In today’s age of video surveillance, many wonder which type of system is better-suited for their organization — internet protocol (IP) or analog. While there is no correct answer to that question, each has its benefits depending on many factors.

In this world of ever-evolving technologies, some choose to stick with what has worked for them in the past and, as a result, may be slow to accept and move forward with today’s — and tomorrow’s — trends. Some choose new systems based solely on cost. Others, their basic or complicated needs. As such, every situation is different.

On a grand scale, as analog or IP video surveillance footage is collected and stored by businesses, these low-mid-high resolution captures increase required memory storage capabilities. The need for new and better-equipped onsite hard drive systems can be a drain on a company’s security budget, not to mention the room needed to house these hard drives and servers. This may lead to key decision-makers to look for ways to cut corners, and, thus, lowering the company’s overall security status, ability and reliability.

Analog (also known as closed-circuit television or CCTV) converts the video signal to a format that can be used by local sources, such as televisions, inboard or outboard hard drives and DVRs. Therefore, analog has limited capabilities and storage ranges versus IP cameras.

When looking at less cumbersome commercial use, simple may be better than a more complex system, and, as a result, analog can be the way to go for a number of reasons. First, today’s analog is not yesterday’s analog system. 8MP imaging for analog has become increasingly more widespread, improving resolution from a mere few years back. With that, cost is lower than an IP camera and setup, at least initially. And if low memory storage onsite is permissible and even preferred in some situations, versus offsite and cloud-based mega-memory storage, analog can be the answer. In addition, an analog system, being vastly less complex than digital IP systems, can be virtually left alone after setup.

The downside? Well, it comes to limitations in features, as well as transfer and storage from camera to recorder. That means a hard-wired system and keeping everything onsite, so it can’t be remotely operated, nor memory retrieved from off-premises. These factors alone may make one’s decision an easy one.

A primary reason many stick to analog these days is, as is with many things, cost. They may already have an analog system, it works for them and their needs, and they are hesitant to upgrade due to an IP retrofit’s upfront price tag (and possible ongoing storage-related fees), whether realizing or not the many benefits of IP digital surveillance.

In these scenarios, one must consider that the upkeep and maintenance of analog systems, in the short and long run, will become increasingly more expensive than utilizing IP surveillance in most cases. The cost of cables, maintenance of and purchase of in-house storage (not to mention its limitations versus cloud-based storage) and other factors are now outweighing the declining costs of IP digital surveillance solutions overall. Sometimes easier is not always better.

Onsite analog hardware systems, which were once the way to go for video surveillance solutions, are increasingly becoming backup systems, or retired altogether by way of IP remote access security solutions, including Video Surveillance as a Service (VSaaS). Why? Because modern security surveillance systems only require a few key components: IP cameras; power; an internet connection; and a subscription to a VSaaS plan if desired.

In contrast, one of the main benefits, if not the main benefit, of an IP camera surveillance system is that it converts its video signal so that it can be transmitted over the internet or data network to a high capacity, offsite, in-the-cloud storage network server, which can be accessed virtually anywhere and anytime. The IP system has the added benefit of using the network devices which can expand the range of the IP cameras beyond that of a CCTV system.

In recent years, cloud-based solutions have surged in popularity and there are many reasons to consider such a surveillance solution, especially in small-and-medium sized businesses (SMBs). As retailers and small businesses look to implement video surveillance systems to deter theft and reduce liability, new solutions can now provide them with significant advantages over past and present analog systems, such as allowing you to monitor HD video that is safely stored in the cloud and available at one’s fingertips 24/7, 365 days a year. Because video is stored offsite, recordings are also protected from physical damage or hardware defect that may occur with on-premises hardware, providing greater resiliency to captured video.

Then there is the cost of maintenance. With an IP cloud-based system, there is no need for information technology (IT) personnel to help maintain and troubleshoot on-premises hardware, while many IP systems updates are automatically deployed to the system, ensuring that it can immediately benefit from new features. Distributed systems will also save on the cost of purchasing and maintaining a DVR or server for each of the businesses’ locations, further reducing the cost of the deployment.

So, is there a right choice? That depends on the end-user and how their security needs warrant a specific surveillance system.