The Best Way To Record Multiple IP Or Analog Cameras From A Remote Location?

Im looking the best way to record multiple cameras from 2 location to a seperate central locationand have nothing in each camera location other than a network switch , power supply and an encoder if needed

Walter, I see it's your first discussion topic, excellent!

Here's the options I see:

  • Record on-board an IP camera using an SD card. Main advantage is that you don't need to worry about bandwidth or reliability issues recording off site. Main disadvantage is limited cameras that support this (well) and limited storage for SD card (generally 64GB or 128GB max).
  • Analog cameras, I would not recommend if you want to record centrally across a WAN, mainly because it would require buying an encoder on the local side and a NVR on the central side. At that point, you might as well stick a DVR on the local side, cheaper, simpler, less bandwidth.

Do you have certain cameras that you want to use? Why do you want to record centrally? I ask this because there might be other ways to solve this if we understand the motivation there.

I like the IP camera approach. This whole issue stems from a request by a home owner who is afraid of theives stealing the recording equipment from her home and rental properties. I am assuming I would use the manufacturers software IE Vivotek etc to bring all of the cameras together?

Walter, if it just about being afraid of thieves, there are a number of cloud video recording options available that solve this. Dropcam, now Nest Cam, is the most well known though that's a closed solution (no other IP camera manufactuers supported). If you want to use Vivotek, you can set it up with other cloud providers, e.g., we recently tested Angelcam which would work with you seting it up.

This way none of the video is stored at any of the properties.

The drawback here is you don't really have direct access to the data. You are at the will of the provider. I would rather provide my own "cloud". Just my take.

It all comes down to the bandwidth between the remote sites and the central site.

If you have the bandwidth to support it, then it's pretty easy, you build your network and add the cameras to the centralized recorder.

If you don't have the bandwidth to support real-time remote recording then there really is no practical solution, you will need to deploy recorders at the remote sites.

"If you have the bandwidth to support it"

That's tough to judge.

The low barrier is simply the average / typical upstream bandwidth. If your cameras need 4Mb/s but the upstream bandwidth averages 3Mb/s, obviously a problem. However, if your upstream bandwidth averages 8Mb/s that still does not mean you will be fine. There can be times when available bandwidth fluctuates, either do to the Internet provider being congested, other applications on the site trying to use that same bandwidth, network outages, etc.

I know you know this but I want to emphasize because even if it works at first, you might started getting random video outages and not realize that it is due to fluctuations in Internet bandwidth capacity.

Yes, good clarification.

In most cases where someone wants to do centralized recording you can quickly rule the possibility out entirely. They want 15 or 20 cameras and have an 8Mbps upstream connection, that is simply never going to work.

In other cases you do the quick math and come to the conclusion it *might* work and it's potentially worthwhile to continue to investigate the practicality of this.

In my experience, the only time they has a shot of working reliably over time is when you are dealing with a corporation like a utility company that has multiple small remote sites that only need 3 or 4 cameras, and their own private leased or dedicated connections between the sites. In that scenario you can know and control all the devices connected to the network and fairly accurately assess their network demands.

For consumer-side stuff, it's never really practical. You might even have a 20Mbps upstream connection (not at all unheard of) and only want 2 low-res 720p cameras. Those cameras might only require a total of 6Mbps max, which should easily fit in your 20Mbps upstream. That is until the provider starts to throttle your connection and/or bill you for excessive usage. When that happends you're scrambling to get it resolved and may have to put something in place in a pinch that will be less than ideal, otherwise you're getting NO video at all recorded.

Another approach is to do both local AND centralized recording. Record the local stream at a high resolution and send the lower resolution the cloud.

That way bandwidth demands are cheaper/easer to meet, and in the case when the WAN does falter, or higher resolution stream is necessary, you can pull what you need.

Most cameras have onboard storage these days. How many do it well? If you mean have an equivalently featured recorder like an NVR, not many. But if you mean are capable of reliably recording continuously to an SD card, I've used Axis, Samsung and Dahua without incident.

Here is just my 2 cents at a fairly inexpensive solution:

Each site gets an IP camera (or two?) with edge recording for local, full res recording. Each camera also FTP's a substream to a central NAS, just in case someone steals the camera or card. This will minimize the ability of the subjects to "get away" without some sort of coverage being recorded at the central office. You can make this easier with a VPN between the locations and the central office. Or, if the locations are within range, you could simply use UBNT radios to backhaul the video streams to the central office, but this depends on them being within a few miles of each other.

Each camera also FTP's a substream to a central NAS.

Does that work with h.264 video? How often does it send it?

Yes, at least with the Dahua IP cams I am familiar with. It will send either a constant stream, motion stream, or snapshot stills. The destination can be an FTP server or NAS.

Sometimes you can get layer 2 connections if the sites have the same provider. More likely if they have fiber to your sites. Otherwise you can get mpls setup with guaranteed amount of bandwidth. It's just $$$$. We do this for phones systems all the time. Seperate with vlans. Voice doesn't take much bandwidth. Video does. I think you could but if there's alot of cameras most likely not economical.

Edge recording on the remote IP camera and then also use the camera's motion detection (less recording). Schedule the recordings to be copied to a local NVR when the link is not so busy.