The safety of your security system recordings comes down to one simple thing: the hard drives you choose for your NVR, DVR, IP security system, or NAS. Security camera systems require special hard drives rated for surveillance and it’s very important to select the right hard drive for your recorder.
You need to go with a surveillance hard drive because they’re specifically designed for CCTV systems. They may look similar to other regular hard drive drives but they’re designed and optimized to be used in surveillance security systems.
What’s the best hard drive for a security camera system? Which hard drive to use for my NVR? What’s the best surveillance hard drive for my DVR? What are the recommended hard drives for surveillance systems? Is there a difference between a desktop hard drive and a surveillance hard drive?
In this article, we share our best recommendations about hard drives for security cameras and provide useful information on choosing the right hard drive for your NVR, DVR, or NAS.
So, if you’re looking for a hard drive to install in your NVR or DVR for brands such Hikvision, Dahua, Axis, Lorex, Flir, Amcrest, Reolink, Zosi, Annke, LTS, etc, this is the complete buying guide for the best surveillance hard drives in the market.
Quick Picks: Best Hard Drives for security cameras
Best Hard Drives for NVR and security camera systems – 2021 Recommendations
WD Purple Surveillance Hard Drive
The WD Purple hard drives are optimized for recording multiple IP camera video feeds 24/7 under harsh conditions without consuming a lot of power. With a supported workload rate of up to 180 TB/yr and 300,000 load/unload cycles (the 4TB version), WD Purple hard drives are the best options for NVR, DVR or CCTV systems.
- Reliable 24/7 recording. This surveillance rated hard disk drive is designed to continuously work 24/7 without stopping or showing any problem. WD Purple Surveillance hard drives are designed for high temperature, always-on, and fast writing and reading.
- Maximum of 64 cameras. The WD purple line of surveillance hard drives can work for a maximum of 64 cameras at the same time, meaning that 64 cameras are able to store their video feed simultaneously on this hard drive. The number of cameras supported is enough for any house CCTV project, or even small businesses or hotels, 64 cameras is a huge number.
- Allframe technology. WD Purple surveillance storage features Western Digital’s exclusive AllFrame technology, so you can confidently create a security system tailored to the needs of your business. Using AllFrame technology, WD Purple hard drives improve video capturing and help to reduce errors, pixelation, and video interruptions that could happen in a video recorder system.
- 1TB to 14TB variants. The surveillance WD purple hard drives come with numerous variants and you can choose the right size depending on your CCTV security needs. All these hard drives have built-in compression systems, meaning that the system would be free to record as much as you want.
- 3 years warranty. Like every other trusted brand, it has also got a reliable and effective customer support policy. You can return your hard disk drive and to do so is very easy. File online, ship the bad hard drive and in a few days, the WD warranty facility will send a new one.
Seagate Skyhawk Surveillance Hard Drive
The Skyhawk Surveillance hard drives are Seagate’s line of hard disks designed to work with NVRs/DVRs or security camera systems. Optimized for business, enterprise, and home security camera systems, SkyHawk surveillance hard drives deliver 4TB of powerful capacity to support up to 64 simultaneously streaming HD cameras and zero dropped frames.
The built-in RV sensors help maintain performance in multi-bay systems, offering the flexibility to scale systems when more storage is needed. Lower power consumption reduces heat emissions and improves reliability.
- Optimized 24/7 recordings. Built for home and business-related surveillance, SkyHawk hard drives handle all your video storage needs. It’s designed to work reliably for continuous recording mode and will not show any glitch. Moreover, it improves reliability by up to 30% with surveillance-optimized firmware.
- RV sensors. Built-in RV sensors help maintain performance in multi-bay systems, offering the flexibility to scale systems when more storage is needed. Lower power consumption reduces heat emissions and improves reliability—plus, the hard drive conditions can easily be monitored with SkyHawk Health Management.
- ImagePerfect technology. This feature is similar to WD’s AllFrame 4K for improved video stream writing capabilities. In other words, Seagate’s ImagePerfect firmware is surveillance-optimized and equipped with vibration tolerance Acutrac technology to ensure perfect video integrity.
- 1TB to 14TB variants. Same as the WD Purple hard drives, Seagate’s Skyhawk hard drives come in
different variants starting from 1T and up to 14TB. Before purchasing, make sure which size of hard drives is supported by your NVR or DVR.
- 3 years warranty. Warranty is a sign of confidence. The Skyhawk surveillance hard drives come with a 3-year warranty. If the hard drive goes bad within 3 years from the date of purchase, they’ll replace it for you and send a new one.
WD Purple vs Seagate Skyhawk
There’s no much difference between a WD Purple and Seagate Skyhawk surveillance hard drive. Both of them are specifically designed to work with security camera systems (NVR or DVR) and they’ll be reliable in their performance. However, from our personal experience with security camera systems, WD Purple hard drives tend to last longer and show fewer issues.
Recently Seagate has improved their surveillance hard drives so they are pretty much optimized as well. Price-wise, Seagate is insignificantly cheaper (well, almost the same price). Below we’ve listed the features and differences between a 4TB WD Purple and a 4TB Seagate Skyhawk.
Factors to check before buying a hard drive for a CCTV security camera system
The storage capacity
This one of the most important aspects when choosing a hard drive for your security system. How big should the hard drive be? The bigger the hard drive(s), the longer the recordings on your security systems. You should also consider whether you’re going to record on motion detection or 24/7.
When set on motion detection, the security cameras will record only when there’s a motion in the monitored area, hence storing the footage only when there’s movement. On the other hand, a security system set to record continuous mode records all the time without interruption.
Before purchasing any hard drive, find out:
- What’s the maximum size of the hard drive supported by your security camera system? Most of the CCTV systems (DVR, NVR) support hard drives up to 4TB, the newer one can support 10TB per hard drive.
- How many hard drives do you need? Let’s say you can install 2 hard drives, 4TB each.
- How long do you want to record? This is correlated to the number of installed security cameras. The more cameras you have deployed, the more hard drives needed. Generally speaking, a CCTV system with 4 IP cameras (4MP) and a 2TB hard drive are able to store recordings for 2 weeks.
Using the right equipment will extend the lifetime of your hard drives. That’s the main reason why you should buy hard drives rated for an NVR, a DVR, or a security camera system. Regular desktop hard drives don’t come with the ability to withstand always-on operational demands and not include the specific features necessary to handle surveillance environments.
On the other hand, surveillance hard drives are built to record data 24×7 from multiple camera streams or channels. A desktop-class drive can eventually fail under constant, 24×7 operation, while video-optimized drives provide reliability benefits far beyond desktop drives, which are designed to run lighter workloads.
Hard Drive’s lifespan
Surveillance hard drives are designed to have a longer life while in use. A desktop hard drive on an NVR or DVR may last 6 months to 2 years and then you have to spend more money to replace one. Surveillance hard drives last 5-10 years on a security camera system.
What technical specs to look for in a hard drive for a security camera system?
These are the technical features you need to look for in a hard drive that will be used on an NVR or DVR security system.
- RPM: This is the speed at which the disk spins and it’s the biggest advantage on a surveillance hard drive. You are supposed to buy only those hard drives which have RPM range 3500-5900 RPMs. The higher RPMs are designed for desktop hard drives. A lower RPM means that the hard drive will last longer.
- Mean Time Between Failures (MTBF): A standard measure of reliability for any device, higher numbers are better. Technically, the hard drives are rated to work for a certain amount of hours and usually, the surveillance hard drives are rated to perform for 10-15 year which it’s acceptable.
- Load/unload cycles: The number of times that the hard drive can get ready (load) to read/write from the disk and then go back to its normal position (unload). The higher the cycles, the better, however, that’s not very important on CCTV security systems that record 24/7.
Data write/read capacity: This one is measured in TB per year. Obviously, the higher the capacity, the better the hard drive performance.
- Power-on hours: the number of hours that the hard drive is designed to stay powered on.
Vibration tolerance: As you probably know, when a hard drive is powered on it vibrates. This doesn’t matter if you have just one hard drive, but it gets important if you have installed multiple hard drives (let’s 4 or 8 pieces). The surveillance hard drives have built-in sensors that detect the vibrations and take countermeasures.
- Power-efficiency: The hard drives need to be energy efficient in order to save electricity in the long run. The surveillance hard drives such as WD Purple or Seagate Skyhawk are optimized to consume less power.
Transfer speed: Nowadays the transfer speed is not that important anymore since all the hard drive manufacturers provide high-speed transfer ratings (such as 1Gbps).
What’s the difference between a desktop hard drive and a surveillance hard drive?
These hard drives are designed to work in different setups and environments. A surveillance hard disk drive is more reliable, durable, and performs way better than a desktop hard drive.
A computer (desktop) hard drive is designed to be used a few hours every day over a certain number of years. This is okay if your computer stays off most of the time. However, the security camera system runs 24 hours in 7 days and the hard drive is constantly working.
A regular desktop hard drive will die shortly and you’ll need to buy a new one. To get into technicalities, a surveillance hard drive has a lower RPM than a desktop hard drive, it’s optimized to write and read in a reliable way and it’s designed to work 24/7.
Can you use a desktop hard drive on a NVR or DVR?
Yes, you definitely can use a desktop hard drive on a security camera system. However, keep in mind that most likely the hard drive will die after a few months in use and you’ll lose all the footage or even compromise your whole security system.
Also, certain NVRs or DVRs may get burned after a few months if you’re using a desktop hard drive (especially if that hard drive is not new). We’d suggest going for a surveillance hard drive. In the long run, you’ll save money.