10 ways to Monitor Surveillance IP CCTV Cameras and DVR/NVR over Network
The main purpose of video surveillance systems is to monitor the situation, recording what is happening at various objects: warehouses, shops, hospitals, factories, and many other places. However, such systems need to be monitored themselves. Otherwise, if something bad happens, and you urgently need to view the video footage from a surveillance camera, you may find out that it had stopped recording a week ago for some reason.
There are many types of cameras and several networking protocols by which these devices can be monitored. Now we are going to show 10 various methods of how you can monitor the performance of video cameras and recorders over the network using the program “10-Strike Network Monitor”. Let’s consider the simplest and most common case when a video surveillance system consists of IP cameras and a DVR connected to one network. A simple ICMP ping of the recorder or cameras will give you an answer if the devices are working. First, you run the program, add the camera to the host list and create the ping check. Then, you configure what to do if the ping fails.
In our case, we will simply display a message on the screen, but we can also configure the program to send notifications to SMS, E-mail, Slack, execute a custom script, record to a log file, or use other methods. Done. The check has started. You can see the ping graph on the “response time for the last hour” tab. You can also display this data on a graphic widget and add it to the network map. After the ping error, an alert is generated. Sometimes, it is not enough just to ping cameras and DVRs if you want to understand whether all the functions of cameras are working.
For example, a device might respond to a ping, but it will not record video. The SNMP parameter monitoring can help to solve this problem. This check allows you to get more information about the state of the device. The SNMP protocol is supported by a wide range of devices. For example, we can monitor a special parameter that represents that the DVR is no longer recording video. To start monitoring this parameter, you need to add an SNMP check. In the alert settings, we indicate that the notification should be generated if the camera turns off. In this case, the specific parameter becomes zero. As soon as the value becomes equal to zero, an alert will be triggered. In the case of the classic SNMP check, the program sends requests to a device. But when we use SNMP traps, the device itself sends messages to the program with similar information. We only need to receive and decode it. First, enable sending SNMP traps in the device settings. Then, enable its receiving in the program and configure notifications and alarms.
Usually, most DVRs or IP cameras provide access to their web interface via the HTTP protocol. You can check whether the web interface is available, so you can evaluate whether the recorder or camera is working or not.
Let’s create an HTTP check. If the server returns the response code 200, then the camera is responding and not hung. Otherwise, an alert will be generated. Some devices can send information about failures or reports on normal operations using e-mail. The program can generate alerts not only for the presence of a special message but also for the absence of new messages during a certain period. As soon as it stops receiving new emails, the program notifies the administrator about this failure. Some video surveillance systems based on Windows computers maintain log files, in which they write error messages. You can monitor the log file and search for the disk write error strings. Create the file content check and configure alerts to be triggered when a certain string is found in the file. If the system creates a new log file every day, you can specify its name using the current date substitution keys.
Some DVRs support integration with storage systems like QNAP. In fact, these are servers running Linux or FreeBSD, where devices back up records from their hard drives. By checking the existence of files in a folder, you can check whether the number of files in a folder has changed and notify the administrator if nothing has changed since the previous time. A similar monitoring method can be organized using an FTP server, where DVRs save their recordings. Using the FTP check, the program can connect to the specified server and check the number of files in the required directory. Another sign of the operability of IP cameras and DVRs is the presence of traffic on their network interfaces.
If a camera supports the SNMP protocol, you can monitor its traffic and bandwidth directly. If not, you can connect to a managed switch via SNMP and analyze bandwidth on its ports. If the baud rate from the camera falls below the specified limit, the program will generate an alert. The most guaranteed way to understand if a camera is working fine is to see if it generates a stable video stream at a certain bitrate using the RTSP protocol. The stream bitrate depends on weather and time conditions, and the normal bitrate is detected individually for each device. Create the RTSP monitoring check and configure the threshold bitrate. When the current bitrate drops below the specified one, the program will generate an alarm.
There are many ways to monitor cameras and DVRs. Most of them are supported by the “10-Strike Network Monitor” program. If the device verification result is negative, you can receive notifications by SMS, E-mail, or messengers: Slack and Telegram. The program also supports the distributed network monitoring function. This method is suitable when devices are located in remote networks behind routers and NAT, so you cannot directly access and monitor the devices from the outer network. You can download the free 30-day trial version of the program and try it. Find the link in the description. You can also find the link to a more detailed text version of the review there.