Smart Video and WD Purple Surveillance Hard Drives Can Be the Smart Choice

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So Many Solutions: WD Purple Surveillance Hard Drives, Cameras, and More

Surveillance is one of the fastest growing data storage markets today. Western Digital® answers this growing need with a specialized line of surveillance hard drives and microSD™ storage solutions designed especially for the demanding task of always-on surveillance. Internally created, our products meet your critical smart video recording needs with the aim to increase system reliability with reliable storage at each camera, ensuring uninterrupted operations regardless of network availability. Our products cover a full spectrum, from flash cards and embedded devices in cameras, to surveillance-class hard disk drives in video recorders, to enterprise-class HDDs and solid-state drive (SSD) and storage boxes for the back-end and cloud.

Understanding Surveillance Hard Drives and Equipment

Most standalone surveillance systems are comprised of three main components:


Cameras either wired or wireless, cameras are the sensors that collect video footage and transmit it directly to the recorder in real time. Available in standard and high definition resolutions, cameras are strategically placed to provide maximum field of vision in sensitive areas. Cameras can be monitored individually via the NVR’s user interface.

Video Recorder

Video recorder referred to as a digital video recorder (DVR) or networked video recorder (NVR), interprets footage received from the cameras to data recorded to an internal hard drive, or array of drives. It’s encased in an enclosure that houses a processor, video inputs, and an internal storage drive. Like the DVR you use at home to record TV shows, except this device records security footage.

Internal Storage

Internal storage device is often an HDD in a single-bay or multiple bay recorder, or microSD card in a camera. These storage devices hold the footage captured by the cameras in a continuous stream, or at a schedule set by the administrator. High capacity storage devices are preferred because they hold more continuous footage with less overwriting of data.

Video Recorder

Surveillance recorders fall into two main categories: digital video recorder (DVR) and network video recorder (NVR).
Consider these points when making your choice:

DVR Advantages

  • Hardwired
  • Great as internal standalone system
  • Generally lower cost

DVR Disadvantages

  • More difficult to install and expand
  • May not support higher resolutions

NVR Advantages

  • Highly scalable; just add internet protocol (IP) cameras to the network
  • Wireless cameras can be used to ease installation where wire runs are difficult

NVR Disadvantages

  • Generally higher cost
  • May be inaccessible when internet is down

Some older, complex, DVR systems required an elaborate visual interface with monitors for each attached camera. Today, most systems offer a wireless smartphone or tablet interface via a proprietary app, which give the user full control, even when remote from the DVR or NVR via the internet.

On-Board Storage

You wouldn’t try to haul a piano with a tricycle. You would use a vehicle that could accommodate the intense load of a piano easily. The same is true with surveillance. This 24/7 task demands that storage is designed to keep up with the always-on, 24/7 surveillance workload. Standard desktop drives are built to run for short intervals, and are not typically designed for the 24/7, always-on environment of a surveillance system. Any disruption in surveillance could result in a failure that impacts multiple users, a failure to record a security event, or even degrade the entire system. Consider these points when making your choice:

Existing Condition

  • System has a pre-installed hard drive that is low capacity
  • System has no pre-installed drives
  • Multi-bay system with vacant bays

Suggested Action

  • Consider upgrading the internal storage to a higher capacity
  • Install surveillance-grade drives with high capacity
  • Add more drives as capacity demands grow

The amount of security footage recorded and saved on an internal hard drive depends on several factors:

  • The number of cameras simultaneously recording footage
  • The resolution and frame rate the cameras are using
  • The amount of uninterrupted footage that is required

The table gives an example of approximate hard drive capacity used during continuous recording1:

Resolution1 Video Format 7 Days 14 Days
(1280 x 720)
H.264 341 GB 660 GB
(1920 x 1080)
H.264 768 GB 800 GB
(3840 x 2160)
H.265 2.17 TB 2.5 TB
Resolution 30 Days 60 Days 90 Days
(1280 x 720)
1.2 TB 2.5 TB 3.7 TB
(1920 x 1080)
1.7 TB 3.4 TB 5.1 TB
(3840 x 2160)
5.3 TB 10.5 TB 15.8 TB
Resolution1 Video Format 7 Days 14 Days 30 Days 60 Days 90 Days
(1280 x 720)
H.264 341 GB 660 GB 1.2 TB 2.5 TB 3.7 TB
(1920 x 1080)
H.264 768 GB 800 GB 1.7 TB 3.4 TB 5.1 TB
(3840 x 2160)
H.265 2.17 TB 2.5 TB 5.3 TB 10.5 TB 15.8 TB
  • 1 camera recording
  • 24 hours per day
  • 30 frames per second
  • High video quality
  • High scene activity
  1. Approximations; results may vary based on host device, file attributes, and other factors. See Surveillance Storage Calculator for full details

WD Purple Surveillance Hard Drives

For home and small business security systems, Western Digital offers WD Purple surveillance hard drives. These drives are specifically designed for continuous surveillance and smart video tasks. WD Purple surveillance hard drives are engineered for always-on DVR and NVR systems. They’re able to withstand the extreme heat fluctuations and equipment vibrations within an NVR environment. WD Purple drives are also optimized for writing multiple concurrent video streams simultaneously, which makes them suited for surveillance and smart video applications.

  • WD Purple surveillance hard drives have up to three times the workload rate of standard desktop drives2. They’re tuned for write-intensive, high stream-count applications typical to most surveillance systems. They have a supported workload rate of up to 180TB/yr3.
  • Built-in IntelliSeek™ technology reduces damaging ambient noise and vibrations by calculating optimum seek speeds.
  • WD Purple surveillance hard drives are equipped with AllFrame™ 4K technology. These drives improve Advanced Technology Attachment (ATA) streaming to help reduce frame loss and improve overall video playback.

[2] [3] Workload Rate is defined as the amount of user data transferred to or from the hard drive. Comparison is based on annualized Workload Rate (TB transferred ✕ [8760 / recorded power-on hours]). Workload Rate will vary depending on your hardware and software components and configurations. As used for storage capacity, 1TB = one trillion bytes. Actual user capacity may be less depending on operating environment.

Consider equipping or upgrading your DVR or NVR with WD Purple Surveillance Hard Drives.

WD Purple Pro HDD

Modern recorders now support multiple video streams per camera. WD Purple Pro drives are designed for new generations of high-end AI-enabled recorders, video analytics appliances, deep-learning servers and cloud solutions that can benefit from high-capacity storage with high performance and additional workload capability. WD Purple Pro drives are engineered for advanced smart video solutions that operate 24/7. With an MTBF of up to 2.5 million hours¹ (12TB, 14TB and 18TB³) and tarnish-resistant components, WD Purple Pro drives add additional robustness for multi-bay enclosure and deliver reliable operation in large scale surveillance systems even in harsh environments.

  • WD Purple Pro drives feature a workload rating up to 550TB/year to support the heavy video data capture and analysis found in advanced AI-enabled recorders, video analytics appliances, deep learning analytics servers and cloud-based storage.
  • WD Purple Pro drives feature AllFrame AI technology, which helps reduce frame loss, improve overall video playback, and not only enables recording of multiple streams per camera but also supports up to 32 AI streams per drive.
  • The 6th generation, field-proven HelioSeal™ technology delivers trusted high capacity WD Purple Pro hard drives (12TB, 14TB and 18TB³) for the massive storage needs of AI-driven smart video and deep learning analytics.


Cameras are the eyes and ears of your security system. They can make a big difference regarding the quality and integrity of your captured footage. There are basically two types of surveillance cameras: wired and wireless. Consider these points when choosing:

Wired Camera Advantages

  • Can support higher transmission rates
  • Leverage existing IP network, if available within reach

Wired Camera Disadvantages

  • Requires cable-run, which might be difficult in some locations
  • Power over Ethernet (PoE) cameras may lose power if the network goes down

Wireless Camera Advantages

  • Ease of installation in locations where wire runs are difficult
  • Greater flexibility in installation location, so long as within range of Wi-Fi access point

Wireless Camera Disadvantages

  • May not support high transmission rates
  • Wi-Fi interference or weak signal could result in loss of critical video capture, without on-board storage

Cameras are usually mounted at high angles pointed out and downward to capture the maximum field of vision. Multiple cameras are deployed depending on the need and capacity of the DVR or NVR. Some support four cameras, others up to eight, and high-end NVRs can support up to 256 cameras in a single system. Here are some points to consider:

  • Modern surveillance cameras connect to an NVR directly via Ethernet cables. In some cases this connection can power the camera via POE (Power over Ethernet) which provides approximately 30 watts of power, which is sufficient for most cameras.
  • Wi-Fi enabled cameras operate on your Local Area Network (LAN) and transmit their signal wirelessly to the NVR. However, these cameras can require a separate power source if not connected via an Ethernet cable to the NVR.
  • Many surveillance cameras are installed in inaccessible locations, making serving and supporting these cameras more difficult and requiring more robust design and long-lasting components such as storage technology.
  • Cameras can capture footage at various resolutions, depending on your requirements and storage limitations.
  • Infrared technology (if available on your camera) is utilized to capture footage at night or during low light conditions.
  • Most newer cameras can zoom in or out and rotate angles via remote control.

WD Purple Surveillance microSD Cards

Most of today’s state-of-the-art IP surveillance cameras have capabilities for capture and protection of data using on-camera microSD storage. While ordinary microSD cards can provide a measure of protection, the Western Digital WD Purple microSD card has the endurance, capacity, and weather-resistance to provide not just protection, but an extra measure of confidence.

  • WD Purple microSD cards are designed for continuous 24/7 recording, in the event your camera loses connection with the NVR, and provides additional peace of mind in your video surveillance system.
  • Capacities up to 1TB. WD Purple microSD cards are built with advanced 3D NAND technology, ensuring high performance, reliability, and endurance.
  • All WD Purple microSD cards feature increased endurance, which is critical for long-lasting, reliable and continuous operation in cameras that are in inaccessible locations.
  • In compatible cameras, WD Purple microSD card’s health monitoring capability allows you to check card health status, so you can perform preemptive storage maintenance when necessary.
  • WD Purple microSD card supports a -25°C to 85°C temperature range, and it is humidity-resistant. This card is designed for continuous operation in extreme weather conditions and in a variety of climates.

Consider equipping or upgrading your IP Cameras with WD Purple microSD Cards.

Capturing and Organizing Footage

Once you have set up your surveillance system, it’s time to start capturing footage. There are two ways to do this: continuous monitoring or motion-triggered:

  • Continuous monitoring means your video capture remains on at all times and records every minute of footage to the DVR or NVR. This can eat up capacity quickly on your NVR, so make sure you have a big enough hard drive (or multi-bay system) installed in your recorder to accommodate as much footage as needed.
  • Motion-triggered means you can set capture to happen only when the camera detects motion in its field of vision (provided your camera can detect motion, most new ones do). Some systems allow you to manage ‘hot spots’ for video triggering. When movement is detected in a hot spot, it automatically triggers recording.

Surveillance footage is captured on the internal hard drive as long as there is space to do so. Once maximum capacity is reached, the NVR will start rewriting the disk from the beginning, erasing any previously recorded footage as it continues. To avoid losing captured footage you can either:

  • Swap out the internal drive with a fresh, blank, formatted drive.
  • Expand your capacity by adding more drives (if you have available bays in your system).
  • Backup the old footage and erase or overwrite the drive with new recordings.

Backing up your footage on a regular basis to a separate device is crucial to maintaining a reliable archive of your captured surveillance. A WD My Book desktop storage is an ideal device to perform this task. (Tip: Choose a model that exceeds the capacity of the drive you are backing up.)

Shop our complete line of desktop storage solutions ideal for backing up your DVR or NVR – like the WD My Book drive.

Monitoring Your System

Many modern surveillance systems allow you to monitor your system remotely via a smart app on your PC, smartphone, or tablet. They eliminate the need for an elaborate array of onsite cathode ray tube (CRT) monitors and other attached equipment.

Look for a surveillance system that includes a software interface that will allow you to view live video streams just about anywhere in the world with internet access.

Remote mobile video surveillance allows you to view multiple cameras simultaneously, control settings, and view recorded images, search through archived footage, play back events, and more. Remote video surveillance is ideal for business owners to keep tabs on their property while away, and for home users who are away from home.

Smart Video – The Future of Surveillance

Smart Video is the evolution of traditional surveillance. Data collected by cameras can be leveraged by smart apps like facial recognition. Smart Video uses cameras to analyze incoming video in real time to extract valuable insights that allow decisions to be made without human intervention. That’s how you can unlock your phone with your face without entering any data manually. Advanced consumer surveillance systems have already incorporated facial recognition algorithms to their systems, allowing users to be identified with a quick scan.

Another example of Smart Video is smart cities. Smart cities use different types of electronic Internet of Things (IoT) sensors and devices to operate municipal cameras, control signal lights, reduce congestion and pollution, and improve people’s lives. Insights gained from that data are used to manage assets, resources and services more efficiently. When collected information is pooled together, it’s referred to a big data, which can then be used to improve the operations across the smart city.

In Smart Factories, Smart Video can detect manufacturing inefficiencies, and in some cases, perform better quality control. In Smart Retail, analyzing foot traffic can help identify prime locations for product promotion and placement.

So, how does Smart Video work? Smart Video employs Artificial Intelligence (AI), either in the NVR or on the camera. AI requires deep learning and that can take place in the NVR or more likely, in a deep learning server on the back-end or in the cloud. Deep learning requires massive amounts of reference video data sets to improve the effectiveness and efficiency of the AI.

Smart Video can impact every aspect of surveillance. It impacts everything from cameras, to recorders, to back-end servers. Consider that more effective AI requires higher resolution video, higher frame rates, and more visual detail. All this leads to the need for more and more reliable data storage.

Shop our array of enterprise-class storage solutions like Ultrastar and WD Gold data center drives.