Your experience with NVR vs PC (Blue Iris, etc.) using Dahua cameras?

Merlin93

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Hey folks,

I know this topic has been beat to death in other forums and it has become a controvertial topic with some people. This also may not be the ideal sub-forum for this question, but I am specifically looking for real world experiences from people who have multiple Dahua cameras and have used (or still use) both Dahua NVR appliances and PC-based NVR software in their surveillance system.

I'm really interested to hear from people who switched from one to the other, and how that has improved the management and use of their cameras. Why do you prefer one over the other? What would you change if you were doing it all from scratch?

Obviously I'm looking for information because I am trying to decide which way to go myself. I was originally planning to buy a Dahua 5216 NVR since they are designed to work with the cameras, but they're obviously not perfect... they offer a limited set of features, firmware updates are slow, they have a small memory footprint and run with fairly low-end multicore processors, use passive cooling, and have been reported to overheat under high load (like during IVS triggers and with multiple high bitrate streams.) More recently people have called out the issues around losing/skipping frames when breaking up video files and creating video smapshots from IVS triggers (though those may be fixed in recent firmware.) At the same time, software like Blue Iris is 3rd party, and may not support all the features of the cameras, plus I'm sure it has its own limitations and bugs. But, it is regularly updated and offers more flexibility in a lot of areas.

Just like having a seperate PoE switch offers more flexibility, it seems reasonable that using a mini tower or small form factor PC running NVR software would offer the most flexibility, particularly with higher bitrate feeds since you can put a 6th or 7th gen intel processor with QuickSync support in a PC and have enough processing power to run several dozen cameras at high bitrates. Not that I need that. I just don't want to have to worry about my device rebooting because it overheats or is unable to support all the features I want because it is underpowered or not properly cooled.

Based on what I've read in other threads, there are some who say they couldn't be paid to run an NVR appliance, and others who say PC NVR doesn't add value and isn't worth the extra cost. I'd love less anecdotal evidence and more real-world examples of why one solution is better than another. Doubly so if there are specific advantages or disadvantages to each when using Dahua cameras and NVR hardware.

It sounds like both solutions can meet my basic needs...
  • Monitor and control 8-12 cameras both locally and from other system (within LAN)
  • Hardware decoding & encoding for multiple cameras at high bitrates (including one or two 12MP cameras)
  • Basic motion & sound detection and IVS features like tripwires & regions/zones, etc.
  • Remote viewing and push notifications via smartphone (over WAN)
The question is if both support more advanced features like...
  • Supporting camera-based IVS features that I am paying a premium for, like face detection, object removal, etc.
  • Support advanced features like license plate detection (to help identify anyone who drived their vehicle onto my property in case such forensic evidence would be helpful for a break-in or what not)
  • Support simultaneous recording of event triggers to multiple sources (like to the local HDD and streaming to the cloud in case the NVR system is stolen or damaged.)
I know Blue Iris can do a lot of this, though if I end up going the PC-NVR route, I'm thinking I might also want to try Sighthound Video for the that since it seems to have some amazing intelligent analysis software (including facial detection and recognition, along with better classification of moving objects like cars vs people vs animals.) But SV seems rather pricey, so I doubt I'd go that way in the end.

I can't be the only person interested in this, so hopefully this kind of discussion can be helpful to others as well.

Before anyone says search the forum, I've reviewed several other threads on this, but none really captured the kind of information I'm looking for... in fact most have been pretty sparse with details and most were not specific to Dahua. Here are some that I found useful. At least one of them suggests running both. :)

Advantages of a NVR Vs. Blue Iris and a PC?
NVR or PC w/Blue Iris? (Record, Snapshot, Mobile App, View Live Cams from Desktop)
To NVR or not to NVR that is the question
Can Blue Iris REALLY handle this job?
Dahua NVR compatible with Dahua cams?

Thanks!
 
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00Buck

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I use both a Dahua 5216 4k NVR and Blue Iris. I do continuous recording on the NVR and redundant recording of some cameras on Blue Iris. I use the Blue Iris app for mobile viewing and for checking motion alert clips, much easier as they
are available on a side bar as alerts or clips.
The Blue Iris mobile app is much easier to use PTZ controls and Blue Iris has so many other options.
 

Merlin93

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I use both a Dahua 5216 4k NVR and Blue Iris. I do continuous recording on the NVR and redundant recording of some cameras on Blue Iris. I use the Blue Iris app for mobile viewing and for checking motion alert clips, much easier as they
are available on a side bar as alerts or clips.
The Blue Iris mobile app is much easier to use PTZ controls and Blue Iris has so many other options.
Thanks for the feedback!

It sounds like you use Blue Iris for most of your day-to-day functionality. Why do you do keep both and do continuous recording on the NVR instead of just using Blue Iris for everything?
 

00Buck

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Yes, I like Blue Iris for the features , I have the NVR set up in the computer room with a 50" wall mount Led TV for a monitor and the Blue Iris is in the Living Room with a 24" monitor and a 40" wall mount Led TV for a second monitor.
I record everything for 12 cameras on the NVR and monitor 9 on it. I monitor critical view cameras on the Blue Iris and also record some of them redundantly on it. I have 3 of the cameras at my mother in laws house to check on her (she is 89).
I have my network extended to her house with a wireless bridge and a router at her house so my wife has internet when she is over there.
 

00Buck

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If I had to have just one I would keep the Blue Iris, with the right computer you can run a lot of cameras on it and better features overall. I was using Blue Iris before I got the NVR, but it wasn't on a dedicated pc.
The pc I have Blue Iris on now is dedicated to it.
 

Merlin93

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If I had to have just one I would keep the Blue Iris, with the right computer you can run a lot of cameras on it and better features overall. I was using Blue Iris before I got the NVR, but it wasn't on a dedicated pc.
The pc I have Blue Iris on now is dedicated to it.
If I were to use Blue Iris I'd be setting up a dedicated PC to run it on as well. Why do you keep the NVR if Blue Iris works so well? Is it just for redundancy? I could see a need for that in a business environment, but less so for home use.
 

00Buck

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I like the redundancy and having the extra monitors.
 

00Buck

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I have Alexa and Echo set up in Blue Iris and have my 4 PTZ 's set so I can tell Alexa the set point to use for them. I have a list of set points laminated that I can refer to if I want to see certain areas.
I also have a couple of profiles set that can be activated by Alexa.
 

MacFun

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As a Mac user I would be considering SecuritySpy BenSoftware. On a PC blueIris of course. I too am very interested in this topic. The way I see it we have three basic options if you ignore wireless cams such as Arlo or NestCam:
A) hardware NVR with integrated POE SW.
B) Software NVR, separate POE SW.
C) NAS NVR via QNAP or Synology.

The problem with A is that the software may not be as easy to use, so I'm told, compared to Security Spy, especially when saving clips. But it probably consumes less power and it is probably cheaper and more resilient during a power failure. Another concern of option A, I would want to mount it in a machine room or network closet and would never want to have to use VGA or HDMI or a local mouse to realize the full functionality. Also, I would want to easily save a clip without a USB flash drive attached. My understanding this is how it works.

Option B thoughts: the Mac based Security Spy consumes a lot of processing power.... I mean that if you want 8 cams running high frame rates, close to 30, you need a powerful Mac that also would consume a lot of power and would need a bigger UPS. I could devote a 2012 Mac Mini to it but I'm. Not sure I want a Mac on security detail when a cheap Linux appliance can do the job. Maintaining a full PC or MAC is more work, updating the OS, connecting external drives, external POE switches... BTW: I see that Blue Iris users are running a hardware NVR too. If one solution was really great then, I would think redundant NVRs would not be needed.

Option C: a NAS could easily hold 4 or more drives, the ones I'm interested in anyway. This could be important if you have many cams and want a month or so of data in RAID 5. I don't know much about this. I don't think the software is as sophisticated as BI or SS. THis would also require an external POE SW. One benefit of B & C is that you would remote in to a headless box and would get the full functionality no need to have KVM nearby. Also, I heard that some NAS software has the ability to retrieve missing video clips from a cam-based SD card when the connection to the NVR is interrupted and it does this reconciliation seemlesy and automatically, as I understand it. There are other cool NAS only features but this one sticks in my head.

It would be cool if the NVR took full advantage of the cams feature set.

One more thing, I heard that some hardware NVRs have a current problem with interrupted video clips during an event, has this been addressed? I would think the video stream would be encoded (userbits) such that a new file would not have to be saved.... I think I see now why NestCam is having some success it does many things well, just like the iPhone, it's great software that can make all the difference! :)

I look forward to your thoughts--great thread.

Thanks,

Robert
 

fenderman

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As a Mac user I would be considering SecuritySpy BenSoftware. On a PC blueIris of course. I too am very interested in this topic. The way I see it we have three basic options if you ignore wireless cams such as Arlo or NestCam:
A) hardware NVR with integrated POE SW.
B) Software NVR, separate POE SW.
C) NAS NVR via QNAP or Synology.

The problem with A is that the software may not be as easy to use, so I'm told, compared to Security Spy, especially when saving clips. But it probably consumes less power and it is probably cheaper and more resilient during a power failure. Another concern of option A, I would want to mount it in a machine room or network closet and would never want to have to use VGA or HDMI or a local mouse to realize the full functionality. Also, I would want to easily save a clip without a USB flash drive attached. My understanding this is how it works.

Option B thoughts: the Mac based Security Spy consumes a lot of processing power.... I mean that if you want 8 cams running high frame rates, close to 30, you need a powerful Mac that also would consume a lot of power and would need a bigger UPS. I could devote a 2012 Mac Mini to it but I'm. Not sure I want a Mac on security detail when a cheap Linux appliance can do the job. Maintaining a full PC or MAC is more work, updating the OS, connecting external drives, external POE switches... BTW: I see that Blue Iris users are running a hardware NVR too. If one solution was really great then, I would think redundant NVRs would not be needed.

Option C: a NAS could easily hold 4 or more drives, the ones I'm interested in anyway. This could be important if you have many cams and want a month or so of data in RAID 5. I don't know much about this. I don't think the software is as sophisticated as BI or SS. THis would also require an external POE SW. One benefit of B & C is that you would remote in to a headless box and would get the full functionality no need to have KVM nearby. Also, I heard that some NAS software has the ability to retrieve missing video clips from a cam-based SD card when the connection to the NVR is interrupted and it does this reconciliation seemlesy and automatically, as I understand it. There are other cool NAS only features but this one sticks in my head.

It would be cool if the NVR took full advantage of the cams feature set.

One more thing, I heard that some hardware NVRs have a current problem with interrupted video clips during an event, has this been addressed? I would think the video stream would be encoded (userbits) such that a new file would not have to be saved.... I think I see now why NestCam is having some success it does many things well, just like the iPhone, it's great software that can make all the difference! :)

I look forward to your thoughts--great thread.

Thanks,

Robert
NVR's are no more resilient during a power outage than a pc...not sure where you are getting that from...
it is a complete waste of money to run any vms on a mac...overpriced hardware with zero benefit...a 100-300 dollar pc is all that is needed for most installs.
you are reading way too much into the fact that some users run blue iris and an nvr...some users run two NVR's, some run two blue iris pc's, these folks are the paranoid types. I run over 20 blue iris pc's in different locations with no standalone NVR's..gave up on that garbage long ago.
Nestcam has success because folks are lazy or dont want to bother, therefore are willing to pay the stupid tax of perpetual monthly fees and settle for subpar video that is often useless.
If you use a pc based vms, you can easily test multiple packages until you are happy. Not so with standalone NVR's and you are locked into a feature set as most get no new feature updates (its a rarity)...
 

MacFun

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I totally see your point and I'm glad that you've expressed your NVR opinion. Up until now I felt like I walked into a store and asked the sales guy, "which one is good?" And he replied that "they're all good". I much prefer an opinion from an experienced user. Regarding the Mac, I do like that SS has an AppleTV app, I think that's a cool addition. I suppose BI has that too.

Can you recommend a PC to be used for BI exclusively? Assume I'll want at least 8 cams with some room for growth. Are you deploying any PCs that are rackmountable?

Thanks!

Robert
 

fenderman

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I totally see your point and I'm glad that you've expressed your NVR opinion. Up until now I felt like I walked into a store and asked the sales guy, "which one is good?" And he replied that "they're all good". I much prefer an opinion from an experienced user. Regarding the Mac, I do like that SS has an AppleTV app, I think that's a cool addition. I suppose BI has that too.

Can you recommend a PC to be used for BI exclusively? Assume I'll want at least 8 cams with some room for growth. Are you deploying any PCs that are rackmountable?

Thanks!

Robert
million threads on pc's...
rack-mountable is a waste of money...
 

Merlin93

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As a Mac user I would be considering SecuritySpy BenSoftware. On a PC blueIris of course. I too am very interested in this topic. The way I see it we have three basic options if you ignore wireless cams such as Arlo or NestCam:
A) hardware NVR with integrated POE SW.
B) Software NVR, separate POE SW.
C) NAS NVR via QNAP or Synology.

The problem with A is that the software may not be as easy to use, so I'm told, compared to Security Spy, especially when saving clips. But it probably consumes less power and it is probably cheaper and more resilient during a power failure. Another concern of option A, I would want to mount it in a machine room or network closet and would never want to have to use VGA or HDMI or a local mouse to realize the full functionality. Also, I would want to easily save a clip without a USB flash drive attached. My understanding this is how it works.

Option B thoughts: the Mac based Security Spy consumes a lot of processing power.... I mean that if you want 8 cams running high frame rates, close to 30, you need a powerful Mac that also would consume a lot of power and would need a bigger UPS. I could devote a 2012 Mac Mini to it but I'm. Not sure I want a Mac on security detail when a cheap Linux appliance can do the job. Maintaining a full PC or MAC is more work, updating the OS, connecting external drives, external POE switches... BTW: I see that Blue Iris users are running a hardware NVR too. If one solution was really great then, I would think redundant NVRs would not be needed.

Option C: a NAS could easily hold 4 or more drives, the ones I'm interested in anyway. This could be important if you have many cams and want a month or so of data in RAID 5. I don't know much about this. I don't think the software is as sophisticated as BI or SS. THis would also require an external POE SW. One benefit of B & C is that you would remote in to a headless box and would get the full functionality no need to have KVM nearby. Also, I heard that some NAS software has the ability to retrieve missing video clips from a cam-based SD card when the connection to the NVR is interrupted and it does this reconciliation seemlesy and automatically, as I understand it. There are other cool NAS only features but this one sticks in my head.

It would be cool if the NVR took full advantage of the cams feature set.

One more thing, I heard that some hardware NVRs have a current problem with interrupted video clips during an event, has this been addressed? I would think the video stream would be encoded (userbits) such that a new file would not have to be saved.... I think I see now why NestCam is having some success it does many things well, just like the iPhone, it's great software that can make all the difference! :)

I look forward to your thoughts--great thread.

Thanks,

Robert
Hey Robert,

No way I'd use my Mac as a PC-NVR... I'd much rather just build a microATX PC (or buy a refurbished system off ebay) with QuickSync that will do the same job for under $500 (well maybe $600 ish in my case since I want a more beefy system as I'll eventually be running a dozen HD cameras and I'd want it to run double duty as a Plex server.) Plus I think the PC-based software options are superior to the Mac and Linux options from what I've seen. Blue Iris is definately the most popular around here, but I really want to try out Sighthound Video.

I do think that it would be tough to beat an NVR appliance on power efficiency, but that isn't one of the things I'm terribly worried about. It shouldn't matter whether you're running a PC or NVR as far as power outages go... if you aren't on a battery backup (which seems like a poor choice IMO) you're asking for trouble either way.

I also have a Synology NAS, and I thought about using that as my NVR, but the purpose of the NAS and the purpose of the NVR are a bit at odds. One is there to archive data and make sure its accessible and available in case of issues. The other is about writing data that is important for a short period of time and then overwriting it with new data. As I understand it a NAS will work fine for a small number of cameras, but it can bog things down if you start using more than 6-10 or so (though I'm sure that also depends on the NAS hardware.) Not to mention, unless you install a dedicated WD Purple drive in the NAS that is used only for surveillance data, you'd be chewing through your archive drives faster than necessary... and they're not really designed for 24x7 multi-stream writing. At least that's how I see it. I may use my NAS for snapshots or achive footage, but not for live streaming.

As for the issue with Dahua NVR's and skipped frames around IVS triggers and new files, it appears that has been fixed in the latest firmware update from what I've seen people posting. Hopefully that is the case. :)

Thanks!
 

Merlin93

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I totally see your point and I'm glad that you've expressed your NVR opinion. Up until now I felt like I walked into a store and asked the sales guy, "which one is good?" And he replied that "they're all good". I much prefer an opinion from an experienced user. Regarding the Mac, I do like that SS has an AppleTV app, I think that's a cool addition. I suppose BI has that too.

Can you recommend a PC to be used for BI exclusively? Assume I'll want at least 8 cams with some room for growth. Are you deploying any PCs that are rackmountable?

Thanks!

Robert
Do a quick search on ebay, there are a ton of systems out there that would make good choices. I like to build my PC's so I think I'd rather build my own. I priced out one earlier today that would rock as a PC-NVR/VMS that I could build for around $600.
 

fenderman

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Do a quick search on ebay, there are a ton of systems out there that would make good choices. I like to build my PC's so I think I'd rather build my own. I priced out one earlier today that would rock as a PC-NVR/VMS that I could build for around $600.
see the threads that discuss pc's...you will pay about 200 more to waste your time building your own..
 

Merlin93

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see the threads that discuss pc's...you will pay about 200 more to waste your time building your own..
I have read them all... and bookmarked a couple including your sticky at Choosing Hardware for Blue Iris. I'm aware that I can save a bit of money buying a refurb unit on eBay. But like I said, if I do go down the path of using a PC for NVR/VMS purposes, I enjoy building systems and I'd prefer to specify the particular hardware and case to meet my needs. :)
 
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fenderman

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I have read them all... and bookmarked a couple including your sticky at Choosing Hardware for Blue Iris. I'm aware that I can save a bit of money buying a refurb unit on eBay, but like I said, I enjoy building systems, and I'd like to specify the particular hardware and case to meet my needs. :)
Ebay or often even cheaper direct from dell...it can easily be 200-300 less...thats more than a bit...
 

Merlin93

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The cheapest system I could find on eBay with a 6700 or 7700 (non-K) CPU was within $50 of the price I could build one at and end up with far superior hardware. WIth Dell discounts I could probably beat that during a sale, but those basement price systems tend to run with low bid equipment and can be prone to support issues. I was a Dell certified tech for a couple years so I'm pretty familar with that side. It wouldn't stop me from buying a system, but I don't mind trading $100 and some time for a bit more peace of mind.
 

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The cheapest system I could find on eBay with a 6700 or 7700 (non-K) CPU was within $50 of the price I could build one at and end up with far superior hardware. WIth Dell discounts I could probably beat that during a sale, but those basement price systems tend to run with low bid equipment and can be prone to support issues. I was a Dell certified tech for a couple years so I'm pretty familar with that side. It wouldn't stop me from buying a system, but I don't mind trading $100 and some time for a bit more peace of mind.
i7-6700 can be purchased for just over 400...an i7-7700 at about 500 or so....you are hitting those numbers with the processor and windows os alone..
heck, my hp elitedesk was 400 - i7-6700, ssd (256)...8gb memory...
there are NO support issues with the dell optiplex and elitedesks...I run 20 blue iris systems and support an additional 50 pc's that are made up of optiplex and elitedesk...never had a failure...ever...my only hardware failure was a lenovo home based laptop...my other lenovo laptop has been running 24/7 on a reception desk for camera viewing for at least 4 years now...non stop...
 

MacFun

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million threads on pc's...
rack-mountable is a waste of money...
I really like rack mountable equipment, it gets it out of the way.... off the floor, off the desk and you could put 10 in the place of one (hiding the UPS too) and it looks fantastic! Plan B would be to wall-mount a smaller computer like a Mac mini where they have special brackets for that. Distant plan C is a desktop unless there is a need or desire to use that computer directly and with regularity. The only downside of a rack-mounted PC hardware is the cost. You are not buying an i7 at that point you are buying a server grace Xenon processor that sucks more power and costs more and has the "enterprise" moniker.... Too each his now, I just like everything that can be co-located to be tucked away and out of sight.

Thanks,

Robert
 
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