How to Select the Right Video Recording System for Your IP Camera System

Samsung PTZ camera with laptop

If you’re serious about your security, you need a full featured video management system.  This is one of the most important parts of your IP camera system.   But, what is the right IP video recording and management system for you?

In general the IP camera recording system provides the recorded video history, can notify you of alarm conditions, provides some analytic functions, and helps you control your cameras.   It may also provide enhanced analytic capability such as detecting when someone leaves a package, or when someone takes a computer off the table.  Here are some thing to consider:

There are three types of systems available. They each have some advantages and disadvantages to consider.

  1. Video Management software (VMS) runs in your own computer.
    VMS provides the most flexibility. You can add computers and storage as you need.  On the con side, it is more complicated to install and use.
  2. Network Video Recorder (NVR), includes both the computer and the software.
    The NVR is easier to install, but not as expandable as the VMS system.
  3. Cloud or remote server system.
    These services record the video on a remote server. The number of cameras is limited by the outbound bandwidth of your Internet connection.

What is the right IP recording system for you?  First determine what your objectives are.  Do you want to just have a record of someone who stole the laptop, or do you want to catch the person when they are doing it?  Do you have a security team that is watching the video in real time?  Do you want to stop people from climbing the fence or entering a secure area?  Take a look at the article about understanding your objectives.

Here are the things to consider:

Ease of installation:  Some systems are very simple to install while others require a trained support person. This is not necessarily a bad thing, since the more sophisticated the system, the more likely it is that you will need some help.

Ease of use: Some of the systems are intuitive and easy to use while others require some training.  The more functionality the more likely training is needed.

How the camera video is displayed: In real time applications, where you have security people watching the video, it is important to have video displays that make it easy to see everything you need.  Note that there is some limitation to the number of views or windows a person can view effectively. A display with 64 cameras, provides very small widows, and is impossible to monitor.

Reliability:  Unfortunately when you read the specifications of a product you can’t tell how reliable it will be in the field.  Obviously this is very important characteristic.  We have tested a number of systems, and only provide products that have proved their reliability.

Map function:  Maps show the location of all your IP cameras and can help you locate the one you would like to see.

computer network vms with camera
IP Camera System Concept

Finding recorded video:  If you have many cameras and something happens that you would like to review, tools that help you find the video clip can save a lot of time.  Some of the more advanced systems, have excellent tools to find missing items, and can look for motion in certain parts of the recorded video.

Mobile Devices: Support for mobile devices can be an important feature.  If you’re out and about, it may be a good idea to stay in touch with your security system.

PTZ control:  If you are using PTZ cameras, then this can be a helpful feature. PTZ controls can be manual and automatic.  It is nice to have a recording system that includes automatic and intelligent patrolling.  This means you can set the camera to patrol through many fixed positions and stop to record only when motion is detected.

Alerts:  In some applications it’s very important to be notified if there is a security problem.  Some systems just send an email message while others push video from the camera that detected the alert, and pop it up on a security person’s monitor.  This can be a very important feature if you have a security person monitoring lots of cameras.  It is also helpful in applications where you want to be notified if someone is at the door.

Audio:  In some applications it’s important to hear what’s going on as well as to record the audio with the video.  Police interrogation room applications require recorded audio and video, but be careful, sometime the audio and video is not synchronized exactly.

If you want to add an intercom to your access control system it can be done using an IP camera that supports two-way audio and IO.  Some video camera recording and management systems support this capability.  It is important to select the right camera and make sure that all the functions are supported by the video management system.

IP cameras supported:  You want to be able to select a recording system that supports as many camera brands and models as possible, so that you have the widest choice of cameras. There are some video management systems that support more brands of cameras than others.  Some will support the ONVIF standard, but others don’t.

Support for analytic functions.  Analytic functions include such things as motion detection, removed object, object left behind, line crossing, etc.  Advanced functions include such things as facial recognition, license plate recognition. In some cases you can use an IP camera that includes some of the functions, but in other cases it is better to have the centralized video management system handle it.

Integration capability:  Some of the systems provide easy integration with other systems such as door access control, intercoms, and paging.  For example, it is nice to be able to see a person’s identification information alongside a video of them entering a door that has an access control reader.

Video Recording System Review and Buyers Guide:

searching laptop cartoon

We did a video recording system review and compared a number of different VMS, NVR and Cloud systems.  We compared the VMS from OnSSi with three different NVR systems and one cloud system.  The three different NVR systems were selected because of the different capability they provided. The chart tries to highlight the differences and advantages of each recording system. The common features such as viewing multiple cameras, scheduling recording, and client viewing software were not reviewed, since they all support this.


The best IP camera recording system is the one that meets your objectives. We listed a number of functions to consider, only some of them may be important for your application.  In general make sure the systems is reliable, supports the features and functions you need, and is easy to use.  There are different types of systems including VMS, NVR and Cloud services.  Each type of system has some advantages and disadvantages.  The choice will depend on the number of cameras you want to support, the application, and of course your budget.

Selecting the right recording system can be complicated, so please contact us for help.  We can be reached at 1-800-431-1658 (in the USA), or 914-944-3425 (everywhere else), or use our contact form.