Howdy - It's amateur hour and I have questions...

Discussion in 'NVR's, DVR's & Computers' started by chetwynd, May 15, 2019.

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  1. chetwynd

    chetwynd n3wb

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    Hi guys, here's my situation. I've had Logitech Alert cameras that have been pretty good to me. I like that I can watch everything while on my desktop, and that it'll record overnight onto the memory card when my desktop is off and there's motion where I define.

    But, they're unreliable and it's time for me to move on.

    I don't want to leave my computer on all the time, so I assume my best option is to get an NVR? Ultimately I'll probably have 4 POE cameras. Do you have a recommendation for me for a good NVR? I assume whatever NVR I buy will have some kind of mobile app I can use? And, desktop software? I guess I don't understand whether I'd need Blue Iris or not.

    Thank you!
     
  2. J Sigmo

    J Sigmo Known around here

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    I think most folks on this forum will recommend getting a refurbished PC with Win10, and setting it up to serve the purpose of a full-time "NVR" for a security camera system. This PC will NOT be your main gaming, surfing, photo editing, etc., computer. Don't think of it as being for multiple purposes. It should be dedicated full-time to being your "NVR", and NOT be used for any other chores.

    The reasons are many, but suffice it to say that Blue Iris, running on a dedicated PC is far more flexible and nice to work with than any NVR I've ever seen.

    You can get refurbished PCs that are up to the task of running Blue Iris and supporting a lot of cameras for fairly cheap. You will also need to get a POE Switch and ideally also set up your home network to have its own Virtual Private Network (VPN). Additional goodies are a solid state drive for the PC's "boot drive" to hold the operating system, Blue Iris, and BI's database. Plus, a Western Digital Purple (or other video-rated hard drive) to hold the actual video recordings. You will also likely want a sine-wave UPS to provide backup power for the entire system.

    If you use an NVR, you'll also still need the UPS and need to set your home network up with a VPN.

    The VPN is how you will SAFELY access your system remotely (from outside of your local area network).

    Yes, many cameras and NVRs can be accessed remotely, but allowing that creates dangerous security issues for your entire home network and everything on it. These systems seem great, and they're easy to set up and use. But allowing what amount to small computers to have unrestricted access to your network AND the internet opens you up for all sorts of hacking, spying and bot-net problems.

    Read the WIKI on this site, and especially the " Cliff Notes" section where a lot of this is described. It's a LOT to digest, but to end up with a good system that does what you need it to do without opening up your network to all sorts of malicious access takes some learning, effort, and to some degree a bit more money. But it's worth it in the end to have a system that is flexible, expandable, reliable, secure, and easy to work with.

    It's unfortunate that in order to make these systems really easy for the consumer, the methods employed also make them extremely insecure and dangerous from a cyber-security point of view.

    Don't get in a rush to get cameras or a system. It's disappointing, but doing this right is worth the extra time, learning, and effort.

    Welcome to the forum!
     
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  3. mat200

    mat200 IPCT Contributor

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    Note: Remember on VPNs there are 2 types

    1) A VPN you use to get OUT of your home ( LAN ) - this is the VPN service providers like NordVPN, PIA, etc..
    2) A VPN you use to get INTO your home ( LAN ) - this is a server you run on your router ( or other system if you're better with IT ) - OpenVPN is an example, and then run a OpenVPN client on your remote PC / mobile ( <- this is the one you want )
     
  4. Sybertiger

    Sybertiger Getting the hang of it

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    From my testing of a couple of different brands of packaged NVR/cam systems from Sam's Club I'm not a big fan of those systems. Specifically, the NVRs I feel do not provide an efficient way to locate recorded footage when you want it. They all seem to do a great job of recording and the cameras are just fine but the recordings are useless if it takes hours to find what you are looking for. I returned the systems to Sam's and went with Blue Iris. Works beautifully compared to the packaged systems and much more flexible.
     
  5. chetwynd

    chetwynd n3wb

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    Let's say I get a separate desktop computer and let it run all the time...seems like a lot of electricity, no? Aside from that, how would I view the footage on my main desktop computer's monitors? Thanks!
     
  6. Sybertiger

    Sybertiger Getting the hang of it

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    I use M/S Remote Desktop Connection (RDC) from my Win 7 laptop to my Win 10 BI server. The BI server is in the closet (no keyboard/monitor connected). From my laptop with RDC the experience is exactly the same as if I had a keyboard/monitor connected to the BI server. This is the simplest way to connect because you are on your local home network.

    If I was away from the home on a foreign network I can connect to my home network via OpenVPN to my VPN server which runs on my ASUS router. Once connected to my local home network via a secure VPN connection I would use RDC if I needed to do some work on the BI server. Typically though, if you want to just view the cams you can simply use a Chrome browser window and see your cams by going to the IP address of the BI server using the UI3 interface. For example: web address = 192.168.30.300:81/ui3.htm you can also use this same exact method on your mobile smart phone or a tablet. There's a RDC app for mobile phones and tablet if you want to do maintenance from those devices to your BI server although the easiest way is from your desktop or laptop since you have a full size display and keyboard/mouse. There are other ways to do what I just described but the point here is you have maximum flexibility and you do not have to go through an NVR manufacturer's server to remotely access your cameras like some NVR manufacturers would have you do.

    I don't think a dedicated NVR is going to use that much less power than a small computer given that the small computer does not have a monitor connected. If you do a search on this forum I'm sure someone has already done a power analysis.
     
    Last edited: May 15, 2019
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  7. SouthernYankee

    SouthernYankee IPCT Contributor

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    An NVR is a computer so there is little to no difference than a PC in electric usage. A newer used PC with an Intel processor will use between 45 and 80 watts.
     
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  8. chetwynd

    chetwynd n3wb

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    I guess I'd like to try to figure out something a bit less complicated than needing a whole new desktop to run 24/7 as well as a 4+ port POE switch. That's why the Logitech system has been nice...I can watch it live from anywhere anytime even if my desktop is off, and when I turn my desktop on the clips recorded on the memory chip in the camera download to my desktop.
     
  9. fenderman

    fenderman Staff Member

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    no. There are many posts discussing power consumption. Blue iris is light years ahead of any nvr. But since you are adamant, I suggest you buy that NVR, you will them appreciate blue iris so much more when you switch over.
    You can watch your blue iris system anytime anywhere.
     
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  10. aristobrat

    aristobrat IPCT Contributor

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    You’re on a forum full of people who have outgrown consumer-level cameras and NVRs and the limitations/mandatory subscriptions that most of them have.

    IMO, you’d mainly access BI the same way you’d mainly access a NVR — either from an dedicated app on your phone, or from a web browser on a computer, phone or tablet.

    Like already mentioned, NVRs are computers. They’re smaller, they have pretty weak processors, and their operating system is so locked down that all you can access is the NVR app, but they’re still computers.

    For me personally, the biggest drawback to NVRs is that unless all of your cameras are the same brand as the NVR, you might not be able to use all of the camera’s features. Advanced motion detection is one of those features that almost always requires brands to match. The super-popular low-light Dahua and Hikvision camera models all support advanced motion detection. Dahua calls that feature IVS, and Hikvision calls it Smart Events. In both cases, the feature only works if the NVR is the same brand as the camera. IMO, since both Dahua and Hikvision make great cameras, there’s a good chance you may want to have some models from each some day, but with a NVR that means you can’t use advanced motion detection on some of them.

    Blue Iris is camera brand agnostic. And because it runs on desktop PCs that have much more powerful processors than NVRs, BI can do its own advanced motion detection... IMO, BI’s smartphone/tablet app makes it quicker and easier than most NVR apps to connect and see new alert clips. And when connect to its web interface, it doesn’t require a $&@!? browser plug-in to be installed like most NVRs do.

    It sounds like you’re at the crossroads where a NVR truly would be a step-up from where you’re at. If that’s what you want, I guess you need to figure out what cameras you want first and then try to find a NVR of the same brand.

    I’d suggest you look at the Dahua sub-forum here for reviews of Starlight camera models. That’s what most folks here build their systems with because they usually suck the least in low-light.
     
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  11. chetwynd

    chetwynd n3wb

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    Thank you, I appreciate the explanation.
     
  12. chetwynd

    chetwynd n3wb

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    Thank you as well!
     
  13. Sybertiger

    Sybertiger Getting the hang of it

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    You can watch anytime, anywhere on WHAT DEVICE? Curious to know why you think the Logitech system is da bomb....but I guess it isn't if you are talking about upgrading to an NVR.
     
  14. J Sigmo

    J Sigmo Known around here

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    The main differences that I can see between an NVR and a PC dedicated to running Blue iris are:

    The NVR will have a built-in POE switch, so you won't need that.

    But:

    The NVR won't likely use any less power than a modern PC, since in effect the NVR is a PC in a box, with an already-loaded operating system and special purpose program that it boots when you fire it up.
    The NVR won't be as expandable as a Blue Iris system.
    The NVR won't likely be upgraded every few weeks the way Blue Iris is. You can ignore the updates or let the computer upgrade whenever you want, giving you new features and capabilities.
    The NVR won't have the easy access and features for reviewing, moving through, and playing clips.
    The NVR may not have any easy way to find, define, and export segments of videos.
    The NVR might not have as good of ways to export stills from videos.
    Both of those are really nice and easy, especially considering that you're then using a PC with all of the connectivity, software, and possibilities that a PC brings to sharing videos and stills.
    The NVR may be more limited in how you can access your video from your phone, remote PCs, tablets, etc. This is all really nice when operating through a VPN to your mobile devices and offsite PCs.

    It does take some extra learning and work to get things set up this way, but once you do, you'll not only have a great system, but you'll have learned a lot about cybersecurity and probably end up with better security for your whole local area network and all of the devices on that network. This is becoming more of a concern all of the time, so it's nice to be "plugged in" to a community of folks on this forum where you can learn about it all and get updated on emerging threads quickly.

    As @aristobrat said above. You're on a forum of folks who have been through all of this before. So we're just trying to help you jump over some of the mistakes most of us have made as we've gone through the evolution from initially just wanting a cheap, fast, easy way to remotely view and locally record some cameras to wanting systems that work better for us and are safer.

    There are a lot of extremely enticing camera systems available right now. And they're very seductive because they're so easy to set up and cheap to buy. And frankly, a lot of them work pretty darned well!

    But in the end, most of them are very dangerous for your network, and probably won't do as good of a job as what you might choose once you know better what questions to ask. It's like most hobbies or endeavors. When we start out, we don't know enough to know what to ask, and most of us end up learning the hard way and have a closet full of gadgets that we bought as we worked our way through the learning process and outgrew them.
     
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  15. P. Banks

    P. Banks n3wb

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    An NVR will use way less power then BI on a pc ...mine uses about 10 Watts.
     
  16. Todd Schmidt

    Todd Schmidt Getting the hang of it

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    Thank you for this. It’s exactly what I needed to help in the decision making process. Now to go find a decent refurb pc. This should be added to the cliff notes.
     
  17. J Sigmo

    J Sigmo Known around here

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    That's low! I think just my POE cameras use a lot more than that. You must have low power cameras, too.

    Does your power measurement rig account for power factor, assuming your NVR has a switching power supply?
     
  18. fenderman

    fenderman Staff Member

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    He is using a poe switch. NVR's without poe will typically use 10-15w.
    Blue iris will use 25-50 on a typical system. The small difference is well worth it.
     
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  19. J Sigmo

    J Sigmo Known around here

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    That makes sense.

    And that's how I feel, too. BI is really nice to work with. I'll gladly pay a bit more for the extra bit of power use to have its additional capabilities and ease of use.
     
  20. Sybertiger

    Sybertiger Getting the hang of it

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    Just for shits and giggles....

    If your BI system is using 30 more watts versus an NVR, 24 hours a day, 365 days per year the additional kWh are 263 kWh per year. If you are paying 12 cents per kWh then that's $31.56 more per year for the BI system versus the NVR. If $31.56 is a big deal then you probably should be focusing your $$$ towards something other than a IP cam system.
     
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