What you need to look for when selecting a suitable hard drive for video surveillance systems

Many surveillance systems continue to use non-surveillance specific drives that have not been tested specifically to meet the demands of modern day CCTV systems.

We often come across CCTV footages of an event getting leaked within minutes of its occurrence. In certain scenarios when a story breaks out on a global scale, reporters from around the world race to get their hands on the video of the incident, no matter how small and isolated it may seem. Statistics indicate that there is one camera for every twenty nine people on the earth on an average. In fact, in certain mature markets such as the US and the UK, this may even go up to one camera for every eleven people you count.

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In India, there has been a continuous rise in market revenue for video surveillance systems. With an estimated growth from $128 million in 2009 to $952.9 million in 2016, the market has seen several camera systems installed both in public and in private spaces. With these, large numbers of CCTV cameras being put to use at any given point of time, the amount of data generated is also huge. An IHS report recorded that a total of 566 PB of data was produced in a day collectively by the new video surveillance systems worldwide in 2015.

The growth in the demand of CCTV systems is bound to lead to increasing consumers’ expectations when it comes to receiving the best in class products. These expectations would mostly be regarding features such as cameras and surveillance software - characteristics that they are most familiar with. However, consumers also need to be aware about the less tangible aspects, such as the storage capacity to capture the generated data.

Many systems continue to use non-surveillance specific drives that have not been tested specifically to meet the demands of modern day CCTV systems. A drive that has been optimized for surveillance would be capable of handling the required workload and help limit the risk of failures and drops in frames. Asia is expected to lead the video surveillance market from 2017-2022, and with large populations to monitor, handling workloads and avoiding system failures becomes that much more important.

Another key characteristic of optimized drives would be their ability to consume a low amount of power and in turn generate a low amount of heat, which would help reduce the possibility of failure. Overheating affects the read and write operations in a surveillance system and reduces the drive’s life. Even though these drives fall on the expensive front, they offer compelling benefits such as enhanced performance and reliability to businesses.

An average desktop class drive could have power requirements ranging between 6 to 8 watts, while surveillance drives generally require 3 to 5 watts. The right surveillance storage solution offers high performance, efficiency and capacity that has been designed for harsh surveillance environments. But how will one identify the difference?

While evaluating whether a drive has been designed for surveillance, there a few specific things that need to be kept in mind:

Active 24x7: A surveillance system is often operational 24x7. Hence, the drive should be designed and tested to have high write cycles. Desktop drives are typically designed for eight hours activity per day in a working week, whereas a surveillance drive is designed for systems that operate 24x7.

Reliable performance: A key feature to look for in surveillance class drives is their ability to improve performance while helping reduce errors and frame loss.

RAID-enabled: A system with this capability can use two or more hard disks to create redundancy for a failed drive by ensuring that the recording is still being captured even if one drive is not working. This lessens interruptions in productivity and decreases the chance of data loss.

Low power consumption: While low power consumption might not be first on the list of things to look for in a hard drive, the need for always-on capability makes it crucial. Some drives are designed with low power consumption in mind, resulting in greater reliability and less pressure on the pocket.

High camera count support: NVR systems are designed for scalability with large number of IP cameras, which increases the need for higher storage. A 4K video would be of a much larger file size than a standard definition, meaning this would increase the drive’s workload significantly. Surveillance class drives are available in up to 10TB capacity and are designed to deal with high workloads with long retention.

High system bay count support: As multiple hard drives are added to a system there is an increase in vibration in the chassis, this is inevitable due to the nature of spinning disks. The right drive will include technology to counter system induced vibration which shall in turn help maintain drive performance.

Extensive system compatibility: There are differences in internal chassis design and software which can create issues with respect to physically fitting the drive into a bay or viewing its full capacity. Drives which are compatible with what the DVR and NVR manufacturers use would be optimal in such cases.

With an increase in the number of surveillance cameras, the complexity of CCTV cameras also increases. In this scenario, it would be beneficial for the installers to ensure that they are completely aware of all the options available to them. At the same time it is necessary for the installer to make sure that they provide reliable and cost effective support to consumers based on their specific needs.

Khalid Wani is the director of channel sales, India, Western Digital and Jermaine Campbell is senior sales manager for North Europe, Western Digital.

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