Smart Security Cameras- Cloud Storage Comparison

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When choosing a new smart security camera, one of the most important features to look at is cloud storage plans.

And the reason for this is that these plans will cost you money on a monthly or yearly basis and so these costs must be “factored in”.

This is a post that is all about the confusing and ridiculous world of smart security camera cloud storage plans.

The situation is confusing because many of the plans are so complex.

It is ridiculous, in my opinion, because you can only subscribe to a storage plan from your smart security camera’s manufacturer.

You are not free to shop around and look at what deals other companies or 3rd parties might offer.

And how insane is that?

[1] Definition- What is Cloud Storage?

Cloud storage is when data (in our case photos and videos) is stored in another location by someone else.

This storage is accessed via the Internet to upload or download the data.

Cloud storage is used in a lot of different situations by individuals and businesses.

Google Drive and Dropbox are two very well known forms of cloud storage.

Also any piece of data, not just photos and videos, can be stored in the cloud.

The alternative to cloud storage is local storage.

This is when data is stored on the device that produces it.

For instance photos are stored on a digital camera or videos are stored on a smartphone.

[2] The Advantages of Cloud Storage

Accessibility

Data that is stored remotely can be accessed by a variety of different devices- smartphones, tablets or PCs.

Locally stored data can normally only be accessed by one device.

Back Up

Cloud storage is backed up. At times it might be hard to access if you can’t get on the Internet but it will never be lost permanently.

Locally stored data can be lost forever.

This can happen if the device is stolen or damaged in a fire or flood, for example.

Secure Encryption

Nowadays companies are very mindful of storing data in a very secure environment.

Most cloud storage companies use at least Bank grade encryption, which is 128 Bit.

Data held locally on many devices is very often not secure or encrypted.

Scalability

Most forms of cloud storage, including those relating to security cameras, have plans which are priced according to how much storage you use.

You only pay for what you need and as you needs change you can move between different plans.

Local storage options have a fixed amount of storage.

Storage Plus

This is an advantage that relates to smart security cameras specifically.

Many companies offer more than just storage with their subscription plans.

For instance if you sign up with Ring you will also get a better warranty of your product or a discount on any future purchases.

If you subscribe to Amazon’s cloud service, you will get access to their person identification software- which quickly finds all of the clips in your storage that contains people.

 [3] The Disadvantages of Cloud Storage

Costs

Cloud storage plans are paid for on a monthly or yearly basis. As long as the plan is being used, you will need to pay indefinitely.

Local storage just involves a one off, fixed payment.

Privacy

Because your data is not being stored by you, there are privacy issues involved.

In the wake of several high profile hacking scandals, data held in the cloud is vulnerable.

How will the company ensure that only you can access your data? How good is their encryption?

Internet Dependent

Data can only be stored and accessed if there is a working Internet connection.

What happens if the Internet stops working temporarily?

Or if you want to access your videos and you are in a location where there is no Internet?

Lack of Control

Someone else is storing your videos. So who actually owns the videos and what are your exact rights with regard to your storage plan?And what happens if the terms and conditions change?

[4] The Alternatives to Cloud Storage

When we are talking about cloud storage plans for smart security cameras, the alternatives are very limited.

The alternative for cameras means a micro SD card.

Almost all of the top security cameras do not offer a local storage option, which includes the Arlo Pro and the Nest Outdoor Cam.

However the highly regarded Amcrest and Reolink cameras can store footage locally using a microSD card.

[5] The Best Features of Cloud Storage Plans

Comparing the different cloud storage options is quite complicated because plans vary considerably and individual plans tend to be quite detailed.

Having spent a long time researching this, I have created 7 features to use in my comparison.

[A] Price

Price is a very important factor for all of us.

I have compared the prices for similar plans against each other and then assessed if a plan is value for money or not.

If a plan is value for money, it is a “pro” and if it is not, it is a “con”.

[B] Free Trial

Most, but not all of the cloud storage plans, come with a free trial.

Again, these trials have been compared.

If a company’s free trial is relatively strong, it is a “pro” otherwise it is a “con”.

[C] Number of Paid Plans

The number of paid cloud storage plans that each company offers,  varies greatly.

For instance Arlo offer 5 different paid plans.

Once gain, after comparing the variety of plans on offer, this is either assessed as being a “pro” or a “con”

[D] Monthly or Annual Subscriptions

Most smart security camera companies allow users to choose between paying for their cloud storage on a monthly or annual basis.

Paying for a subscription annually saves money.

[E] Multiple Cameras

Many smart camera owners have more than one camera and so it is important that any cloud storage plan takes this into account.

There are two main ways to do this

[1] Provide discounts for users who use more than 1 camera or

[2] Include a set number of cameras within a plan

[F] Continuous Video Recording

Most of the cloud storage accounts are used to store clips of videos that are recorded after the camera has detected motion.

These clips could be anything up to 30 seconds in length but no more.

After all, the default setting for a camera is to only record footage after a sound or motion event.

Another increasingly popular option, however, is for cameras to be set to constantly record footage, which is called Continuous Video Recording (CVR).

Only a few companies have cloud storage accounts with CVR capabilities.

[G] Storage Plus

Storage Plus is when as part of a cloud storage plan, a company offers additional benefits to a subscriber.

For example, Ring offers its subscribers extended warranties and discounts on future Ring products.

There is a lot of information and so I have tried to use as many pretty colors as possible to make it easier for you!

Are you looking for your next smart security camera but you want to check the cloud storage options out first?

Or do you already have a smart security camera but never signed up to a cloud account before?

Well in this article I look at fourteen of the top smart security cameras and compare their cloud storage plans.

[6] Cloud Storage Plans- A Comparison Chart

The chart below shows the costs of different cloud storage plans.

On the left hand side are the names of the smart camera companies  that I have compared

The row at the top shows;

Free Trial (and how many days it lasts)

Plan 1, Plan 2, Plan 3 highlight different paid plans.

A legend for the different colors is shown below the chart.

CVR- Continuous Video Recording

CVR is when a smart camera is constantly recording footage.

Not all companies offer these plans because they require too much storage and they aren’t very popular yet.

If a company offers a separate plan for CVR, a number is shown.

“incl” shows that CVR is part of the plan.

 

Legend

Green shows the number of days that footage is stored

Blue shows cost per month

Red shows cost per year

Pink shows cost per additional camera

Purple shows the number allowed of cameras at no extra cost.

Hopefully, this will make it easier to understand.

All of this can also be watched on a video

[7] Individual Plans Explained

In this next section, I look at individual cloud storage plans one at a time.

[A] Nest

Nest’s cloud storage system is called Nest Aware.

Nest has two paid plans and a free trial.

[i] Free Trial

This lasts for 30 days and it starts as soon as you add your first Nest camera to the Nest app.

It gives you the same features as are described below in the basic level.

[ii] Basic Level

$10 per month OR $100 per year.

This fee is per camera.

Any cameras that you add will each cost $5 per month

*This gives you a 10 day video history that means that your videos will be stored for 10 days.
*Intelligent alerts- these are notification of any motion or sound that has been detected.
*clips and timelapses- clips are short pieces of video and time lapses are much longer pieces video that are fast forwarded.
*Activity Zones- which are areas within the camera’s view that you want to set up specific alerts for

[iii] Extended Level

$30 per month OR $300 per year

This fee is per camera.

Any cameras that you add will cost $15 per month.

*This gives you a 30 day video history that means that your videos will be stored for 30 days.
*Intelligent alerts- these are notification of any motion or sound that has been detected.
*clips and timelapses- clips are short pieces of video and timelapses are much longer pieces video that are fast forwarded.
*Activity Zones- which are areas within the camera’s view that you want to set up specific alerts for.

[B] Arlo

Pros & Cons

Arlo has five different cloud storage plans.

As far as I can tell, Arlo do not have a free trial but this is because one of their storage plans is free anyway.

[i] Basic

$Free

*7 days of storage
*Up to 1GB of storage
*Up to 5 cameras
*Limited support for three months

[ii] Premier

$9.99 per month or $99 per year.

*30 days of storage
*10 GB of storage
*Up to 10 camera

[iii] Elite

$14.99 per month or $149 per year.

*60 days of storage
*100GB
*Up to 15 cameras

CVR (Continous Vide Recording) Plans

CVR is for security cameras that record footage constantly.

The two CVR plans described below only applies to Arlo Q cameras. No other Arlo cameras are compatible.

You must buy one plan per camera.

[iv] 14 Day

$9.99 per month or $99 per year.

Each additional camera is $5 per month or $50 per year.

[v] 30 Day

$19.99 per month or $199 per year.

Each additional camera is $10 per month or $100 per year.

[C] Ring

Ring has three levels of cloud storage plans.

[i] Free 30 day trial

This begins as soon as you activate your Ring device

It gives access to the Basic Plan described below

[ii] Basic Plan

$3 per month or $30 per year.
The price is per camera.

Additional cameras cost more but there are no details on exact prices.

*stream audio and video
*live view
*Lifetime Theft Protection
*Cloud Storage.
*Video Review
*Video Sharing
*Event Saving
* 1 Year Warranty

[iii] Plus Plan

$10 per month or $100 per year.

This is for unlimited cameras.

*stream audio and video
*live view
*Lifetime Theft Protection
*Cloud Storage.
*Video Review
*Video Sharing
*Event Saving
* Lifetime Warranty
*Exclusive Discounts

[D] Zmodo

Zmodo has four levels of cloud storage plans

[i] 30 Day Free Trial

The trial provides access to the same features as the 7 day plan, described below.

[ii] Basic

$Free

This provides you with alert clip from the past 36 hours.

[iii] 7 Day Plan

$4.99 per month or $49.90 per year.

This price is per camera.

Additional cameras will cost $2.50 per month or $25 per year.

*7 days storage of continuous recordings.
*7 days storage of alert clips

[iv] 30 Day Plan

$9.99 per month or $99.90 per year.

This price is per camera.

Additional cameras will cost $5 per month or $45 per year.

*30 days storage of continuous recordings.
*30 days storage of alert clips

[E] Blink

Blink only offers one level of cloud storage account and it is free.

Unfortunately there aren’t many details about it.

Every account has enough storage for 7,200 seconds of footage (which is 120 minutes or two hours.)

Once you have reached your storage limit, you newest clips will replace your oldest clips.

And so, depending on the user, to some people this might be the equivalent of a 7 day plan to other people it might be the equivalent of a 30 day plan-or even longer.

[F] Amcrest

Amcrest offer 4 different cloud storage plans, including a free trial.

[i] Free trial

This trial lasts forever but it is limited to 4 hours of storage on one camera. And, live streaming is limited to 2 hours per month.

All of the 3 paid plans have the following common features;

*unlimited live streaming
*Plug and play set up
*app and email alerts
*motion activated alerts
*enable/ disable recordings

[ii] 7 Day Storage

$6 per month per camera

[iii] 14 Day Storage

$10 per month per camera

[iv] 30 Day Storage

$15 per month per camera.

I asked an Amcrest agent;

-if they offered discounts to anyone who was willing to pay annually instead of monthly for a plan and
-if there was any discount on multiple cameras.

The agent unhelpfully told me that any discounts could only be revealed after I had signed up to a plan!

Useless or what?

[G] Foscam

Foscam offers three plans for cloud storage.

[i] 30 Day Free Trial

[ii] 7 Day Storage

$4.99 per month or $49.99 per year

[iii] 30 Day Storage

$12.99 monthly or $129.99 per year.

Unfortunately, I could not find any specific details about the features of the service.

[H] Ezviz

Ezviz has three levels of cloud storage plan .

[i] Free 30 Day Trial

This provides you access to the features of the 30 Day Playback described below.

Each paid plan has the following common features.

-View any video recorded in the Playback period that you have subscribed to.
-Recap of any motion detected events in the previous 24 Hours.

[ii] 7 Day Playback

$5.99 per month or $59.99 per year

This is per camera and there is no discount for having more than one camera.

[iii] 30 Day Playback

$10.99 per month or $109.99 per year

This is per camera and there is no discount for having more than one camera.

[I] YI Technology

YI Technology has 2 types of cloud storage plans

[i] Motion detection clips
[ii] Continuous Video Recording

Each type of plan has 4 levels within it

Motion Detection Clips

[i] Free Trial

$Free

This trial gives you a month’s access to the 15 Day Plan, described below.

[ii] 7 Day Plan

$19.99 per quarter OR $66 per year

*7 Day storage
*No storage limit
*Motion detected clips only
*Up to 5 cameras at no extra cost.

[iii] 15 Day Plan

$9.99 per month OR $99 per year

*15 Day storage
*No storage limit
*Motion detected clips only
*Up to 5 cameras at no extra cost.

[iv] 30 Day Plan

$14.99 per month OR $149 per year

*30 Day storage
*No storage limit
*Motion detected clips only
*Up to 5 cameras at no extra cost.

CVR Recording

[i]Free Trial

$Free

This trial gives you a month’s access to the 15 Day Plan, described below.

[ii] 7 Day Plan

$19.99 per quarter OR $66 per year

*7 Day storage
*The price is per camera. There are no discounts for multiple cameras

[iii] 15 Day Plan

$9.99 per month OR $99 per year

*15 Day storage
*The price is per camera. There are no discounts for multiple cameras.

[iv] 30 Day Plan

$19.99 per month OR $199 per year

*30 Day storage
*The price is per camera. There are no discounts for multiple cameras.

[K] Canary

Canary offer 2 levels of cloud storage

[i] Free Plan

$Free
Up to 4 devices

*1 Day Storage
* 30 second motion activated clips
*advanced detection
*Activity Zone Masking
*1 touch access to first responders
*1 year device warranty

[ii] Membership

$9.99 per month or $99 per year
Up to 5 devices

*30 Day storage
*Full length videos
*Unlimited downloads
*Two Way Canary Talk
*Desktop streaming
*Advanced detection
*Activity Zone Masking
*1 touch access to first responders
*Custom modes
*2 year device warranty

[L] Samsung SmartCam

SmartCam are owned by Samsung.

They have 4 levels of cloud storage plans

[i] 15 Day Trial

This gives you access to the Starter Plan outlined below.

[ii] Starter Plan

$4.99 per month or $49.99 per year

This price is for 1 camera.

Each additional camera will cost $2.50 per month

*5 Day Storage
*Full HD Cloud DVR
Continuous Video Recording
*Video Analytics
Easily find motion detection events
*SmartCloud Zones
Create specific areas within the camera’s view to monitor closely

[iii] Essential Plan

$7.99 per month or $79.99 per year

*7 Day Storage
*Full HD Cloud DVR
Continuous Video Recording
*Video Analytics
Easily find motion detection events
*SmartCloud Zones
Create specific areas within the camera’s view to monitor closely

[iv] Elite Plan

$19.99 per month OR $199.99 per year

*21 Day Storage
*Full HD Cloud DVR
Continuous Video Recording
*Video Analytics
Easily find motion detection events
*SmartCloud Zones
Create specific areas within the camera’s view to monitor closely

[M] Logitech

Logitech’s cloud storage is called Circle.

They have three cloud storage plans.

[i] Circle Free

$Free

*1 day storage (256 Bit Encryption)
*Unlimited Streaming
*Unlimited Downloads
*Smart Events
*Smart Alerts
*Day brief

[ii] Circle Basic

$3.99 per month per camera

*14 day storage (256 Bit Encryption)
*Unlimited Streaming
*Unlimited Downloads
*Smart Events
*Smart Alerts
*Create a time- lapse of your video.

[iii] Circle Premium

$9.99 per month per camera OR $99.99 per year per camera.

*31 day storage (256 Bit Encryption)
*Unlimited Streaming
*Unlimited Downloads
*Smart Events
*Smart Alerts
*Customise a time- lapse of your video.
*Person detection
*Create specific zones within the camera’s view to monitor.

[N] Y-Cam

Y-Cam offers 2 cloud storage plans

[i] Y-Cam Protect

$Free

*7 day storage
*View live and recorded footage

[ii] Y-Cam Premium

$11.99 per month or $119.99 per year

This is for unlimited cameras

*30 day storage
*Permanent storage for selected clips
*1 year instant replacement
*Triple Layer Security
*Text and Phone call alarm notifications

[O] Piper

Piper, much like Blink, offer one cloud storage plan.

The good news is that it is free.

But like Blink, the details are vague.

*Live streaming
*35 seconds of video per motion detection alert
*Store up to 100 clips.

[P] Amazon

Amazon’s cloud storage plan is called “Cloud Cam Plan”.

Each Cloud Cam plan has the following features in common;

[1] Person Detection. You will be notified when a person is detected.

[2] Zones- specify areas to ignore in your field of view

[3] Additional storage for video clips and support for more cameras.

There three different levels.

[i] Basic

$6.99 per month or $69.99 per year.

7 day storage, up to 3 cameras.

[ii] Extended

$9.99 per month or $99.99 per year

10 day storage up to 5 cameras.

[iii] Pro

$19.99 per month or $199.99 per year

30 day storage up to 10 cameras.

[8] Final Word: And The Best Plan Is…

The best overall plans are by YI Cam and SmartCam.

They offer the best set of features for the cost of subscription.

I worked it out using the chart below.

Now perhaps this last chart is a complete waste of time!

What I have tried to do with it is to show how the different features from all of these plans compare with each other in a quick and visual way.

Let me explain a bit more…

Pro- The feature is better than average when compared to other plans

 

Con- The feature is worse than average when compared to other plans

 

The plan has this feature

 

The plan does not have this feature

 

N/A Not Applicable

Built in– You are allowed multiple cameras as part of this plan

Discount– Multiple cameras can be added at a discounted rate

And so, if one of the most important factors in buying your next smart security camera is the quality and value of the cloud storage plans, YI Cam and SmartCam are your best options.