How to protect your home or business

During the November 2013  elections I received the "Don Starner for Neversink Supervisor" flyer. 
In this flyer Don Starner (retired detective) stated: "The last issue I want to share with you is public safety. Earlier this year, the Town of Neversink was gripped by fear when burglars struck a number of residences. People who had never locked their doors before were terrified of coming home and finding all that they had worked so hard for over the years, suddenly gone. Due to cut back to the State Police and Sheriff, it took longer than normal to catch these criminals. As a result many more people were victimized..."    My neighbor's house was burgled too. 

Can we rely just on home security systems?
There are many "professional" statements similar to these.   But in my opinion almost all modern  home security/alarm  systems are useless, because any smart intruder could compromise almost all home security systems with a hammer, a cell phone jammer or a clone of Keychain Remote.

So, this our reality.  And the dilemma is:
- on the one hand I have to protect truly my house,
- on the other hand I do not want to become paranoid.
They say: "God helps those who help themselves" (or Aide-toi, le Ciel t’aidera -Help yourself and Heaven will help you too).
Based on this motto and my personal experience, I would like to share with you some of my approaches.
I spent a lot of time to read many reviews about Home Surveillance Systems and only after that I  opted for the system, that you can see below.  I made my selection, based on three parameters: reliability, technical characteristics and affordability.
Note: Surveillance Systems are not a silver bullet, they cannot stop a Home Invasion but they can help you in many ways,

My oldest  Night Owl APOLLO-45 system is still on duty (remote viewing, thanks to the CMS-Control Management Software): 

 I also tested
 the WM-845-624 system and the model similar to this one: 960H 8 Channel DVR with pre-installed 1TB hard drive.  The core of the System this DVR PE-DVR8-1TB with technical parameters and additional features, that are valuable to me:

And below you can see an ability of this DVR to record in WD1 (960H) widescreen resolution. Clips were recorded at 30 fps/H.264.  Camera is located more than 100 feet away from the subjects:

                                         High Definition Analog Surveillance Systems  

I tested the Night Owl Security 8 Channel Smart HD Video Security System with 1 TB HDD and 4 x 720p HD Cameras. I prefer to connect DVRs directly to a modem without a router, because as the number of components connected in a system increases, the system's reliability decreases. The  updated AHD7 DVR works reliableThe more traditional setup ( DVR connected to a router) works without problem too. Nevertheless, DVRs and NVRs that are connected to routers raise many security issues And  recently I installed  and tested  Night Owl AHD10-841- 8 Channel Smart HD Video Security System with 1 TB HDD and 4 x 1080p HD Cameras.  I will post my comprehensive review soon.

Useful Videos:
Night Owl HD Mobile Application Quick Setup Guide (Phones)      Night Owl HD Mobile App Connectivity        Night Owl HD Mobile Application Quick Setup Guide (Tablets)        And this video  helps you to see the real benefits.

I also tested the Swann 1080p TVI DVR Security System.

There are many HD systems for the very reasonable prices similar to these 

This new  Night Owl’s Smart Detection Security System looks interesting to me. Utilizing the Dual Sensor Technology, this system detects both motion and heat to minimize false alerts and keep you apprised of Real threats in Real time. You can get more details here

Systems with new advanced H.265 video compression technology allows to double recording time and boost the life of hard drives. 

 GW 16 Channel H.265 NVR 4-Megapixel (2592 x 1520) Security Camera System, 12pcs 4MP 1520p 3.6mm Wide Angle POE Weatherproof Bullet IP Cameras, 80ft Night Vision here

GW Security 8CH H.265 4K NVR 4-Megapixel (2592 x 1520) 4X Optical Zoom Network Plug & Play Video Security System, 8pcs 4MP 1520p 2.8-12mm Motorized Zoom POE Weatherproof Dome IP Cameras  here 

16 Channel H.265 4K NVR 4MP 1520p POE IP Camera System, (6) Bullet & (6) Dome Varifocal Zoom HD Security Camera - H.265 (Double recording data and enhance picture quality compared to H.264) here

In my opinion, the ability of Night Owl surveillance systems to send an EARLY alert via email with attachments (DVR snap shots) represents one of the most beneficial features, especially in instances when the digital video recorder is stolen or destroyed by an intruder.
In Night Owl systems manufactured prior to 2014, the size of the snap shots was limited.  Therefore, l suggested to Night Owl SP the addition of a new setting in the DVR/NVR menu that would allow the user to increase the size of the DVR snap shots to full-screen.  Fortunately, now thanks to my efforts, you can select the option for full-screen sized snap shots (more than 300 KB for the AHD7 models), if you wish to capture more details in the image, which could play a critical role during an investigation.  Hopefully, the inclusion of this feature will become a standard for the surveillance system industry.

Notes:  If you set up your Email Notification/Alert for your DVR/NVR and use Gmail as your sender, you may receive an "Unknown Error" or "Test Failed" notice after you click on the TEST Email button: 
It happens, because Gmail classifies firmware of many modern DVRs and NVRs as the "less secure apps" and blocks any attempts to log-in from such DVRs and NVRs. 
In addition, you will receive this message in your Inbox: "Google will continue to block sign-in attempt from the app you're using because it has known security problems or is out of date."

You can resolve this problem partially by changing the "Allow less secure apps" setting in your gmail account from OFF to ON.  To do this log-into your Google account from your PC (laptop, tablet or smartphone), then select the "Apps with account access" link in the "Sign-in & security" section and make changes.

Do not lower security level in your main Google account!  You have to keep in mind this Google warning: "Please be aware that it is now easier for attacker to brake into your account."  That means you have to create an additional/independent account, that will be less valuable to you if it gets compromised.  
In addition, there is a chance, that DVR has real known security problems.  That means all your computers and devices, connected to the same router could be compromised.  That also means you have to "Install a more secure app that uses stronger security measures. All Google products, like Gmail, use the latest security measures."   Note: "more secure app in our case - is a more secure DVR's firmware.

If you want to protect your video records - you can use cloud services similar to Zero loss architecture (which provides ability to record a single video stream to multiple locations simultaneously)  or you can buy a Samsung SmartCam IP Camera SNH-1011 or   Samsung IP camera,  that allow you to upload short video clips (up to 30 sec.) to the Google Drive for FREE (up to 15 GB).
In some cases Nest CamDropcam  and similar IP cameras automatically back-up video footage (which is recorded to the camera's SD card) to the Nest Awaee cloud storage, Google Drive or a similar accounts.  Unfortunately, there is no overwrite option for almost all IP cameras in Google Drive space. 
Here is an example of the real case where corrupt police in Kiev (the capital of Ukraine) robbed a jewelry store. They destroyed the surveillance system, but thanks to cloud storage this video was saved and the bad cops were captured.

 Cloud storage for your security cameras and DVRs 
                                                                  Some notes and recommendations:
- shop around for a bargain price like these
chose a DVR/NVR with a sturdy AV-Rated HD (Hard Drive) or Western Digital Purple HD  with caching algorithms specifically designed for the high-definition surveillance security systems similar to these Surveillance-class hard drive.  More details about WD Purple Surveillance Storage/HD.
- do not rely on wireless cameras, because even a simple jammer could disable almost all types of existing cameras working via wireless video, wireless LAN and Bluetooth bands,
install outdoor cameras properly to catch  intruders outside of your house, before they attempt to disable  your system,
install your cameras at least 9-feet high to avoid neutralizing of your cameras by an intruder/burglar with a spray paint. In addition keep in mind that an intruder can easily locate and compromise any camera with IR LEDs thanks to a $1 flashlight.  As you can see here even short  exposure has blinded the camera.   While a simple laser pointer could temporarily disable or even destroy your cameras. Starlight cameraswhich are invisible at night can be a possible solution,
- direct sunlight can damage your cameras, 
- use fire-rated cables similar to this one,                                                                                                         
- do not buy DVRs without a FREE Dynamic DNS Server, if your ISP does not offer a static IP,
- recording resolutions: 8K (7680x4320), 4K (3840x2160), 5 Megapixel (2560x1920), 4 Megapixel (2240x1680), 3 Megapixel (2048x1536), 1080p (1920x1080), 720p (1280x720), 960H (960X480), D1 (704X480), HD1 (704X240), CIF (352X240). 
 960H recording is 5 times larger than CIF and over 33% larger than D1.  960H is the perfect resolution to fit your widescreen TV or monitor.  960H allows you to record at a resolution of 960 by 480 horizontal TV lines.  
- for a DVR with 960H recording the best matching cameras are those with 700 TV lines, because 700 TVL cameras have an effective resolution of 976 x 582.
That means there is no reason to buy more expansive cameras with more TV lines for  DVRs of this class, unless you find cameras with better optics, night vision capability  or another feature important to your application (setup).  So, 1000TVL cameras, for example, are over-bounded for a DVR with 960H recording resolution, because they have  960 X 756 effective resolution.  Nevertheless, almost all CCD manufacturers are ceasing production on 700 TVL sensors.  Image Sensor Companies.
- use a speed test similar to this one to check an Upload/Upstream Speed of your Broadband connection: 

Unfortunately, even expensive broadband Internet plans have limited upload speeds.  So, if your upload speed is too low you have to set  your DVR's/NVR's  sub-stream mode correctly.  Please note that reducing the outgoing internet bandwidth requirement via sub-stream settings does not lower your DVR/NVR direct recording quality
 A speed test result will help you determine optimal DVR bit rate for remote viewing and cloud backup.  For example, with recording resolution 1
purpouse280 x 720,  one frame is 921,600 bits (almost 1 Mb) with Full HD recording resolution 1920 x 1080,  one frame is 2,073,600 bits (about 2Mb), with 2K resolution 2592×1520 one frame is 3,939940 bits (about 4Mb), and with 4K recording resolution 3840x2160,  one frame is 8,294,400 bits (about 8Mb).
Cloud Backup Test:  A 15-minute video file with D1 (704 X 480) recording resolution and the rate of 15 frames per second was compressed and stored as an H.264 file.  It took 16 minutes to subsequently upload the file to cloud storage.  Unfortunately, such a long time was required to back up even a short, low-resolution video due to the old video coding standard (H.264) and  very low upload speed of the broadband Internet connection used for this test.
That means you have to lower your DVR's bit rate, if your upload speed is about 1 Mbps.  That also means a full cloud backup of high definition footage even from one channel/camera is generally unrealistic.  In this case, I recommend that you back up only those recordings that were triggered by motion.
You can limit this problem if you buy a NVR with a new generation of  codec - H.265 HEVC (High Efficiency Video Coding), that can transmit higher quality video in limited bandwidth network. Using the same resolution, H.265 standard only needs half the bandwidth required for the older H.264 standard.
- set up your-own Cloud storage similar to this one
- secure your broadband connection (underground gable or Satellite Dish),
choose a reliable email service provider and perform an Email Test from your DVR periodically,
- consider using CC options in email settings,
- test  your DVR  before leaving your house or business:

In addition, I strongly recommend  performing remotely a comprehensive test of your DVR .  This test  will confirm that all components of your surveillance system  (DVR, modem, router, remote PC, Control Management Software similar to the "NightOwl View" and free DDNS service)  work properly:

Below you can see the real SnapShots, that were sent via email:

This car  was more than 100 feet away!

use the "Video Lose" setting/warning to get an early alert in case when cable/camera is destroyed by intruder.
 if you cannot hide your DVR/NVR effectively, you can install it in a solid fire safe such as  Connon or Winchester,
- you can also place your DVR/NVR  into  Air-Conditioned Enclosure.  See this video too.
- if you choose to install your DVR in a safe (metal box) ,  check inside temperature periodically to be sure that DVR is not overheating.
- install a battery back-up system/UPS (uninterruptable power supply) with a surge protection similar to the CyberPower. This specific model provides enough power to run a DVR with 1 TB HD and 8 cameras for about 90 minutes during the day and for about 60 minutes at night (IR LEDs consume more power).  The new generation of Battery Backup System for Analog and NVR Video Security Systems  is available too.
you can also use a solar powered  backup.  To calculate the wattage of a solar panel for your surveillance system, you have to check the Output information of your system's two power adapters (some people call it AC/DC adapter).  After that you should  use the fallowing formula: P(W) = V(V) × I(A), the power P in watts (W) is equal to the voltage V in volts (V), times the current I in amps (A).
For example, for my system the total wattage is about 50 Watts: 36 Watt power adapter for four cameras ( Output: 12V DC 3 A ), + 14.4 Watt power adapter for the DVR ( Output: 12V DC 1.2 A ).
- to convert  DVR's files to AVI format I prefer to use this very reliable Online Converter
                                                                 How  EARLY ALERTS work
Once I was far away from my house. During this time a car entered my property and  triggered an alarm, thanks to outdoor camera and DVR's software; 
The Camera is so powerful that it was able to capture the car that was more than 100 feet away!  The DVR sent me a short Alert with this SnapShot via email (32 Kb JPEG, 352X240):
Therefore I logged  into my account and played back a full-size video. When I recognized the owner of this car and checked remotely in REAL TIME the situation outside and inside of my house, I decided not to call any body.

NOTE:  If your main goal is to monitor your home/business remotely  when you are not at home - I strongly recommend you to rely ONLY on your laptop or desktop  computer with a Control Management Software similar to the "Nightowl View" (see screens below), but not on smart phones or tablets.

            Modern Surveillance Systems for Home and small Businesses:

Some Videos:

Final Notes
All information, posted on this web site, is ONLY!   If you think some information is incorrect - please let me know at