What is the Lifespan of Security Camera Footage?

security camera

In the complex universe of surveillance, understanding the length of time security cameras retain footage is a cornerstone that extends far beyond mere storage considerations. Losing key footage might create a void in your ability to tackle critical incidents. This article delves into the importance of optimal storage duration for identifying threats, comprehending security patterns, and securing the lasting effectiveness of your surveillance system.

The Lifespan of Security Camera Recordings

There isn’t a universal answer to the question of how long security camera footage is kept, as each camera and security system is unique. Usually, security camera footage is preserved for a span of 30 to 90 days.

However, specific sectors are subject to distinct regulations. For instance, financial institutions, such as banks, might be required to retain footage for half a year or longer, while casinos could be obligated to preserve footage for up to a year.

Storage Locations for Security Camera Footage

Depending on the system and setup, security camera footage can be stored in a variety of places. The three prevalent storage options are:

Cloud Storage

Many contemporary security camera systems provide cloud storage solutions. Footage is uploaded and stored on remote servers, ensuring accessibility from anywhere with an internet connection.


Network Video Recorders (NVRs) and Digital Video Recorders (DVRs) are dedicated devices crafted for video storage. NVRs are typically used with IP cameras to store digital footage, while DVRs are compatible with analog cameras and store footage in a digital format. These devices are usually installed on-site and offer local access to stored footage.

SD Card Storage

Some security cameras come with built-in SD card slots for local storage. The footage is directly stored on the camera’s SD card. This option is beneficial for standalone cameras or cases where continuous internet access may be challenging. However, SD card storage has capacity limitations, and once the card is full, new footage may overwrite older footage.

Retention Time for Each Storage

Here is a list that shows the retention time for each storage method:

StorageRetention Time
Cloud StorageCloud storage often comes with subscription plans that offer different durations. Common options include 7, 14, 30, 60, or 90 days of retention.
NVR/DVRNVRs and DVRs typically let users customize retention periods. It can range from a few days to several months, depending on the storage capacity of the device and the settings configured by the user.
SD Card StorageThe retention time on an SD card is limited by its capacity and the camera’s recording settings. It ranges from a few days to one month.

Elements Influencing the Storage Capacity of Home CCTV Cameras

The storage capacity of home CCTV cameras is intricately influenced by various factors:

Camera Resolution

The resolution of your CCTV cameras directly impacts storage requirements. Higher resolutions produce more detailed footage but require larger storage capacities.


Video compression techniques such as H.264, MJPEG, and MPEG4, play a crucial role in storage efficiency. Compression reduces file sizes, thus minimizing the storage space required.


Bitrate affects both video quality and storage needs. Higher bitrates enhance video quality but increase storage demands. The interaction of resolution and compression formats further impacts bitrate requirements.

Number of Cameras

The number of cameras in your setup directly influences storage needs. Using multiple cameras simultaneously escalates storage requirements.

Retention Period (Days)

The length of time you plan to retain CCTV recordings directly correlates with storage capacity. Longer retention periods necessitate larger storage capacities.

Recording Mode

The recording mode, whether continuous, motion-activated, or a combination of both, can impact storage needs. Continuous recording consumes more space, while motion-activated recording conserves storage by capturing footage only when movement is detected.

Storage Space (GB) = Bitrate (Kbps) * 1000/8 * 3600 * 24 * Cameras * Days/1000 000 000

Strategies for Extending the Lifespan of Security Cameras Footage

To keep camera footage for longer, consider the following strategies:

Scheduled Recording

Continuous recording fills your storage with potentially unnecessary footage. To maximize storage life, use scheduled recording. Set cameras to record only at specific times, eliminating unnecessary footage and significantly cutting down on storage space. For instance, scheduling cameras to record only at night can more than double your video storage time.

Motion Detection Cameras

These cameras record only when there’s movement, enhancing accuracy and security. Modern cameras with line-crossing functions allow you to monitor specific areas for movement and unauthorized entry. Adjust motion detection settings to target relevant events without filling up storage too quickly, especially in areas with high motion.

Exporting Footage

Export camera footage to a computer or a separate hard drive, like a thumb drive, to preserve it indefinitely without using up the main storage space. Selectively export important events or footage for future reference.

Video Compression

Implement video compression, such as H.265, to reduce the size of your footage and create more room in your storage system. Compression uses a codec to eliminate unnecessary files and shrink existing ones without compromising video quality. This frees up space, allowing you to store more footage on your server or SD card.

Adjust Recording Settings

Reduce the recording resolution or frame rate if high quality isn’t essential for all footage. Lowering these settings can save a significant amount of storage space.

Suggested Security Cameras for Prolonged Footage Retention

Choosing the right security camera is crucial for optimal storage efficiency and extended footage retention. Consider the following recommendations tailored for maximizing storage duration while maintaining video quality and security features:

Standalone Wire-Free Security Camera – Argus 3 Ultra

The Argus 3 Ultra is an exceptional choice for a wire-free security camera. With a 4K 8MP Ultra HD resolution, it ensures outstanding clarity in surveillance. Its smart detection capabilities go beyond simple motion sensing, reducing false alarms, and optimizing storage. With H.265 compression technology, the camera efficiently minimizes file sizes without compromising quality.

Reolink Argus 3 Ultra

4K 8MP Standalone Wire-Free Camera

4K 8MP; Smart Detection; 5/2.4GHz Dual-Band WiFi; Battery/Solar Powered; Colour Night Vision; Alerts Without Subscription.

Smart 8MP PTZ PoE Security Camera – RLC-823A

The RLC-823A Smart 8MP PTZ PoE Security Camera is ideal for extended footage retention. Its 4K resolution, PTZ functionality, and H.265 compression deliver detailed, high-quality recordings while efficiently managing storage space. The camera supports SD cards up to 256GB, providing generous local storage for longer retention periods.

Reolink RLC-823A

Smart PTZ PoE Camera with Spotlights

4K 8MP Ultra HD, Person/Vehicle Detection, 5X Optical Zoom, Auto Tracking, Manual Pan & Tilt, Two-Way Audio, 190ft Night Vision, Live View.

Frequently Asked Questions

1. Do home security cameras delete footage?

Yes, home security cameras can delete footage based on various settings and storage management configurations. Most modern security camera systems feature loop recording or overwrite functionality, which means that when the storage is full, the system automatically deletes the oldest footage to make room for new recordings.

2. How far back can a security camera go?

The duration for which a security camera can store footage depends on several factors, including the camera system’s storage capacity, video resolution, frame rate, compression settings, and whether it employs continuous recording or motion-triggered recording.

In general, security camera systems can store footage for a few days to several weeks. High-capacity storage devices, such as Network Video Recorders (NVRs) with large hard drives, can extend this duration. However, as the storage fills up, older footage may be automatically overwritten unless there’s a specific configuration to save it for longer.

3. Do security cameras keep all footage?

Security cameras typically do not keep all footage indefinitely. The retention period depends on factors such as storage capacity, settings, and configuration. Most systems employ a loop recording or overwrite mechanism, where the oldest footage is automatically deleted to make room for new recordings when the storage is full.


Determining the length of time security cameras keep footage is a delicate decision that should be guided by storage capabilities and the specific security needs of the user. Striking the right balance between compliance, efficiency, and privacy considerations is vital for fully harnessing the potential of surveillance technology in protecting individuals and properties.

If you found this article helpful and informative, share it with your friends. If you have any thoughts or experiences about camera footage to share, make sure to leave a comment below!

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