Subscriber Discussion

How To Measure Camera Bandwidth Usage

What tools are available to measure actual bandwidth usage by IP cameras. I notice in the IPVM tests, bandwith usage is reported. What software can be used to measure actual usage on one's network? It would be nice to see how bandwidth was affected by changing camera settings in my actual situation.

Paul, good question.

There are 4 potential approaches:

  • Some cameras will report their bandwidth consumption, see: Displaying Real Time Stream Info on IP Cameras
  • Some VMSes will report the bandwidth used / streamed from the camera (often in the lower corner of the video pane - sometimes it needs to be enabled)
  • The Windows task manager networking tab (presuming you just have one camera connected and nothing else).
  • A bandwidth measurement application that tracks bandwidth consumption by application / connection. We've used one or two of these in the past but don't find the need typically because 1 of the 3 methods above almost always answers the question.

What actually would be nice is to have a chart that shows bandwidth consumption, per cameras, variation over time - 24 hours, a month, etc. Presumably there are network monitoring tools that can do this. Anyone with experience with this?

Thanks. I just learned how to display the info on an Axis Camera I am testing. I wish I had read your tutorial sooner. As I evaluate camera brands, AXIS continues to have embedded software features I like.

I will be changing a variety of settings and evaluating the quality of image and the bandwith in our actual situation, day/night, motion etc.

I agree there must exist some tools which will measure bandwith on a LAN by device over time and display info in a graph or chart. I hope someone reading this has solved this problem. We use Cisco managed switches on our LAN's and there may be a way to tap into the information by the switch port each device is attached to.

As a side note, as I evaluate IP cameras it has become clear that subtle differences in on-board camera software are important differences between brands and models which seem to have quite similar features regarding pixels, compression, day/night etc. I realize it is hard to quantify these differences when reviewing cameras but they are increasingly important as everyones hardware line tends to have very similar performance specs.

I have learned much from this site and find the information invaluable.

I am deploying multiple indoor and outdoor cameras in geographically seperated sites with central monitoring and management.

(each location has remote servers) All linked via High Speed Internet. Video is not streamed back but stored on local server.

Our company owns shopping centers and other commercial real estate.

I never realized how many factors interact to create an IP video system.

SD/HD, WDR, Day/Night, FOV, VMS, servers, bandwidth, NAS, protocols on every sort, wireless AP, routers, bridges, the list goes on and on.

Analog CCTV was so simple in comparison, but alas not so useful.

I am also working towards using IP camera to create telepresence between our various offices. Minimizing latency is the big issue. Have you considered evaluating any aspects of video conferencing?


Hi Paul,

Can you give some examples of what you are alluding to here? "subtle differences in on-board camera software are important differences "

As for video conferencing and latency concerns, we have never tested that aspect, mainly because IP cameras are statistically rarely used for video conferencing while there are many real purpose built video conferencing / telepresence offerings on the market.

The fact that Axis has the variables we can use to display bandwidth in live view is a great example. Other brands with exception of Sony do not have that according to your article. I will post some others as soon as I verify that my impressions are correct.

But every camera brand and within brands various models have a variety for menus and optional features which distinguish one camera from another.

The more built into the camera options we have for setting video stream, exposures, passwords, users, wifi configuration if applicable, etc the better. To some extent that can conflict with ease of use, but hopefully the default settings are adequate to get most applicaitons up and running.

I have just realized that I am usually going directly to camera via its IP address / webpage and directly accessing the setup menus without using either VMS nor the manufacturers setup software. This may not be the way most people set up their cameras. It works for me, because I am trying to put cameras through their paces before we decide which models to deploy where.

Also within lines, obviously lowerer featured/priced cameras have fewer features than high end cameras.

To me, on board software differences would fall into following areas.

1. Ease of initial setup and default values. I want camera to work out of the box but be flexible for me to customize.

2. Ability to control video stream and fine tune quality / bandwidth to meet needs of a given installation.

3. Control of motion detection sensitivity and areas, if available.

4. Control of local recording feature, if present. Very much related to motion detection if recording to local storage without VMS. For example, It seems to me some cameras do not tell me size of installed SD storage. Related to this, NAS supports seems to be to very limited and in case of Bosch, must be iSCSI. Not sure why cameras cannot stream to a variety of net attached storage devices.

5. Control of live view stream.

6. Setting user names and passwords. Trivial perhaps, but Bosch for example makes me use their term "Service" for administrator whereas Axis lets me name a variety of administrators.

There must be other items other people find which are important to them.

In your camera evaluations you must notice many subtle differences which make one camera more flexible, easier to use than another. My experience is still quite limited.

In your list, the only one that I think is a big deal / dealbreaker is local recording / edge recording as some have nothing, some have very limited access, while others are integrated cleanly with third parties (in this case, Axis being the most mature). The other ones on your list tend to be fairly similar across professional cameras or not such a show stopper that it would impact choosing one brand over another.

Are the cameras going to managed by a VMS once you choose the appropriate manufacturer/models?

If so, what if your tests on the camera settings are the deciding factor, but the VMS you like the best isn't compatible with some of the camera settings you find valuable in your camera testing?


definately using VMS. I am aware that camera setting may be incompatible with VMS. Already dealing with that. The goal of testing is to come up with all the components that do what we expect when hooked together.

I have discovered to my dismay, this includes upgrading my ISP contract and network,ie switches cable routers servers, wireless bridges between buildings wattage available over POE on and on. Then we get to cameras. WDR, IR, wide angle view, interior, exterior, low light capability, autofocus, iris, etc etc etc

Finally we get to VMS itself. Not only which but then which version ie basic, enterprise , corporate etc etc etc.

Bottom line, a good system is costly, both in money, and time and effort. Right now I am installing Axis Cameras mostly Q1604, some bosch bullet cameras with IR. Basicly I am buying high end full featured cameras for our initial instalations . Later I want to add less expensive cameras with fewer features in those areas which dont need WDR, or night vision etc.

VMS is beyond me to evaluate throughly. Dont have the time. Have looked at several superficially and decided to use Milestone. Basicly seems to be a very capable system which can do what I need. Decision based on info here at IPVM and the fact that they are the largest third party VMS provider. Cant say that they are any where near the perfect system and Milestone certainly have quirks but they are becoming the devil i know. Like Avigilon extremely easy to use but did not seem to have enough features. cant remember exactly which.