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Security professionals planning to deploy a new CCTV system or expand or upgrade an existing installation must take data storage capacity into account. The footage from security cameras generates high volumes of data, especially with the latest high-resolution IP cameras.

This can put pressure on the capacity of traditional on-site CCTV storage solutions and, as a result, many security professionals are turning to cloud storage for cameras as an alternative.

To help security professionals select between on-site or a cloud storage security camera system, this guide explains how CCTV cloud storage works, how it differs from on-site storage and the benefits of leveraging cloud storage for commercial, office, and school security cameras, among other applications.

Challenges of on-site storage for security cameras

Traditionally, video footage or camera storage from CCTV cameras has been stored on-site in digital video recorders (DVRs) or networked video recorder systems (NVRs). Security professionals and other authorized users can access the data for review on local screens or network-connected devices.

DVRs are the traditional choice for CCTV data storage, consisting of a physical hardware unit able to communicate with analog cameras via a wired connection. In contrast, NVRs are able to record and store data on a hard disk, a connected mass storage device or be configured in line with a cloud-based storage solution, drastically increasing the network’s storage capabilities.

However, these video and camera storage devices can only record a specified number of camera feeds and have a fixed capacity, so additional units would be required to store increased volumes of data or data from additional security cameras.

Cloud storage for cameras and CCTV

Cloud storage for CCTV or video surveillance systems with cloud storage is a practical alternative that can help security professionals overcome the limitations of on-site storage when physical space is a concern.

Instead of relying on devices located on-premises, data from CCTV cameras is transmitted securely to a cloud storage facility via the Internet. The data can be accessed by authorized users in any location using any Internet-connected fixed or mobile device.

Unlike on-site recording devices, cloud storage does not have fixed capacity limitations, so a commercial security system installation service can take a scalable approach to data storage, with greater flexibility in management and archiving policies.

Are there limitations to security cameras with cloud storage?

Both an analog camera and an IP camera system are capable of capturing images in high resolution. Top-of-the-range HD (high-definition) commercial surveillance cameras, for example, offer resolution up to 5 megapixels. At this resolution, file sizes are very large, which makes capacity essential when looking to invest in any on-site or cloud storage plan.

In theory, security professionals could store footage in unlimited volumes of data in the cloud. However, this would be extremely costly, and could make sorting through that data nearly impossible. In practice, applying data management and retention policies or using other techniques to reduce the amount of storage required helps control security camera cloud storage costs.

Additionally, some organizations have strict compliance and retention policies that require data to be stored and maintained on-site by a dedicated team, rather than a CCTV cloud storage system managed by a third party.

How long do businesses have to keep security camera storage?

Retention policies vary from business to business, so security teams have to make decisions about storing data for analysis, evidence, audit or compliance for different periods. Non-essential data can be deleted or archived, depending on the capacity of your storage option.

However, the selection and deletion process requires constant, time-consuming management, while long-term archiving may require additional storage or back-up devices.

The recording devices have to be maintained by IT professionals and they must be secured against accidental damage or data theft by intruders. If any critical components fail, such as hard drives, vital data can be corrupted or lost.

The cost and capacity limitations of on-site has led some organizations to cut corners’ by recording in lower resolution to reduce file size and storage requirements, or by deleting data that may be required for evidence at a later date. Both approaches can reduce the value and effectiveness of security video recording.

Benefits of cloud storage for CCTV cameras

Simple system requirements

Compared to on-site storage devices, the system requirements for cloud security cameras storage are fairly simple. Cloud-based camera systems connect to a LAN or WAN and the images are transmitted to the cloud via the Internet.

Authorized users can access the images or video recordings from the cloud and review them on any Internet-connected device, so no special monitoring devices or workstations are required. This can be convenient for use cases like retail security camera systems, where managers and owners can quickly review data from anywhere at any time.

Reduced maintenance

No additional equipment is required on-site. The ultra-high-capacity cloud servers are operated, managed and maintained by specialists from a third-party hosting company. A trusted cloud camera storage provider will also update their systems with the latest software and security patches, which reduces the overall support burden on internal IT and security teams.

Secure connectivity

Video recording feeds from IP security cameras with cloud storage incorporate end-to-end security. The feeds are encrypted in the security camera to avoid risk of loss during transit on the Internet. In the cloud, hosting companies provide high levels of security to protect stored data.

Authorized users can access the footage via the Internet, and system administrators can set and manage permissions, access levels and login requirements to ensure optimal security.

As data is stored remotely in a secure location, this minimizes or eliminates the risk of data theft from devices located on-site.

Bandwidth management

When planning a solution for security cameras with cloud storage, IT teams must take account of the bandwidth requirements. High-resolution IP security cameras create high volumes of data and large file sizes.

It’s important to check available bandwidth to ensure uploads or downloads of images or video clips will not be delayed or slow. In mission-critical security situations, it may be necessary to use a network with traffic prioritization and automatic routing capabilities for cloud connectivity.

Anywhere access’ on demand

Internet access provides one of the key benefits of security camera and CCTV cloud storage. Any authorized user can access live and recorded cloud-based CCTV data on-demand using Internet-connected fixed or mobile devices, regardless of location.

This means that security professionals have greater operational flexibility. They can monitor feeds from multiple cameras from a parking lot security camera system, for example, or respond to alerts outside normal business hours without being on-site. If they are on patrol or investigating incidents, they can receive up-to-date surveillance footage and live-stream continuous recording from cloud security cameras on mobile devices, improving responsiveness.

Location-neutral monitoring can help businesses decentralize their security operations, particularly if they operate multiple sites. Security teams can access CCTV cloud storage camera data from any site on a single pane of glass, reducing costs and improving operational efficiency.

Use cases for security camera cloud storage 

Disaster recovery

Security camera storage like HD PTZ security camera cloud storage can prove valuable in the event of a disaster at a building where CCTV data had been stored on-site. Fire, floods, vandalism or power outages can damage security video recorders and their content, with the risk of losing important recorded footage.

Extensive damage to the property can also make it difficult for security teams to access footage or carry out their normal monitoring duties.

With cloud storage for CCTV, recorded data will not be affected by the disaster, and the cloud recordings can be sent to emergency services or for professional monitoring by law enforcement.

If security teams have to relocate, they can continue normal operations and maintain business continuity from another location with full access to cloud storage camera feeds via the Internet.

Flexible storage and retention strategies

Costs for CCTV with cloud storage are primarily based on data volumes and retention periods, so it makes sense to develop a multi-tier storage strategy that is as cost-effective as possible.

Security data will be required for a variety of purposes, including immediate analysis, evidence, audit and archiving for compliance. Video security storage compliance regulations and statutory retention periods are likely to vary between states and countries, so it’s essential to check local requirements.

Using data management techniques, video feeds can be categorized as short-term or long-term tiers, with non-essential archive material hosted in lower-cost cloud storage facilities. Content relating to incidents must be prioritized and stored for easy access within a specified timeframe. 

Cost-effective scalability and rationalization

The best cloud storage for security cameras offers unlimited storage capacity. Security professionals planning to add additional cameras to an existing installation can scale up storage without the cost, delay or disruption of acquiring and setting up new physical storage devices.

Businesses with multiple locations can use the remote accessibility of CCTV cloud storage to rationalize their security operations. Rather than maintain dedicated security centers with local storage at each site, security professionals can use the cloud to store all security feeds and video history, with simple location-independent access for local security teams.

This can reduce operational costs and improve efficiency. It can also increase situational awareness by giving all security staff access to the wider security picture on a single dashboard. By sharing data and identifying trends across the business, security professionals can take proactive steps to minimize risk and understand the importance of physical security.

Leveraging cloud storage cameras for system integration

The cloud is increasingly essential for businesses to establish efficient and productive operations across departments. When security cameras have cloud storage capabilities, businesses have the ability to integrate their video systems with other vital applications, software, and security devices.

Video analytics tools

For example, applying analytics to live video feeds can also support efficient data management and cost control, in addition to its role in identifying issues and trends. By analyzing content into essential and non-essential categories, video analytics software can help security professionals make fast, informed decisions about retaining video content for CCTV cloud storage or deleting data.

Collaborative applications

Security camera data from the cloud can be used to populate reports, analysis, management briefings and other internal documents to make them easily shareable with security team members, management, IT professionals, law enforcement agencies and other stakeholders.

Smart building systems

CCTV cloud storage can also provide important data for use by smart building applications such as building management systems, environmental control systems and access control systems.

Security camera footage provides real-time insights into traffic flows and occupancy levels throughout a building and this can help property managers to plan more efficient use of energy and other resources by aligning them more closely with demand.

Is a cloud storage security camera solution right for your system?

Security camera cloud service storage offers many important operational and financial benefits over traditional on-site storage methods. It also helps businesses strengthen their security posture while reducing overall security management costs.

However, security professionals should take many different factors into account before selecting a system that is right for their business, including retention and compliance requirements, scalability, and security permissions or data access needs.

For businesses with existing on-site storage systems, many providers now offer cloud-connector products that extend the benefits of cloud-based access control system storage for IP cameras and management to on-premises video systems. This allows businesses greater flexibility in accessing live and recorded footage, while still retaining full visibility and control over their video storage devices on-location.

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