Calculating Video Surveillance Storage / Bandwidth

By: IPVM Team, Published on Dec 29, 2016

Calculating surveillance bandwidth is complex, and inexperienced users can easily underestimate bandwidth, leading to reduced storage durations and/or overloaded networks.

The most common way technicians estimate storage is to use manufacturer or third party calculator tools. However, these tools are too simple for the complex factors impacting bandwidth / storage, a fundamental flaw which fails to reflect real world conditions. In this tutorial, we explain these key issues and give our recommendations for how to most accurately calculate surveillance storage needed.

Most Use Calculators, Despite Issues

Despite their high potential for inaccuracy, most people use calculators. They are simple to use for even novices, typically asking only for a few basics such as number of cameras, resolution, frame rate, with an estimate immediately generated.

From an IPVM member survey, here is the breakdown on preferred method, with a strong majority using storage calculators:

However, it is nearly impossible for calculators to reflect the wide range of conditions in which cameras are installed, as well as the variances between camera models. For example, we asked users how much bandwidth a 1080p H.264 camera uses. Notice how widely bandwidth estimates vary, even using the same resolution, framerate, and CODEC:

All of the respondents could be 'right' even though the answers vary by more than 300%. Differences in cameras used and sites deployed can easily result in massive differences in actual bandwidth/storage consumed. Calculators do not reflect them.

Most ******** ******

** ********** ********* *********/*******, there *** ***** *** recommendations:

  • **** ******* *** ****** bandwidth ** ******* ******
  • ****** ***** ********** *** each ******** ****** ****
  • ********** *** *** ****** settings ****** *********/******* ***********

***** ***** ****** *** critical ** ****** ********** and **** **** ***** spot ******** ******** ** calculations.

*** *******, * ********** may ******** * **/* for * ***** *****, but ***** ** **** history *** ********* ** specific ****** ***********, ******* is **** ****** ** be * **/*, * 100% ********.

Testing *******

******* ** ****, ** is ******** ** ***** the ********* *********** ** each ****** ***** *** use ** ****** ******* from ****** ** *******, such **:

  • ********:***** ****
  • ******: ***** *******
  • ******:**** *** *****/********* ****
  • *******:******* ***
  • **** *******:**** ************

****** *** ******* *** each ** ***** ********** levels,*** ***** *****, *** * ****** shot **** *** ******(*). These *** ** ****** referred ** ***** ** a ******** ** ************ and *********** *** **** reference *** **********. ** sure ** **** ******* note ** *** **** the ********* ****** ** plunges (******** ***** ** day, ******* ********, ***.) and ****** ******** ******** as *********.

*** ***** ***** ***** the ****** ** *** to ********** *** ******* ********* consumption, shown ** *** *****.

Recording **********

**** ******* ** ******** camera installations, ** ********* ******** scene ********** ** **** camera ******** ** ********. Take * *** ******* to ******* ******* ******, moving *******, ******** ** lack *******, *** ***** scene ******* ***** *** impact *********.

***** ******* *** *****, record *** ******'* ******** view *** ********** ***** and **** * ***** for *********. **** *** be ** ****** ** the ***** *****:

***** **** ***** ** created, *** *** ******* it ** ****** ********* from ****** ******. ********* from ****** ******* *** be ****** ******** ** photos ***** **** *** proposed ***** *** **** accurate **********.

Further *********** *************

******* ************ ************, ***** are **** ******* ***** may ***** ****** ** extreme ********* ** ********. 

  • ****** ***** ***********
  • ************/***********
  • ***** ******
  • ****** *********/********* ******
  • ***** **** / *** light

Camera ***** ***********

** *** ****** ******* you **** ****** ********* for *** ****** **** you *** ***** ***** findings ** ****** ** the **** ********** *** framerate. **** ** *** same ************'* ****. ********* camera ******, **** **** the **** ************ *** produce **** ********* *** rates.

*** *******, *** ********* image ***** *** *******, an **** ***** *** Axis *****, **** ****, 30 ***, *** ** a ~**' ********** ***, at *********** ** ~***. Despite ***** ******* ***** standardized, ** **** **** lit ****** *****, *** Q1604's ******* *** *** Kb/s ***** *** ***** consumed *.** **/*, ****** 3x *** *********.

**************: **** * **** Variety ** *******

*********** **** ************ ** manufacturer *** **** **** extreme **** ******** *****. ******* of ****, ** ** critical ** ***** *** bandwidth *********** ** **** camera ***** *** ***. 

************/***********

**** ** *** ** the **** ***** ****** are ****, ***** *.*** and *** **** **********, compression ****** *** **** significantly, ******* ******** *********** in ********* ***********.

*******, ************* ******* ** vastly ********* *********** ****** (*** ***** ****** ************ *********** Comparison), **** ** ***************, making ************ ***** ** **** one ***** **********.

**************: *********** ***********

***** ** ***** ****** *******, **-** ************ ** approximately *** "***** ****" between ***** ******* *** bandwidth. ****** ****** **** significant ******** ****** ** image *******, ***** ***** levels ******** ********* **** little **** ** ********* image *******. ************* ******* at **** ***** ****** for **** ************ ******* compared ** ************ ********.

*** *** ***** ***** *************** *********** ********** *** **** *******.

Smart ******

** *** ****, ******* almost ****** **** ***** ******** for ***********, *-***** ********, and *********, ****** ************ simpler. *** **** *** introduction ******* ****** ** *** **** *** years, ******* *** *** dynamically ****** ***** ******** depending ** **** ** in *** *****. ***** are ***** **** ********** used ** ***** ****** (though *** *** *** *** three):

  • ******* ***********:******* ** ******** *** same *********** ***** ** the ****** ***** ** view, ***** ****** *** increase *********** ** ******/********** objects *** ****** ** on ******/********** *******, ******** bandwidth *******.
  • ******* *-***** ********:***** *.*** ******* ********* use * ***** *-***** interval (*.*. * ****** ** 30 ******), ***** ****** increase *** ******** ******* I-frames **** ***** ** no ****** ** *** stream, *** *********** ******** when ******** ******. **** technique ******* ******** ************* due ** *** **** smaller **** ** *-******.
  • ******* ***:*******, **** ***** ****** reduce ********* **** ***** is ** ****** ** the *****, **** ** a ******* ** * FPS ** * ********** set ** *** ****.

***** *** ** **** of ***** **********, ******* savings ** ** ** 95% **** **** **** in **** *****. ** a *******, ******* *********** reduced ******** ** **-**% in **** **** **** scenes.

**************: **** ***** ****** In *****/************ *********

*************, ******* *** * given ***** ***** *** perform ** * ***** scene ** *************. **** small ******* ** ******, such ** ******* ** foliage, *** **** ** enough ******** ** ******* dynamic *-*****/*** ******** **** functioning. ** * ******, the **** **** ******** is ** **** *** camera/Smart ***** ** ***** in *** ***** ** is ******** ***.

******* ****, ** ********* reducing ***** ***** ******** by **** * ******* amount (*-**%) ** ******* underestimation *** ********** *********** of *******.

*** *** ***** ***** ***** *** **** ******* ** these *** ****** *** related ******.

Video ****** *********/********* ***********

***************/***-********** ***** ****** ********* and ********* *** ** one ** *** ******* sources ** ********** ******* calculations. For ********, ** *** are ********** ******* ** 'real' ****** ** * server ****, ** ** likely ** ** **** low - **** **** 5%. *******, ******** ****, screensavers, ***********, ***. *** make ****** ********* ****** nearly ************, ****** ***** results **** ***** **** estimations.

**************: ********/**-******** 

***** ****** ** ******** to ******** *** ***/** video ********* *********. ** a *******, ******** *** optimization ****** ** ********* about * **** ***** installation, **** **** ******* benchmarks *** *********/******* *** be **** *** ************.

*******, ******* ** ******, landscaping, ****** ************, ***., may **** **** ******* storage ********* **********. ***** should ************ ***** ***** configurations (~**-** **** ** as ***** ******* *** made) *** ****** ** needed.

*** ********** ****** ***** ********* *** **** ******* ** this *******.

Night **** / *** ***** ********* ***********

********** **** *****, ** low ***** / ***** time, ********* ***** ** be ******, ********* *** higher (*.*., *** ** high). ***** ** ** easy / ****** *** to ******** **** ** a ****** ** ******* come **** ****:

  • ****** ** ******* *****:** * ***** **** of *****, *** **** noise *** *** *** on *** *****, *** higher **** *********, ****** this *** ** ****** with **** *** **********. 
  • ********** **:** *** *****, ******* with ********** ** **** to ******* **** ********* than ** *** *** but ************* **** **** non-IR *******. *******, **** is ***** ******** ** the ******* *** ***** of ********** ** *** the ********** ** *** scene.
  • ****** *** ***** ***********:**** *******, ******* *** to ****** *** ***** image ********** ** ******* of ****** ******* ** lower * **** ******, will ******* ************* **** bandwidth ** *****.

*** ******* ********* ** *** Light *** ******* *** ***** ** Image ******* *** **** *******.

**************: *** *** / VBR **** * ***

** ***** ** ****** ******* nighttime *********, ** ********* users *** ******** ** night. **** **** **** are *** **** ***** than ******** ******** ** night, ********* ***** ******* is **** *******, ** the **** ****** ** digital ***** *** ****** images ****** ** *** suffer **** ********* ** compression *** *** **** light ****** **.

*** *** **** ******** ********* ** ***** is **** *** ******** *** *** recommendations.

Storage ********** ********

****/**** ****** *** *** manufacturers offer * *********/******* ********** tailored ** ***** ********. The ***** ******** ** these *********** ****, **** differing ****** ** ********** and *************. ***** ****** ******** which *** ****** ********* online (** ***** ******** as ** ****) *** discussed *****:

Supercircuits ****

** * *** ****** search ******, ************* ********* ****** ***** ***** *** is ***** **********, **** limited ****** / **********:

** *** *** **** is ********* **** ***** and *** *** ******** with *******, **** ** ok. *** *** ********** fails ** ******** *********** in ****** ******, ******, activity ******, ** **** a ***. ****, ** assumes * ****** ************ between ***** **** *** bandwidth (*.*., ****** *** frame, ****** *** *********) despite **** ********* *** being *** **** ** practice (*.*., ******* ********* ** ***** Rate).

**** ****** ****

*** **** ****** **** [**** no ****** *********] ** **** sophisticated, **** ***** ** options *** ****, **********, and ***** ********* *******, video ******** ** ******** scenes *** ***********/***** ********, and ****. *******, ** allows ****** ********** ** ******** settings, ** ***** *** better ****** ** ** fit ***** **** ***** testing. *** ******** ******** **** Axis ******* *** ******** compression ****** *** ******, highlighted ** *** ***** below:

** **********, **** ****** picking **** ****** (****** scenarios) **** ****** ********* bandwidth *********** ***********, *.*., the ******* '*******' ******** more ********* **** *** 'stairwell', ***** ** ********* with ***. *** ***** below ***** *** ******* and ****** ****** **** provide:

*******, **** ** **** tool, *** ****** ** scenarios **** ********** *** reflect ***'* ********. *** example, ***** '************' ******** has **** ****** ******* in ** *** * lot ** ***** ********** resulting ** ********* **** than *** ********* ********:

'****' ************ *** ** similar *** ** ** is ******, *** ********* will ** *** ****** (double, ******, ********* ***** possible). **** **** *** make **** **** '*****' but ** ******** *** fundamental ********** ** ********** bandwidth **********.

****, **** ********* ******* low ***** ** *** low *****, *******, **** assumptions *** ********** *** do *** ****** **** cameras **** ********** ** will ****** ****** ******* far **** ********* **** those ******* ** ** low *****. *** ******* below ***** *** ** Axis ***-** *** ** models ****** *** **** bandwidth ** *** *****:

******, ** *** ***************, Axis **** ********* ******* *** same ********* *** *** cameras ** *** **** resolution / ********, *** factoring ** ********* ** different ****** ****** ** use ** ******* (***** in *** *******, ** we **** ***** *****, have ** ****** ** bandwidth).

***** ************* **********

*****'* ************* **********, **** **** *** implementations ****** *** ********* various ****** ************'* ******. The **** ******* ** that *** *** ***** which ****** *** *********, pick ***** ****** *** it **** ************* **** in **** *****'* *** bandwidth, *.*.:

*******, *** ***** ***** is **** *** ********* bandwidth ** ********* **** in ********, *.*., **** of ***** *** / 15fps ******* *** ********* at *.***/*. **** ******* smart ******, **** ** atypical ** ********, ****** for ****** ******* **** complexity ****** ** *** compression **************.

** ** ********* ** note **** **** *********** for ******* / ****** providers ****** *** ****** than ******* ******, ***** is ********* **** ** a ****** ******* ** stop ****** **** ********* to ******* *** ******* specifications. *** *******, ***:****** ********** ***** ******* Calculation  

******* 

** *** **** ***** getting **** ********* / storage ************ *******, *** out *** ****** ****** you **** ** *** locations *** **** ** use ****. ***** **** may **** * ****** of *****, *** *** project **** *********** ****** of ******* (*.*., **** than * *** **** drives), *** **** ****** save ******** **** *** future ******** ** ********** yourself ****** **** ********* on *********** **** ****** come ***** ** ***** / ********** ******** ***'* combination ** ******* / scenes.

Comments (7)

FYI... Axis has a newer tool called Site Designer that actually has unique setups for their newer cams etc. that are not well represented in the tool described above.

For example...the Zipstream cams are there and you can play with the settings for that to see the bitrate changes.  Be sure to change the Motion amount as you change the zip effort settings because more motion negates Zip savings.  One still must plan for a Max BW in your server selection but the 'potential' storage savings are there depending on the scene and motion combo.

http://sitedesigner.axis.com is the place.

If you register it will even keep a project in history for you.

What I like... the 'scene selections' are very good and represent what is discussed in this article.

Mike, thanks, we'll do examine it and update on that.

For others to see, here are some of the things Mike referred to:

Avigilon System Design Tool. Give it a chance!

There  are so many other variables other than just scene complexity and megapixel output of the individual camera behaviors.  Storage: 45 days versus 2 years, 75 cameras versus 400. Dual retention of a single camera - Stream A 90 days @ 2mp, Stream B 730 days @ 720p times 400 cameras. Audio, pushed video and insufficient lighting are also culprits we all love.

I had to build my own calculator in excel, the constraints and trade offs were found while applying a percentage of storage overhead so the we don't over crowd the frying pan and blow the circuit breaker. I have loading many other camera calculators to see how they scale with mine and different calculators are all over the map. So yes cameras are all unique, find your baseline and thresholds before pulling the trigger.

Great article and comments, all!  There are many studies on scene types and object behavior that contribute to increased bitrate; some of the biggest contributors cited in these studies, one of which I'll give the link for, are listed below:

Are the objects in the scene moving in random directions?

Are there abrupt changes of motion, light or even network availability?

Are there big differences in motion paths and object sizes that require detection or visual acuity in the scene?

Finally, are there abrupt changes to network requests of the device (especially important consideration if you require faster on-board processors).

Finally, one of the areas that might be unrelated, but can be important was actually covered in a previous IPVM article on camera power-up times to when it is streaming.

Here's a pretty technical study, but it does contain a list of complex video scene use cases (table 1 page 6):

https://pure.tue.nl/ws/files/13540868/IJPCC2016_authorfootnote.pdf

A great article.

Good example of exacqVision's configuration calculator and Axis Design Tools.

Read this IPVM report for free.

This article is part of IPVM's 6,535 reports, 880 tests and is only available to members. To get a one-time preview of our work, enter your work email to access the full article.

Already a member? Login here | Join now

Related Reports

Drain Wire For Access Control Reader Tutorial on Sep 23, 2020
An easy-to-miss cabling specification plays a key role in access control, yet...
Remote Network Access for Video Surveillance Guide on Jul 27, 2020
Remotely accessing surveillance systems is key in 2020, with more and more...
Mobile Access Control Usage Statistics 2020 on Sep 21, 2020
Most smartphones can be used as access control credentials, but how...
Door Fundamentals For Access Control Guide on Aug 24, 2020
Doors vary greatly in how difficult and costly it is to add electronic access...
Bandwidth Fundamentals For Video Surveillance on Jan 13, 2020
Bandwidth is the most fundamental element of computer networking for video...
Uniview Deep Learning Camera Tested on Jul 14, 2020
Uniview's intrusion analytics have performed poorly in our shootouts. Now,...
Video Surveillance History on May 06, 2020
The video surveillance market has changed significantly since 2000, going...
Keypads For Access Control Tutorial on Jul 28, 2020
Keypad readers present huge risks to even the best access systems. If...
Quantum Dots Potential for Surveillance Cameras Explained on Sep 08, 2020
Quantum dots are starting to be used in TVs for better images, but how will...
Beware Rigged China Fever Cameras on Sep 08, 2020
Many China fever camera manufacturers have rigged algorithms dynamically...
The Future of H.266 For Video Surveillance Examined on Aug 17, 2020
First H.264, now H.265, is H.266 next? H.266 was recently announced amid...
Free Online NFPA, IBC, and ADA Codes and Standards 2020 on Sep 03, 2020
Finding applicable codes for security work can be a costly task, with printed...
AHJ / Authority Having Jurisdiction Tutorial on Aug 06, 2020
One of the most powerful yet often underappreciated characters in all...
Surveillance Storage 101 on Mar 23, 2020
This guide teaches the fundamentals of video surveillance...
Forced Door Alarms For Access Control Tutorial on Aug 17, 2020
One of the most important access control alarms is also often ignored....

Recent Reports

OnTech Smart Services Partners With Google and Amazon To Compete With Integrators on Sep 25, 2020
A pain point for many homeowners to use consumer security and surveillance is...
The Future of Metalens For Video Surveillance Cameras - MIT / UMass / Immervision on Sep 25, 2020
Panoramic cameras using 'fisheye' lens have become commonplace in video...
Hikvision Sues Over Brazilian Airport Loss on Sep 24, 2020
Hikvision was excluded from a Brazilian airport project because it is owned...
China General Chamber of Commerce Calls Out US Politics on Sep 24, 2020
While US-China relations at an all-time low, optimism about relations...
Verkada Disruptive Embedded Live Help on Sep 24, 2020
Call up your integrator? Have someone come by the next day? Verkada is...
IP Networking Course Fall 2020 - Last Chance - Register Now on Sep 23, 2020
Today is the last chance to register for the only IP networking course...
Drain Wire For Access Control Reader Tutorial on Sep 23, 2020
An easy-to-miss cabling specification plays a key role in access control, yet...
Norway Council of Ethics Finds Hikvision Human Rights Abuses "Ongoing" on Sep 23, 2020
Hikvision's involvement in "serious human rights abuse" in Xinjiang is...
IPVM Camera Calculator User Manual / Guide on Sep 23, 2020
Learn how to use the IPVM Camera Calculator (updated for Version 3.1). The...
Installation Course Fall 2020 - Save $50 - Last Chance on Sep 22, 2020
This is a unique installation course in a market where little practical...
SimpliSafe Business Security Launched Examined on Sep 22, 2020
SimpliSafe has launched "SimpliSafe Business Security" that the company...
FLIR CEO: Many New Fever Entrants "Making Claims That The Science Just Won't Support" on Sep 22, 2020
FLIR's CEO joins a growing number calling out risks with fever / screening...
China Bems Temperature Measurement Terminal Tested on Sep 22, 2020
Guangzhou Bems (brand Benshi) is the manufacturer behind temperature...
Axis Exports To China Police Criticized By Amnesty International on Sep 21, 2020
Axis Communications and other EU surveillance providers are under fire from...
Milestone XProtect on AWS Tested on Sep 21, 2020
Milestone finally launched multiple cloud solutions in 2020, taking a...