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.

*********** ************ ********* ** complex, *** ************* ***** can ****** ************* *********, leading ** ******* ******* durations ***/** ********** ********.

*** **** ****** *** technicians ******** ******* ** to *** ************ ** third ***** ********** *****. However, ***** ***** *** too ****** *** *** complex ******* ********* ********* / *******, * *********** flaw ***** ***** ** reflect **** ***** **********. In **** ********, ** explain ***** *** ****** and **** *** *************** for *** ** **** accurately ********* ************ ******* needed.

Most *** ***********, ******* ******

******* ***** **** ********* for **********, **** ****** use ***********. **** *** simple ** *** *** even *******, ********* ****** only *** * *** basics **** ** ****** of *******, **********, ***** rate, **** ** ******** immediately *********.

**** ** **** ****** survey, **** ** *** breakdown ** ********* ******, with * ****** ******** using ******* ***********:

*******, ** ** ****** ********** for *********** ** ******* the **** ***** ** conditions ** ***** ******* are *********, ** **** as *** ********* ******* ****** models. *** *******, ** asked ***** *** **** bandwidth * ***** *.*** camera ****. ****** *** widely ********* ********* ****, even ***** *** **** resolution, *********, *** *****:

*** ** *** *********** could ** '*****' **** ****** the ******* **** ** more **** ***%. *********** in ******* **** *** sites ******** *** ****** result ** ******* *********** in ****** *********/******* ********. Calculators ** *** ******* 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 6,367 reports, 855 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

NTP / Network Time Guide For Video Surveillance on Jan 10, 2019
Inaccurate time can lead to missing or inadmissible video, yet this topic is often overlooked, with cameras and servers left defaulted,...
SNMP / Network Monitoring For Surveillance on Aug 21, 2018
Surveillance systems typically rely on the the VMS to report issues, but this most often just means knowing a camera is "down" with no warning or...
Replacing / Switching Access Control Systems Guide on Jun 28, 2018
Ripping out and replacing access control systems is hard for important reasons. Because users typically hold on to access control systems for as...
VMS Server Sizing on May 25, 2018
Specifying the right sized PC/server for VMS software is one of the most important yet difficult decisions in IP video surveillance. In the past...
Intel Meltdown / Spectre Patch Tested on Avigilon, Exacq and Milestone VMSes on Jan 23, 2018
Significant concern exists about the impact on VMS servers and video surveillance systems of patching the Meltdown and Spectre flaws. Generally,...
Multicasting Surveillance Tutorial on Jan 04, 2018
Network bandwidth can be a concern for some surveillance systems. While improvements in video codecs, such as smart codecs for H.264 and H.265,...
STP vs UTP for Video Surveillance Tutorial on Dec 20, 2017
For many video system designers, deciding which ethernet cabling to use is a quick decision: go with the cheapest. However, this overlooks the...
Broken Hikvision App Exposes Hypocrisy on Dec 06, 2017
While Hikvision talks about a commitment to cybersecurity, their broken app and their insecure 'solution' exposes not only their engineering...
Video Surveillance Bandwidth Guide on Dec 16, 2016
Bandwidth is one of the most fundamental, complex and overlooked aspects of video surveillance. Many simply assume it is a linear function of...

Most Recent Industry Reports

Hikvision Illicitly Uses Back To The Future In Marketing on Jul 03, 2020
NBCUniversal told IPVM that Hikvision UK's ongoing coronavirus marketing campaign using NBCUniversal's assets was not allowed. Hikvision mass...
Verkada: "IPVM Should Never Be Your Source of News" on Jul 02, 2020
Verkada was unhappy with IPVM's recent coverage declaring that reading IPVM is 'not a good look' and that 'IPVM should never be your source of...
Vintra Presents FulcrumAI Face Recognition on Jul 02, 2020
Vintra presented its FulcrumAI face recognition and mask detection offering at the May 2020 IPVM Startups show. Inside this report: A...
Uniview Wrist Temperature Reader Tested on Jul 02, 2020
Uniview is promoting measuring wrist temperatures whereas most others are just offering forehead or inner canthus measurements. But how well does...
Dahua USA Admits Thermal Solutions "Qualify As Medical Devices" on Jul 02, 2020
Dahua USA has issued a press release admitting a controversial point in the industry but an obvious one to the US FDA, that the thermal temperature...
Access Control Online Show - July 2020 - With 40+ Manufacturers - Register Now on Jul 01, 2020
IPVM is excited to announce our July 2020 Access Control Show. With 40+ companies presenting across 4 days, this is a unique opportunity to hear...
Hanwha Face Mask Detection Tested on Jul 01, 2020
Face mask detection or, more specifically lack-of-face-mask detection, is an expanding offering in the midst of coronavirus. Hanwha in partnership...
UK Government Says Fever Cameras "Unsuitable" on Jul 01, 2020
The UK government's medical device regulator, MHRA, told IPVM that fever-seeking thermal cameras are "unsuitable for this purpose" and recommends...
Camera Course Summer 2020 on Jun 30, 2020
This is the only independent surveillance camera course, based on in-depth product and technology testing. Lots of manufacturer training...
Worst Over But Integrators Still Dealing With Coronavirus Problems (June Statistics) on Jun 30, 2020
While numbers of integrators very impacted by Coronavirus continue to drop, most are still moderately dealing with the pandemic's problems, June...