How long does video surveillance footage last?

Hey People! I recently installed a new video surveillance system at house, and I’m trying to figure out how long the recorded footage will be retained before it gets overwritten. Those of you with experience managing security camera systems - how long does the typical surveillance footage typically last before the system starts deleting the oldest recordings to make space for new ones? I want to make sure I have the right storage capacity and settings configured to retain footage for as long as needed, but I’m not sure what the standard retention period is. Any insights the community can provide on standard surveillance footage lifespans would be really helpful!


Video surveillance footage can be retained for anywhere between 30-90 days.


The retention period for surveillance footage can vary based on several factors, and there’s no universal standard.

Factors Influencing Retention Period:

  1. Storage Capacity: The amount of available storage, whether it’s on a hard drive or in the cloud, directly affects how long footage can be retained. Larger storage capacities allow for longer retention periods.
  2. Video Quality: Higher-resolution footage requires more storage space. Adjusting video quality settings can extend or reduce the retention time, balancing storage efficiency with image clarity.
  3. Number of Cameras: More cameras recording simultaneously will fill up storage faster, impacting how long footage can be stored before it’s overwritten.
  4. Recording Settings: Systems that offer options like scheduled recording or motion-activated recording can optimize storage efficiency by capturing footage only when activity is detected.

Typical Retention Periods (Estimates):

  • Home Security Systems: Typically retain footage from 7 days to a month, depending on system settings and storage capacity.
  • Commercial Security Systems: Businesses often require longer retention periods for compliance or legal reasons, ranging from several weeks to several months or even a year.

Adjusting System Settings:

  • Refer to your security system’s manual or user interface to adjust settings such as recording schedules, video resolution, and storage management options.

Best Practices for Optimizing Retention:

  1. Assess Storage Needs: Determine how long you realistically need to retain footage and select a storage plan that meets those requirements.
  2. Prioritize Critical Areas: Allocate more storage and higher-resolution settings to important locations, while reducing settings for less critical areas to maximize storage efficiency.
  3. Use Motion Detection: Enable motion-activated recording to conserve storage by capturing footage only during relevant events.
  4. Regular Review: Periodically check your system settings and storage capacity to ensure they align with your retention needs and adjust as necessary.
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From my experience, if your exception report process is solid, there’s no need to go back that far. You can establish a pretty good pattern with just 30 days of footage, along with continued surveillance of the suspect.


The duration for which video surveillance footage lasts depends on storage capacity and system settings. It typically ranges from a few days to several months, with high-security environments often opting for longer retention periods. Systems may overwrite older footage unless it’s flagged for retention due to security incidents or legal requirements.

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Video surveillance footage can typically last from a few days to several months, depending on storage capacity and system settings.