Surveillance Vs Desktop HDD: Choose Wisely to Get Best Performance

by July 29, 2016 40 comments

There are plenty of storage drives available for different usage, but primarily users get confused which one to choose. The difference lies in the engineering of the drive, so while choosing any you need to understand your usage. Surveillance is one of the segment where most of the time normal hard drives being used. However there are surveillance drives available with a little price difference, but performance is far better.

Surveillance HDD especially designed for CCTV setup. It looks similar to other drives and has differences only with optimizations and features which are developed for surveillance. You can easily connect the drive as like other HDDs in the DVR of your surveillance setup.

Benefits of Surveillance Drives

High-Write Workloads: PC drives are engineered for storage and perform read and write as well as data transfer capability, while the surveillance drives are tuned for 90% of its time (24x7x365 days) for recording video and 10% for reviewing and playing back data.

Video and surveillance HDDs support video streaming firmware designed and built for write performance. These come with enhanced write functionality that ensures first-rate performance and better drive durability for DVR, media center or video security applications. The surveillance HDDs firmware is custom built for streaming videos – captures every pixel while streaming HD videos.

Reliability: Normal PC HDDs doesn’t come with the ability to withstand always-on operational demands and not include the application specific features necessary to handle surveillance environments. On the other hand, surveillance HDDs are built to record data 24×7 from multiple camera streams or channels. A desktop class drive can eventually fail under constant, 24×7 operation, while video-optimized drives provide reliability benefits far beyond desktop drives, which are designed to run lighter workloads.

Low-power profile: Video and surveillance HDDs offers low-power profiles, which not only help with energy conservation but also ensure cool operating temperatures and enhanced system reliability while working a 24×7 profile.

Cost: Cost plays an important role, as video drives are engineered for surveillance environments so you might think, it will cost higher. Actually, only a few bucks difference is there in the price of similar capability desktop HDD and surveillance drive.

Real life testing: Seagate Desktop and Surveillance HDD

We chose two drives – Seagate 4 TB desktop and surveillance HDDs, similar capacity drives and from the same manufacturer to test the real life difference.

Also, we connected drives one-by-one with our test bed as well as surveillance DVR setup. First, we tested the performance of the drives using some benchmarks-

Desktop HDD: On HDTunePro, it resulted in 175.9 MB/s read speed and on CrystalDiskMark read speed was 161.4 MB/s and write speed was 160.3 MB/s.

Surveillance HDD: On HDTunePro, it resulted in 180.7 MB/s read speed and on CrystalDiskMark read speed was 166.8 MB/s and write speed was 165.5 MB/s.

You can easily see the performance difference in the benchmark scores. Further, we did some real life transfer to test their performance on our test bed.

Desktop HDD: In our real life test, it was able to transfer 2 GB of assorted data from PC to drive in 34 seconds with speed up to 362.4 MB/s. While transferring from drive to PC, it took 38 seconds with up to 466.09 MB/s speed.

Surveillance HDD: In our real life test, it was able to transfer 2 GB of assorted data from PC to drive in 8 seconds with speed up to 563.2 MB/s. While transferring from drive to PC, it took 34 seconds with up to 459.8 MB/s speed.

Again surveillance drive did better than desktop HDD. Later, we installed these drives on DVR. We kept both drives installed in the DVR setup for more than two weeks. However, there was no major differences as for storage is concerned but surveillance drive consumed less power than desktop HDD. Moreover, you get additional features with surveillance drive, listed below…

# Pre-tuned for multi-drive systems with RAID support

# Seagate Rescue Recovery Service option for 360-degree data protection

# Surveillance-optimized firmware improves drive reliability up to 30%, helping to reduce data loss

# RV sensors maintain performance in multi-drive systems

# 180TB/year workload rating, three times the rating of desktop drives, along with 1M hours MTBF

# Idle 3 power setting allows immediate recording when motion sensing is detected in a camera

# Quick time-to-ready requires smaller system buffer sizes, reducing cost

Overall we can say, both drives are good at their parts. Though surveillance drive performed better than desktop, but it doesn’t mean you use surveillance drive in PC. Both are engineered for different functions, so if you are setting up a PC go for a desktop drive while setting up a CCTV better to choose video-optimized surveillance drives.

40 Comments so far

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  1. Yntheng
    #1 Yntheng 4 February, 2019, 07:51

    how about for using them as external drives? which is more preferable?

    Reply this comment
  2. Ashok Pandey
    #2 Ashok Pandey Author 4 February, 2019, 07:56

    For external drive purpose, you can go for the desktop drive, that will be a better choice.

    Reply this comment
    • sanu
      sanu 23 March, 2020, 01:13


      I am looking for a 8 or 10 TB HDD for my desktop but i am unable to find one in Amazon , only available one is Servailence HDD , can it be used as desktop HDD ?

      Reply this comment
  3. Qeyam
    #3 Qeyam 26 February, 2019, 21:06

    The surveillance drive performed better than ordinary desktop drive,but we should not use it for normal desktop use.Why?

    Reply this comment
    • Ashok Pandey
      Ashok Pandey Author 11 September, 2019, 06:19

      Qeyam there are certain engineering differences between desktop drives and surveillance drive, the major fact that you should not forget is that the workload of both the machines (DVR and PC) differ from each other so it is always advisable to go for a desktop drive for PC/Laptop.

      Reply this comment
      • Lien
        Lien 10 February, 2020, 17:39

        i cant understand,
        do surveillance hdd have a bad effect in the whole system of pc even if that pc was use for gaming and not for surveillance purposes? .

        have u ever tried it.?.

        because i can say my pc almost 24 hour a day for my pc games, 12 hours gaming online and another 12hours online but “afk”

        but the idea is i am using my pc 24hour per day ,

        so y do you think i cant use surveillance hhd for my pc in Games purposes??

        is it ganna explode? destroy my os? make my pc slowed?
        low graphics? .

        i want to have a great explanation sir ,

        i am absolutely waiting for your repli,

        Reply this comment
        • Ashok Pandey
          Ashok Pandey Author 13 February, 2020, 08:00

          No, It’s not about the bad effect, it’s all about performance. Whatever HDD you use in your PC or surveillance setup, all are designed to store data and run programs, but you can notice the performance difference.
          Your PC won’t explode just because you are using surveillance drive, but while gaming the rendering could be affected.
          For gaming PC I would rather recommend to use SSD for better gaming performance.

          Reply this comment
    • Valence 4
      Valence 4 30 May, 2021, 12:43

      Surveillance HDD’s are primarly designed for WRITING.

      A very unique characteristic about these drives is in that over 90% of the recorded data will never be read !

      A regular desktop HDD on its side will be more read than written.

      For performance and reliability purposes, both drive families are designed and built differently.

      Reply this comment
  4. Andrew
    #4 Andrew 7 March, 2019, 00:29

    Can you use an hdd from a computer in a DVR for security cameras

    Reply this comment
  5. Fahri
    #5 Fahri 10 March, 2019, 08:10

    What about surveillance for gaming, is it good?

    Reply this comment
  6. MANLie
    #6 MANLie 1 April, 2019, 03:53

    So, surveillance isn’t recommended for desktop PC?

    Reply this comment
  7. Martin Aguirre
    #7 Martin Aguirre 5 April, 2019, 13:31

    The data storage performance of the PC to Drive for the surveillance HDD is excellent. Thanks for the comparison.

    Reply this comment
  8. Max
    #8 Max 13 May, 2019, 14:53

    My desktop almost always stays turned for 14-16 hours a day. The current hdd recently became severely corrupted. Do you think I should choose a surveillance hdd for my desktop?

    Reply this comment
  9. Max
    #9 Max 13 May, 2019, 14:57

    By the way, whivj surveillance hdd is better, Seagate or WD?

    Reply this comment
  10. Wendy
    #10 Wendy 4 July, 2019, 21:35

    I have a nuuo mainconsle which is a pc based cctv. The drive will be used for cctv storage solely in that case is surveillance better or desktop?

    Reply this comment
  11. WesDarylCreed
    #11 WesDarylCreed 18 November, 2019, 21:46

    Thanks for this thread. I was just looking into this when a desktop HDD failed, but i had some extra surveillance HDDs lying around.

    Reply this comment
  12. Reddy
    #12 Reddy 4 January, 2020, 10:07

    desktop hard disk used in 500gb cctv

    Reply this comment
  13. Reddy
    #13 Reddy 4 January, 2020, 10:09

    desktop hard disk used in 500gb cctv diffrence

    Reply this comment
  14. MASYA
    #14 MASYA 7 January, 2020, 04:31

    the thing is i’m looking for a 10 TB HDD for storage and backup purposes. I can’t seem to find ordinary desktop HDD, mostly surveillance and NAS HDD in this capacity. I could use those types of HDD for that purposes right?

    Reply this comment
  15. Ranjith
    #15 Ranjith 3 February, 2020, 06:05

    Picture this. My CCTV network will be controlled by a Dell R540 server with Infonova software. No DVR/ NVR is being used.

    In this case, in my server, which type of HDD is better? PC HDD or Surveillance HDD?

    Reply this comment
    • Ashok Pandey
      Ashok Pandey Author 4 February, 2020, 06:30

      Hi Ranjith,

      You are using a DELL server to store the data, then it’s better to go for a server or NAS HDD.

      Reply this comment
  16. BhushanRd
    #16 BhushanRd 6 March, 2020, 15:04

    Can I use the Seagate video hdd as a external drive for pc/laptop.

    Reply this comment
  17. carl
    #17 carl 25 May, 2020, 19:31

    is surveillance good if you just watch movies in pc?

    Reply this comment
    • Ashok Pandey
      Ashok Pandey Author 29 May, 2020, 10:48

      Hi Carl,

      Surveillance drive is good for surveillance recording, for PC its should be SSD or desktop HDD.

      Reply this comment
      • Jin
        Jin 14 November, 2021, 08:49

        I’m sorry but I have to disagree. I have been using 2x 4tb surveillance HDDs on my gaming rig and the only difference is that the games startup load time is increased by 3-5 seconds. In game performance does not have any difference wahatsoever.

        Reply this comment
  18. pankaj
    #18 pankaj 3 August, 2021, 03:55

    can i use survelliace hard drive for pc??

    Reply this comment
  19. myt
    #19 myt 31 August, 2021, 19:59

    So, surveillance hard drives are more efficient, reliable and durable. But we will get lags and stutters when trying to watch a movie or load a game at a time when the disk needs to write something, because its priority is writing.

    Reply this comment
  20. allen
    #20 allen 25 September, 2021, 07:26

    what if i’m only using a surveillance hdd for my pc for storing and reading of photos and movie files? shoud i go for surveillance or stick to normal hdd?

    Reply this comment
  21. Jin
    #21 Jin 14 November, 2021, 08:43

    I’m sorry but I have to disagree. I have been using 2 4tb surveillance HDDs on my gaming PC for 2 years now and the only difference is thje startup load time of the games. It takes 3 more seconds for the games to startup loading from the surveillance HDD. In game performance itself has no difference.

    Reply this comment
  22. Tui58
    #22 Tui58 25 November, 2022, 06:16

    I see you mention surveillance drive in relation to media server. Are the surveillance drives more suited to media server function than PC drive?

    Reply this comment