Using PC as a Recorder

Using PC as a Recorder

It seems like a great idea to use your PC as a recorder – you’ve probably got a spare PC somewhere gathering dust so why not save a bunch of money and fit a hard drive and use that as a recording unit?

It’s easy to do – just fit a capture card, install the software and you’re done. Cheap, easy and a simple camera recorder. In fact, it can be even easier than that! Just use a USB capture device, connect the cameras and away you go. Now even that old laptop can be used. You can be up an running in no time. What’s not to like?

There are quite a few reasons why this isn’t the best route to go down:

  1. Reliability
  2. Hard Drive
  3. Security
  4. HD Support
  5. Buggy Security Camera Capture Software
  6. Image Quality

1. Reliability

Dedicated security camera recorders are designed to be ultra reliable – they have one purpose in life and they do that really well. They just sit there and record camera footage. This means that both the hardware and the software is dedicated and refined to do that one job. A PC is not designed to be excellent at any one thing and instead has to be able to handle all sorts of different use.

2. Hard Drive

Whilst your computer setup may well have a great hard drive for the purposes of work or play, have a look at our Hard Drives – What Size? page to see quite how much hard drive space is really required to store footage. This will impact how use the computer.

Not only that, but the hard drives that we supply and fit are media hard drives rated for use in security camera systems. They are designed for the hard task of recording huge amounts of data from multiple video sources all day, every day, for long periods of time without fail. Your standard hard drive in a computer is likely to fail a lot sooner under this intense workload.

3. Security

Pretty much all the software for capture cards that we have tested in the past have required the anti-virus software either reduced to a useless level or turned off completely. This could allow a virus into your system if it’s ever used on the internet. Your PC would potentially then be an access point to your entire network at home, not to mention the files that are on that computer.

4. HD Support

There aren’t many, if any, consumer capture cards that will record the images from high definition cameras in full HD 1080p resolution. This means you won’t be able to make the most of modern, up to date security cameras.

Note: Our range of security cameras are ‘Hybrid’ cameras and can produce images in several formats including CVBS (D1/960H) which can be recoded on older technology at a lower resolution.

5. Buggy Security Camera Capture Software

Problems with software and problems after power outages are not uncommon with Windows based PCs and if you’re using a PC as a recorder you will have no footage recorded until you have fixed the problem. Not only that but a lot of capture software is full of bugs that can often cause the software to stop working. When it’s not working, it’s not recording – no security camera footage fro you!

6. Image Quality

Whilst a capture card may well say that it is recording at a certain resolution and frame rate, if the bit-rate is not sufficient the image quality will be reduced as a result.

Conclusion

Whilst it appears to be an attractive option at the outset, don’t be fooled either into thinking you can use your existing PC to record footage – it won’t then be usable as a normal PC for normal activities. It will end up costing you more money than purchasing a dedicated security camera recorder.

If you really don’t like the on-screen keyboard, unfamiliar looking user interface and a mouse whilst looking at your TV or monitor, don’t worry! We have that covered with our great connectivity over your network and the software we have available. You can either access the recorder in your native browser such as Internet Explorer on a PC and Safari on a Mac or you can use our free CMS software (also available on both PC and Mac) to do pretty much everything you can do direct on the unit itself.

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