“What is the difference between cloud and IP cameras?”

We often get asked this question and it’s one I’d like to try and answer below. It’s probably worth mentioning upfront that Y-cam sells both IP and Cloud cameras, so hopefully this will provide an unbiased personal view!


Is IP right for me?

IP cameras are commonly employed for surveillance and unlike CCTV, are designed to receive data via a computer network and the Internet. These cameras are generally best suited to users that want the true flexibility of options, integration and 3rd party compatibility; someone who likes to get their hands dirty, configure things manually and feels comfortable with networking and ports. It’s ideal for anyone who wants to connect multiple devices and carry out a wide range of monitoring applications.

It’s worth noting that generally speaking with flexibility comes complexity, especially when it relates to connecting and working with third party storage devices. This flexibility also comes with some security issues, and the responsibility lies with the user to ensure the product is secure and isn’t vulnerable to unauthorised external access (as seen in recent media cases).

From a cost point of view IP cameras are often cheaper than cloud-based alternatives; fundamentally because there are no costs associated to maintain a cloud video platform. However, before purchasing you should consider the total cost of ownership, including the cost of storage and the time taken to set up and maintain the system.

If you are unsure about what technology works best for you, think about where you want to store your videos; for example, an SD card, local computer, NAS drive etc. Depending on where it is stored, you must consider that there is a possibility your footage could be stolen, overwritten or corrupted.

With IP cameras there is also no cloud server intelligence, therefore no possibility of additional smart features being added at a later date, such as smarter alerts or second line security verification. It is the user’s responsibility to ensure the IP camera software is up to date, as there may be new updates and security fixes that require a firmware update.

Cloud cameras: What’s the benefit?

So how do cloud cameras differ from their IP cousins? First, cloud-based cameras are designed from the start with simplicity and security in mind. They can only be accessed via a central website and not through a specific local IP address, which makes them an ideal purchase for those who don’t want to worry about network maintenance or buy additional storage for videos.  The cloud camera ecosystem, at least the standalone system, is also generally locked down through bank-level security methods, and is not designed to be intercepted by third party products or software.

Secondly, as all videos are stored in the cloud, users can access them quickly and easily from wherever they are; a similar customer experience to listening to your favourite music on Spotify, or watching content on YouTube.

Finally, it is possible to improve a cloud-based product all the time, and once improvements have been made (lets say, a few feature, or update design) they are immediately visible to customers. If there are any camera firmware updates available to improve functionality or security, the user will be notified immediately and can upgrade at the click of a button. Cloud server based analytics make future developments possible like object recognition and being alerted to specific people, e.g. daughter arriving home from school.

In summary both sides have pros and cons, and ultimately the decision is yours. The choice comes down to whether you want the flexibility to configure the system yourself with videos stored locally, or a product that effectively manages itself with videos stored in the cloud. Cost is an obvious factor to consider, but with options like HomeMonitor HD’s seven days free cloud recording, it has become far easier to compare the technology like for like.

What do you think – IP or Cloud? Let us know your thoughts in the comment box