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How to Record CCTV Footage Without a DVR

This article is a collaborative effort, crafted and edited by a team of dedicated professionals.

Contributors: Muhammad Baballe Ahmad, Mehmet Cavas, Sudhir Chitnis, and Zhen-ya Liu.

✓ Verified & Tested Information

You don’t need a DVR to record your CCTV footage. Here’s how you can do it without one.


When it comes to protecting your home or business, one of the most effective security measures you can take is to install a CCTV system. A CCTV (Closed Circuit Television) system consists of multiple cameras, a display monitor and Security Digital Video Recorder (DVR). DVRs provide surveillance recording capabilities for CCTV systems but, due to cost constraints or other factors, there may be instances where you will need to record the CCTV footage without using a DVR device. In this guide, we’ll discuss how to set up such a recording solution and review some good methods for troubleshooting any issues you may encounter during the process.

Hardware Requirements

If you are looking to record CCTV footage on your own, then you will need to purchase some hardware. This includes a CCTV camera , a network video recorder (NVR), and a monitor. However, depending on your needs, the hardware requirements may vary. Let us explore the different components you need in order to record CCTV footage without a DVR.

CCTV Cameras

CCTV cameras are the basis of any CCTV system. They are the “eyes” that capture the footage, usually in digital form, which is then stored onto a recording device such as a DVR or NVR. It is important to choose your CCTV cameras carefully, making sure they cover the required area and have all the capabilities you will need – such as night vision and vandal-proof casing. The type of cameras most commonly used in CCTV systems are bullet or dome cameras, each of which has its own advantages.

Bullet Cameras – these come with a long body resembling an extended tube and an interchangeable lens for multi-view capability. A bullet camera is weatherproof so it can be mounted outdoors, although might require additional protective housing for extreme weathers. They also come in Vari-focal versions with variable zoom lenses so you can adjust them easily during installation to capture video from wider angles.

Dome Cameras – these typically incorporate small shape better suiting environments where aesthetics may be an issue; although they offer less flexibility than bullet models in terms of visibility range adjustment and direction coverage due their fixed lens designs, allowing only single view capability while using specific range lenses may bring more possibilities to achieve more varied coverage ranges. However, higher end models have features including zoom lenses and true day/night switching capability between colour during daytime and infrared during night time for example infrared dome camera with 40 meter IR illuminator; making them suitable to be used both indoors and outside depending on the model specification purchased

Network Video Recorder (NVR)

A Network Video Recorder (NVR) is a type of digital video recorder that records CCTV footage from cameras over a computer network rather than a dedicated DVR. NVRs are powerful recording systems that allow for the viewing and recording of analog or IP surveillance cameras on your Surveillance System. NVRs require higher bandwidth than standard Digital Video Recorders (DVRs), and they offer scalability and flexibility to expand as needed.

Much like a DVR, an NVR allows you to record videos from multiple security cameras at once, store them on a secure server, access stored video via the internet, and set alarms when motion is detected in any area being monitored by the system. Additionally, with an NVR you have access to more advanced features such as multiplexing (video switching between different cameras) and playback along with IP camera integration for higher quality surveillance over larger distances.

In order for an NVR system to function properly it requires:
-Video Cameras: Select analog or IP surveillance cameras depending on your preferred display resolution or other desired features.
-Network Switch: For connecting all of the security camera feeds. PoE switch will be needed if using IP Security Cameras with Ethernet cables directly running through power sources within the building’s infrastructure
-NVR Storage: HDD RAID setup offers quick disk write speeds along with ample storage space necessary to handle multiple streams of video files simultaneously
-Computer: For uploading & downloading footage., as well as managing external users viewing privileges or remotely accessing/controlling various aspects through software applications across different devices connected to the same network


A monitor is also a necessary component when recording CCTV footage without a DVR. The monitor will act as the main viewing device, allowing you to view live camera feeds and playback of recorded footage. Monitors come in various sizes, styles and options, but the important thing is to select one that meets your needs. Some monitors may have additional features such as HDMI ports for higher quality video, scalers for zooming in or panning out on footage, and PC ports for laptop or desktop use. If you intend to use multiple monitors for multiple cameras, it is advisable to buy compatible models from the same manufacturer so that all features can be utilized together. Additionally, ensure the resolution of your monitor matches the resolution of your CCTV camera(s) to reduce grainy images.

Software Requirements

Recording CCTV footage on a computer or laptop can be a great way to monitor and store video footage without having a DVR. To record CCTV footage without a DVR, you will need to have a compatible CCTV camera and also some software running on your computer. In this section, we will discuss the requirements for software to record CCTV footage without a DVR.

Video Management Software (VMS)

Video management software (VMS) is used to record and store digital video footage. It can be used to monitor and manage CCTV cameras, or other types of video devices, as well as playback captured video on desktop computers or mobile devices. This type of software is a key part of any modern surveillance system, though as with all technology there are core features that should be looked for when deciding which VMS is best for your project.

The most important requirement for a VMS is the ability to capture and store recordings from the cameras you are using within your surveillance system. Some software will automatically record only when movement within a restricted area has been detected by a camera, whereas other systems may require manual recording every time a user logs in. By having camera footage recorded for designated periods either continuously or triggered by motion detection it ensures that any suspicious activity will be captures and available for review at any time from authorised users.

Other features may include real-time streaming video monitoring which will keep watch on workplaces without needing constantly scanned manually, motion alerts – which can provide warnings to an administrator if anyone enters an unauthorised area – as well as facial recognition software capabilities, advanced analytics such as people counting; and support services such as alarms should an intruder gain access to the monitored area. Additionally these systems may allow users to secure passwords protect recordings so that privacy violations cannot be committed by unauthorised parties viewing them without permission. Ultimately the best VMS system will depend on individual needs so consider each of the above criteria carefully when making your decision.

Recording Software

When it comes to recording CCTV footage without a DVR, it is important to consider the software requirements. Software determines the type of files that can be recorded, and the capability of live streaming functions such as IP streaming. The recommended software requirements would be an operating system such as Windows, Mac OS, or Linux. Other factors to consider are the system RAM and CPU power required for recording streams and any special capabilities needed for third party applications in order to use extra features such as motion-trigger functions. Additionally, one must also take into consideration any bandwidth limitations for streaming. Professional surveillance systems typically require high-end specialized recording software packages in order to maximize surveillance capabilities and provide administrators with ease of use when managing viewing stations and dashboards.

Installation Process

Installing a CCTV system without a DVR can be a bit tricky, but it is possible. The most important thing to remember when setting up your system is to ensure that all the components are correctly connected. This includes making sure that your security cameras are connected to your router, and that your router is properly configured to transmit the footage. After that, you will need to download an app or software to record and store the footage. Let’s look into the installation process in more detail.

Connecting the Cameras

Once your cameras are securely mounted in place, you need to connect them to a power supply. Keep in mind that if you are using an analog system, the voltage provided may be too low to power the camera directly – make sure to check the requirements of your device before connecting it.

For most systems, a central power source is used; this can either be supplied by an external AC adapter or via a local DC connection for IP surveillance systems. Additionally, many newer models come with Power over Ethernet (PoE) technology which allows each device to be powered from one central source over the internet. Once you’ve connected the power, use an appropriate cable – either coaxial for analog CCTV cameras or Cat5/6 for IP cameras – and connect it from each camera to the DVR’s BNC ports.

Not all models come with BNC inputs so, if necessary, use a converter such as a Balun connector, available from most security specialists, so thatyou can run long lengths of standard Ethernet cable without sacrificing quality. Finally, check that you have enough cables and connectors to set up allthe cameras before proceeding on with setting up your system’s recording equipment and software.

Connecting the NVR to the Network

Connecting a NVR to your local network is a straightforward process. Typically, you will need an Ethernet cable running from your router to the NVR unit. If you want to connect wirelessly, it is also possible to purchase a wireless adapter for the NVR and set up the connection using your router’s wireless settings.

Next, you will need to register the NVR and any cameras connected to it with your router, this will allow them all to communicate with one another over the network. To do this, open up your router settings and add each device as an authorized device one by one. This can usually be done by finding their individual IP addresses and entering them into your router settings or by searching for nearby devices using a search tool within the menu.

Finally, you will need to configure the settings of all of your devices in order to start recording footage. This includes setting up motion detection triggers, adjusting the recording interval and ensuring that all of your cameras are pointed in the right direction and recording at an appropriate resolution. Once you have checked all of these settings, you should be good to go!

Setting Up the VMS

The Video Management System (VMS) is a software application that captures, stores and records CCTV footage. It can also be used to control the cameras and manage surveillance systems over the network. To get started, you will need to install the VMS on a compatible device and configure it to your specific requirements.

The first step of setting up your VMS involves downloading and installing the software on your device. Some popular systems include Surveillance Station (QNAP), SecurOS Lite (Milestone) or Geovision Center V2 (GeoVision). After installation, you will need to set up camera preferences such as resolution, frame rate, video format, image adjustment, etc., before beginning the recording process.

You may also have to enable certain features such as motion detection for specific cameras if needed. Once these settings are complete, you can configure user access rights such as defining who has view-only access or assigning administrators who have full control over the system.

Finally, you will want to link a storage solution with your VMS so that footage can be recorded and stored remotely – depending on how much storage space is required for long-term retention of video clips/images . Many popular cloud providers offer pay per use models which may be an ideal solution for many users given their cost effectiveness and scalability options available.

Setting Up the Recording Software

Before deciding on what recording software to use or downloading any footage, you must make sure that your computer meets minimum system requirements. This will ensure optimal performance and be able to take full advantage of the recording software you choose.

Once your computer has been checked to meet minimal system requirements, then you can proceed with the installation process. It is best to follow each step carefully as any mistake made during the installation process may result in an unsuccessful setup. The installation process may require one or more of the following steps:
-Downloading software from its official website
-Activating the software using a license key
-Making required payment for software
-Installing needed by drivers/plugins for feet security camera (if any)
-Testing device compatibility with the recording software
-Registering an account or creating a profile in order to access features/settings within the application.

After completing all of these steps, ensure that camera function is working properly and review settings for accuracy. Once everything has been verified and set up correctly, preview recorded footage to get a better idea of how it will look when it has been downloaded into your computers video library.


At the end of the day, when selecting a CCTV recording solution, it is important to weigh up the options against your needs and budget. If you are looking to save on cost, then using a NVR may be best as it is easy to use and offers plenty of storage for recordings. If you are a small business or require more control over your recordings, then a DVR may be better suited as it allows for more in-depth configuration.

Whichever solution you decide on, it is important to do some research and invest in reliable hardware and software that will allow you secure monitoring of your property with high-quality CCTV footage recordings that can be used for investigations should they arise. Ensure that both hardware and software are compatible with one another and undergoing regular maintenance, checking and upgrades can help ensure that all footage is always safe and sound!

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