Save Space On Your Surveillance DVR

Save Space On Your Surveillance DVR

By Christian M Gillman

Being able to view surveillance footage from days, weeks, or even months past is sometimes a huge necessity. So the question is; what can you do to make sure that you’re getting the most use and longevity out of your DVR’s hard drive? There are a few different key settings that can be adjusted to extend and get the most recording time out of your DVR.

Motion Detection

Motion detection is exactly what it sounds like; and that is your DVR’s ability to start recording its footage when it detects motion in front of your surveillance cameras. This is a huge space saving feature for your DVR in comparison to recording constantly, which can eat through a hard drive rather quickly depending on the number of security cameras you have.


If you are using motion detection on your DVR, it will generally have a pre-buffer setting which will keep a constant 5 – 10 second recording that is cycling through the DVR. The reason for this is so when motion recording is activated it can record and store the lead up to the motion that started the recording. This is quite handy as it allows you to see the perpetrator as they come into the frame. The key here however is that you can sometimes adjust this pre-buffer so you are adding more or less to your recording, and thus using more or less hard drive space.


Masking is a nifty tool that works in conjunction with your motion detection settings. This feature allows you to take certain portions of your screen out of the motion detection equation. For example let’s say you have an American flag waving in the background rather constantly. You can use your masking feature to tag that portion of the screen and make sure that any movement within your selected section does not activate the motion record setting. This is very useful in saving your hard drive space as you won’t have unnecessary motion recordings being stored.


The higher the resolution that you record at, the more space your surveillance footage will take up on your hard drive. So depending on your applications; you can turn down your recording resolution in your DVR settings to help save on space as well.


If you are recording audio; then you are adding additional information that has to be stored on your DVR; so it may be best to limit audio recording to areas where it is critical.

Scheduled Recording

Depending on your applications; you may not need to record at all times during the day. This is where scheduled recording comes in. By scheduling when you have your DVR record you can save space by not recording during all hours of the day. This option is usable with both constant recording and motion detection; which can make it quite the space saver.

Number Of Active Cameras

The more security cameras you have actively recording; be it motion recording or not, will determine the amount of space you use up. Obviously the more cameras that are recording; the more space you will use. So if there are certain times of the day where you don’t need certain cameras to be recording; it can be wise to schedule them not to, to help save on space.

By implementing a few of these different features and settings on your surveillance DVR; you will better be able to record and maintain longer stretches of footage.

Christian M Gillman has worked in the surveillance industry for over 6 years. Subscribe to our monthly newsletter, learn more about surveillance, and find great products at

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