What is the Best IP Camera Recording System

There are NVRs and VMS Recording Systems, but what is best for your IP camera system?

video recording servers-ocularis

The video recording system is a key part of the total IP camera system. There are many solutions available, but what is the best one for your application?

Most NVRs, video management software systems, or even a cloud system will provide basic video recording. But, if you want to support many cameras at multiple sites, you need a more advanced system.

This article helps you determine the best recording system for your application. It compares simple systems that are used for a handful of cameras, to complex systems that can handle thousands of cameras at multiple sites. Your total system requirements will determine the best video recording system.

Small Scale IP Camera Recording System

These recording systems are best for sites that have less than 64 cameras. They provide the basic video recording function, and are the easiest to install and use. The recording systems include Network Video Recorders (NVRs), and video management software (VMS) that run on your own PC.  The NVR is easier to install and use, while the VMS provides an easier growth path.  For example, if you have a 16-channel NVR and need to add another camera, you will need to purchase another NVR.  But, if you use a VMS platform, you can easily add an additional camera license.

Network Video Recorder

The Network Video Recorder (NVR) is a specialized computer that connects to your network and includes pre-installed video management software. It provides basic video recording and camera control functions. There are proprietary and nonproprietary (or open) NVR systems available. Proprietary systems are available from camera manufacturers. Non-proprietary (or open systems) are provided by a 3rd party such as Exacq and support many different camera brands.  

Proprietary NVRs    

NVR Illustration

NVR systems from camera manufacturers like Hanwha (Samsung) or Hikvision are the easiest to install and use. These proprietary systems connect to the network, and use a web browser for setup, control and monitoring. Cameras are automatically installed (as long as they are from the same manufacturer).  Some of the proprietary NVRs advertise that they can also support cameras that conform to the OnVIF standard. In many cases this is true, but not guaranteed.

Some NVRs (usually up to 16-channels) include all the network camera connections so you can plug all your IP cameras into the back of the NVR.

Open Platform NVR

Exacq provides a wide range of non-proprietary NVR systems that are designed to support many different camera brands.  This is a bit more complicated to set up but adds many more features and functions. You can select the computer’s horsepower and storage depending on the size of your surveillance system. It also adds the capability of using multiple NVR servers to support a much larger number of cameras. The Exacq NVR systems support small to medium size IP camera systems.

Video Management Software

Recording systems that use video management software are more of a build your own system. The software must be installed on your own Windows PC. The PC you select must have enough horsepower, RAM, and storage to support the total number of IP cameras. It makes these systems more complicated, but it provides a much more flexible solution.

TruViewIP VMS software

This is an example of a basic VMS solution that provides camera viewing and recording functions for a small to medium size camera installation.  It includes a number of nice features such as mapping to help you locate your cameras, a mobile client, and optional central camera management. It is one of the easiest VMS platforms to install and use. This software is suggested for surveillance systems that have up to 128 cameras.

Medium Size Recording Systems

Medium performance recording systems support up to 128 cameras.  You can select the top end of the Exacq NVRs, or video management software (VMS).  

NVR Systems

There are advanced models from Exacq that can support 128 cameras per server, with up to 120 TB of storage (RAID 6).  Multiple servers can be used to support hundreds of cameras.  These NVRs include some advanced features such as a Mobile view of cameras and optional central camera management.

VMS Systems

Recording systems that use video management software are more complicated but provide more features and growth capability.   

Ocularis PRO

Ocularis Professional is one of three software platforms available from OnSSI. The platform can be selected depending on the size and complexity of your surveillance requirements.  The Professional version is designed for small to medium-size systems.  The Enterprise version is suggested for mid to large systems, while the Ultimate version is best for very large systems.

The Professional level supports up to 128 cameras per server, it includes centrally managed camera views, events, and operator user rights.  This is more difficult to install than TruViewIP, but has additional features such as advanced investigation tools, encryption of video, and multi-level maps.

Large Video Management Systems

Large Video Management Systems

High-end recording systems support thousands of cameras at multiple sites. They have advanced features that help you install, administer, and use the video recording system. These advanced systems are designed to run on multiple servers.  In most cases, they will use video servers for recording, administration, and in some cases for handling remote clients. These systems can use either a web browser for video display or special client application.  

These sophisticated IP camera recording systems include analytic alerts caused by a variety of alarm conditions, such as movement in a restricted area, a person crossing a line, a package being left inside a lobby, or even a computer being removed from a desk.  The alarm condition can result in an email message or even a video pop-up on a person’s PC.  They have additional add-on functions such as automated license plate recognition and face recognition. 

Ocularis 5

The Enterprise and Ultimate Ocularis platforms are designed to support cameras that are distributed over many sites.  The products support centralized user management and video encryption for high-security environments. They also support the Critical Camera Failover that switches to an alternative camera when there is a camera failure. 

Since it is sometimes difficult to find a specific event from all the recorded videos, this software includes advanced investigation tools that provide fast access to incidents. Everything is designed for large camera support including central management of camera views, video walls, and handling of alarm and alert conditions.


Video management and recording systems are a very important part of the total IP camera system.  Their primary job is to record video.  Small camera systems can use an NVR or a simple video management software platform.  As the number of cameras increases, or if you need special analytic functions, you will need a more sophisticated and complex recording system.  

The proprietary NVR is the easiest to install and use. The open platform NVR is best when using a mix of different types of cameras.  They are both excellent choices for small to medium systems that don’t require any special analytic features.

Larger camera systems, and those that require special functions, require more sophisticated VMS software. Ocularis from OnSSI is best for very large camera systems that require centralized management and control.

For help selecting the right video recording system for you, please contact us. We can be reached at 800-431-1658 in the USA, or at 914-944-3425 everywhere else, or use our contact form.