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Why can’t I find a PC Based DVR anymore?

Why PC based recording is more trouble than you think

PC based recording used to be a viable option for video surveillance, but never worked as well in the real world as it did on paper.


Moreover one small change made PC-based recording terribly frustrating: MIcrosoft Update’s mandatory computer restarts.

PC based recording never amounted to what it promised to be. Program errors, connectivity problems, and the cost of a secondary computer always made it more difficult than a standalone DVR unit. Secondly, as the cost of a DVR has gone down dramatically, the cost of a DVR card you can put in your computer never really did.

Right now, the cost of a PC Based DVR card (not even factoring in the computer that the card goes into) is more than a standalone DVR.

However, the thing that really killed PC-Based recording was Microsoft changing the default options for mandatory restarts when Microsoft software updated itself. This mandatory restart – often happening in the middle of the night when no one was there to log back in and start the recording program again, was the death of PC-based surveillance systems. In many surveillance situations, this meant the possibility of a computer update turning off your surveillance system.

Yes, you could change the settings using some remote administrator controls, you could setup a script that automatically logged the surveillance user back in and then started recording again, and you could choose schedule updates with fleet management controls. Even though these options were available, they were cumbersome and increased the technological skills and costs needs to install and maintain a PC-Based surveillance system dramatically.

PC Based Recording in Linux

PC based recording never really caught on with Linux boxes, because of driver issues and because it wasn’t necessary for manufacturers to make a Linux program since they had developed their own custom Linux OS’s – that’s what a standalone DVR is – a specialized computer with a custom version of linux that can only do one thing, but does that one thing very well. Unlike a PC unit or the recorder-as-a-software-program model, a recorder-as-an-OS standalone unit will “self heal” if there is a power outage or other issue.

Trying to record your cameras on a multipurpose computer costs more in time, maintenance, and money and just isn’t worth it.