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How many hours of CCTV footage do I need



There are many factors to consider when figuring out how many hours of CCTV footage you need. Depending on what you’re monitoring, how long you monitor for, what your storage capacity is, and how often you review your footage, your needs will vary. 

The number of hours of CCTV footage you need depends upon the property you are protecting and whether or not there has been an incident for which you need the footage. Most businesses will keep their CCTV footage up to 31 days, whereas home CCTV systems may only save footage for up to 14 days. 

Individual needs will inevitably vary based on your setup, your budget, and your security concerns, but there are useful guidelines to follow when considering how many hours of CCTV footage you need. Let’s break these down so you can find the right setup to suit your needs.

How Long Can CCTV Footage Be Kept?

Footage from CCTV is usually stored digitally, so this is usually only limited by the resolution of the footage and the digital storage capacity. Higher resolution footage takes up more digital memory, so it will require more storage for the same duration of footage compared to lower resolutions. When you run out of memory, most systems will delete the oldest footage first. But beyond the practical storage space requirements, there are also laws governing CCTV footage storage. 

The length of time you keep your footage depends on the reason for your CCTV cameras. You are only required to keep the footage as long as you need to fulfil the purpose for which you have the cameras. If you have footage of a crime, it may depend upon the time it takes police to collect the footage from you. If your CCTVs are aimed at preventing fraud at ATMs, you should keep the footage for the time period it takes for customers to receive their bank statements and report an incident. After that time has passed, you are obligated to permanently delete the footage.

Whether your property is commercial or residential might also factor in. Authorities recommend keeping your footage for up to 31 days and most commercial properties adhere to this, though residential properties often only keep footage for up to 14 days, possibly due to digital storage limitations. This duration may need to be altered if there is an incident that requires investigating. The severity of the incident will help to determine how long you will need to keep the footage. For example, low risk commercial properties may reduce footage retention to 14 days instead of 31. Two weeks should generally be enough time for authorities to retrieve the footage if needed.

The Privacy Act 2020 states that data should not be retained for longer than necessary. If the footage reveals evidence for an incident that took place, it may be necessary to keep the footage for longer than the suggested 31 days. If you have been made aware of an incident or accident that is under investigation, it is good practice to copy the relevant footage onto a separate storage device. This may be necessary as anyone in the investigation may put forward requests or claim proceedings for the footage up to three years after the incident occured. 

Circumstances such as litigation may come into play, so keeping this footage can be protective. If you own a business, keeping footage could be beneficial to you in case allegations are made against you as it may provide evidence to discredit factitious claims.


Where is CCTV footage stored?

There are two main strategies for storing security camera footage: locally onsite or in the cloud. Local storage is any footage retained in the camera itself (such as a wireless security camera system with built-in hard drive storage) or within the central network video recorder (NVR) or digital video recorder (DVR) storage system on site. 

In wireless or wired systems, NVR storage, which only works with digital systems is used. Alternatively, in analogue systems, where they convert analogue to digital, storage devices are called DVRs. DVR systems process data at the recorder, while NVR systems encode and process data at the camera before transmitting it to the recorder for storage and remote viewing.

How many GB do I need for CCTV?

In today’s video surveillance systems, a balance of cost and need usually determines the storage requirements. Most systems will include onboard camera storage of 60 gigabytes (GB). At this level, you can fit between 1.8 and 3.6 minutes of video in one GB of digital storage, based on a video resolution of 2.7K to 4K. Depending on the number of cameras you have in your system, you can choose an appropriate overall storage capacity. At 60GB per camera, 1 terabyte is enough to store the contents of 60 cameras.


What Happens With Old Security Footage?

Usually once an SD card or recorder hard drive is full, the new footage automatically overwrites the oldest footage and continues to cycle in this manner. If you have enough gigabytes for two weeks of surveillance footage, there will always be the most recent two weeks of footage saved on your drive unless you manually intervene. This is the standard and easiest way to deal with a full hard drive. There are ways to delete or save old footage manually, though you will need to adjust the setting in your NVR web interface.

Can deleted CCTV be recovered?

CCTV footage can be lost or deleted for many reasons. It could have been accidentally deleted or lost through drive formatting, or it could be due to the storage disk crashing, or being physically damaged by fire or water. Whatever the reasons for the loss, you’ll be relieved to hear in many circumstances it is possible to recover your footage. Get in touch with our professionals at CCTV Solutions and we can advise you on the best course of action to get your footage restored.

How do I back up my CCTV?

If you have something on your CCTV that you need to keep as evidence or for reference, you’ll need to back it up or make a copy so your camera doesn’t overwrite it. This usually requires going into your system’s interface and manually saving it on a storage device or on the cloud. Alternatively, some systems allow you to mark footage as priority so it will not be automatically overwritten. 


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