How long to keep surveillance tapes?

Do most commercial companies recycle their surveillance tapes or do they archive the tape or digital pictures indefinitely? What is a prudent amount of time to retain surveillance footage when there has been no known incident for which they would obviously be needed?

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Most just cheaply keep only enough tape for one month (some only a week) and recycle them every period. A few keep 60 or 90 days of archives depending on certain insurance or other ratings, and most new systems are getting digital video with about 20-30 days of record time that continuously FIFO over writes the old data. Those with more storage requirements often find its cheaper to add an external SCSI drive or setup an an automatic FTP transfer to a remote storage site as opposed to buying a DVR with a terabyte or more of storage. 500-600 gig units are pretty affordable. Also, with the cheaper (except Pelco) Windows based units you can always add an IDE RAID controller and map a bunch of smaller commercially available hard drives together to act as a single huge drive. The problem is the stability of Windows, the customer stupidly wanting to use an existing computer, or wanting to use it for other stuff, and the inherent problem that with 4-8 ide drives working as a single large drive your chance of a drive failure causing a problem increases exponentially.

I prefer an embedded OS 500-600 gig DVR with a SCSI port for most, and for secure storage I prefer to use remote server space and FTP video archives. For those companies with multiple sites FTP can be great as each site can have a dedicated server for archiving video from other sites. Timing and bandwidth useage can be an issue, but many companies have dedicated bandwidth connections and if you do your FTP transfer at times when the interconnects are virtually idle it costs them nothing extra. At worst in the event of a catastrphic failure they might lose one day's recording. Even that can be mitigated to some degree, by programming a secondary FTP of the most recent video in the event of any alarm conditions from other systems.

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Bob La Londe

i am surprised that anybody is still using tapes. im doing more cctv than i care to (make more in the same man-hours elsewhere) and i havent even seen a tape system in years.

to answer your qeustion, there is no set answer. some keep video for 30 days, some for 7, but few are indefinate unless high risk issues exist.

Reply to
Nathan W. Collier

Your question seems to include a fundamental misunderstanding of current IP recording technology. Most companies don't use surveillance tapes anymore. Some IP technologies a few years back used a tape library like a juke box type set up. That type tape library set up isn't sold anymore. Many companies that use an NVR central storage have rules based retention times. Not every camera or every type of event has to have the same recording rules applied to it. Stored video can be a different CIF and frame rate for not only different events but different times of day for example. In some cases all events are stored for a certain amount of time and then the stored video is "groomed" for video that doesn't meet the rules applied to being retained. These days it is easy to digitally encode the video at the edge of the network and record it there as well. There are products that direct the video to the appropriate storage device and index it for queries. Even as digitized video is shuttled around the network, different rules to conserve network bandwidth can be applied. Everyone seems to want the video stored for as long as possible within certain budget limits. In the end the answer to your question might be more of a financial question rather than a technical or security question.

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Just Looking

I guess it depends on what's "on" the tapes. Generally, if you've recorded an incident or accident, I'd keep them indefinitely (just to be on the "safe side"). Convert them to MP4's and you won't have a problem with image degradation or an accidental erasure.

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Frank Olson

Well, I can tell you Petro Canada officially specifies one month's worth of tapes be kept, so on the annual preventative maintenance rounds, we'd deliver 31 new tapes to them. Ideally, this means a tape is used a maximum of 12 times before it gets discarded, although I've gone back to some sites where they have two years' worth of unopened tapes and have been using the same old tapes for three years (and then they wonder why the playback is shyte... well, more shyte than usual).

Most sites are now going to DVRs as the old VCRs die and replacements and parts get harder and harder to find. When I do install a DVR, I'll usually recommend they keep their existing tapes for at least a month (just in case, because they're supposed to have a month's worth of archived surveillance) and then just toss them out. Not the most environmentally friendly, I know - how they dispose of them is their own business.

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