Ubiquitous home internet means it's more feasible than ever to set up a home surveillance system to make sure no-one breaks into your place (or just to check that Grumpy Cat hasn't gone psycho). Once you've acquired the gear, here are 10 tips to make the most of your new home security camera gear.
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1. Be clear about the legal issues
A camera pointing into the street generally isn't an issue, since it's OK to film in a public place. However, if your camera can view a neighbour's yard or inside their house, that's trickier. Avoid a potential conflict in the future and place the camera somewhere that doesn't cause that issue.
2. Scope the features you need
The fancier the camera, the more you'll pay. There's no point having hours and hours of storage if you're largely interested in live monitoring. Conversely, the cheapest available camera doesn't make sense if you want to protect a home business.
3. Decide on indoor or outdoor
Outdoor setup is a lot more complicated, since you won't have easy access to power supplies and you'll have to rely on Wi-Fi rather than a cabled connection. If your main concern is external security, it can be worth the extra effort, but an indoor setup is easier to get started with.
4. Connected or recorded?
The ideal home surveillance system lets you monitor what's happening at home through your phone or tablet, and also offers you the option of keeping the recorded footage. If you're more concerned with evidence, you can opt simply to record the camera feed and review it at your leisure. This isn't a strict either/or choice — most commercial systems will let you set up both options.
5. Check for mobile support
The ability to monitor your camera via a mobile device is a vital feature. Make sure you can check your camera on your preferred platform (most systems support iOS and Androis as a minimum, but it always pays to double-check).
6. Consider DIY
If you have time and patience, you can build your own system from basic components — here is a number of examples we've featured in the past. If you're not confident about network setup, however, a commercial kit is likely to be less trouble.
7. Start with the bundled software
Under most circumstances, we'd recommend using the software that comes bundled with your camera for monitoring. That maximises the odds you'll have the right drivers and that everything will work — and you'll have a support line to call if stuff does go wrong.
8. Look at alternative software
With that said, a different package may make more sense if you want to run an unusual operating system, or if a particular feature you require isn't supported. Here's an overview of how you can set up two popular packages.
9. Schedule a footage check
It makes sense to regularly review footage from your system; while some incidents may be obvious (and software can alert you to suspicious movement), others aren't. Set aside time in your calendar for a high-speed review.
10 Remember other security issues
A surveillance camera can give you piece of mind, but it's only part of the arsenal. Make sure you have the basics covered: good locks on your doors, and good passwords on your devices.