The right drive for surveillance

August 2014 Integrated Solutions

Digital surveillance has come a long way since the initial days of grainy analogue footage.

Today, with HD and multi-megapixel images, the storage requirements for video are enormous and will only increase. Buying a DVR or NVR with a hard drive is very easy today, but all too often the drive has impressive specifications in terms of the storage capacity, but little other information about the capabilities of the device.

What we consider a normal hard drive is designed for daily data use in an 8-hour working environment and is not designed for optimal 24x7 use. To cater for the CCTV market, WD (Western Digital) and Seagate have developed hard drives specifically for the surveillance market. Hi-Tech Security Solutions spoke to the two companies to find out more about surveillance specific drives.

Hi-Tech Security Solutions: Are you finding more acceptance and demand for surveillance-specific hard drives in the security market, even though they cost more?

Kalvin Subbadu, components sales manager, WD South Africa: Digital video surveillance systems rely heavily on the right hard disk drive technology. Without a hard drive, the system will not be able to record video, which defeats the purpose of having the system in place. Using a standard desktop drive or another drive not designed to handle the demanding surveillance environment can have disastrous consequences. Desktop drives are designed to operate for eight hours a day, five days a week – standard office hours. Video surveillance requires 24x7 operation.

Using a desktop drive in a surveillance system will inevitably result in premature failure of the drive, often without warning, which could compromise security. In addition, using the wrong type of hard drive can cause multiple performance issues. These include missing video during playback, slow or jittery playback and problems with the digital video recorder (DVR), such as failure to operate correctly and random restarting. These issues can all compromise security. Surveillance systems require hard drives that can handle real-time access to recordings and simultaneous recording and playback, and can operate 24 hours a day, seven days a week, while providing enough capacity to record from multiple cameras.

I have embarked on a major education drive to ensure that end user customers and resellers understand the benefits of the surveillance drive.

Tyrone Gruner, country manager, Seagate: The surveillance specific drive segment is one of our fastest growing markets. This is driven by both the growth in the industry as well as acceptance by customers who realise that providing users with correctly specified and reliable systems is the best formula for long-term success. We recently attended IFSEC South Africa and I spoke to many system integrators and end users who have had bad experiences as a result of poor solutions.

Storage can be one of the largest costs of the system depending on configuration and is also the heart of the system, the primary function of a surveillance system is the footage that is recorded, ensuring its safety and integrity of the data should be a primary concern. In most cases, a surveillance specific hard drive will be less than a 20% premium over a standard desktop drive.

Hi-Tech Security Solutions: What do surveillance-specific hard drives have that is different from your average PC hard drive? What kind of difference will this make to the user who has to search or copy video?

Kalvin Subbadu: The decision to use a hard disk drive that is not optimised for the surveillance environment is often based on price. Education is key in ensuring this does not continue to happen. WD has introduced a concept called The Power of Choice, which gives each of our internal hard drives an easy-to-understand colour code to ensure they are used in the correct environment.

Surveillance drives are required to run in a 24x7x365 environment and as such, are robust and reliable. They are designed to operate in the toughest environments. This also means they need to run far cooler than other hard drives such as desktop hard drives. Secondly, surveillance hard drives should also be optimised to reduce video loss and be designed for compatibility with surveillance applications.

In addition, with the introduction of HD cameras, surveillance hard drives require a lot more capacity to store this footage and they should handle multiple streams. For example, our WD Purple hard drives can handle up to 32 HD cameras – per hard drive – and up to eight of these drives can be used in an appropriate eight bay surveillance storage device.

Tyrone Gruner: One of the fundamental differences between a PC environment and a surveillance environment is the type of workload. Consumer grade drives are certified for 8x5 use and optimised for predominantly reading data such as opening files, spreadsheets etc. On the other hand, the surveillance drives are designed for 24 x 7 use and for being written to 90% of the time as a result of continuous recording.

Our newest 7th generation platform we have also included some new industry leading features such as embedded RV sensors which allows the drive to support multi-drive systems of up to 16 drives and also supports up to 32 cameras per drive. We also have quick time-to-ready features that allows the drive to instantly wake and record when using motion detection cameras. We certify these drives at less than 1% annual failure rate; systems running consumer grade drives often see significantly higher failure rates, which compromises the system and leads to dissatisfied customers.

Hi-Tech Security Solutions: What is your top-of-the-range surveillance hard drive?

Kalvin Subbadu: WD Purple surveillance-class drives are designed and built with surveillance in mind to ensure faster access, smooth and seamless functionality, and robust operation in a highly demanding environment. WD Purple drives enable high-resolution image quality, streaming video from multiple high-definition cameras, video archiving with ultra-fast data access and on-demand video playback. They are also available in large capacities to ensure that sufficient recording time is available for today’s high definition IP cameras.

WD Purple.
WD Purple.

WD Purple drives feature AllFrame technology, which works with ATA streaming to reduce frame loss, improve playback and increase the number of drive bays supported. IntelliSeek technology calculates the optimum seek speeds, which lowers power consumption, noise and vibration, which can damage drives and cause them to wear out faster. Designed for 24x7 operation, WD Purple surveillance-class drives consume less power during spin-up and operation, minimise heat dissipation and vibration, and operate reliably without compromising performance. Reducing heat, noise and vibration enables surveillance applications to operate more reliably over longer periods of time.

WD Purple hard drives offer up to one million hours Mean Time Between Failure (MTBF). They are optimised to support up to 32 high-definition surveillance cameras and are built for compatibility with industry-leading chassis and chip set manufacturers for seamless ­integration into new or existing video surveillance systems. The drives are available in capacities of 1 TB, 2 TB, 3 TB and 4 TB, all of which feature a three-year limited warranty.

For larger surveillance applications, WD also offers its enterprise-class Se and Re drives. WD Se drives are ideal for mid-range and medium enterprise surveillance, supporting six drives bays and up, and up to 64 cameras. The Se drives are available in capacities from 1 TB to 4 TB. WD Re drives are designed for high-end mission critical surveillance solutions, supporting unlimited cameras and offering maximum reliability and performance storage for systems with six or more drive bays. Re drives are available in capacities of up to 4 TB. The WD Se and Re drives feature an industry-leading five-year warranty.

Tyrone Gruner: Our latest top-of-the-range drive is our 4 TB seventh generation drive, which includes the features I mentioned above. The drives run on a standard SATA 6 GB/s interface compatible with most DVR systems. These larger capacity drives support higher resolution cameras, greater numbers of cameras and longer archival periods. For larger scale NVR and video analytics environments, we also have our latest Enterprise Capacity 3,5-inch range which are available in capacities up to 6 TB. These are our most rugged drives with no limit to the number of drives in a system, they are also the best performing and have a workload rating of up to 550 TB per year, 10x that of a desktop drive.

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