iSpy Open Source Windows VMS Tested

By Sarit Williams, Published on Oct 18, 2013

Open source software has had a huge impact on the web and IT, with solutions like Linux, Apache, PostgreSQL, Wordpress, Firefox, Audacity, VLC, etc., becoming major forces.

However, in video surveillance, that has not been the case. The most well known open source offering for VMSes has been Zoneminder, which is Linux only and stopped development for 2 years.

Open Source vs Open Platform

Now, open source and open platform may sound similar but they are not the same. Open platform is typical in surveillance, implying that the software can work with third party devices (e.g., cameras, access control, intrusion, PSIM), without major restrictions. However, open source goes much further, making the source code for the VMS publicly available for re-use and modification.

Nonetheless, many in our industry still confuse the two - see IFSEC Global's unfortunate misreporting of Milestone open sourcing their VMS (Milestone is open platform, not open source).

iSpy Open Source VMS

Another open source VMS solution, named iSPY, has emerged. Not only is it actively being developed, it runs on Windows machines, making it easier for most consumers / low tech users. The two of them make iSPY a very interesting VMS to consider.

Testing iSPY

iSPY is easy to use and install.  Moreover, it offers advanced features, such as maps, system logs, Mobile apps, License Plate and Facial Recognition plugins. However, many of the advanced features such as Thumbnail/Timeline searches, and mobile apps all require a monthly subscription to use outside of LAN.  In addition, adding cameras may be a hit or miss with the slew of RTSP and HTTP links the VMS provides. 

If you are looking for a VMS for home use or small business with less than 20 cameras than the cost is very reasonable at $8 USD per month (fee per server, not per channel) with no SMS texting or a yearly prepaid subscription of ~$75 USD which includes 100 SMS credits. Otherwise,you can use iSPY completely free on the LAN with no Remote accessibility at all or any of the advance features.

Get Notified of Video Surveillance Breaking News
Get Notified of Video Surveillance Breaking News

Key Advantages

For an Open Source platform it offers several advanced features that can rival paid-for VMSes such as Xeoma targeting consumer/small business users. It offers both 32bit and 64bit native installations.

  • Pricing: No fee for software or camera licenses with a local install and access. However, basic VMS features such as timeline mode search email alerts, rules execution and SMTP require subscription. Costs range from $8 USD/month for one iSPY's server to $90 USD per month for 15 servers. 
  • Camera Support: auto discovery or manual- over 1000 models including Axis, Arecont, AD, and more via RTSP or HTTP, including ONVIFdm
  • Enterprise Mangement: Manage/Host several servers via iSPYCentral with a 7 day trial. Access is ~$260 USD per site license to manage online. (These fees do not include ANY cloud storage, just ability to host multiple site management).
  • Search/Investigations: VMS offers scalable Timeline view searching across multiple days and months, calendar mode, color coded for motion with a histogram of motion activity in video.  Thumbnail view also available. (These features are basic, but they require subscription with iSPY)
  • Live View: Cameras include realtime FPS, date and time overlay. There is CPU and RAM indicator as well as PTZ controls.
  • Software: It offers all of the standards such as time stamp, privacy masks, motion detection (motion zones, sensitivity), time-lapse, pre/post buffer, layouts, logs, 2 way audio (Foscam and Axis) and maps.
  • Mobile apps: iOS, Android, Windows Phone 7 (Exacq also offers Kindle Fire) browser based apps.
  • Clients: web client (Google Chrome, IE 9, Firefox and Safari.), Windows 8 integration and local client.
  • Extension Plugins: License Plate Recognition (7 day trial, each license after is ~$165) facial recognition, alerts and object count, Text Overlay, and barcode recognition integrations. 

Subscription Based Video Overview:

Web Server Configuration:

Key Disadvantages

There are several structural disadvantages.  The inability to run as a service; requires software to always be running to access remotely as well. And file Export is limited to one camera/one file at a time for both subscription based and free version. Moreover, server side motion detection is not available.

In addition, there are other missing or weak areas:

  • Updates: Export configurations and cameras before each Software update- or all will be lost.  Time consuming to recreate even for a home user with 4-6 cameras only.


  • User Management: Security is only available via web subscription and is extremely limited to either read only or full access in addition to an awkward Access Mask option to block certain cameras.
  • Security: One click export to YouTube is a security concern if this is a corporate environment or not.
  • Subscription Required: iSpyConnectMobile apps, SMS, MMS, Twitter alerts, exporting to YouTube, Email alerts, sharing, and Remote access. 
  • Support: Support is available to subscribers only and is limited to via email; Developer is located in Australia which is +8 GMT. Otherwise searching through forums is slow and response time will vary. 

  • Language: Australian English is used and the lingo is not video surveillance standard terms or U.S. English. (may not be an issue for novice home or small business users.)
  • Ads: The Web site, which includes the user manual as web pages, and the iSPYConnect access is full of annoying ads- even after subscribing, they'll appear in certain areas.
  • Exporting: Exporting is limited to downloading full .mp4 videos or uploading to Youtube (private or public) only, in addition to snapshot JPEG images in the free version (subscription is required for such a basic feature).
  • Playback: Relies on VLC as a local player, or installation of MediaPortal integration. Otherwise defaults to Web Viewer requiring Flash and online access.

Playback Options Video:

  • Adding cameras via RTSP or HTTP may be confusing to some- not sure which link to choose out of many possibilities.

Adding Cameras Video:

Test setup

We used the 32bit installation on Windows 7 (Version  The install package is available as either a .exe (460KB) or an MSI (19.2MB) small packages for Windows XP, Vista, 7 and 8.  In addition .NET 4.0 pre-requisite will be installed if needed- the full install process took ~3 minutes from beginning to end.

We were able to easily connect and add an Axis P1344, Arecont and YCAM via the provided RTSP and HTTP links. 


iSPY is small compact Open Source VMS that offers the basics needed for both live and playback for the low end singular user.  It does however, lack user management features in order to appeal to large, multi location businesses. The subscription costs, although negligible compared to mainstream VMS costs and yearly support agreements, has the ability to scale.  With the add on of plugins and continuous development it can become quite useable for multi location organizations. 

2 reports cite this report:

Directory Of 120 Video Management Software (VMS) Suppliers on Aug 30, 2018
This directory provides a list of Video Management Software providers to help...
Claimed: All Surveillance Manufacturers Are Proprietary on Nov 12, 2014
Are all surveillance manufacturers proprietary? Is proprietary a good...

Comments (7)

Only IPVM Members may comment. Login or Join.

Video links seem to be having issues. I get sent to a login page when I click on any videos.

Thanks Jon. Should be fixed now.

how about the PC test platform spec(CPU & RAM)?

it would be perfect the only problem of this vms is that it is extremly unstable.

Thanks! This was very interesting to read.

A correction to Zoneminder being undeveloped. Ity seems like they just released a minor update: ZoneMinder - Downloads

We did not say it was 'undeveloped'. We are aware of the recent minor update(s). That's why we phrased it specifically, "Zoneminder, which is Linux only and stopped development for 2 years." It's good to see they have resumed development after the 2 year absence.

Related Reports

Startup Videoloft Presents Cloud Storage on May 27, 2020
Videoloft presented offsite cloud storage at the May 2020 IPVM Startups...
Avigilon Open Analytics Tested on Apr 16, 2020
After years of effectively closed analytics, Avigilon decided in late 2018 to...
Milestone Presents XProtect On AWS on May 04, 2020
Milestone presented its XProtect on AWS offering at the April 2020 IPVM New...
Verkada 2020 Cameras Image Quality Test on Oct 06, 2020
Verkada's first-generation cameras suffered from numerous video quality...
Every VMS Will Become a VSaaS on Feb 21, 2020
VMS is ending. Soon every VMS will be a VSaaS. Competitive dynamics will be...
Video Analytics Online Show 2020 - 35+ Manufacturer On-Demand Recordings on Sep 04, 2020
This show featured 35+ Video Analytics providers showcasing their latest...
Video Surveillance History on May 06, 2020
The video surveillance market has changed significantly since 2000, going...
Open vs End-to-End Systems: Integrator Statistics 2019 on Nov 11, 2019
Preference for open systems is on the decline, according to new IPVM...
FLIR New Coronavirus Prioritized Temperature Screening Camera Examined on Apr 03, 2020
FLIR has announced a new series of thermal cameras "prioritized for entities...
Directory of 97 Video Surveillance Startups on May 20, 2020
This directory provides a list of video surveillance startups to help you see...
Video Analytics 101 on Mar 16, 2020
This guide teaches the fundamentals of video surveillance...
Access Control and Video Integration Statistics 2020 on Oct 08, 2020
Video Surveillance and Access Control are two of the most common security...
VMS 101 on Mar 03, 2020
This guide teaches the fundamentals about video management...
Genetec Security Center 5.9 Release Examined on Feb 06, 2020
Genetec released the next major version of Security Center, less than a year...
False: Verkada: "If You Want To Remote View Your Cameras You Need To Punch Holes In Your Firewall" on Jul 31, 2020
Verkada falsely declared to “3,000+ customers”, “300 school districts”, and...

Recent Reports

GDPR Impact On Temperature / Fever Screening Explained on Oct 22, 2020
What impact does GDPR have on temperature screening? Do you risk a GDPR fine...
Security And Safety Things (S&ST) Tested on Oct 22, 2020
S&ST, a Bosch spinout, is spending tens of millions of dollars aiming to...
Nokia Fever Screening Claims To "Advance Fight Against COVID-19" on Oct 22, 2020
First IBM, then briefly Clorox, and now Nokia becomes the latest Fortune 500...
Deceptive Meridian Temperature Tablets Endanger Public Safety on Oct 21, 2020
IPVM's testing of and investigation into Meridian Kiosk's temperature...
Honeywell 30 Series and Vivotek NVRs Tested on Oct 21, 2020
The NDAA ban has driven many users to look for low-cost NVRs not made by...
Avigilon Aggressive Trade-In Program Takes Aim At Competitors on Oct 20, 2020
Avigilon has launched one of the most aggressive trade-in programs the video...
Mexico Video Surveillance Market Overview 2020 on Oct 20, 2020
Despite being neighbors, there are key differences between the U.S. and...
Dahua Revenue Grows But Profits Down, Cause Unclear on Oct 20, 2020
While Dahua's overall revenue was up more than 12% in Q3 2020, a significant...
Illegal Hikvision Fever Screening Touted In Australia, Government Investigating, Temperature References Deleted on Oct 20, 2020
The Australian government told IPVM that they are investigating a Hikvision...
Panasonic Presents i-PRO Cameras and Video Analytics on Oct 19, 2020
Panasonic i-PRO presented its X-Series cameras and AI video analytics at the...
Augmented Reality (AR) Cameras From Hikvision and Dahua Examined on Oct 19, 2020
Hikvision, Dahua, and other China companies are marketing augmented reality...
18 TB Video Surveillance Drives (WD and Seagate) on Oct 19, 2020
Both Seagate and Western Digital recently announced 18TB hard drives...
Watrix Gait Recognition Profile on Oct 16, 2020
Watrix is the world's only gait recognition surveillance provider IPVM has...
Intel Presents Edge-to-Cloud Ecosystem for Video Analytics on Oct 16, 2020
Intel presented its processors and software toolkit for computer vision at...