A DVR is one of the great conveniences of modern life. If you're looking at the available options, though, you make be wondering how to differentiate one choice from another. Let's take a look at how you can find the right setup for your needs.
Before you get too involved with choosing a DVR system, it's good to understand how storage is handled. At the core of the problem are what are called video codecs. These are forms of software that handle the encoding and decoding of the data, whether it is stored locally or remotely. The more modern a codec is, generally, the more data a system using it can store.
Depending on the codec in use, you can expect and hour of full-HD video operating in 1080P and at 60 frames per second to require somewhere between 2.5 and 6 GB of disk space. Move up to storing 4K video, and the required storage increases to between 30 and 30 GB of storage per hour of video.
Forms of Storage
There are two dominant types of storage for DVR video. First, you have hard drives that store your video locally. Second, there are cloud-based systems that store your videos on a remote server. You will also sometimes see hybrid solutions.
Each approach has its pros and cons. Storing stuff locally on your own DVR system means that your videos will be available even if you lack internet connectivity. Also, you won't see shifts in video quality if your internet bandwidth wobbles a bit. This is one of the big reasons that satellite TV providers often give their customers DVRs that store stuff locally, a major plus for folks who like in remote areas.
Cloud-based solutions have the virtues of availability and scalability. Most cloud DVR providers offer their customers access to programs on all their devices. If you want to watch a recorded show on your phone, go for it. Cloud storage can also be easily expanded if you run out of space and are willing to pay a little extra to keep all your videos.
A hybrid system tries to have the best of both worlds. You can have your favorite programs stored locally while also getting access to cloud-based solutions for additional space and access. Many set-top boxes, though, don't support hybrid solutions. Make sure to look closely at the DVR's documentation to determine how storage is handled.