Weather Camera Software

About DVR Software

On a starting note, please read the reviews from other people who have purchased what you are buying. A lot of the DVRs on the market are real junk. Bugs run rampant in poorly designed/written software and under powered hardware is another major issue. Don't waste your money buying junk. Caveat Emptor (let the buyer beware) was written with cars and DVRs in mind I think. If you're going to make a mistake in your camera setup, this is probably where your mistake will be made.

It is impossible for me to recommend a DVR for your specific situation, as I do not know what you want, the type of cameras you are going to have, etc. I can explain what a DVR does and what you can expect. First, if you do not need to store video footage for later viewing, then you do not need a DVR.

What is a DVR?

A DVR (Digital Video Recorder) stores your camera's video footage. Today, camera footage is stored in digital format on a hard drive or a flash drive of some type. Old security systems used a special tape or multiple tapes to record footage. These old systems were very limited as you might be able to get 6 hours of continuous footage on a single tape. You would need to fast forward/rewind to find a specific event on the tape, and tapes tend to wear out rather quickly. DVRs on the other hand have huge advantages over those old tape systems. Today's DVRs usually holds days, weeks or even months of continuous video, 24 hours a day footage, and access to a specific event can be easily made by time and date.

If you need a DVR, you need to buy one that can handle the number of cameras you have or plan to have. You need the DVR to handle the resolution of your cameras ON ALL channels not just one or two channels. You need a DVR that handles the total frame rate you require. I talk about all these things below.

Software DVR -VS- A DVR Deck?

Software DVR is software you run on your PC, that turns your PC into a DVR. A DVR Deck is hardware that is built to be a DVR. Both do exactly the same thing. One or the other will be more cost effective for your specific needs. For example, if you already have a PC you can dedicate to being a DVR, a software solution may be best for you. If you do not have a PC you can dedicate to being a DVR, a DVR deck will probably be more cost effective.

If you are going to run multiple cameras, I strongly suggest a DVR deck, as the hardware requirements of multiple cameras can quickly overwhelm the capabilities of most PC's.

DVR Features

The DVR you buy will have FEATURES, or capabilities. When I get a DVR, I don't care about bells and whistles. I want a DVR that can record the number of cameras I have, at the resolution I want and at a decent number of frames per second (FPS).

Here are some things to consider:

  • How long do you need to store video? I.f you buy a DVR with a 500 Gb hard drive and you have 1 camera, it will probably be big enough to store weeks of video at 640x480 .3 MP, your typical IP camera. I prefer a 2 Tb or greater hard drive. It will allow for expansion.
  • What type of cameras are you hooking up? Your DVR needs to have BNC connectors if you plan to ever hook up BNC type cameras to your DVR. If you plan on using IP cameras, your DVR needs to be not only able to record IP cameras, but needs to be able to record your specific IP cameras.
  • Most IP cameras can be viewed on your PC, tablet or phone without the need for a DVR. If you want to view your cameras that are not IP cameras via the web, your DVR must have this feature. Be careful, the way DVRs handle streaming varies wildly. Make sure your APP on your phone/tablet etc can interface with your DVR. Just because the DVR can stream to the Internet, does not mean your phone, PC or Tablet can view the method your DVR uses. CHECK THIS OUT BEFORE YOU BUY if Internet viewing is important to you. Better yet, buy IP cameras and don't use your DVR to stream.
  • Some DVRs allow you to record sound. Be aware of how many sound inputs (channels) it has. 1 input per camera is nice, but it is rare you find this as a feature. Many DVRs only have 1 input. You assign that one sound channel to a specific camera. The rest of your cameras will be silent. So, if sound is important to you, the number of sound channels is important to you.
  • Make VERY sure your DVR records the resolution your cameras are capable of ON ALL CHANNELS. If your camera is an $1800.00 5MP 1080p High Definition camera, and your DVR records low resolution 640x480, your recordings will be low resolution and you will not be happy at all. A lot of DVRs claim to be HD when they are not, or they can only record High Definition (HD) on one or 2 channels. The rest are a lower resolution. Know what you are buying. Don't trust the words High Definition..or HD. It can mean one thing to me and another to you. Get detailed specifications and make sure ALL channels can record at the resolution you need simultaneously.
  • The number of cameras a DVR supports is a MAXIMUM. You expect it to handle 8 cameras because it says it handles 8 cameras. If this is your expectation, you will most likely be wrong. Don't be surprised when you find yourself needing to buy a DVR that can handle more cameras than you own in order to record at the picture quality and speed you desire/need. If you have 8 cameras, you are probably going to need to buy a 16 camera DVR if the cameras you own are of high resolution. When a DVR says it is capable of supporting 8 cameras, it is under very specific conditions. Normally not 8 cameras at the highest resolution, speed (FPS) and sound.
  • The Total Frame Rate of your DVR is very important. TV quality is 30 FPS. A DVR may be able to record 1 camera at 30 FPS at the highest resolution and sound, but may not be able to record ALL cameras it supports at this resolution, plus sound. Most DVRs can handle multiple cameras. Typically you find DVRs can handle 4, 8 or 16 cameras. MANY (almost all) DVR manufacturers underpower their DVRs. Yes they can handle 8 cameras if you are recording at low resolution, no sound and at 10 FPS, but if you want to do high resolution with sound at full speed, they might only handle 4 or maybe even only 2 cameras. The number of cameras stated on a DVR is the maximum number it can handle under very specific recording conditions. It probably can't handle this many cameras at the best speed and quality. Let's say the DVR states it can record 8 cameras, it records at 1080p and has a total frame rate of 120 FPS at 1080p. Do not hook up 8 cameras to this DVR and expect nice video on all 8 cameras. This DVR would NOT handle 8 cameras at 1080p and 30 FPS. You would end up having to sacrifice picture quality and/or drop your frame rates on some or all of your cameras to get 8 cameras working or only use 4 cameras on this DVR to get 1080p at 30 FPS.
  • So, count the number of cameras you need the DVR to support, decide what frame rate you need to record at, what resolution you need to record at, if you need sound or not and then find a DVR that can support ALL of these things for all cameras at the same time! Once you see the price tag of the DVR "you need" is more than building a new garage on your house, re-examine your "needs", lower your requirements to something more reasonable and start over. Then READ THE CUSTOMER REVIEWS before you buy.

On a final note, please read the reviews from other people who have purchased what you are buying. A lot of the DVRs on the market are real junk. Bugs run rampant in poorly designed/written software and under powered hardware is another major issue. Don't waste your money buying junk. Caveat Emptor (let the buyer beware) was written with cars and DVRs in mind I think. If you're going to make a mistake in your camera setup, this is probably where your mistake will be made.

I hope you have found this helpful!

DVR Camera Software

Software to get your IP Camera on your Website

In the Weather Candy section of this site, I provided a link to download HTML/Java code that will put many IP cameras online. It is FREE software, easy to configure and works very well. Go to Weather Candy and download a copy for your Website. You should love it.

Weather Camera Software