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 5.5.6.0).  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. 

Conclusion

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 you see and research what options are available. Listing...
Claimed: All Surveillance Manufacturers Are Proprietary on Nov 12, 2014
Are all surveillance manufacturers proprietary? Is proprietary a good thing? Mobotix's magazine, MxInstaller, makes that case. In this note, we...

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

Vunetrix Health Monitoring Company Profile on Nov 26, 2019
Vunetrix boasts that they make the integrators the 'HERO' by using Vunetrix's monitoring. We spoke to Vunetrix to better understand their...
Milestone XProtect 2019 R3 'Centralized Search' Tested on Oct 30, 2019
Milestone has had problems over the last few years releasing significant new software. Now, in XProtect 2019 R3, Milestone is touting "one search...
Network Optix NxWitness 4.0 Tested on Oct 10, 2019
Network Optix released Nx Witness 4.0, proclaiming new features like a deep learning analytics metadata SDK, increased H.265 support, and UX...
Genetec Stratocast VSaaS Tested on Sep 05, 2019
The VSaaS market is rapidly expanding in 2019, with Verkada, Meraki, Eagle Eye, Avigilon and numerous startups growing their market share. When we...
CheckMySystems Company Profile on Aug 14, 2019
CheckMySystems says that too many users respond, "I get an email when something is wrong" when talking about their video system maintenance plan,...
Avigilon Blue VSaaS Tested on Aug 05, 2019
Avigilon says Blue is a "powerful integrator cloud service platform", easy to set up and configure, quickly scale business, by leveraging cloud...
Network Optix / Hanwha Cloud Access Tested on Jul 02, 2019
Remote cloud access is becoming a bigger differentiator, as cybersecurity issues underscore the problems of port forwarding and many integrators...
Exacq Remote Cloud Access Tested on Jun 20, 2019
Remote cloud access has been missing from most VMSes (including Exacq and Milestone). Now, Exacq, after releasing Cloud Drive Storage earlier in...
Milestone XProtect 2019 R1 Tested on May 15, 2019
For the past few years, Milestone has released quarterly software updates XProtect VMS platform. What is new and how much impact do the updates...
Verkada Cloud VMS/Cameras Tested on May 02, 2019
Verkada is arguably the most ambitious video surveillance startup in many years. The company is developing their own cameras, their own VMS, their...

Most Recent Industry Reports

Viakoo Presents Cyber Hygiene for Cameras on May 28, 2020
Viakoo presented its 'Cyber Hygiene' and 'Service Assurance' products at the April 2020 IPVM New Products show. Inside this report: A...
Seek Scan Thermal Temperature Screening System ReTested on May 28, 2020
Now that IPVM has tested Dahua, Hikvision, and Sunell, we are returning to Seek, the first blackbody system we tested and retested it with our...
Directory of 106 "Fever" Camera Suppliers on May 28, 2020
This directory provides a list of "Fever" scanning thermal camera providers to help you see and research what options are available. There are...
Fever Cameras Are Medical Devices, Per The FDA, Dahua, Feevr, Hikvision, InVid Contrary Claims Are False on May 28, 2020
Fever cameras are medical devices, despite what euphemisms various sellers use. The US FDA clearly categorizes them as medical devices and...
Wyze Raises $10 Million And Seeks Services Expansion on May 27, 2020
Wyze has raised $10 million, the company's first disclosed raise since the $20 million announced at the beginning of 2019. Inside this note,...
Startup Videoloft Presents Cloud Storage on May 27, 2020
Videoloft presented offsite cloud storage at the May 2020 IPVM Startups show. A 30-minute video from Videoloft including IPVM...
Directory of 300+ Fever Camera News Reports Globally on May 27, 2020
This global directory tracks 300+ articles about thermal cameras used to detect fevers in response to the coronavirus pandemic. Articles are...
Integrators Rising Against Coronavirus on May 27, 2020
IPVM integrator statistics make it clear - Coronavirus's impact on business is lessening and many are anticipating even better news in weeks...
Netposa Stock Surges 46% After US Human Rights Abuse Sanctions on May 27, 2020
Last Friday, the US government announced it would sanction PRC video management provider NetPosa for being "complicit in human rights violations...
LILIN Presents NDAA-Compliant P2 Cameras on May 26, 2020
Merit LILIN presented its NDAA-compliant P2 camera series at the April 2020 IPVM New Products show. Inside this report: A 30-minute video...