On-Board Storage Usage Statistics 2014

By John Honovich, Published Jun 04, 2014, 08:00pm EDT

Most IP camera models now support on-board storage. Even more promising, on-board storage has the potential to eliminate NVRs / centralized VMSes as the recordings can be stored inside the camera itself. Plus, SD card storage continues to grow with many 128GB cards available.

However, how often is on-board storage being used?

In this note, we reveal unique IPVM integrator statistics that show usage rates and the key reasons for and against integrators using on-board storage.

Overall, usage is quite low, at ~7%, though just a few years ago, surely it was at or near zero:

The 'good news' then is that some integrators are certainly using on-board storage sometimes and that use is on the upswing.

Indeed, as our usage breakdown shows, a non-trivial number of integrators are using on-board storage on more than 10% of their cameras. 

Reasons for Using On-Board Storage

Far and away, the #1 reason / use case integrators gave for on-board storage was redundancy:

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  • "In case main recording fails"
  • "Secondary level of storage backup in the event of a communications issue. We do not use it as a primary method of storage."
  • "Option for temporary recording during server reboots, upgrades and downtime."
  • "We use it mainly for critical infrastructure systems where we can use onboard storage to replenish our central recordings following a network failure."

A secondary, but even more niche case, was for covert applications:

  • "Great addition in the investigative business."
  • "We use on board storage in only covert applications."
  • "Covert surveillance (Police, Military)"

However, only a few integrators talked positively about using on-board storage to eliminate VMSes, and even those, only used it very rarely.

Problems With Using On-Board Storage

Integrators have been trying to use on-board storage, including as a VMS replacement, but the #1 problem cited has been reliability:

  • "Had several issues when testing on board storage of camera locking up and not recording anything."
  • "We have had issues with Axis in the past and the added cost per camera and service issues have all but killed this for us."
  • "We tried Axis ACC for several years and got badly burnt by it; haven't been willing to try any others yet."
  • "We had 100% failure rate using axis cameras and will not ever go down that road again."
  • "We had issues with the on-board storage (Axis cameras)."

It is impressive that Axis has single handedly damaged the reputation of on-board storage though it is not surprising, given the outpouring of problems expressed here: Axis Edge Storage And Camera Companion Is Unstable. Unfortunately, there is still no clear response / solution from Axis.

The second problem integrators emphasized was limitations on VMS supporting edge storage:

  • "Seamless integration with vms is very difficult"
  • "Some of the NVR software (Pelco) does not natively support access the on-board storage with the NVR software."
  • "On board storage is still not seamlessly integrated into the VMS."
  • "Current manufactures we are using do not support recording at the edge."

Though a few of the larger VMSes support on-board storage, even the ones that do are typically limited to a few camera manufacturers (most often, Axis). An emerging ONVIF Profile (G) aims to standardize this (i.e., access recordings from devices) but practical support is quite limited.

One integrator having success with Axis Camera Companion noted that "The type of SD card is critical. This is one area you do not want to cheap out on. Cheap SD cards will fail rather quickly. The AXIS Camera Companion software has served us nicely." Related, see our discussion, Are UHS Speeds Needed For SD Cards Used In Surveillance?

Finally, a few integrators mentioned, in passing, about price or cost concerns. Clearly, this is less of a factor for users seeking redundancy, as such systems usually spend heavy on surveillance and are willing to pay for the incremental $50 to $100 cost of an SD card as well as having enterprise VMS software that supports this. However, for the low end, eliminating VMS servers with on-board storage is increasingly less attractive as the Chinese super inexpensive kits proliferate for that end of the market. 

3 reports cite this report:

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The black eye for on-board recording has gotten pretty bad. Culminating...
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