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Security DVR and NVR Record Time Calculator

Use this calculator to determine the required hard drive space you will need to achieve your desired record time.

Just input the specs of your system, desired record period, and the calculator will determine the size of hard drive your system needs. Keep in mind that you can substantially cut down on your hard drive requirements by enabling motion recording.

What happens if the NVR/DVR's hard drive fills up?

Out of the box, most DVR/NVRs record over the earliest footage first, like a FIFO inventory system or a snake eating its own tail. You can turn this feature off with some systems - like ours - if you need to - and make it stop recording and send an alert when the hard drive is full.

How much footage do people normally store?

Customers tend to have different storage goals depending on their situation.

Many homeowners are fine with 3-7 days of rotating storage usually, because, they figure, they would know if something is stolen by then.

Homeowners, who travel frequently, usually want footage of at 3-7 days more than the the length of the longest amount of time that they might be away. (If you are away from your home for 2 weeks, you probably want 3 weeks of footage).

Businesses fall into 3 groups: those with primarily concerned with theft usually want 15-30 days of storage, those in regulated industries where surveillance systems are legally mandated have legal requirements that can range from 90 days to 365 days, and those who are worried about proving something didn't happen (for example, businesses where false insurance claims are common), often want a custom amount of footage, depending on their risks.

H.264 / H.265 Recorder
Hard Drive Record Time Calculator

Total days of stored surveillance footage?
Total number of recorded security cameras?
Recording Resolution?
Recording Frame Rate?
Recording Mode?
Version of your Encoder?
Suggested storage space:

Related Guide: NVR hard drive installation

nvr hard drive installation

Here at SCW, if you purchase both a hard drive(s) and recorder from us, we will happily install the hard drive(s) for you.

Here's a handy guide if you want to do it yourself or if your purchased your NVR/DVR from someone else (installation is usually the same).

Stuck on the Encoder Question?

video compression

Our 2018 line (and a few other company's 2018 lines) records with a new more efficient file H.265 compression, so that you can record video about 40% longer on the same size hard drive. H.265 replaces H.264. H.26X is block-oriented motion-compensation-based video compression. In plain english, H.26X, rather than updating the whole frame at every refresh, splits the screen into horizontal and vertical grids and only updates the grids with changes. H.265 increases the flexibility of these grid containers so that surveillance video files take up less space on a hard drive than H.264. (The new line is backwards compatible with H.264.)

If you don't know what encoder version you have, select H.264 as that is more common.

Use Motion Detection Recording To Save Hard Drive Space

All SCW DVRs and NVRs are capable of recording only after a motion event has been detected. A pre-record buffer can be set that will begin recording a set amount of time prior to the motion event. With these features you can manage your HDD space much more effectively and never miss an incident.