Hard Drive For Camera Surveillance Systems: How Much Is Enough?

Camera surveillance systems are becoming widely adopted, so does the need for video storage options. And hard drives are undoubtedly a great equipment for this task. Our today’s article will provide you with all the essential when it comes to choosing the right capacity of hard drives for camera surveillance systems.

Common Security Camera Storage Options

There have been many different types of security cameras developed for certain using purposes, and so do different storage options to match each’s specific requirements. The ones below are the most common options which you’ll probably find in many surveillance systems nowadays.

IP Camera SD Card Storage

By installing a small and convenient SD card, you can take advantage of the simplicity and mobility that these IP cameras offer. Most of them, which use SD cards for storage, don’t require any complex installation to start with. Just mount the camera on any platform that will give you the most surrounding view, then turn it on, and you can use it hassle-freely.

Hard Drive For Camera Surveillance Systems How Much Is Enough

You can just install a single camera for motion-triggered footage on any place that doesn’t require constant recording; the storage capacity of an SD card can even last for weeks. Many people choose this camera for their front door or backyard.

IP Camera Cloud Storage

People who choose Cloud storage are looking for a convenient yet effective method to keep their recorded videos safely stored. Not to mention that many surveillance camera system providers nowadays do offer FREE cloud storages for their clients.

However, they’re usually quite limited, and you’ll need to purchase monthly subscriptions for the long-term contract. And although the service is relatively good, the price is not cheap either. So, you should really consider your budget before choosing this option.

Cloud storage vs physical storage (hard drive)

IP Camera Hard Drive Storage

If you want a system that could deliver constant video recording at a high resolution for weeks, and at a relatively inexpensive price, then using hard drives for storage is undoubtedly a reasonable option. In fact, hard drives installed on NVR/DVR systems are becoming increasingly popular and widely adopted among home security systems.

This is due to the fact that aside from the enormous amount of data capacity for recording, NVR/DVR systems also come with built-in hardware which is powerful enough for managing multiple videos simultaneously. Plus, you can access these systems through your smartphones, tablets, or computers to take control from a distance whenever you want.

Hard Drive For Camera Surveillance Systems How Much Is Enough

Among the three methods mentioned above, NVR/DVR systems are often preferred due to their ability to perform multitasking. Thus, you can even edit videos on the system while it’s working. Moreover, using hard drives on a surveillance security system is considered an inexpensive solution as you don’t have to spend too much money on monthly subscriptions. If the storage is getting full, simply back it up on another storage and clear the data, then you’ll have a fresh hard drive ready to be used.

How to Choose Hard Drives for Camera Surveillance Systems?

If you’re planning to choose hard drives for your security systems, you should definitely go for the higher quality ones which will ensure that your devices can handle the heavy recording all the time. Not to mention that your data will also be safely stored inside the premium-build hard drive.

However, higher-tier hard drives can be quite expensive sometimes, so we highly recommend you use them only for recording video. Your saved data can then be backed up to cheaper hard drives to optimize the cost/performance factor.

Depending on your needs, you can choose between different capacity options. A good way to estimate the suitable capacity of your hard drive is to use this tool. Just enter the required information (your preferred recording resolutions, frame rates, utilization time, and likewise), it will calculate the total video size that will be stored to your hard drive. Use this data to determine how much capacity should your hard drive be.

But if you’re looking for a quicker way, we’ve comprised this table which highlighted suitable hard drives for different uses for most of the standard surveillance systems:


Hard Drive / Days of Storage

Resolution and Video Standard

2 TB

1 TB

500 GB

320 GB

720 x 480

NTSC – 30 fps





720 x 240

NTSC – 30 fps





640 x 480

NTSC – 30 fps





360 x 240

NTSC – 30 fps





320 x 240

NTSC – 30 fps





720 x 576

PAL – 25 fps





720 x 461

PAL – 25 fps





720 x 430

PAL – 25 fps





720 x 424

PAL – 25 fps





720 x 326

PAL – 25 fps





Frequently Asked Questions

What are the differences between a camera hard drive and a PC hard drive?

Both camera hard drive and PC hard drive have the same recording technology. The two types also share the similarities in designs and mechanics, and you can even use PC hard drives for surveillance systems and vice versa. However, they have some differences.

The read and write speeds are the most important factors when it comes to differentiating these two. The read speed indicates how effective your hard drive can be when it opens files and apps, which is extremely important when you’re using a PC. On the other hand, the write speed determines how fast you will be able to write data (copy, save, and so on) on the hard drive. This explains why PC hard drives often come with better read speed compared to write speed.

For camera surveillance systems, since recording videos is what the hard drives are used for, its write speed should be the utilized aspect. Moreover, the build quality of these devices is much better compared to that of the PC ones so that they can work properly all year round. And to satisfy the most skeptical customers, many manufacturers even include advanced data recovery technology on their products.

How to install a camera hard drive?

The installation process is rather easy and similar across all products since they all use the popular connection standard of SATA 3. You just need to figure it out how to disable the parts to get to the storage; this process is varied depending on different platforms. Find the female SATA 3 port and connect it to your hard drive using the male SATA 3 port on it. Your surveillance system should be able to realize the hard drives if they’re properly installed.

Thank you for reading, and we’ll see you in our future posts.

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