Video surveillance demands reliable hard drives designed for 24/7 operations

Governments and businesses of all sizes have invested in digital video surveillance and digital CCTV solutions over the years.

July 22, 2013

Kalvin Subbadu, Components Sales Manager, WD South Africa

Governments and businesses of all sizes have invested in digital video surveillance and digital CCTV solutions over the years, as part of an all-encompassing security system to protect valuable assets. These systems are one of the most popular security solutions today, and the shift from analogue tape-based systems to digital disk-based in recent years has made the technology easier to use, more accessible, and more affordable than ever before. While digital video surveillance and recording has many advantages over analogue solutions, because all of the footage is stored on a hard disk drive (HDD), using the right hard drive is critical. Choosing a purpose-built audio-visual (AV) drive will ensure that organisations have the high performance, high reliability HDDs that digital video surveillance solutions demand.

Video surveillance, recording and CCTV solutions have many uses, from deterring theft in office buildings and retail environments and monitoring employees on factory floors to keeping an eye on casinos and places of entertainment to ensure that cheating does not occur. Digital solutions offer all of the functionality of their analogue counterparts, along with several advantages. The footage can be accessed far quicker than with a tape-based solution, digital solutions can make use of high definition cameras for higher quality images, the solutions are typically easier to install and manage, and if they are linked into a network the footage can be backed up in the cloud for easy offsite storage. All of these functions rely heavily on the physical hard drive that forms part of the solution, since the footage is useless if it is not recorded and available for playback, so choosing the right hard drive is of the utmost importance.

The reality is that you simply cannot use just any hard drive in a surveillance, recording or CCTV environment. These cameras need to run 24 hours a day, and footage therefore needs to be recorded at all times, using the HDD. Typical hard drives are not designed to run in this type of high demand environment, being built more for the computing environment where they are used for an average of eight hours a day, with shut downs in between. If a regular hard drive is used in a high demand environment such as CCTV, the likelihood of premature failure is high, and the resulting cost and impact to the organisation of not having the cameras running can be detrimental.

AV drives, on the other hand, are purpose-built for high demand environments, and are designed to run all day, every day, with extreme reliability and a Mean Time Between Failure (MTBF) of up to a million hours. These drives have several intelligent features that make them suitable for use in CCTV and surveillance, and organisations looking to implement a digital video recording solution would be advised to make sure any drive they use has a number of characteristics.

24×7 reliability and compatibility
In CCTV environments, HDDs need to be engineered for demanding, always-on multimedia streaming environments, to ensure reliable performance and to avoid the dangers and expense of continuously failing hard drives. Compatibility is another important factor, as not all hard drives will work with certain CCTV and surveillance solutions. This compatibility should be tested and proven with your chosen system. If HD cameras are to be used, the drives also need to be checked for compatibility with high definition video.

Reduced power consumption and cool, quiet operation
The hotter a drive gets and the longer it runs, the faster it will fail. Reducing power consumption and ensuring cool, quiet operation help to extend the life of the drive. Cooler drives are more reliable, providing peace of mind to users that their hard drive will not fail prematurely.

Intelligent seeking and parking technology
Looking for information on a hard drive can take time, and causes the device to heat up and run at higher power consumption. Intelligent seeking will calculate the optimum seek speeds to lower power consumption, vibration and noise. During idle time, intelligent parking technology will ensure that the heads are automatically unloaded to reduce aerodynamic drag and deliver lower power consumption. These factors work together to further extend the life of the drive by preventing unnecessary running.

Pre-emptive Wear Levelling (PWL)
Video and audio streaming is prone to causing uneven wear on the drive surface of HDDs. PWL is an innovative solution to this problem. The drive arm frequently sweeps across the disk surface to reduce this uneven wear, ensuring maximum reliability and extending the life of the drive.

CCTV and video surveillance have become increasingly popular, as the need for enhanced security solutions continues to grow. Digital is the future when it comes to these solutions, and ensuring you have the right hard drive to work with your solution and prevent failure is paramount in leveraging maximum value from surveillance solutions.