Switching to SS and M1 Mac mini
  • Hi all.
    I’m looking at switching to security spy and upgrading my home CCTV setup, but wanted some advice and input on my plans.

    Currently I am running with:
    - Low spec windows fanless PC
    - iSpy software
    - PC overheating presumably due to CPU overload, and dying on a semi regular basis.
    - CCTV recording on motion detection, and stored locally and also on google drive
    - 6 cameras (3 hikvision, 3 axis), varied spec, let’s say 2MP each on average
    - All cameras powered by PoE, using a cheap 8 port PoE injector switch that I bought on amazon.
    - Cable between cameras and switch has some with CAT5e, some with CAT6.
    - The PC has 2 network interfaces. One that I use for internet access, and one for the cameras. I do not want to allow the cameras to directly be on an internet network (call me paranoid but I don’t trust that).
    - I also have a 1TB synology NAS that I use as a backup for storing the recordings on.

    I am considering moving over to Security Spy and upgrading my new set up to be as follows:
    - Mac Mini with m1 chip, 16GB ram
    - Storage I am wondering about getting the smallest one (256GB), then also investing in a direct attached external HDD. I think this way would work out cheaper, and I don’t think I’ll need the performance of an SSD to store some camera recordings.
    - Keeping my existing PoE switch, cabling, and cameras.
    - I would presumably need to buy an Ethernet to usb-C adapter for the Mac if I wish to keep my cameras from being able to connect to the internet directly.
    - Configuring the cameras to record continuously locally with 2 week storage retention.
    - Configuring the same cameras to also record on motion detected to iCloud with 1 week storage retention (I have 100GB of space available, hopefully that should be enough?)
    - I wish to access the security spy server cameras and recordings from mine and my wife’s iPhones, but only when we are at home / on our local home network - not over the internet (the iCloud motion recordings would be accessible from anywhere of course).
    - Ability to view live cameras and recordings from Apple TV (also on the same home network)

    Please can anyone confirm if I’ve overlooked anything, or if you envisage any potential issues with my set up.

    Thanks in advance for any input.
  • I have the M1 Mini with 16GB and it's running 16 1080 h.265 cameras at 10-15 fps without any problem at all.

    I would do external storage, it will lower the local disk overhead and save writes to your internal SSD. SSD's have finite writes, and although it's a large number, I wouldn't mess with it. You can also get a 4TB disk for $90 and it should handle your 2 weeks of continuous retention, but Ben can confirm that. Get a USB 3.0/3.1 with 7200rpm to ensure it can handle the continuous load.

    I have a TB3 to Ethernet adapter, it works fine for a second network connection, or if you want to set up link aggregation. Sounds like you want the second network, I use mine for link aggregation.

    What is your upload speed on your Internet connection? If it's not great, you'll fill your router's buffer with traffic and your connection speed will suffer when you have multiple cameras with motion. Maybe consider doing a second stream with lower quality if you have a lower speed connection. I have 10Mbps up which prevents me from doing this with 16 cameras without killing my connection - not good when you have wife and kids that work and do school from home.

    Just don't set up your firewall for port forwarding and you'll be able to access SS locally and not through the Internet. The Apple TV app rocks for SS... you can view captures by paying the in-app upgrade.

    I don't see any reason to upgrade your switch or cameras. 5MP cameras are way over rated, especially when manufacturers use the same cruddy image sensor and just hike the resolution up to 5MP without any improvement in quality. I have 4K cameras but use 1080 resolution because the image is not great at 4K... the image sensors on the budget cameras aren't great and you're just getting a blown up image with more pixels. Why waste the overhead when you get the same quality at 1080.

    The one downside to the M1, is that software developers are still building binaries for the M1. And although the big ones like MS Office and Adobe are already on board, the smaller open source communities are behind. I use stuff like homebrew, Docker, Plex, Handbrake, etc. Some of them have beta builds, but they're buggy. If you're all mainstream and don't use niche software, you're probably fine. Seems like Big Sur 11.1 got most of the big bugs out of the way (like the HDMI display bug that caused pink squares).
  • Welcome to SecuritySpy! Here are my thoughts:

    For a handful of 2 MP cameras, the basic M1 Mac mini with 8 GB is more than enough - it can handle far larger systems than this. For example, I've just been in touch with a customer running 25x 8 MP cameras at 10fps each on this model and it runs SecuritySpy at under 20% CPU usage and well within memory constraints.

    I agree that having cameras on their own LAN is a good idea. It sounds like you know what you're doing here, but we do have a blog post about this in case you haven't already seen it: Segregating IP Cameras on their own LAN. For this purpose, a USB 3.0 Ethernet adaptor that connects to one of the mini's USB-A ports will provide plenty of speed (no need to use a USB-C port for this if you don't want to).

    For storage, I agree that you should go for the basic internal 256 GB SSD and instead use an external HDD for the main storage. This can be connected either by USB 3.0 (connected to a USB-A port on the mini) otherwise USB 3.1 or Thunderbolt (connected to a USB-C port on the mini) - either option would be fast enough. Just make sure it's a 7200 RPM drive from a reputable manufacturer (for more control over exactly what you are getting, I generally prefer purchasing the enclosure and drive separately).

    SecuritySpy stores all footage (both Continuous Capture and Motion Capture) to the local drive (i.e. your external HDD). While there are (slightly complicated) ways of separating this and having the Motion Capture files recorded separately and synchronised to iCloud Drive, I wouldn't recommend it (but I can provide this info if you would like it).

    As for remote viewing, I would recommend setting this up both locally and over the Internet, and using this (e.g. via a web browser or our iOS app) to view both live video and recorded files. This would provide far better access over the Internet than going via iCloud to view recordings.

    In terms of the other points you mention: yes you can keep your existing cameras, switch and cabling. And we do have a tvOS app for viewing your system on your Apple TV.

    Please let me know if you have any further questions.
  • Looks like I was writing at the same time as you @bigpal - some great feedback, thanks for posting!
  • I was running 30 cameras at full res (many of those 6MP), and 10fps, on an M1 mini with 8GB RAM and it was totally fine. CPU was avg 15% and RAM around 65%.

    I've just upgraded to the 16GB model (that I had ordered about a month ago and got delivered last week) but only just in case I add more cameras and/or other software in the future.

    Seriously, the 8GB model would have been just fine. If you have less than this amount of cameras, you'll be totally fine.

  • Excellent, thanks all for the detailed feedback and suggestions

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