Video Surveillance Storage – New Ways to Solve Old Problems

There are really just two main functions of a video surveillance system: to see what the camera sees (in real-time or live) and to see what the camera saw (stored). The most widely utilized of the two functions – to see what the camera saw – is storage or being able to store what the camera sees and to playback the video when desired. 

In the past, this was accomplished via video cassette tapes – lots and lots of video cassette tapes. The next technological advancement was to use computer hard disk drives. This reduced costs by eliminating the video tapes, the daily or weekly labor associated with tape rotation as well as the costs of off-site storage. In addition, this greatly decreased the time it took to retrieve a specific incident for playback. The video surveillance markets rapid move towards the wide spread adoption of IP-enabled devices and IT technologies has provided improvements in the quality of the stored video, the length of time or retention of the stored video while reducing the cost of storage and improving the overall reliability of the video surveillance system.

The improvements in the video quality come from improvements in the digital encoding of the video. The most significant of these improvements in the video quality comes from the use of the H.264 encoding standard. H.264 provides an increase in both the quality of the video image and in the compression of the images. Being able to have a higher quality image that requires less storage space can increase the recognition and identification of an event, while increasing the total number of hours, days, weeks or even months stored without increasing storage capacity.

However; improvements in the quality and compression of video are not the only areas that can provide increased storage capacity, retention time and reliability. The use of new techniques in video storage management, IT-based storage solutions and redundancy technologies can provide an even greater increase capacity, retention and reliability.

One of the earliest techniques was the use of time-of-day and day-of-week recording. This was the ability of the video surveillance system to automatically turn on or off the recording function based on not needing to record images or as many images per second at certain times. This type of selective recording did extend the total number of hours, days, weeks and even months that could be retained. But it also had the potential to not be recording anything during an event. There are now video surveillance systems that can take this concept a step farther. By adding some software intelligence and processing capabilities into the video system, it is now possible to automatically reduce the stored video in between the motion triggered events. There are several ways to accomplish this, but one of the most common is to automatically reduce or delete some of the recorded frames.

The actual storage location and type is another area where the adoption of IP and IT technologies has provided improvements in capacity, reliability and cost. Direct Attached Storage (DAS) is currently one of the most common types of video surveillance storage. It is basically one or more computer hard disk drives installed into the DVR or NVR. In some cases, it is the best solution due to a small number of cameras or the remote location of a facility. But DAS solutions in a facility where a large number of cameras are required and access to an enterprise’s network is available can be inefficient. There is the potential to waste or not use potential storage space. Not all video ports on all DVRs and NVRs are always used. But many DVRs and NVRs have few options in available disk drive sizes. Thus, many DVRs and NVRs have disk drives installed that are far larger than the total number of in use camera ports require. This wastes potential storage space, increases costs and increases the amount of power consumed, the heat generated and maintenance costs.

The use of IP-enabled DVRs, NVRs and IP cameras has opened up the use of IT based network storage technologies, like Network Attached Storage (NAS) or Storage Area Networks (SAN). The use of either a NAS or a SAN is more a question of who does the Enterprise IT group support. There are technological differences between the two, but what is more important are the similarities. Both solutions support Ethernet connectivity, usually 100/1000 Base-T(x). Both support the use of standard computer hard disk drive that can also be configured to support several different types of Redundant Array of Independent Disks redundancy. The use of a NAS or SAN can allow multiple DVRs, NVRs and IP cameras to combine their video storage. This eliminates the wasted storage of DAS solutions and increases the reliability of the video storage system by the use of RAID technology.

The move towards IP-based video surveillance has provided some new and in many cases unique solutions to the old problems of storage, retention and reliability. New ways and approaches to solve these problems are still emerging. As one manufacturer develops a new and different way to solve one of these problems, another will see yet a different way to solve the same problem. It is a never ending, but exciting, story of finding new ways to solve old problems.

Did you enjoy this article? Click here to subscribe to Security Magazine. 

You must login or register in order to post a comment.



Image Galleries

ASIS 2013 Product Preview

ASIS International 59th Annual Seminar and Exhibits, September 24-27 in Chicago, Illinois, will include an exhibit hall packed with innovative security solutions. Here are some of the products that will be shown at ASIS this year.


Virtualization and Data Center Security: What You Need to Know for 2014

Data centers are increasingly becoming the center of the enterprise, and data center and cyber security is following the same path for security departments. According to Justin Flynn, a consultant at the Burwood Group, the virtualization of data centers allows enterprises to scale more easily and faster, with a smaller footprint.

However, hosting enterprise data in the cloud can make intrusion detection more difficult – how can enterprise security leaders team up with other departments to keep aware of cyber risks and traffic, and physical and data compliance during the virtual transition? How can CISOs and CSOs discuss cyber threats with the C-Suite to get the resources they need? And how can the proper infrastructure test and verify possible malicious attacks? 

More Podcasts

Security Magazine

Security May 2015 Issue cover

2015 May

In the May 2015 issue of Security, learn how to be the bridge between busieness and security with "customer facing," how to effectively work with your CFO, and covert security.

Table Of Contents Subscribe

Body Cameras on Security Officers

Body cameras are being used increasingly by police in cities across the U.S. Will you arm your security officers with a body camera?
View Results Poll Archive


Effective Security Management, 5th Edition.jpg
Effective Security Management, 5th Edition

 Effective Security Management, 5e, teaches practicing security professionals how to build their careers by mastering the fundamentals of good management. Charles Sennewald brings a time-tested blend of common sense, wisdom, and humor to this bestselling introduction to workplace dynamics. 

More Products

Clear Seas Research

Clear Seas ResearchWith access to over one million professionals and more than 60 industry-specific publications,Clear Seas Research offers relevant insights from those who know your industry best. Let us customize a market research solution that exceeds your marketing goals.


Facebook 40px 2-12-13 Twitter logo 40px 2-12-13  YouTube  LinkedIn logo 40px 2-12-13Google+

Vertical Sector Focus: Critical Infrastructures

criticalhomepagethumbFrom terrorism to vandalism, it’s preparedness, response, training and partnerships. Learn about some of the critical security issues facing this sector.

Visit the Critical Infrastructure page to read more.