Home Security Video Storage 101

When it comes to video storage, not all methods are created equal and understanding what comes with your camera can be … overwhelming. In general security camera storage can be broken down into two main categories: local and cloud. But local and cloud can mean vastly different things. If camera A has cloud storage and camera B has cloud storage, how do you know which offer is the best? Let’s explore.

Cloud Storage for Cameras Explained


The first factor you should look at when it comes to comparing cloud storage offers is price. However, that’s not the only thing you should consider. You should also look at how much storage you actually get and even that can be a doozy. For example, security camera company A might offer 7 days of free cloud storage while company B offers 50GB of cloud storage. How do you know which is more?

The nice people at have created the best explanation in my opinion. How far 50GB will go depends upon several factors including the video resolution and the frames per second. The formula on doesn’t directly translate to home security cameras but it can point you in the right direction. In order to figure out how far your storage will go, take a look at their site. On the post there is a graphic that will give you the number you need to complete the formula below.

To determine how much time a card will hold, multiply the size of the card by the number of minutes (this is what you get from the post) for the settings you want to use. Then divide that number by 60 to determine the number of hours.

So let’s say that company B offers 50GB of cloud storage. Let’s say that it records clips at 1080p at 30fps every time there is a motion event. In this case the number I get from the formula is 8 so…

50gb x 8 = 400 minutes

400 minutes / 60 = Almost 7 hours.

The 7 days of cloud storage from company A is a better deal than the 50GB from company B.

Now here’s the second catch when it comes to length. Some companies might offer you 7 days of cloud which automatically deletes based upon age. Others might allow you to save certain clips or ask you to manually delete once storage is full. I don’t necessarily think one method is inherently better than the other but it is something to look out for when comparing your options.


The next factor you might want to consider is expansion. Can you buy more storage if you need it? In fact, our top rated home security camera, Piper, does not offer the option to buy more storage if needed. Though Piper offers free cloud storage, you’re stuck with what is offered for free. For example, let’s say you invest in a security camera that includes 2 days of free cloud storage. Great, right? Kind of. It may be great, it may not. What if your needs change and you need more storage overtime? Not every company offers the option to buy more storage though some do. Some companies sell additional storage via a monthly or yearly fee. What is offered will depend upon the company.


When comparing cloud storage options, personal security should be another factor. Some cameras offer a privacy mode for when you are at home. Privacy mode is a way to reassure you that you are not being recorded when you don't want to be. Other cameras like the Netatmo Welcome have the option to ignore faces. For example, it will record an unrecognized face but not record you because you’ve taught it to recognize you. However, privacy mode isn’t the end all be all to privacy when it comes to security cameras. There are other factors such as encryption, strong personal passwords, and other measures that can be taken to try to protect the video that you put into the cloud.


Finally, you may want to consider the length of the recorded clip. Some cameras will only send pictures to the cloud, others will send actual video. Some cameras offer several minutes of clip footage, some cameras offer a few seconds.

In review when comparing cloud storage be sure to look beyond whether it is offered or not. Look at:

  • Cost
  • How Much Storage You Get
  • If Video Is Automatically Deleted Or Not
  • The Option To Buy More Storage
  • Security
  • How long The Clips Are

Local Storage for Security Cameras Explained

Some cameras offer just cloud, some offer just local, and some offer both. Regardless, digging into what local storage means can help you determine the best home security camera for you.

In general, there are a few different types of local storage. This includes:

  • Downloading clips to your phone.
  • Recording to an SD card.
  • Recording to your computer.
  • Recording to a local storage device like a NAS or a separate hard drive.

Deciding which option is best for you might depend upon your needs, preference, or even your technical skill level.

Downloading a clip to your phone’s gallery is fairly self explanatory. If you see a clip you like, simply hit save or download and the video is saved to your phone. The downside of this type of recording is that it is not simultaneous. By that I mean it won’t record to your phone and the cloud at the same time like the other local storage options do. The upside to this option is that it’s super easy and free.

Other cameras include a slot for an SD or microSD card. Footage is recorded directly to the card which is removable. Once removed you can insert the card into your computer to download footage. The downside to this method is that recording is physically tied to the camera. If a burglar finds the camera, he may be smart enough to remove the card. Then again, he might not be smart enough... The upside is ease of use.

Finally, recording to your computer or to a local storage device may be the most complex option but there are many die hard fans that wouldn’t record any other way. The biggest pro to this method is that you can usually get a large amount of storage and also all video is kept in your house. From a privacy perspective this is even better than a well encrypted cloud option.


When it comes to security cameras simply offering storage is not as black and white as one might think. Perhaps having cloud or having a local option is enough for you but if you want to dig deeper I hope these tips help. Good luck in your search and be sure to checkout our indoor security camera reviews.

Features Photo: clouds 4 by Denis used under a CC BY-NC 2.0 agreement.

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