Video surveillance is an important security asset for many businesses, schools and other organisations across the globe and their usage is growing. Research firm IHS Markit reports that in the U.S. alone there are 70 million cameras installed, with surveillance cameras being most common among private sector retail and commercial establishments, such as hotels, restaurants and offices. IHS Markit predicts that there will be 1 billion cameras installed globally by 2025 – a growth driven by huge technological advances in security cameras and storage options.
CCTV systems can help prevent theft and deter criminal activity, they can also help identify and apprehend perpetrators after the fact. Beyond security concerns, surveillance systems are also used for auditing or insurance purposes within particular industries and can be useful for monitoring employee behaviour as well as ensuring workplace safety.
An important aspect of any video surveillance system is storage. The storage used determines how much footage can be stored, and for how long. CCTV systems can record vast amounts of footage, and without sufficient storage the system may not be able to retain all the footage that’s needed. Choosing a storage option that’s right for your needs is important for several reasons. Firstly, it allows businesses to review recorded footage in the event of an incident – without proper storage businesses run the risk of this footage being overwritten or lost, making it impossible to review. In addition, the type of storage used can also impact the overall efficiency and reliability of the surveillance system – for instance, some storage options are better for off-site retrieval of specific footage that needs to be shared with multiple people, while others may be better for monitoring and viewing footage on-site where an immediate response is required.
Storage is an often overlooked, but crucial consideration when installing a security system. In this article we’ll discuss the different types of video surveillance storage available and assess their suitability.
When considering storage options for video surveillance systems, local storage has habitually been the ‘go to’ preference for both businesses and professional security installers. Local storage can include an NVR (Network Video Recorder) or a DVR (Digital Video Recorder). The main difference being how they process video data, and which cameras can connect to them.
A DVR system can only work with analog or coax cameras. Analog cameras generally have lower resolution capabilities and less features than IP cameras and therefore tend to be cheaper. In an NVR system, IP cameras capture video and send it to the recorder. This can be done either wirelessly via a WiFi router, or via a wired connection using an ethernet cable.
Both options are not without their flaws and footage can be easily lost or damaged using either storage system. Some of the most common reasons recorded footage is lost when using an NVR or DVR include:
Deleted footage (accidently or maliciously) – Someone trying to hide a crime may intentionally delete footage from an NVR or DVR.
NVR/DVR damaged – By having storage onsite it’s more prone to damage from water, fire or theft.
Overwritten footage – Once your DVR or NVR reaches its storage capacity it either stops recording footage, or it overwrites pre-recorded footage – usually without any notice.
Beyond the risk of loss of footage, local storage also has other drawbacks. To access an NVR or DVR you often have to physically be on-site. This comes at the cost of accessibility, which can be a problem for large companies with multiple sites, or those companies who are in remote locations and need to access their footage quickly.
Having said that, if your footage isn’t ‘critical’ and you don’t need to view cameras from multiple locations remotely then an NVR or DVR might be a suitable option. When choosing an NVR or DVR you’ll need to consider how many cameras you have and if you’re planning on installing anymore, since both storage systems are classified by the number of channels (cameras) they can support. As well as this, if you’re using a mix of different camera brands it’s important to make sure the NVR can handle this. Some NVRs only work with IP cameras from the same brand, so making sure the NVR is ONVIF compliant is important.
Cloud storage for video surveillance
An alternative to local storage is storing your footage offsite, in the cloud. Storing your footage in the cloud, or adding cloud-backup to your recorder, means you can access your video from anywhere and add sophisticated features to a legacy security system.
As well as remote access, cloud storage also provides the following benefits over local storage:
A common concern about storing video in the cloud is that it isn’t secure, but with the right set-up it can be inherently more secure than local storage. Local storage, such as an NVR or DVR, requires regular firmware updates and patches to keep it secure, also if you need to provide remote access to a local storage system you’d need to use port-forwarding. Port forwarding allows remote servers and devices to access devices on a private network, this can leave you vulnerable. Cloud storage service providers such as Videoloft don’t require port forwarding to access the cameras or recorders, which is a huge advantage over local storage.
Cloud CCTV systems usually have regular, automatic software updates, so there is no need to keep on top of this yourself like you’d need to if you were using a local NVR or DVR. As well as this, your footage isn’t stored anywhere on site so it can’t be tampered with. Finally, all data sent to the cloud is encrypted which means unauthorized people can’t have access to it. Encryption is one of the most effective ways to protect your data.
Unlike with local storage, you don’t have to be physically onsite to access footage when it’s stored in the cloud. Remote access to video surveillance footage means business owners can keep an eye on what’s happening in the business in real time, providing a greater level of security and reassurance.
As well as this video can also be viewed in real-time from anywhere there’s an internet connection, this means you can respond to incidents as they happen, this is particularly useful for those moments where time is of the essence, for example during a fire, or flood.
Cloud CCTV storage makes collaboration much easier, as business owners can view all their cameras in one place, and provide access to additional people and control their permission levels.
Large storage space
Using cloud-based storage means you can reduce the risk of footage being overwritten. Cloud storage is incredibly scalable and can easily be increased as your camera count grows without the cost of additional hardware. Similarly you can choose how long you store your footage in the cloud for, many cloud video surveillance providers offer bespoke plans that can be completely customised to your exact requirements.
Easily upgrade a legacy security system
Some cloud providers such as Videoloft, allow you to add cloud storage to an existing security system. This means you can add cloud to bring lots of legacy, outdated systems together into one platform, and add sophisticated VMS features such as motion detection alerts, multi camera event playback and more to old analogue systems at a fraction of the cost to upgrade all that hardware.
NAS Storage Drive
A NAS (Network Attached Storage) Drive is a type of external hard drive that connects to a network, typically through Ethernet, and is designed for the purpose of providing centralised storage for multiple devices – including CCTV cameras. Using a NAS drive for CCTV storage can provide a reliable and efficient way to store and access footage from multiple cameras across a network.
A NAS drive can support multiple hard drives and can be easily expanded, which means it’s a scalable storage option for growing CCTV systems. It can also be configured so it uses RAID (Redundant Array of Independent Disks) technology, which provides data redundancy and helps protect against the loss of footage due to hard drive failures. As with cloud storage, with a NAS drive it’s also possible to access CCTV footage remotely from anywhere with an internet connection – which makes it a convenient option for those looking to access cameras offsite.
However, NAS drives are not without their downsides. Whilst NAS drives have become more user-friendly in recent years, they can be difficult to set-up and use efficiently for non-tech savvy users. Not only this, since the NAS drive is ‘on-site’ and not backed up off-site, there is a risk that you may lose your footage – either due to theft, hardware failure or a disaster like a fire or flood. Finally, in order to scale, organisations need to add more drives to the NAS system which can make management more difficult and add additional costs.
Choosing the right CCTV storage option for your business
As highlighted within this article, when it comes to CCTV storage there are various options available to suit different needs and preferences. NAS drives provides local storage, with the advantage of scalability, and an NVR/DVR system offers a comprehensive solution for on-premises recording and playback. On the other hand, cloud storage provides convenience and enhanced security and accessibility with remote access to your footage from anywhere, anytime.
Each option has its strengths, and the choice ultimately depends on factors such as storage capacity requirements, budget and security considerations. Whichever option you select, it’s essential to carefully assess your specific requirements and evaluate the features and benefits of each option. The right video surveillance storage solution plays an important role in ensuring reliable and secure storage for your footage. So take time to explore the options, and consult with experts if necessary.