Green Line Systems

How Long Should You Keep Your CCTV Footage?

Sep 15, 2023

 CCTV camera recording footage

CCTV cameras are essential for businesses, organizations, government agencies, and individuals to monitor activity, deter crime, and provide evidence in the event of an incident. CCTV footage is video recorded by those cameras. It’s typically stored in a Digitial Video Recorder (DVR) or Network Video Recorder (NVR).

How long do security cameras keep footage? DVRs and NVRs have a limited storage capacity for video footage. That means the answer to how long you should keep CCTV footage depends on how much digital storage you want to buy, how many cameras you have, and the file size of the video you record.

Here, we’ll look at the factors that people and businesses should consider when choosing the appropriate retention period, the potential consequences of a system that deletes its footage too soon, and the alternatives to long-term CCTV footage retention.

The Value of Your CCTV Security Footage

Keeping and storing sufficient CCTV footage is essential for several reasons. It can be used as evidence in criminal and civil trials. It can help security personnel to investigate incidents and identify suspects. It can help you monitor costly equipment or inventory. Your security cameras will also act a deterrent effect to potential criminals when they know they’re being monitored.

Calculate Your Ideal Security Camera Hard Drive Storage

We provide a hard drive storage calculator to help you determine how large of a hard drive you will need. Enter the number of cameras you have, the hours of recording you need per day, the resolution of your cameras, and the days of footage you would like to retain. Then, the calculator will show you how much hard drive space will be needed for your security camera footage storage.

[Security Camera Hard Drive Calculator]

security camera footage kept on NVR

Factors to Consider when Determining How Long to Keep CCTV Footage

The Nature of Your business or Organization

Different businesses and organizations have different security requirements. For example, a bank may need to keep their security footage longer than a retail store. A store might know within a week if there’s been a theft due to missing inventory, but potential financial crimes at a bank might take months to detect and prosecute.

We recommend that you perform a risk assessment to determine the likelihood of an incident occurring and the impact it could have on the business. This assessment can help to determine the appropriate retention period for your CCTV footage.

The Purpose of Your CCTV Footage

Businesses and organizations keep security camera footage for all kinds of reasons. Use in criminal investigations is typically the most important, but it’s not the only purpose. Monitoring employees for productivity, ensuring equipment is in working order, keeping your peace of mind while away from the office are all perfectly valid.

If your security footage isn’t as critical, you can afford to purchase less storage and program your system to delete it sooner.

Security Footage Storage Capacity

The video storage capacity of your DVR or NVR is determined by the size of its hard drive. CCTV Security Pros offers a variety of hard drive options based on the amount of CCTV footage that is necessary for your business. Most of our recorders also offer multiple hard drive slots to increase storage capacity.

How Long to Keep CCTV Footage - Recommendations by Industry

How long security cameras typically keep footage depends on the industry.

Retail: 31 - 90 Days

CCTV footage in the retail industry is recommend to be kept a minimum of 31 days and up to 90 days in some cases.

Hospitality: 30 - 90 Days

The hospitality industry typically retains CCTV footage for 30 days, although some organizations may retain it for up to 90 days.

Financial institutions: 90+ Days

Financial institutions such as banks and credit unions may retain CCTV footage for 90 days or longer. Extended retention is often necessary for investigations.

Healthcare: 30 Days

CCTV footage is typically retained for 30 days in the healthcare industry.

Transportation: 30+ Days

The transportation industry typically retains CCTV footage for 30 days or longer if required for an investigation.

Education: 30 - 60 Days

The education industry typically retains CCTV footage for 30 days, although some organizations may retain it for up to 60 days.

Choosing How Long to Keep CCTV Footage For Your Business

The best length of time to retain CCTV footage should depend on the needs of your business and your desires to have evidence available. It can also be determined by your time line. How often do you review your footage? Do you download your video to address issues that may arise in the future? Answering these questions will help you determine the best amount of time to keep your footage.

Alternatives to Long-Term CCTV Footage Retention

Businesses and organizations can implement several alternatives to long-term CCTV footage retention to reduce storage requirements.

Recording on Motion

Your security camera system can be set up to record only when motion is detected within the frame. This will keep your cameras from recording hours of empty rooms, saving the storage space that would otherwise be spent and making the review process much easier.

Systems like those at CCTV Security Pros can also be customized to only register motion within specific parts of the frame. For example, if a corner of your camera covers the street, your camera will not be activated by every car that drives by.

Intelligent Recording

Your cameras and camera system can be programmed only to record when they detect certain subjects like faces or license plates. This will help eliminate false positives like birds, pets, or clouds that might otherwise be detected in motion recording.

Set a Recording Schedule

CCTV cameras can be programmed to record 24/7, by motion, or at a certain time. 

Automatic Deletion

Setting up your DVR or NVR to automatically delete footage after a certain time can substantially reduce your storage requirements. Although, many recorders will automatically overwrite the oldest footage as they record new footage.

Setting Up Your Security Camera Footage Storage

Determining how long your should keep CCTV footage is crucial for business owners and homeowners. By considering the factors we’ve discussed here, you can create a storage policy that best meets the needs of your security.

CCTV Security Pros offers complete security camera systems that include hard drive storage space. Each system comes with the appropriate amount of storage for approximately one month on motion. Of course, each business will vary based on foot traffic, employees, car movement, and a variety of other factors. Be sure to see our online hard drive calculator so you will know what you’ll need in terms of storage capacity.

If you have questions regarding a CCTV security system or storage please call one of our experts at (888) 653-2288 for advice.