You know how it goes: you bought the security camera, you installed it in your house or store, the recording started automatically, and…your videos are saved on the manufacturer’s cloud storage for “free” within a trial period. Once the trial period is over, it comes to light that you need to pay a monthly subscription fee.
Now suddenly, your camera becomes just like a utility bill that needs monthly payments. Even if the subscribing fees are affordable, you still may need to allocate funds each month. Is it worth it? For some people, it is, for others, it’s an unnecessary fee. In this article, we want to show you a few available options on how to get rid of cloud storage fees.
Ways to Eliminate Security Camera Cloud Storage Subscription Fee
The cloud storage fees are variable depending on the manufacturer, type of setup, type of recordings that are saved, the longevity of the footage, etc. Some manufacturers store only motion clips on the cloud storage and require a subscription fee for the user to download them, others require a fee even if you just intend to watch the playback.
Some companies apply subscription fees if you want to get alerts or notification, or if you want to backup footage after a certain period of time has passed.
To get to the point, there are two ways to eliminate security camera cloud storage fees and both include installing a local storage unit. You can either get an NVR (recorder) which serves as a local central point to store the footage or install a microSD card on the camera itself. In both cases, the recordings are stored locally and can be accessed via a monitor or through the phone app.
Get a recorder
The first option, get a network video recorder (NVR) which serves as a central point or a base station. The camera and the NVR are linked together via the network, the camera sends the live feed to the recorder, which in its turn, has a hard drive installed and where the footage is saved.
The initial cost of buying the recorder can be recovered after a few months of not paying any cloud storage subscription fees. Pay a little bit more at the beginning, but pay once and don’t worry about making monthly payments to the camera’s manufacturer. Moreover, the recorders nowadays are quite affordable.
The recorder can be accessed via the phone app, computer, or tablet and you can see the camera live, playback, backup any clips you’re interested in without paying any fees since you own the recorder. Additionally, you can get alerts or notifications when motion is detected or certain lines are crossed. It can be fully customized to your security needs.
Setting up the recorder and connecting it to the camera is relatively easy. An example is shown in the diagram below. The camera can be connected straight to the back of the recorder (it needs to be with a built-in PoE switch) or through the network (as shown in the example).
The recorder and the camera must be on the same network in order to see each other. Then you simply add the camera to the recording (via the NVR’s interface).
We recommend purchasing the recorder from the same manufacturer as the camera, that way the connection will be smooth and, obviously, they’ll be compatible. If the camera’s manufacturer doesn’t make any recorders, then you get a different brand of NVR, just make sure that the camera supports the ONVIF protocol.
ONVIF is a protocol that enables security cameras and recorders of different brands to communicate with each other. Using this protocol, the camera can successfully transmit the video feed to the recorder.
As we mentioned earlier, the recorder needs to have an internal hard drive installed. It can be a single one, or maybe two hard drives. The bigger the hard drive the longer you can record. For example, with a 4TB hard drive and a single camera, you’ll most likely be able to record for more than a month! Keep in mind, to have reliable footage you need to install surveillance rated hard drives (don’t the ones made for computers).
Use a MicroSD card
Just get a MicroSD card, install it on the camera and let it record. Most of these cameras come with MicroSD card slots, all you have to do is install one (high storage capacity) and set the camera to record locally. Once it’s full, the content will be overwritten in a cyclical way.
First check if the camera supports a MicroSD card, if so buy the largest one supported by the camera and have it inserted in the slot. Then via the camera’s phone app, you can set it to record on motion detection or continuous mode. If you are interested in any of the clips, have it backed up on the phone.
The alerts and notifications are still received and all the rest is the same. The only difference is that you don’t need to pay a monthly cloud storage fee to the manufacturer, all the recordings are saved locally and belong to you. By default, once full of recordings, the system will automatically erase the oldest days to make room for the new ones.
The longevity of the recordings depends on a few factors. If you decide to record on motion detection, expect to record 3-4 times longer than when recording in continuous mode. It’s recommended to record on motion, not just to save space, but if something happens you’ll be able to pinpoint it right away. Otherwise, you may need to spend a long time browsing the clips.
Additionally, the higher the picture quality, the more space is taken in the MicroSD card. If your area is well lit and the point of interest is close to the camera, reducing the image quality from 4K to 1080p won’t be a huge deal. 1080p is not a bad resolution after all.
Either way, we recommend going for the highest supported MicroSD card, let’s say purchase a 128GB card that’s good for 5-20 days of stored surveillance footage (depending on the motion activity and picture quality). Make sure to purchase a MicroSD card from a well-known manufacturer. The no-name cards may damage your camera.
Take advantage of free cloud storage options
This is an option if you don’t want to use a recorder or a microSD card. Many camera manufacturers offer free cloud storage, usually for a single day or up to 7 days. If you need recordings for a period longer than that, then you need to pay a subscription cloud storage fee.
There’s not much to do here, however, if you don’t want to pay any fees, check the footage daily, and if you need something have it backed up on the phone. That way, even when the free cloud storage period passes, the footage will be saved on the phone
Additionally, you can set the system to record on motion detection only, adjust the motion settings narrowing the triggers down, reduce the picture quality, adjust the sensitivity and threshold parameters, exclude parts of the picture that unnecessarily trigger the camera (such as a tree).
In other words, take advantage of the free cloud storage option and save important videos right away. That way, you don’t need to pay any fees. This is not a long term solution, but it may work for you if getting a recorder or a MicroSD card is not possible.
In this article, we offered two ways to avoid cloud storage subscription fees. You can get a recorder, link it to the camera, and record on the internal hard drives or install a MicroSD card on the camera itself. The initial cost may be higher than the cloud storage fees, but after a few months, you’ll start to save money.
Moreover, recording locally makes you independent from any cloud storage error or issues. The footage is yours, saved locally and you can back it up any time you want.