Differences between a surveillance hard drive & normal one?

Whether it's in retail, public transport, around corporate buildings, or public Spaces. Surveillance cameras are now considered essential in many places.

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The video surveillance market is booming. Whether it's in retail, public transport, around corporate buildings, or public Spaces -- surveillance cameras are now considered essential in many places.

However, as the number of cameras increases and higher resolution video streams are available, so does the demand for the storage solutions used. As a result, HDD manufacturers offer special HDDs for video surveillance. DiskMFR explains the differences between these drives.

Long life span

In video surveillance systems, hard disk drives typically operate 24/7. As a result, surveillance HDDs are designed for 24/7 operation and typically have an MTTF of 1 million operating hours, which corresponds to an AFR (annualized failure rate) of 0.88%. For example, in an installation with 1,000 drives, statistically about 9 drives will fail each year. On the other hand, desktop HDDs built for 8 to 16 hours of runtime per day typically only achieve 600,000 hours of MTTF. in continuous operation, this corresponds to an AFR of 1.46% and about 15 failures per year for 1,000 drives.


Video surveillance generates a lot of data that HDDs must store continuously, which puts a strain on mechanical components. As a result, surveillance HDDs are very powerful and can handle workloads of up to 180TB per year. Desktop hard drives with less access and handling less data volume are typically rated at only 55TB/year. When used in a video surveillance system, this amount of data is quickly reached and the probability of errors and failures increases rapidly.


HDDs in video surveillance often need to process multiple high-resolution video streams in parallel. Therefore, compared to desktop HDDs, surveillance HDDs include optimized firmware and larger buffer memory to ensure that all data is stored reliably and error-free – even for up to 64 HD streams. Simultaneous reads are no problem, and recorded video material can be read and viewed. However, if special AI evaluations are to be used, which in addition to high write loads also result in high read loads, it is worthwhile to use a more powerful enterprise-class drive.

Temperature Resistance

Video surveillance systems are not always located in air-conditioned data centers or well-ventilated offices. As a result, surveillance HDDs are designed for a wider temperature range than desktop HDDs, so their components do not wear out as quickly. Typically, they can handle operating temperatures between 0°C and 70°C, while desktop HDDs are typically designed for a range between 0°C and 60°C, which is the range found in air-conditioned rooms and server rooms.


HDD manufacturers test their surveillance HDDs for a wide range of video recorder compatibility and functionality. This ensures that the drive works with the device. If you want to be accurate, check the manufacturer’s compatibility list or rely on a complete solution where an experienced integrator has equipped the system with the appropriate HDD. desktop HDDs cannot pass such tests in a surveillance system, so there is no guarantee that they will operate smoothly or provide optimal performance in the device.

Vibration Protection

In systems that need to provide a large amount of storage capacity, there are a large number of hard disk drives whose rotational vibrations can amplify each other. Therefore, high-capacity monitoring HDDs are often equipped with special sensors that detect these vibrations. Intelligent control mechanisms adjust operating parameters so that the impact is minimized and drive performance is not affected. Desktop HDDs lack these sensors and control mechanisms.


Companies should equip their NVRs and DVRs with surveillance HDDs that are designed to meet the demanding requirements of video surveillance,” DiskMFR Storage Products Division R&D Richie explains. “Desktop HDDs may cost less, but they can’t handle either continuous operation or high workloads. Companies that buy the cheapest products may find they have a higher risk of failure and, overall, higher maintenance and repair costs.


DiskMFR Field Sales Manager - Leo

It’s Leo Zhi. He was born on August 1987. Major in Electronic Engineering & Business English, He is an Enthusiastic professional, a responsible person, and computer hardware & software literate. Proficient in NAND flash products for more than 10 years, critical thinking skills, outstanding leadership, excellent Teamwork, and interpersonal skills.  Understanding customer technical queries and issues, providing initial analysis and solutions. If you have any queries, Please feel free to let me know, Thanks

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2 Responses

  1. Thanks for the information above :). What about using a Surveillance Hard Drive in a normal PC ?? I have seen cases recently where Surveillance Rated Drives are less expensive than normal HDDs. What would be the pros and cons of using a Surveillance Rated Drive as a normal drive ??

    1. Hi Gareth, Good day

      The answer is yes, there is no difference between the storage form of the surveillance hard drive and the computer hard drive, as long as the computer has the data interface and the power supply interface to support hard drive monitoring, it can be used as a computer hard drive, the special surveillance hard drive was designed and developed to the requirements of the corporate environment to install 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, which means working 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. Environmental demands include working 8 hours a day, 5 days a week.

      It’s not recommended, however, so take a look at the pros and cons of the following aspects.

      Since a surveillance-grade hard disk focuses on constant and smooth recording, its heads and calculations are very different from other hard disks, and when used in an ordinary computer, it does not write quickly, the transmission interface is low, and since the When heads and motors are used “roughly” to seek readings outside of their design limits, problems are bound to arise. If this were not the case, there would not be a situation where a 3T surveillance hard drive alone would cost more than 700.

      Surveillance systems do not typically require high baud rates for hard drives, but often read and write small amounts of data. Therefore, you should carry out structural optimization design for the read and write characteristics of the surveillance system on the read head and the write mechanism in order to extend the life of the head. The theoretical average trouble-free operation time of surveillance hard drives is much longer than that of an ordinary hard drive, and the stability and reliability are higher.

      Unlike our daily use of mechanical hard disks, hard disk monitoring to maintain continuous readability, generally add “skip error correction” planning, planning may lie in the data errors, not time-consuming for error correction, but reading continues, z Results in video surveillance are difficult to find, because the effect is reflected in the video The effect can be a few frames less, and as a daily user who wants the 100% transmission, if the desktop computer uses hard drive surveillance, then There will be no guarantee of 100% data transfer, although such events are low probability events, this is the reason why most users are reluctant to try.

      Normal hard drives start at full speed when switched on and the instantaneous current can reach over 2 amps. The monitoring hard drive accelerates slowly at startup and the startup current is regulated to less than 2 amps. Because the surveillance system generally installs multiple hard disks, it generates a large startup currently at the time of startup, and the power supply to the ordinary hard disk will be difficult to support or even burn out.

      Hope this helps in some small way for you~

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