VMS Upgrade Comparison

Sarit Williams
Published Oct 22, 2013 04:00 AM

Which VMS offers the best way to upgrade VMS software versions? Who makes it simple and automated and who forces you to figure it out on your own?

In this report, we answer these questions, examining the upgrade capabilities for Avigilon, Exacq, Genetec, Milestone, Network Optix/Digital Watchdog and VideoInsight.

We answer the following questions:

  1. How are end users notified of new versions, if at all?
  2. Does each server have to be update individually or all servers at once?
  3. What about Clients upgrade process?

Key differentiators:

We discovered the following top differentiators:

  • New Release Notification: Some automatically notified users upon logging in to the VMS client, one let you check from within the VMS client while others were completely manual.
  • Multi Server Updates: Only 2 VMSes offered the ability to update multiple servers at once, the rest require each server to be updated manually- time consuming and inefficient.
  • Client Update: Some VMSes notified the client when the server was updated, and others expected users to check manually for latest versions.
  • Updating revealed 3 important differentiators that separated the 'best' from the 'worst' in VMS update process, including:

    • New Release Notification: Network Optix/Digital Watchdog showed a pop-up notification each time the client was launched when a new release was available. Exacq allowed for checking within the VMS client. Avigilon, Genetec, Milestone, and VideoInsight required manually checking though many email out notifications periodically.
    • Multi Server Updates: Genetec and Milestone offered multiserver updates. Genetec's silent install will push updates to all servers and clients at once, while Milestone's add-on utility will update all servers. Exacq, Network Optix/Digital Watchdog, Avigilon, and Video Insight required each server and client to be updated individually.
    • Client Update: Genetec allows the administrator to push to all clients automatically. Network Optix/Digital Watchdog notify (via pop-up) the end user automatically of new client versions even if the server is still on an older version. Exacq requires users to manually check (via embedded link in client) for updates. Avigilon, Milestone and VideoInsight will automatically notify client users if their version is older than the server version. Avigilon and Video Insight automatically run the installer while Milestone requires going to a local directory and clicking on an install link.

    Manufacturer Differentiation


    • New release notification: update process is manual, requires checking their Support site. Avigilon will email registered admins for systems with notices.
    • Multi-server updates: each server must be updated separately.
    • Client updates: when an older version client connects to a newer version, it will prompt and enable the client to automatically upgrade.

    However, the migration from Version 4 to 5 is manual, not backwards compatible and requires payment.

    Avigilon will push firmware upgrades to all of their own cameras with each server update.


    • New release notification: check manually (via software link in client) for a newer version.
    • Multi-server updates: each server must be updated separately.
    • Client updates: client must check (via software link) and update manually

    When the link is clicked the latest version is automatically downloaded and launched for the user to begin installation.


    • New release notification: Check manually on their GTAP portal or via partner email.
    • Multi-server updates: Offers a command line silent installation that can be pushed to both servers and clients via the local administrator from one downloaded package. 
    • Client updates: can be pushed by administrator or installed separately

    Downloading Genetec software requires GTAP registration. Also SV16 updates require calling Tech Support to obtain a direct download link.


    • New release notification: will receive email if email is registered. Otherwise, requires users to check the site for latest updates manually.
    • Multi-server updates: offers a utility named Software Management Component that allows administrators to manage all updates and push those updates to all servers at once, hence saving time and keeping systems current.
    • Client updates: when an older version client connects to an upgraded server, it will notify client with a local link to a directory with the new client version for manual installation.

    Milestone has decided against automatically notifying end users of latest updates to allow integrators and distribution channels to dictate the assimilation process to their customers.

    Network Optix/Digital Watchdog

    • New release notification: notifies with pop-up of new version link as soon as client is launched
    • Multi-server updates: each server must be updated separately.
    • Client updates: click link in pop-up to download and install latest.

    Although the user is notified it still requires the user to follow the link to a website, select proper version and install.

    Video Insight

    • New release notification: check website manually for a recent version. Moreover, must check a  different site than their website to find downloads.
    • Multi-server updates: each server must be updated separately.
    • Client updates: when an older version client connects to an upgraded server, it will prompt the user and automatically install the updated client.

    Manually checking a different website requires the user to know its address and check, especially because there isn't a known consistent release schedule. 

    Client/Server Version Variances

    Two common outcomes exist for connecting clients and servers with different versions. Sometimes, this will work but newer features will be disabled or unavailable. However, other times, the connection will be denied. Because of this, we suggest verifying with one's VMS manufacturer on compatibility issues and restrictions for one's specific versions used.

Comments (7)
Alex K
Oct 23, 2013

So only with Avigilon you have to pay for upgrade ?

John Honovich
Oct 23, 2013

The issue here is that it is manual and not backwards compatible between 5 and 4. As the focus of this report is upgrades, the process involved and the backwards compatibility are important components.

Undisclosed Integrator #1
Oct 28, 2013

for Genetec upgrade you must have a valid SMA which must be payed per year.

nidal gharzeddine
Oct 23, 2013

"Milestone has decided against automatically notifying end users of latest updates to allow integrators and distribution channels to dictate the assimilation process to their customers."

Wouldn't an end user prefer to retain the choice of whether or not to be notified (register or not), instead of being completely dependent on the integrator/distributor?

Sarit Williams
Oct 23, 2013

An end user could ask to be added to the Milestone Newsletter if they wanted to though that would be bypassing the integrator in this case. I could make a case for both: on one hand the integrator may want to preview the latest to ensure there aren't any issues before mass updates, whereas an end user may simply upgrade immediately and have unexpected consequences the integrator would now have to support.

Alon Hasson
Oct 24, 2013


Why has NUUO not been a part of any of these tests?? Did I miss something somewhere??

Thank you kindly

Sarit Williams
Oct 24, 2013

Hello Alon,

As we previously published our Testing Plan for the remainder of 2013, we explained that we cannot, realistically, evaluate all VMSes for each of the basic features for each report. However, we are nearing the final reviews of the basic feature sets and sometime early-mid next year we will begin reviewing individual VMSes in depth.