Axis Admits Edge Recording Problems, Offers Solution

By: John Honovich, Published on Jun 19, 2014

This year, IPVM members have repeatedly identified edge recording problems with Axis cameras / software, first in a discussion, "Axis Edge Storage And Camera Companion Is Unstable", then in Worst VMS Manufacturers 2014 results and, most recently, in On-Board Storage Usage Statistics.

Now, Axis has responded, offering a solution to those edge recording problems, with the company noting that they have "undergone tens of thousands of man-hours extensively testing the system".

In this note, we examine Axis' solution, the issues involved and what this means for edge recording more broadly.

Axis Response / Solution

In a response to the original discussion, Axis made 2 core points:

  • They acknowledged issues with some, but not all, SanDisk Ultra cards, saying that anyone using those cards should contact technical support "for further instructions how to replace their card". Axis says that newer versions of the Ultra cards work well. However, they did not explain how to tell whether or not a card is newer or older version.
  • "Axis strongly recommends using SanDisk Extreme cards as these were extensively tested without timeout failure," adding that "Enhanced memory cards like SanDisk Extreme are much better suited for demanding applications, such as professional 24/7 surveillance applications. Lower graded consumer SD cards – mainly used for multimedia applications – will in many cases work fine, but the bigger variation in quality and durability of these cards makes them less suitable."

This changes Axis overall recommendations. Their original SD card FAQ 116749 was vague, only noting, "Axis recommends using SD cards of acknowledged good quality with speed class 4 or higher." Now, Axis has changed that FAQ to emphasize, "There are limits for how many times you can rewrite an SD-card," reiterating their new recommendations of better cards, noting, "The lifespan of an SanDisk Extreme SD-card is likely to be several years."

Axis has also added a new FAQ acknowledging the edge recording problems and providing instructions.

Other Manufacturer SD Cards

Axis did not comment on the suitability of other SD card manufacturers (e.g., Kingston, PNY, Lexar, Transcend, the free giveaways you get at trade show booths, etc.). Though some SanDisk SD cards clearly had problems with IP edge recording, it is likely equally risky to try other manufacturers, especially if the IP camera or VMS manufacturer has not verified those SD card models.

From what we have heard from other industry contacts, this seems to be a general issue with SD cards, not typically designed or expected to be run 24/ 7 with HD camera recording.

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Different Types of Cards Beyond Speed

Most often, SD cards are segmented via speed class (e.g., Class 2, Class 4, Class 10, etc.). This shows that such segmentations are insufficient as SanDisk Ultra cards were generally Class 10 - at the high end of this classification.

For example, SanDisk has various categories of cards, as show in the image below:

Notice how the row above lists 4 categories above / better than the Ultra, which is considered to be only 'everyday'.

Further details and comparison across these categories can be found on this SanDisk support page.

Price Differential

For a 64GB SanDisk SD card, going from the Ultra to the Extreme version adds ~$20 / 50% in cost per card (from ~$40 for Ultra to ~$60 for Extreme).

In redundancy applications, this is likely not to be a major issue. However, when eliminating centralized recording in small camera count scenarios (like Axis Camera Companion), the additional price could be a factor.

Impact on Edge Recording

IPVM sees a number of lessons here:

  • 'Regular' SD cards are unlikely to work / handle the load of IP camera edge recording.
  • Users and integrators need to get explicit confirmation / instructions from their manufacturer about what to use.
  • Given how early edge recording is, it is still possible that the manufacturer is wrong.
  • Given the numerous issues, a prudent user should default to higher end SD cards to minimize very painful troubleshooting / service issues involved.
  • In the future, we believe SD card manufacturers, like hard drive manufacturers, may produce SD cards optimized / marketed for surveillance applications.

While this edge recording issue appears to impact more than simply Axis, given Axis leadership position in edge recording, it is certainly their responsibility / fault in rectifying this.

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