Cloud storage has become increasing popular the last few years for storage solution needs that arise in companies. It has also become very popular as a solution for off-site storage and backup of footage from IP cameras and IP camera systems that need lots of storage space, as recording in HD resolution is very memory intensive. HD video uploads require a high bandwidth and immense amounts of hard drive space. As security camera video quality keeps getting better with the advent of higher resolution CMOS image sensors, this only adds to the need for more storage space .
Cloud storage provides convenience and an extra level of security by allowing off-site backup of your data. In the event of catastrophes like fires or theft, your data will still be accessible from anywhere with cloud storage. This is one of the best ways of storing or backing up your sensitive and important data as the storage is offsite, stored on hard drives that are redundant, supported by companies with a lot of resources like redundant power and fire extinguishing systems, and your data is accessible wherever and whenever you need it.
Using Quality Equipment
As always, proper equipment is key to providing a professional service or running a business properly, in all walks of life. This is relevant to your memory storage solutions for many reasons. Using good quality IP cameras will enable your recordings to be high definition, and data transfers to be as efficient and secure as possible. When your security and well-being are what's at risk, using professional grade equipment will make the difference when it matters. This is not just for visual quality either, there is more to it than that.
Cheaper cameras or systems lack in several key features that are necessary to enable cloud storage, such as ftp upload capability. You want quality cameras and DVR or NVR recorders like these that enable you to configure recording both internally and remotely to either an FTP server or another NVR as backup.
These days cloud based security cameras for the home consumer market are also becoming popular, however the companies selling these types of cameras are generally selling cheaper equipment up front which happens to look very pleasing thanks to clever designs. The monthly video storage fees for these cameras are also exorbitant, and make them unrealistic for a security camera system consisting of multiple cameras. The company may offer a small amount of storage space as an introductory offering, and when you add more storage space or cameras, the monthly charges add up fast.
Options for Cloud Storage
If you have purchased a IP camera, NVR, or HD DVR camera system from us, and you decide cloud storage is something you want to integrate into your security camera system, there are several different options to consider. This article will go over three cost effective methods, two of which do not entail any monthly fee.
- Offsite NVR: You can stream video directly from your IP cameras over the internet to an NVR located off-site for video storage. The NVR acts as the server in a cloud (offsite). Alternatively, it is possible to have 2 NVRs where the primary NVR is on the same site as the cameras. The secondary NVR taps into video streams from the primary NVR for backup of video in real time. You can even use a offsite NVR to record video from non-ip based cameras by using our DVR recorders that can accept analog and HD over coax cameras, and make each camera's video stream accessible over the network.
- Personal FTP Server: Using free software like FileZilla you can transform your PC or Mac into an FTP server that your IP cameras can upload video and/or snapshots to. Video can be uploaded continuously or when activated by motion.
- Paid Cloud Storage: Using a paid service to connect to your cameras or system and host your cloud storage. Recurring monthly charges apply to this option.
Requirements to Keep in Mind When Using Cloud Storage
There are several details to keep in mind when configuring cloud storage with your cameras. First and perhaps the most crucial, you need broadband internet service where the cameras are located. Your upload and download speeds must be high in order to properly support the task of sending video and/or snapshots. The main purpose of cloud storage is to send data directly to a computer or NVR at a location other than where the cameras are located. For many people incorporating cloud-based recording means constant video streams to be uploaded all the time, making high-speed internet service crucial, and not something to be overlooked.
The upload speed required depends on the number of cameras that will be recorded in the Cloud simultaneously at any given time and the camera resolution. For example, 1-megapixel 720P IP cameras will require about 3Mbps (Megabits) of bandwidth per second while 2-megapixel 1080p IP cameras will require 4-6 Mbps per camera. For everyday use, we suggest only recording when motion is detected; each camera can trigger a video feed to be uploaded for itself when it detects motion in the video using built-in analytics in the camera. This way, you don't necessarily have all cameras uploading video at the same time.
The technical knowledge base is great to have as well. To be able to understand connectivity and networking and to be able to troubleshoot is invaluable when considering cloud storage. Fortunately, the setup is easy enough that with a little research, this task is not too complex for the average computer user.
Lastly, a fast PC with plenty of storage is vital when choosing to build you own FTP server. Your internet service is one thing, but having powerful hardware is crucial to saving incoming video streams which can be an intensive process. We recommend using at least an Intel i5 dual-core CPU based computer.
One of the easiest methods to accomplish cloud-based video storage of IP cameras or even DVR systems is by using an off-site NVR. By placing an NVR at a location other than the cameras constitutes recording in the cloud where the NVR is the server being recorded to. Let's say you want to save video from your business, and you have broadband internet like Verizon FiOS at your home and business. By simply utilizing these internet connections you can make your NVR at home an "NVR in the cloud."
There are two ways to connect IP cameras to an offsite NVR:
1. Primary offsite NVR: Cameras can stream directly to the network video recorder located outside the premises
2. Secondary offsite NVR: Cameras stream first to an on-site NVR (primary NVR), and then an off-site NVR can connect to the primary NVR and backup video. This creates a redundant video storage system where there are two copies of the video. Should one unit fail the other NVR would have a copy and continue to record even in the event of hard drive failure on the other unit. This task is only possible with our NVR recorders. It is important to note that it is not necessary to record on both NVRs. You can choose to record on whichever NVR you choose, i.e. onsite or offsite.
Primary OffSite NVR - Direct Camera to OffSite NVR Streaming
This method involves a data stream to be established between the camera and the NVR in the cloud over the internet. The data stream for IP cameras can encompass video, audio, ptz data, and other metadata. Since this data stream must traverse the internet, it requires port forwarding rules to be provisioned on the router or firewall behind which the cameras are located. Otherwise, the NVR will be unable to connect to the cameras.
Our IP cameras have a dedicated video stream available via a TCP port which is set by default to 37777 on every camera. A port forwarding rule has to be provisioned on the router for each camera that you have. If you have multiple cameras, their TCP port needs to be unique since every network can only have one port-forwarding rule per external port. First, you have to change the TCP port of the second camera to 37779, and 37780 for the third and so on. Second, create rules in your router to open up the firewall and route traffic for each port to the respective camera's IP address. You can find more information about port forwarding here along with router specific port forwarding guides here:
Once port forwarding is established, you can manually add each camera as a Remote Device through the NVR's menu. Enter the static external IP address of the location where the cameras are located in the IP address field and the TCP port number for each camera. We suggest changing the default username and password for the cameras to ensure additional security. Once you enter the proper username and password and hit connect, the NVR will connect to each camera.
Secondary Off-Site NVR - On-Site NVR to Off-Site NVR Streaming
The main difference between this method and the one above is that it doesn't require many port forwarding rules to be set in the router where the cameras are located. Simply put, from a networking standpoint, this is an easy to follow setup. This secondary method of cloud video storage also has the added benefit of redundant video storage on-site and off-site. We recommend this solution over the first for many reasons, especially in the event of internet failure you will still have footage saved on the on-site NVR. For businesses storage redundancy is an important factor to consider.
So how does it work? It's very simple and doesn't require much technical expertise. Using a simple point and click operation you can configure both NVRs.
First, physically install your PoE cameras and use one of our NVR's with built-in PoE to make the process easier. Having a built-in PoE switch on the NVR allows the NVR to automatically assign each camera a different IP address and makes the process of installing cameras on the network a non-technical task that anyone can do. Using the Remote Device menu option, search for the cameras and choose the cameras you want the NVR to connect. Once added to the NVR these cameras will automatically be configured for streaming and recording on the NVR. Please use our guide on adding IP cameras to a PoE NVR for more information.
Once you have an IP camera system with NVR working at the primary location, connect it to the main router on the premises. Configure one port forwarding rule on your router to open port 37777 and point it towards the internal IP address of the NVR. The default IP address of the NVR is 192.168.1.108. If you have a network with a 192.168.1.x subnet, you should be able to ping the NVR at the above IP. You can use GRC Scan to ensure that your port forwarding rule is working and port 37777 is open.
Second, place the secondary off-site NVR which will serve as storage in the cloud in another location where you have internet. Using the Remote Device menu option, manually add cameras from the primary NVR by filling out information as follows:
- Channel: This is the camera number on the secondary NVR and it will automatically increase as you add cameas in ascending order.
- Manufacturer: Leave as Private if you are using equipment purchased from CCTV CAmer World
- Address: xxx.xxx.xxx.xxx – Enter your external IP address for the network at the primary location. You can find what it is by going to a computer at the primary location and typing www.myipaddress.com from a web broswer.
- Port: 37777 – This is the video streaming port. In this configuration type where you are connecting to one NVR to leech multiple camera streams, this port will stay the same because the NVR will allow you to select different channels to stream from a single port
- User / Password: Enter the 6 character username and password configured for a user on the Primary NVR
- Remote Channel: Enter the camera or channel number from the Primary NVR that you would like to stream.
- Decoder Buffer: leave at 280ms
You should now have all the cameras from the primary NVR streaming to your "Cloud NVR." You can configure any recording schedule and encoding resolution independent of the primary NVR. You can even record in less resolution to save hard drive storage space and prolong video recording. For additional information on setting recording schedules, please see these articles:
- How to setup a recording schedule on your NVR or DVR
- Motion Detection Recording Setup for Security Camera DVRs
Personal FTP Server: Recording without a NVR
There is another free option to consider for users that have more computer and networking technical knowledge. That option being file transfer using FTP through programs such as FileZilla. By installing FileZilla on a Windows or Mac computer, you are able to receive data, like recordings or images from cameras over the local network or over an internet connection. This enables you to have access to these files from anywhere, eliminating the need to be on site for playback or file downloading purposes. Uploading video or images from your IP cameras via FTP is an economical solution for primary video storage without needing an NVR.
For this task, you will need your IP cameras, a free FTP program such as FileZilla and some knowledge of networking. With the step by step tutorial below, you should be able to configure your cloud storage setup with minimal effort, regardless of your technical proficiency level.
First, we will make a destination folder to save all our snapshots and videos to. Create a new folder on your computer's hard drive and call it something like "FileZillaFolder." We suggest using a secondary hard drive in your computer to keep camera recordings separate from the rest of your files.
Next download the FileZilla server program to follow along. At the installation screen, you will see a screen asking which port number you want FileZilla to operate on. The default should be 14147, leave it as is.
Once it is finished installing a prompt will appear called "Connect to server" with several options for the setup. You can choose your server address, for our purpose we used a loopback address of "[: : 1]" to save directly to our computer. Also, there are options for the port number it should operate on. This should be the port number that it was dedicated to at the installation screen (14147). Create your own administrative password and click OK.
Create a User Group
After you click OK, the FileZilla server will start and you will see the main window for the server application called the 'Filezilla Server Interface." Make sure you are using the Filezilla Server Interface from this point forward. From here you want to make a new group and user to control administrative rights. Click "Edit" in the top menu of the program window, then select the option "Groups".
On the right, there is a button for "add". Click add to bring up the "Add user group" window (see pic below) and name your group. For this tutorial purpose, we name it "business". Click OK to save.
Create a New User and Assign to Group
From here we go back to Edit in the top menu of the program window, and this time, select "Users."
Now on the left under "page" there will be an option for "shared folders." Create a new user and select a home directory all at once. Both are important steps for configuration. Under users there will be a button for Add. Click this to add a new user.
Choose a name for this user. Then in the drop down menu, there will be the option to choose the group. Choose the group we just made and add this new user to it. We named our user "ipcam" and assigned it a password of "ipcam" to keep it simple. Click OK to finalize settings.
Assign Shared Folder to User
Now in the same window, we will need to configure a shared folder directory to save our videos and snapshots to. Under "shared folders" there will be a button for "add." Click this to open the menu, and find the folder named "FileZillaFolder" you made earlier to save your pictures and videos.
This will automatically make this the home directory for the FTP user we just created. Now when you see it under the "directories" header, click it to select it as shown above. Now you will see the files and directories permissions on the side that show what you are allowing this user to do. You MUST make sure that all boxes under "Files" and "Directories" are checked to allow your FTP user read/write access to the directory. Click OK to apply settings and from here we can move on to the rest of the configuration which will be done on the IP camera.
Now that we have our server configured we need to go into our IP camera and change the settings to allow for FTP transfer to our FileZilla computer. First, we will need to determine what our computer's IP address is. The easiest way to do this is to bring up the command prompt.
Find your Computer's IP Address
Go to the windows icon in the bottom left of your computer screen. In the search bar, type "CMD" and click on the application to bring up your command line.
From here you need to type in the command "ipconfig" to get your network information. Click enter to run the command.
Here you will see a response that says "ipv4" with an IP address such as 192.168.1.4 This is our computer's IP address.
Write down your IP address and you can then close the command prompt.
Configure FTP recording on your IP camera
Go to your internet browser and type in your IP Camera's IP address. This will access the IP camera interface as long as it is connected to the network.
Here type in your IP camera's login information to access the settings. It's normally admin/admin if you haven't changed it to something else. Once you access the IP camera, there will be a tab at the top of the called "setup."
Clicking this will bring up settings options. With setup selected there will be more tabs on the left side to bring up further menus. Click "storage" to bring up the drop-down menu and then click "destination" to bring up the configuration page we need.
The first tab on this menu is "Path." Here you will see an option called "FTP" with boxes next to it. Under the "Record" and "Snapshot" sections, make sure all three boxes for FTP are selected. Be sure to save your settings.
Next, go to the "FTP" tab at the top to bring up the next menu.
There will be a checkbox for "enable." Make sure this is checked, otherwise, this will not work!
The "server address" will be your computer's IP address acting as the FileZilla Server. In our case we have entered our internal IP address. If you are sending files to a server on the internet, you can certainly enter it here.
Next, the "port" should be 21 which is for FTP protocols. "User name" should be the user you created above in FileZilla. We named ours "ipcam." Fill in the password and leave "remote directory" blank otherwise it will make a new folder within the destination folder and things will get messy. Save your settings as always and you are finished with the IP camera settings.
From here, you should be all set up and you should see that your camera's file activity as lines of text in the FileZilla server window. All data (videos and snapshots) is uploaded by the camera to the folder you created using the FTP protocol.
This article shows you how to save cost and host a FTP server on your own computer. You can use the steps outlined for camera configuration above and target the camera to a FTP server located on the internet. You can use a hosting provider like Godaddy to purchase a FTP server, and upload video footage from your cameras or NVR to it.
It is worth noting at this point that if you do not see activity in your server screen, you might have to disable the firewall on your computer to allow for incoming FTP transfers.
The videos are saved in DAV format. To play these types of videos, we recommend the DAV Player that comes on the CD included with your camera purchase.
Choose a recording in your folder and right click to bring up the menu. From here click "open with…" to choose the player you want to view the recording with. Set it to the DAV Player you installed. Now you should be able to view your recordings.
Your FTP computer should be all set up and ready to go from here. You can configure FTP credentials for the same user in multiple cameras. Each camera will upload video and/or snapshots and save them in a different folder name according to the camera's serial number.
The camera folder within the destination folder will be named using the camera's serial number by default.
Paid Cloud Storage Services
The last option to keep in mind is implementing a paid cloud storage service. This is an option more geared towards big businesses and users that need a lot of storage capacity. The average user would probably find this option too much of a hassle for them when they look at the pricing and realize there are other options available. In fairness, there are some benefits as well as restraints.
With many cloud storage hosting services, often times you must use their cameras and products with the service. Many have cameras and software specifically designed and supported with their service. Often times you do not even outright own the cameras, you are renting them through the company. You are at the will of the service provider, and this is something that is simply not acceptable for users that are security and privacy minded.
The cameras and software are often subpar equipment. The cameras are normally cheaper grade cameras with little support base behind them. Simple models that are really only suitable for indoor home use are normally standard, and most often they are lacking several key features that consumers look for when doing research. Some examples being high-quality night vision IR technology, varifocal lens cameras, outdoor waterproof/vandal proof features, adjustable and vandal resistant mounting.
Another issue that many users don't consider until they have already made their purchase is that these paid services cameras are often times incompatible with other services and NVR units. After already installing and using these cameras for a period of time they realize that if they decided to pursue other options for storage, the cameras will have to be replaced, and then they find themselves again locked into using the service.
For most cloud storage providers, you normally have to pay monthly for their service. This monthly fee could be for a defined amount of storage, but more often than not it refers to how many cameras you are using. Amount per month per camera means that if you have a decent sized system you will pay a hefty service charge every month just to record your cameras.
The costs can quickly skyrocket for using subscription storage based cameras. If anything, it pays to do your research. You will find that despite manufacturer advertisements of HD quality video on these cameras, the video quality recorded in the end depends on the speed of your internet connection. If you are using DSL or cable modems, your upload speeds are limited and you will never come close to ever obtaining Real Time 30fps HD quality video recordings from these cameras.
Many businesses that need a large amount of storage might find this solution appropriate for their requirements. Some services will offer unlimited cloud storage and support for their service. This will help larger businesses that need to be up and running 24/7 and can't afford any downtime. If your business has a lot of sensitive information or videos that cannot be leaked, this may not be the best choice. While the data is your property, it is not exactly under your control when you send it to a cloud storage service.
There are many options for cloud storage that are economical and feasible for every type of user. If monthly recurring cost cloud storage cameras are not for you, then we recommend IP cameras or NVRs with FTP upload functionality paired with a FTP server for the cost-effective solution.