What is a Security DVR?

DVRs are versatile pieces of equipment.  The main function of a CCTV DVR is to record the video feeds from your cameras.  But as with everything in technology, they have evolved into more sophisticated devices.  The DVR can be a standalone or PC-based.  Also, you have the option to use either analog CCTV cameras or IP (internet protocols).  Finally, if you are on the go, like most working professionals, you can view your DVR from any computer that is running windows or from your smartphone.  With this kind of versatility and viewing options, modern DVRs will put you at your home or place of business right in front of you even if you are half way around the world.


DO EMI & Video Signals Mix? No they do not.

June 10, 2011 by · 2 Comments
Filed under: Cables, Security Camera, Security DVR 

EMI (Electromagnetic Interference) is a disturbance in an electrical circuit.  The source of EMI can be any object that contains rapidly changing electrical currents.  Almost anything that uses electricity to operate is a source of EMI.  The problem with EMI, concerning surveillance, is that it distorts video signal.  When installing a CCTV system, it’s important to run cables away from sources of EMI.  Otherwise, the video feed on the DVR will be extremely fuzzy.  This should definitely be taken into consideration when installing a surveillance system in an industrial environment.  One common source of EMI is fluorescent lighting.  Fluorescent lights are common in industrial areas.   Running cable close to these lights should be avoided at all costs.  If cabling absolutely has to be run close to fluorescent lights, then it should be ran in some type of conduit that is properly insulated and will create a barrier between the video cable and the light.

PC-Based or Standalone DVR System?

Do you know what type of security DVR you need for your application? Are you planning to expand your new system in the future? Are you thinking of tying multiple systems to each other from different locations? These are all great questions to ask yourself when considering what type of DVR you may need for your application.

The truth is you cannot go wrong with either a PC-Based or a Standalone DVR system. If you have a residential application that may need 4 initial cameras with the potential to expand up to another 4 cameras in the future, then an 8 channel standalone unit may be the best bet for you and it will only cost a fraction of what a PC-Based DVR will.

If you have a larger residential or commercial application then going the PC-Based DVR route might be a better fit for you. The reason for making this decision for these types of applications lies primarily on the fact that a PC-Based DVR is always upgradable by simply adding extra DVR Capture Cards and updating the software. Converting a PC-Based DVR from 8 Channels up to 12, 16, 24 or 32 channels is a matter of which Capture Cards you choose to add into your existing system. In most cases, a standalone DVR can tie in with other standalone DVRs through CMS (Central Monitoring Software) as long as they are the same model.

When considering which unit is best for your application simply ask yourself, “Am I going to be finished with my security system with the first cameras I purchase or am I always going to find other places that I would like to add cameras?” Depending on what your answer is to this question should help make your decision easier and give you a true sense of confidence in what you are looking for.  If you are still having a hard time figuring out which type of DVR is best for your application, please refer to this Standalone and PC-Based DVR Comparison Chart.

Security Cameras & CCTV Practices – Nov 30, 2009 – 2nd Ed.

November 30, 2009 by · 6 Comments
Filed under: Blog Carnivals 

Welcome to the November 30, 2009 edition of the Security Cameras and CCTV Practices blog carnival. We have a lot of new material in this edition, including one submission from another contributor! We are excited to have multiple contributors to this publication and do not want to be the only one submitting valuable content, so please, if you have industry-relevant blog articles, follow the submission link at the bottom of this edition.

CCTV Security Cameras

ApexCCTV presents Home Security Systems – a Cost Benefit Perspective posted at The CCTV Blog, saying, “It is becoming more and more cost-effective and important to own and install your own home security system. ApexCCTV’s Jon Hough lays it out in a short cost-benefit perspective.”

Digital Video Recorders

Shawn Taylor presents Surveillance Video Recorder ? Which One is For You posted at Hidden Surveillance Camera.com.

ApexCCTV presents Computer or PC-Based Security DVR Running Slow? – Try these Tips First posted at The CCTV Blog, saying, “Many times you will find that a PC slows down over time and begins running slow, etc. Shaun, one of ApexCCTV’s technicians, details some FREE and easy ways to speed up your computer and protect it with general maintenance and software programs.”


ApexCCTV presents GeoVision & Windows OS Issues & Troubleshooting posted at The CCTV Blog, saying, “Security experts utilizing GeoVision’s systems have experienced many issues over the years with Windows integration. ApexCCTV’s lead technician shares some of those issues and the troubleshooting measures that should be taken if you are experiencing these Windows Operating System issues with your GeoVision System.”

ApexCCTV presents Detecting & Battling Key Loggers, Computer Monitoring & other Malicious Activities posted at The CCTV Blog, saying, “Malicious computer surveillance and monitoring is a very viable concern in today’s internet age. There are many ways to detect such malicious activity, some of which are detailed in this article.”

Training & Informational Videos

ApexCCTV presents How Many Frames per Second? A Comparison Video posted at The CCTV Blog, saying, “When choosing a security camera system, the recording frame rate of your DVR (digital video recorder) is a large part of the purchasing decision. The video and information in this article should make that decision much easier by showing you exactly what you’ll be getting.”

That concludes this edition. Submit your blog article to the next edition of security cameras and cctv practices using our carnival submission form. Past posts and future hosts can be found on our blog carnival index page.

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GeoVision Windows OS Issues & Troubleshooting

October 28, 2009 by · 6 Comments
Filed under: GeoVision, Security Camera, Software 

Over the past few years, I have experienced several common issues with Windows operating systems (OS) and the earlier Geovision DVR cards and software. The following are several of the more common problems and their possible resolutions.

Please keep in mind that every system is different and these fixes may not work for yours, depending on the software and hardware versions. If you have a specific issue that can’t be resolved by the suggestions below, don’t hesitate to comment. We’ll do our best to help out!

If you are experiencing issues with GeoVision’s Control Center V2 Software, you will probably want to take a look at our GeoVision Video Tutorials.

GeoVision DVR Conflics & Possible Resolutions

No/Poor/blurred image on a camera

  • On the box camera body, where the lens attaches to the camera body, make sure the big outer silver ring is removed. Only the small inner silver ring is required.
  • Make sure the DC switch in the back of the camera is set to DC or AI-AMP, depending on the camera model and manufacturer.
  • Make sure, if using an auto-iris lens, the 4 pin power cord is properly inserted in the 4 pin switch in the back of the camera.
  • If you still have no image, or black screen, or even ‘ Video Lost,” you may have a bad channel on the DVR card. Move the video cable to another channel to see if the issue is the camera or the card.
  • Try Refocusing the lens
  • Ensure the lens is tightened ONLY finger tight
  • Insure the correct version of octopus cable/dongle (the cable connected to the PC-DVR in the back of the PC) is attached to the DVR card
  • An external light source or object that may reflect light into an IR camera can cause the image to “wash out” insure that there is no light from streets or external building lamps. If placed near a wall or roof overhang have enough clearance not to get a reflection into the lenses of the camera.

Auto-login for Geovision not working

  • Auto-login in system configure may not be turned on
    • Stop Monitoring on Geovision system.
    • Click on Configure – General Settings (Only on newer versions) – System Configure
    • Go to Auto Log-on, put check mark in the box
    • Click on blue arrow to right of this line and enter Login and password.
    • Click OK – OK – Start All monitoring.
  • Password for system and autologin may not match
    • First, go to Local Password Setup
    • Check that the login and password are correct and entered
    • Click on System Configure
    • Click on Configure – General Settings (Only on newer versions) – System Configure
    • Go to Auto Log-on, put a check mark in the box
    • Click on blue arrow to right of this line and enter Login and password.
    • Click OK – OK – Start All monitoring.

Windows 2000 auto-login not working

  • The correct Registry entry may not be not there—
    • Click on Start – Run and type in: “regedit”
    • Navigate to : hkey_local_machine\Software\Microsoft\WindowsNT\CurrentVersion\Winlogin
    • Assign DefaultDomainName, DefaultUserName and DefaultPassword
  • If not there, create them:
    • Click Edit, Add Value, Value Name—DefaultPassword, Data Type–click Reg_SZ
    • Click OKString Editor Box, type your password, and click OK, save changes.
    • Click Edit menu, Add Value, Type AutoAdminLogin, Date Type—click Reg_SZ
    • Enter 1 in String Editor Box, save changes.
    • Click Edit menu, Add Value, Type ForceAutologon, Data Type—click Reg_SZ
    • Enter 1 in String Editor box, save changes

Analog vs. Digital Resolution – TV Lines (TVL) vs. Pixels

October 19, 2009 by · 22 Comments
Filed under: CCTV Articles, Comparisons, General Technology, Guides 

One of the most confusing and difficult topics in the CCTV world is resolution. Most of us have digital cameras or video camcorders and have heard the term megapixel used as the most common comparison in resolution between various makes and models. We are also aware that a larger number means better picture quality, but many people do not know why. In the CCTV security camera world, though, most cameras are still analog and their resolution is measured differently from what we are used to.

When measuring analog resolution, a TV line does not have a defined number of individual pixels. Instead, the term “TV lines” refers to the number of discernable horizontal or vertical lines on the screen. Analog security cameras are measured in Analog TV Lines, and most of them have between 420 and 580. The higher number of TV Lines, the more information captured. These types of cameras connect to a security DVR or CCTV VCR via coaxial video cable.

A pixel is the smallest element of a digital image. We have all zoomed too far into a picture from a website and seen the image go from clear to a bunch of colored squares – each one of those squares is an individual pixel. A megapixel (MP) is 1 million pixels, and is a specific measurement for digital resolution that encompasses the area of the output video.
Example: If a camera outputs a signal that is 1280×1024 pixels, it is shooting at a megapixel resolution of 1280 x 1024 = 1,310,720 pixels = 1.3 Megapixels (MP).

The most common type of digital security cameras are IP Cameras. These, like your digital camera at home, use strictly digital resolution. They utilize a network connection to either act as a standalone device or connect to a network-based DVR (Digital Video Recorder) or NVR (Network Video Recorder). IP Cameras have fixed resolutions and are now approaching, and in several cases exceeding, 1 megapixel in resolution, on average. Many of these cameras also support POE (Power Over Ethernet), which allows them to be powered by the Ethernet cable used for network connectivity, and PTZ (Pan Tilt Zoom), allowing for remote control of the pan, tilt and zoom features, if applicable.

I hope this helped everyone distinguish the differences between Analog (TV Line) and Digital (Pixel) Resolution. We would love to know what you think of our articles, and if you have any further questions, don’t hesitate to leave a comment!

PC Based DVRs vs. Standalone DVRs

October 14, 2009 by · 12 Comments
Filed under: Comparisons, Security Camera System, Security DVR 

I get calls on a daily basis asking which I prefer, PC based or Standalone DVRs. In most cases I would have to say PC based systems. Don’t get me wrong, the standalone units are great for small budgets, but when you need to retrieve the data from one or expand your system…

Standalone DVR Overview

Several people want to use the smaller, less expensive DVR… and for good reasons. One would be cost; they range in price from a couple hundred to a few thousand dollars. Also, they have all the operating system software written directly into the motherboard, making them more secure from outside threats. Some have a fairly simple menu and even use a remote control or mouse for on-screen navigation, too.

Overall, though, these smaller, less expensive units all have a few failing points. Since the standalone DVRs typically use a Linux based operating system, they are often difficult to link to a PC for backups, etc. Several have built in CD/DVD burners that allow you to backup your security camera footage directly, but you still need a PC to play the files. This is where the fun begins; you will likely need special software or video codecs to view the file on your PC! Sometimes the DVR will come with the needed software, but if you are reading this post because yours did not, I would suggest downloading the “K-Lite Codec Pack – FULL.” Once installed, that should allow you to play almost any video you will ever come across. If that does not work, I would say contact the manufacturer or check out their website to see if they can offer any insight.

The final “con” associated with Standalone DVRs is that they are basically trash if the unit ever stops working. Most of the time you get your money’s worth, though.

PC-Based DVR Overview

I would much rather look to the long term of the device I purchase. With a PC-based DVR, you have a lot more versatility and power, but also a larger price tag. You have all of the options that Windows gives you, and unfortunately the drawbacks too. One major “pro” is that you have the ability to upgrade the DVR to a more powerful system and add additional CCTV cameras later, if wanted. The added ability to choose a surveillance company’s DVR card and the options that they provide increases the desirability, in my opinion.

These systems allow for more reliable control over your security system and the ability to extract the DVR data, when needed, is easier. Larger companies, such as banks, schools and casinos, rely on the options given by these extremely customizable PC-based DVRs. Being Windows systems, the CD/DVDs that you backup to can be played on any similar windows system (may still require codec updates).

In summary, PC-Based DVRs can make surveillance at home, business or school easier to deal with, but they still have a few drawbacks, such as power cost, size and having to use Windows Vista in most cases. Overall, I prefer my video surveillance be done with a PC.

Questions or Comments? Don’t be afraid to comment on the blog or contact us directly. We’d be happy to assist you in making the right decision for your application!

Digital Video Recorder: Not Just Your TiVo

September 9, 2009 by · 10 Comments
Filed under: Comparisons, Security DVR 

When you think of a Digital Video Recorder (DVR), the first thing that comes to mind is more than likely the TiVo sitting on a shelf near your TV.  However, a DVR doesn’t just record television shows.  Specific types of CCTV DVRs can be used to record the video (and audio) that your surveillance cameras capture.  Of course you have to own a DVR that is specifically made for this purpose.

The types of DVRs used for security are the PC-based and standalone DVR.  It is a good idea to be familiar with the basics behind these when choosing a security DVR for your home or business.

Let’s take a look at both.


The PC-based DVR can come in either a tower (normal PC) or a rack mount form.  It includes all of the same components as your household or work computer, as well as a video capture card, or cards, which is the device that captures the video and audio from your cameras.  The PC typically runs on a Windows operating system.  This type is easier to upgrade and modify in the future.  It also offers better video recording quality, more advanced features and can easily be integrated with your alarm or POS system.  A PC-based DVR is good if you plan on setting up a surveillance system for large projects, such as casinos, banks and airports.


A standalone DVR looks like and is about the same size as a standard DVD or VCR player.  All of the software and components are built-in, and the DVR runs on either a Linux-based or proprietary-based operating system.   Because a standalone only runs one application, it is less likely to experience software failure.  These systems are easy to install and use, offer a variety of functions and are less expensive than PC-based DVRs.  If you are installing a security camera system in your home or small office, a standalone DVR is the way to go.

As you continue to build your home or business surveillance system, it is important to compare between the two types and decide which will be best suited for your operation.  After you have, come back and share your hints and tips about purchasing a security DVR by leaving a comment.  Thanks for reading!

Security DVRs for Surveillance and Safety

December 11, 2008 by · 2 Comments
Filed under: Security DVR 

In the early days, video from multiple security cameras were recorded using time-lapse VCRs and multiplexers. Due to recent advancements in recording technology, digital video recorders (DVRs) have started replacing many VCRs and multiplexers. DVR security camera systems record video on a hard drive-based medium, eliminating the need for a videotape. These sophisticated systems have the ability to manage multiple security cameras as well as record and playback video locally or through the Internet.

Before choosing a DVR, decide how many cameras you want to connect to it. The video recording rate, which is calculated in frames per second (fps), should also play a major role in your buying decision. For high-end security systems, opt for a DVR that has a high recording rate; however, a camera with a low recording rate would be sufficient to meet most security needs.

There are two types of DVRs, PC-based models and stand-alone units. PC-based DVRs come with 4, 8, 12, 16, or 32 camera inputs. These security DVR systems convert analog signals to digital signals and compress them. The compressed data is then stored on a hard drive for archiving and playback. By entering the date and time using their on-screen menus, PC-based DVR systems allow you to search and easily retrieve images and videos of any point in time.

You can access a network-based DVR surveillance camera system from a remote location using any TCP/IP network or dial-up connection. The video that the security camera systems capture can even be viewed with client software. The PC-based DVR has the added advantage of allowing you to connect more cameras when you install multiple DVR cards in your computer. These capture cards are available from INOX, AverMedia, and GeoVision.

You can also opt for stand-alone DVR systems. These can be operated by the simple push of a button and do not require the use of a PC. They come with 4, 8, 9, or 16 camera inputs. Because their video is compressed less than PC-based units, stand-alone DVR security systems offer better picture quality. They have a single circuit board with software that is encoded on their chips. The software of these DVR surveillance systems is often more stable than PC-based DVRs.

Standalone DVR units are very efficient when used for home security. They allow you to monitor your security cameras while you watch TV. They also include an IR remote that lets you control the live video from your security camera. If you want to record and store this data, then get a stand-alone DVR model that includes a hard drive.

Security DVR systems provide detailed images and crystal clear video that do not degrade. They also allow you to record video for a longer period of time and let you pause the video without distorting the picture.

Read more on the differences between PC-Based and Standalone DVRs in this artcle, PC-Based DVRs vs. Standalone DVRs, and feel free to take a look at our Security DVR selection.