CCTV Usage Guide

DVR Digital Video Recorder

This generally takes the place of the old Video or Time-lapse-recorder. No more messing around with tapes.

Now it’s all digital. The DVR records the images directly to a hard drive. These can record for weeks or months rather than hours and it’s all automatic.

The DVR part of the system is the “brain” and all the cameras are connected to it and it allows the images to be recorded and played back. Playback can be operated much in the same way as an old video system and by using the search facility it allows the user to look back at a certain time and date, or ever look for events where the camera saw movement, making finding the footage you’re looking for much easier.

Once you have found the part you are looking for, this can be copied to an external device, such as a USB pen drive or SD memory card if the police should require footage as evidence.

There are two general types of DVR.


This is a unit about the size of a SKY satellite box, you can connect all the components to it and it will record your images to the installed hard drive. These can also be connected to a local network via a cat5 cable so the system can be accessed over your network, or even over the internet. Usually these are the most cost effective option.

PC Based

This is a system that uses the standard infrastructure of a personal computer with the addition of a DVR card to capture the images, then records it to its internal hard drive. This option generally takes up much more space and can get complicated.

Another factor to bear in mind is that if you are using your system to record constantly or with motion detection in a busy area, the system will be recording constantly to the hard drive. In a standard computer the hard drive is only accessed when you are starting up and saving files etc. therefore if a standard hard drive is used in a DVR the life of the drive may be considerable shortened due to its constant activity. CCTV DVR systems have specially designed drive that can cope with the environment they are in, and provide a longer life to the product.

There are a large selection of Digital Video Recorders on the market, and we understand trying to buy the right one is not simple, and differs for each situation. As we mentioned earlier, often the easiest way is for us to come and do a free no obligation survey while giving you information so you can roughly assess what you want the system to achieve.

We have put together some information about the features available so that you can try to make a more informed decision. Browse through the features listed, and try to see what is important for you, keeping in mind the purpose of your CCTV system. Once you have decided what features are important to you why not give us a call.

Digital Video Recorder Basics

Some common features are covered below, this section is for those with no knowledge of CCTV set ups. The Digital Video Recorder is the heart of a CCTV system, it takes the images from the cameras and stores them on to a hard disk drive. You can watch live video with an attached monitor or compatible TV. You can forward & rewind through the images in much the same way you may have done so with a typical Video recorder. On many you can search for specific dates & times to quickly find the footage you want to view.

Once you have your images recorded on the hard drive, from time to time there may be an incident which you will be required to give to the police as evidence, you will then need to back up the data they require from the hard drive on to another storage device, such as a USB stcik or memory card.

Digital Video Recorders are available as Standalone units or PC based units. Choosing which one is for you is a personal preference, but I’ll take this opportunity to point out a couple of things. Although many PC based digital video recorders offer lots of added features & familiar use, standalone digital video recorders are purpose built for the job and are considered more reliable and therefore less likely to fail. With PC based units we would strongly recommend the pc is used as a security device only and not used as a standard pc with surveillance, this should reduce the risk of failures, but may not be cost effective.

Also if you are “PC savvy” and decide to buy a Digital video recorder PC Card and install it into your PC yourself, please check that you will not void your PC warranty before you do so.

Last but not least, and this goes for all Digital Video Recorders, where possible try to use a purpose built hard drive. By this we mean that some people, to save costs, use a normal PC hard drive in a digital video recorder. Unfortunately this usually ends up with the hard drive failing simply because a pc hard drive is not designed to be constantly “working” twenty four hours a day – seven days a week recorder.

We also provide links to information on your responsibility under the data protection act, it’s not complicated, but there are a few precautions to take when recording over a public area.

Recently Reported in the Daily Papers

Pilfering middle classes professionals are looting their workplace. And the older they are, the worse they are. A new survey claims 25% of middle class professionals admit to stealing items from work, compared to 15% of working class respondents.

And they’re not just stealing laptops, pens and Sellotape. They’re stealing whole pigs (dead), UPVC windows; even bean bags and microwave ovens.

White collar crime

Workers from the South East and Northern England are the worst offenders with 23% of those questioned admitting taking something from work home, says, an online expenses company. Scots, apparently are more honest with only 20% taking things from work. However three times as many aged 55-plus admitted taking stationary from work compared to 18-24-year-olds. Or maybe the younger people questioned were lying. It’s difficult to know what’s true in so-called ‘honesty’ surveys when your interviewees are not known for straight behaviour.


But either way, stealing stuff from your employer, particularly in a recession, is not just wrong but surely counterproductive if you value your job.

“We conducted this research in order to see what workers attitudes are towards pilfering from work, especially in the given economic climate,”

says FairFX boss Stephen Heath.

“The audacity of some things taken is initially amusing but some items are incredibly valuable. Small and mediums sized businesses are having a tough time at present and this kind of ‘petty theft’ can soon become costly. If one in five workers are taking items from work then this will soon add up.”

White collar crime is very, very expensive, thought to cost the UK around £27 billion annually.