The common brands of IP-cameras have internal software for recording and for sending out alerts via email. I’m not impressed: the sensitivity is iffy and you have to manage each camera separately. I prefer to run the cameras through a camera management program called Blue Iris.
Blue Iris software to manage and store video feeds
The required Blue Iris operating system is Windows. I have also recently added the Blue Iris App to my phone. The commercial software eliminates a lot of the rough-edges in managing cameras. The more cameras you have then the more sense a management program makes. I’d rather trim the specs on the cameras I buy (or wait for a deal) than not use Blue Iris, with three cameras at home and three at an Adirondack camp. You can run up to 64 cameras on the full package. I don’t think the DSL at my cabin has the bandwidth to upload signal from many more than the current three. The only frustrating part of Blue Iris set up was picking the configuration option with an Amcrest camera. For the Foscam cameras the options matched up to the names of the camera types.
The basic Blue Iris set up
I set up Blue Iris to start recording when there is motion, or noise as well for my Foscam C1 cameras which have microphones. Blue Iris initially saves to an internal hard disk. You can also tell it to email pictures and/or a short MPEG video clip. I have a dedicated email account that gets just these camera messages. It makes it easier to clear them out in bulk. The default is that video clips are saved in a custom format but you can export to .AVI or .MP4 . The sample videos I posted for each of my camera types were cut out of longer Blue Iris files before uploading to YouTube. They were cut out and exported in AVI format using tools in the Blue Iris camera manager.
The files in Blue Iris are stored forever unless you clear them out. The older files are automatically moved to a separate folder but this is transparent to the user who simply sees the list of files growing in a program sidebar. The main reason for deleting files is to save space. The folder of older files can be held in an external storage device but they don’t recommend this for the active folder because of longer access times.
The PC has to be on it has to be on for Blue Iris to run locally and to be accessible to the ‘phone App. You can set Blue Iris to run at start up using the steps in my graphic. It will be running in the background even if you haven’t launched the Blue Iris browser/interface. The PC should be set to never-sleep mode and to never turn itself off. It is useful to configure your PC to auto-start after there is a power outage. That is straightforward if you can get into the BIOS at startup – in the stage of PC start up before Windows launches. However, there are a lot of ‘sort ofs‘ and ‘something likes‘ in the guides for doing this ‘cos the BIOS interfaces vary. This tweak won’t help if the PC is unplugged or if the PC box has an on/off rocker switch toggled to off!
I run cameras for home security and to watch wildlife around my Adirondack cabin.
The camera recordings are on my home desktop PC as files in Blue Iris. If someone broke into my house they might grab the PC as general loot or ‘cos they realize there are security cameras and the PC is recording. Which would mean they have the evidence!. Blue Iris v4 doesn’t offer an integrated cloud backup option so I created several backup routes.
I am running three backup solutions for my Blue Iris files:
- Backup with CrashPlan by Code 42.
- Recording all camera feeds at both home and at camp cabin with separate copies of Blue Iris.
- ColdStorage on Zoolz.
The one that I trust most is recording at both locations with the program, I’m not going to get robbed at both sites, but it is not perfect because the Camp phone and power services are prone to outages.
At home CrashPlan is suppose to be continuously updating active files. Code42, the vendor, would like you to buy cloud storage but I’m cheap and, for free, I store on a hidden local external drive that I repurposed.
The storage on Zoolz was a cheap web-deal, 500GB cold storage as a onetime charge of $30. Good forever or until Zoolz goes broke or otherwise reorganizes. The Cold Storage backup is running on both the home and camp PCs but is not updating in real-time. The files automatically uploaded to Cold Storage are there as a last chance solution if I panic and damage the more active Blue Iris copies after a break in.