Because Linux is open source, it allows for the removal of unnecessary services, thereby reducing the overall risk of viruses and cyberattacks.
Another bonus: purpose-built NVRs require far fewer software updates than a PC-based appliance with a Windows OS. Purpose-built NVRs also have no software on the hard-drive, making it faster and easier to replace drives when they go down. With a PC-based system, if the drive with the OS goes down, the whole system is lost.
On the physical security side, purpose-built NVRs often require a key to power down the unit. This ensures that only authorized personnel can turn off the recorders, and also helps protect against accidental shut downs. In the case of March Networks recorders, the key mechanism also locks the recorder to a docking station so no one can remove it or its hard drives.
They’re more reliable
Purpose-built NVRs are designed to record video 24/7, so they include features that ensure maximum system uptime. For example, purpose-built NVRs have hardware and software watchdog circuitry that return the recorder to an operational state following a network issue or power outage. With March Networks recorders, an internal battery backup guarantees a systematic shutdown in the event of an unexpected power loss, and hard drive mirroring ensures additional redundancy.
For added reliability in a PC-based solution, additional components (UPS devices, watchdog cards, etc.) may have to be added, increasing the cost and the complexity of the solution.
They’re easy to service
Purpose-built NVRs are the security technician’s and installers’ best friend. They include a host of features that make them easy to service, saving you both time and money.
In March Networks’ case, our purpose-built recorders come with optional docking stations that keep all recorder connections clean and securely connected to the back of the unit. If the unit needs to be replaced, it takes only minutes to slide the recorder out from the docking station and replace it.
Many purpose-built recorders also have field-replaceable hard drives, fans, batteries and power supplies, so in many cases the recorder won’t have to leave your facility. It’s also simple to troubleshoot and determine if a part needs replacing. The status LED lights on the front of the March Networks recorders allow you to perform diagnostics. By reading the color of the LEDs, you can learn if a hard drive or fan needs replacing, or if some other issue is occurring that could affect recording.
If you have to service an off-the-shelf PC-based system, running diagnostics may be more complicated, and you may not necessarily have field-replaceable parts, depending on the manufacturer you choose.
When it comes to cost – one of the biggest factors in comparing technology solutions – you will often save money with a purpose-built NVR. The initial upfront cost of a standalone recorder can be high; however, it’s likely to last longer and require fewer upgrades over time, increasing the ROI each year and making it less of a hassle if your organization is cautious about adding devices to its corporate network (as most are these days).
With PC-based recorders, parts like motherboards and capture cards can change over time, so the manufacturer will ship you an updated system, requiring you to recertify the recorder before deploying it on the network. All of this takes time and effort, not just for you but for your IT staff as well.
For all of these reasons, it’s often advantageous to opt for a purpose-built NVR rather than a generic, PC-based appliance. You’ll get the power and performance you need, and the peace of mind that comes with knowing your video is always there when you need it.
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