Understanding Camera Security – Do Security Cameras Record All The Time?

by Patricia Costello
Security Cameras Record

Security cameras make your life easier – they give you a well deserved peace of mind that your property is well looked after. Whether you hire a security company too or you simply want to deter thieves and burglars, security cameras add to your safety standards.

But then, they require a few settings and a bit of maintenance. At this point, you probably ask yourself – can security cameras record all the time? Are you 100% sure your cameras work when you are away from home or your office? How do they manage to do it?

The answers depend on the type of camera you have, as well as the security system. So, what options do you have?

Understanding how NVR/DVR systems work

NVR stands for Network Video Recorder, while DVR is for Digital Video Recorder. These are some of the most popular options on the market at the moment. Why? Easy – they come with their own HDDs. Sure, you can also install an external HDD for even more memory, but generally speaking, they have enough storage to record weeks or even months.

How long can your security camera record? It depends on the available memory. To make things even better, opt for a PoE NVR system. PoE goes for Power over Ethernet. The system comes with its own network for video transmission. They do not require too much bandwidth because they mostly record – they only stream when you try to view the cameras over another device.

Requirements for your security camera to record all the time

The more comprehensive your system is, the more attention you have to pay. Many NVR/DVR systems are compatible with devices from the same manufacturer or brand, so you need to consider your expansion options.

Considering an external HDD for extra memory? Again, you need to look after a product that will work with your current system. Most systems are compatible, but it is usually a matter of connectivity issues, so double-check this aspect.

You can also enhance the memory of your system with SD cards, but they usually provide less memory than a classic HDD. Consider cloud storage too. While it will most likely involve some monthly costs, at least you got plenty of memory to play around with.

Related Topic: The Necessity Of Security – What Is Burglary In The Second Degree?

Do security cameras record all the time?

security camera that records 24 7

There are more factors that will influence this factor. Generally speaking, they do. They will record all the time, but there are some limitations in the process. Once they hit any of these limitations, they will stop recording.

The available memory is the most popular limitation. If you rely on your system’s HDD, make sure you have enough for at least a few weeks. You can erase the data every now and then if nothing happens – this way, you will get some extra memory for the upcoming weeks.

Is your Internet connection stable? If you need the Internet to record or live stream, going offline may also affect the efficiency of your camera. Plus, how much bandwidth do you have in your Internet contract? Too much streaming can affect the bandwidth. It will not affect the recording capacity of your cameras, but you may no longer be able to stream your recordings over other devices.

The power is often overlooked, but it represents another common limitation. Once a power cut is over, advanced cameras will restart automatically and continue recording. Some others will not. There are also cameras with backup systems based on batteries, so they record all the time.

How much do security cameras record?

To simplify it, most security cameras record all the time, yet there are some limitations. At this point, the question is – how much can a security camera record? Practically, when do you know that it might be time to work on your camera in order to ensure continuous recordings?

Different cameras and standards will provide different numbers. Some cameras will record continuously for a few hours before stopping, while others may do it for weeks or even months. There are certain factors that can affect this capability:

  • Resolution – Cameras can record at different resolutions. The higher the resolution, the crispier and sharper the videos and pictures. For maximum efficiency, you need a good resolution. But on the same note, a high resolution will reduce the recording time.
  • Storage space – When a camera records on a 24/7 basis, it requires space to store all the videos. Professional cameras have small HDDs for internal recording and storage, but it is wiser to invest in larger external HDDs. The more space you have, the longer your camera footage will be.
  • Compression – Video compression is used in a plethora of video related applications and for some simple reasons. The more compressed a video is, the less space it requires on your HDD. In other words, video compression enhances the recording time.
  • Amount of cameras – How many cameras do you have? One camera will require a certain amount of storage based on recording conditions, resolution and so on. Two cameras with the same settings will require double the space and it keeps going. More cameras will practically reduce the recording time.
  • Bit rate – The bit rate affects the quality of your videos. Opt for a higher bit rate and you will get crispier videos. A higher bit rate will also require more space, so it will negatively affect the recording time.

How to tell how long your camera can record for

There is no such thing as a formula because every small detail can affect the final result. Check out the camera manual and remember – it is mostly about trial and error. Get the camera, decide on the recording quality standards and start recording.

Keep an eye on how fast it takes your memory away. If you feel like you need more days or weeks of recordings, you might want to invest in an external HDD. If you can erase the recordings on a daily basis (assuming nothing happens), most cameras can do with their own HDDs.

Keep an eye on the memory during the first day, then do the same over a week and figure out yourself how much storage you require for maximum efficiency. No matter how much storage you get, you will still have to erase old videos and recordings every now and then. The question is – how often?

If you want security cameras for your business, you might want to keep footage for a few weeks – you may not always notice a problem right away. You might have to go back and check what happened weeks ago. It is recommended to get at least a week or two of continuous recordings when it comes to your residential security too.


So, can security cameras record all the time? Yes, they can. Will they? Yes, as long as they have enough memory and they do not hit any limitations. Different security systems come with different requirements and capabilities, so it pays off doing your homework before spending your money.

At the same time, it is worth knowing why you want this system – is it for your home? Is it for your company?​

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