One of the most common uses of technology now is home security. A quick look online shows no shortage of IP camera and surveillance systems. I had been looking for surveillance software to run on my Mac that would let me record the nine plus IP cameras I have.
There is no shortage of such software for the PC; what I did find for the Mac used so many system resources that it was not viable and made the Mac unusable. Further research led me to SecuritySpy software, published by Bensoftware out of England. I downloaded the trial version, which is a fully functional version except for a 30-day time limit to see how it would fare.
After loading the software, I begin setting up nine cameras to test how well the software not only recorded but, most importantly, how well my Mac could still function while recording full time since this is my main work computer. The software is truly professional grade in that it can handle with the proper licensing an unlimited number of cameras. It not only can record IP cameras, but standard video cameras and even USB cameras connected to your Mac.
It records perfectly and plays back flawlessly. I have nine cameras recording full time and SecuritySpy averages about 3.7% of the CPU, which is amazingly low. I can’t even tell the software is running. I’ve seen CPU usage drop as low as 2.4%, but it stays well under 4% and uses only 124 to 130MB of ram. This is not a maxed out Mac Pro, but a 2014 Mac Mini with a 2.6GHz i5 and 8GB ram.
The software is much too deep and advanced to cover all its capabilities in this review but I’ll touch upon a few of its best features.
You can record full time or when there is motion. At first I was recording all nine cameras full time at 30 frames per second. This certainly did take more resources, but even then it would only use 12-15% of the CPU. I decided not to record at this level because the files were huge, taking up 50 to 100GB per day.
I now record only motion at one frame per second, which is more than enough to see anything I want to see on the recordings. At this rate, my busiest camera of all rarely uses 1GB per day. Most are a small fraction of that, coming in at 100MB or much less per camera.
SecuritySpy gives me the option to record a new video file with every motion or combine them all into one file at the end of the day. This is the option I choose. At midnight an m4v file is stored in your documents directory sorted by camera then by date. You can easily view these directly on your Mac using QuickTime.
You can also chose to view a camera anytime using the built-in browser function. You can view up to four cameras at once then scrub along a timeline to see any time of the day you want. The four cameras timelines are synced together.
If you had rather not store the recordings on your Mac, you can chose an FTP location on your network or offsite if you have the bandwidth.
You can choose to be alerted when there is activity on a camera. One feature I really like is I can have the cameras minimized in the background and, when there is activity, the camera will maximize and come to the forefront on the Mac so I can see what just triggered the motion. I can have it play a sound to make sure it catches my attention.
You can set up groups of cameras to quickly call up views such as “outside,” “back yard,” etc. You can schedule times to have cameras active. This is quite handy. For example, I have a camera in my office but don’t want it recording during regular working hours — but do want it recording afterwards.
With other surveillance software I’ve used, to reorder the cameras I had to actually delete a camera and reprogram it in. With SecuritySpy I can simply drag and rearrange the cameras and the new arrangement shows up instantly while viewing.
The software can email you snapshots when there is motion or upload to an FTP server. There is a built in web server that lets you view live footage or recordings from a browser on your computer or iPhone.
An iOS app is available that lets you view live footage or recorded activity on the cameras. It’s a version 1.0 at this point and works amazingly well for a first version. To view live is free but to remotely view recorded footage from your iPhone is a $5.99 USD in app one-time purchase.
Setting up of SecuritySpy is quick and easy though definitely some knowledge of networking, ports, etc. is helpful. The included online manual is large and quite detailed and will help you with anything you might not fully understand.
The company is very quick to respond to email questions. I’ve had the developer of the software answer me directly a few times and often within moments after emailing them. There is also a very active forum on the software’s site as well as a Twitter account.
There are simply too many features to discuss in detail here such as compression settings, advanced notifications, etc. If you are interested, the best thing to do is download the trial. It is not limited in any way except for limiting you to 30 days.
SecuritySpy is truly professional grade and will let you record quietly and reliably to your Mac with no noticeable degradation in performance whatsoever. I had considered a separate Mac just to run the software, but with the streamlined performance it’s not needed. It’s 64-bit and multi-threaded and runs better than any application I’ve ever used on my Mac. It’s truly what I had been looking for in surveillance software. For me, the most impressive feature is how few system resources it uses.
I highly recommend SecuritySpy whether you have one camera or dozens. The price is based on how many cameras you want. Since the company is based in England, the price in U.S dollars fluctuates. At this writing a one-camera license costs approximately $38.80 all the way to unlimited for $842.27. You can download the demo here.