Most of the security camera recorders come with a pre-installed hard drive, but you can add additional hard drives (and/or replace the existing one) to expand your recording capability.
Additionally, the recorders are sold without any hard drive at all, you need to purchase one and have it installed in the unit. Since the hard drives run 24/7, we recommend using hard drives that are rated for surveillance such as the one reviewed in this article.
In this guide, we will show with pictures how to easily install a hard drive into your NVR or DVR. The images of the DVR/NVR may not be identical to the system model you’ve purchased, however, the installation process is the same.
- Never remove or install a hard drive while the system is powered on. You electrocute yourself and damage the hard drive/recorder as well. So, the unit must be turned off.
- In some cases, you may need to use a grounded anti-static mat and wrist band to ground yourself before servicing the recorder.
Install the hard drive in a security camera recorder (DVR or NVR)
Remove the cover
Remove the two small black screws located along the top of the rear panel of the recorder. Depending on the model of your recorder, you may find these screws on the side or back.
Just inspect the unit and it’s easy to spot them. Do not remove the larger silver screws around the fan (these screws don’t hold the cover).
Carefully hold and lift the casing from the back panel. Lift upward and toward the front panel of the device. Some DVR/NVR models will have a plug that must be disconnected before removing the casing
Once the cover is gone, you should see the motherboard inside the unit. Depending on your model, you may install one hard drive only, or 2, 4, etc.
Also, check the spec sheet to ensure that the hard drive’s size is supported by the unit. Usually, you can install hard drives up to 4TB-6TB or even 10TB-12TB (per slot).
Install the new hard drives
Remove the old hard drive. If you are replacing the drive that came with the unit, remove the four silver screws that attach it to the case. Disconnect the data cable and the power cable from the HDD.
This MUST be done slowly to avoid any internal damage to the system. (The picture below shows the power cable marked with blue color and the data cable marked with green color).
Let’s discuss installing a new hard drive. Lay the new hard drives to be installed side by side on a flat surface with the power and SATA ports facing the same direction.
Secure the hard drive to the bottom of the DVR/NVR using the screws from the new HDD or the screws that were removed in the previous step.
Using the extra SATA cables provided with the recorder, connect each hard drive to the motherboard. Then attach the power cable to the hard drive. Plug them slowly to avoid any damage.
Once done, don’t forget to close the cover that you opened up on the first step. Use all the screws until the top is safely secured.
Format the Hard Drive
With the hard drive installed, you are ready to format it. While some NVRs and DVRs will auto-format the hard drive when the units get powered on, some versions require a manual format.
Otherwise, the unit may not record anything. So, definitely format the hard drive to see if it’s recognized by the recorder.
For example, if you got an Hikvision NVR or DVR, you can format the hard drive by going to the Main Menu > Configuration > HDD > General and clicking “Init” which stands for “initialization”. The hard drive will be formatted in a few seconds and it will be ready to use.
Another example, this time for Dahua recorders, go to Main Menu > Setting > HDD manager, select the hard drive, and hit “Format”. A few seconds and it will be ready.
If you’re using other brands of recorders, the logic is similar. Simply access the recorder via the monitor (using the attached mouse), find the storage section and you should find there something that says “hard drive”. Then look up the “format” or “initialization” buttons.
If you can’t find it, you may consult the user guide or call the seller/manufacturer. Additionally, these settings can be done via the web browser as well (you need a laptop/computer to access the recorder and format the hard drives).