Security Camera Basics
Glossary and Concepts
Security cameras, also known as surveillance cameras, are used to monitor homes, businesses, and other types of properties. Typically, they are connected to a recording device such as a tape recorder or a disk. In the last few years, IP-based security cameras have become increasingly popular. Security cameras enable you to remotely monitor a scene and play back recorded images.
Analog Closed-Circuit Television cameras record pictures or videos as analog signals. Most of old surveillance cameras are analog cameras. This type of camera records directly onto a video tape recorder. In order to save recordings to a PC, the analog signal must be converted to a digital format; this can be done with a video capture card.
Digital CCTV Cameras
Digital CCTV cameras directly capture images and videos as digital signals. The signals are compressed and encoded into a standard video format such as MPEG. Digital CCTV cameras usually record videos onto a hard drive or a storage server.
Security Camera System
A security camera system or a surveillance system is basically a series of security cameras connected to a monitor and recording system. Most of security camera systems are CCTV-based with the cameras connected to the recording system via video cables. A multi-channel security camera system is dramatically more expensive than a regular IP camera; security camera systems from different vendors require different cameras. Using IP-based network cameras, you don't need a security camera system as each network camera can connect to the cloud directly.
An Internet Protocol Camera is a type of digital video camera that can send and receive data via a computer network. This type of camera has become increasingly popular among homeowners and business owners in the last few years because of steep price drop. A webcam can also be considered as a network camera because it can send or receive data via a computer.
Wireless Security Cameras
Wireless security cameras transmit video and audio signals wirelessly to a receiving device. There are analog and digital types of wireless cameras. Digital security cameras have become much more popular recently because they can be accessed over the Internet.
FTP cameras are a type of IP cameras that support uploading of recorded images and videos to an FTP server. Almost all modern IP cameras support FTP upload. FTP offsite storage is by far the most popular way to store image and video files from a security camera. Webcams attached to a PC or laptop usually support FTP. So they can be configured as an FTP security camera.
All security cameras are video cameras. Most security cameras support real-time monitoring via a web browser within the same network. From the Internet, it requires more complicated network configuration. Some security cameras can store video files to a network file server within the same network. Almost all security cameras can upload image snapshots to an FTP server, but very few security cameras can upload video clips to an FTP server. This is because uploading video files requires much higher bandwidth and more storage space. CameraFTP supports video clips if your security camera supports it.
Night Vision Cameras
One of the main usages of a security camera is to monitor night-time scenes. If the scene is not well lit, it is recommended that you use a camera with night vision capability. Those cameras use an infrared spectrum of light at night and can take pictures of objects in the dark.
PoE IP Cameras
PoE stands for “Power on Ethernet”and is a method for delivering power over a regular Ethernet cable. Using PoE cameras can simplify wiring as you do not need to wire power lines.
Security Camera Vulnerabilities
Security cameras themselves are not completely secure. They can fail due to dust, smoke, fog, loss of power, or damage. They are also easily susceptible to tampering. If a security camera records data onsite, both the camera and the recorded data can be destroyed – by intruders, burglars, or anyone else who wants the data gone forever.
Security Camera Offsite Recording
Offsite recording addresses one of the biggest vulnerabilities of a security camera. Instead of storing recorded data onsite, recorded images are uploaded to DriveHQ FTP server in real-time. Even if an intruder destroys a security camera, he cannot destroy the recorded data, which can be immensely helpful for tracking down the intruder.
Storage, bandwidth, image resolution and retention
Security Camera Storage
Most security camera systems can store recorded images and videos to a tape, hard drive, or onsite storage server. However, storing data in this manner leaves it susceptible to tampering and damage by intruders. For better protection and security, offsite storage is the best solution.
Camera Retention Time
Security cameras can generate a large amount of data. The amount depends on the compression ratio, images captured per second, and image size. Most cameras provide a limited amount of storage space; therefore, recordings are usually kept for a preset amount of time before being overwritten by new images.
Camera Image Resolutions
An analog security camera usually supports PAL (768x576 Pixels) or NTSC (720x480 pixels) format. A digital security camera can support many different image resolutions, e.g. 320x240, 640x480, 800x600, 1280x960, and more.
Many security cameras now support motion detection - a technology that triggers recording only when something changes in the scene. Motion can be detected by image changes or sound changes. Many security cameras can only detect image changes. As minor scene changes can occur due to events such as natural light changes or wind changes, many security cameras allow you to configure a “threshold”. By setting a higher threshold, minor scene changes will be ignored and only scene changes that reach the “threshold” will be recorded. Motion detection is very useful if you want to significantly reduce bandwidth and storage usage.
While the resolutions of still image cameras can go as high as 10 million pixels, for a video surveillance camera, the standard resolution is 320x240 or 640x480. The main reason probably is because of storage and bandwidth requirement. The higher the resolution, the more storage space and the more bandwidth it requires. If you set the resolution to higher than 640x480 and if you have multiple cameras, you might run out of upload bandwidth if you use ADSL or Cable Modem connections.
To upload images to Camera FTP server, a broadband Internet connection is required. The required minimum upload bandwidth depends on the image resolution, the frame rate (i.e. number of pictures per second) and the compression ratio.
In a typical example, a security camera might upload one image of 320x240 pixels every second. Assuming the average image size is 12KB, the required minimum upload bandwidth is roughly 96 Kbps. Unless the broadband connection is set up exclusively for a security camera, we recommend the bandwidth to be at least 25% more than the minimum bandwidth.
If the image resolution is 640x480, the image size will be approximately 4 times larger than that of a 320x240 image. At 1 frame per second, the minimum upload bandwidth requirement is 400 Kbps.
Regular ADSL and cable modem connections may sound fast; however, these connections are asymmetric, meaning the upload speed tends to be much slower than the download speed. A typical ADSL connection might offer only 384 Kbps to 1Mbps upload bandwidth; a typical cable modem connection might offer only 512Kbps to 2Mbps upload bandwidth. If you have multiple cameras, please make sure your Internet connection has enough upload bandwidth.
The required amount of storage is dependent on your camera’s image resolution, frame rate, compression ratio and days of retention. Setting up your camera to use motion detection can significantly reduce storage usage.
A security camera might typically be set up at 320x240 image resolution, one frame every 2 seconds, and 7 days of image retention. The required storage space is about 3.5 GB:
12 KB x 86400/2 x 7 = 3.5 GB
Increasing the image resolution to 640x480 will quadruple the storage usage to 14GB. However, setting up motion detection may significantly lower the storage usage.
FTP or SMTP Upload
FTP is by far the most popular way to upload images. While SMTP may also work, it is far less reliable and efficient than FTP. DriveHQ strongly recommends uploading by FTP. We don’t support SMTP upload.
Camera FTP Setup
Your IP camera should have a web-based configuration wizard where you can enter cameraftp.drivehq.com as the FTP server. The FTP port number is the default port number 21. For username and password, put your CameraFTP.com username and password. Please note that accounts on cameraftp.com are not the same as accounts on DriveHQ.com. Your DriveHQ username and password will not work on CameraFTP.com.
In most cases, you should use Passive Mode FTP and not Active Mode FTP. Active Mode FTP is almost always blocked by your firewall or router.
For the folder name, you can enter a camera name (e.g. FrontDoor, DriveWay, BackYard).
Remote Play Back
Once a security camera uploads the recorded images to DriveHQ FTP server, you can play back the recorded images from anywhere using DriveHQ’s CameraShow feature. The CameraShow feature is a browser-based feature and works on PC, MAC, tablets and even smart phones.
DriveHQ Camera FTP service supports real-time viewing of a scene using the CameraShow feature. Many IP cameras can support real-time viewing; however, such feature usually only works at the same location. With DriveHQ’s Camera FTP service, you can view images over the internet from anywhere.
Home / Business Security and Monitoring
CameraFTP offers a revolutionary security and monitoring service for home and business users. Compared with traditional security services, it has a lot of advantages. It is extremely easy to setup, does not require any expensive hardware, requires no professional installation, and the cost is extremely low. Moreover, it is more secure than regular security services as it supports Cloud Recording and Playback.