When the first event music, “Video Killed the Radio Star” premiered on MTV in 1981, it started a video revolution. A lot has changed since then, but video’s relevance in our culture, has increased, and our lives and security have come to depend on it. Market research firm IHS estimates that one surveillance camera has been installed for every eight people (about 40M) in the U.S. alone. Stats from 2014 certainly back that up – according to the IHS Video Surveillance Intelligence Service Market Insight report from August 2015, the U.S. was ranked as the second largest market for video surveillance equipment, worth $2.8 billion dollars.
With our obsession over video and corresponding camera capabilities such as HD and 4K, it’s easy to miss an equally crucial component that can make or break the effectiveness of an entire surveillance system: storage. Unfortunately, many surveillance professionals are using the wrong drive. Rather than being designed for continuous capture of HD or FHD video from multiple cameras, a drive that is not optimized for surveillance systems can drop frames, or even consume more power, generating more heat to create a major reliability issue. This could drastically reduce the life of a drive, adversely affecting the read and write operations in a surveillance system. These solution may cost the customer less upfront, but eventually could affect your business when performance, reliability and even your reputation.
The right surveillance storage solution offer high performance, efficiency and capacity that has been tested in harsh surveillance environments. But how to tell the difference?
The Good, The Bad and The Ugly: What to Look for in Surveillance Storage
There are several specific things to look for when evaluating whether a drive has been designed with surveillance in mind:
- Always on: A surveillance system works 24x7. If the storage drive hasn’t been designed for constant, never-ending read/write operations, it won’t be able to keep up.
- Performance Reliability: Some drives, like WD’s Purple surveillance-class hard drive family, include special technology (called AllFrame in this case) that improves playback performance and works with ATA streaming to reduce errors and frame loss.
- RAID-enabled: To increase peace-of-mind for your customer, you may also want to look for a drive with RAID or Redundant Array of Inexpensive Disk capabilities. A drive with this capability can use two or more hard disks to create a safety net for failed hardware by ensuring that the image is still being captured even if one drive isn’t working. This lessens interruptions in productivity and decreases the chance of data loss.
- Low power consumption: While “low power consumption” might not be first on your list of things to look for in a hard drive, the need for always-on capability makes this crucial. Having a drive that calculates the optimum seek speeds won’t generate as much heat, even in passively-cooled storage enclosures, making it more reliable and friendlier to your customer’s wallet.
- High camera count support: A high number of cameras, an NVR system or a longer retention period will require higher storage use and an even greater need to ensure you have chosen a drive that will meet the customer’s needs. Look for one with up to 6 TB of capacity on a single drive.
- High system bay count support: The right drive will include hardware vibration sensors to enable higher drive-count systems as well as higher system and hard drive workloads.
- Extensive compatibility with cameras: Needless to say, the drive you select needs to work with the cameras you are planning to install. One that works with most of the different cameras you could install will make it even easier to keep the right drive on-hand, regardless of your current installation scenario.
- Rugged exterior: In some cases the drive may need to live, and perform continuously in harsh environments. In this case, you’ll want one with tarnish-resistant PCBA protection.
- Easily upgradable: In an ideal world, your customer occasionally asks to upgrade or expand their existing surveillance system. A drive that scales with a system when the need to expand arises and makes your job easier.
Considering the importance of storage in surveillance systems, you may also find it helpful to use a capacity calculator to help determine how much storage is needed for the length of time data is to be maintained for a particular surveillance system. Vendors like WD (www.wd.com) offer calculators and drive selection tools to help find the right drive and capacity that best suits your needs.