How to Use Local Storage in ACTi Cameras

Category: Installation & Configuration Note
Sub-category: Application, Recording & Storage
Model: All local storage supported models
Firmware: N/A
Software: N/A
Author: Ando.Meritee
Published: 2012/07/02
Reviewed: 2012/07/02
ACTi
Knowledge Base
How to Use Local Storage in ACTi Cameras
Contents
Introduction
Surveillance Solutions Using Local Storage
Solution Comparison Table
Required Hardware
Setting Up the Recording System
Downloading Recordings
Integration with Software
Introduction
There is a growing trend in IP video surveillance market of
having cameras with built-in local storage that can host the
video clips and snapshots captured by the camera.
While the traditional analog camera systems had to rely on DVR
to convert the analog video to digital and compress it before
saving, the IP cameras directly produce compressed digital video which gives the possibility to
save the digital video right inside the camera itself or by using NVR over the IP network.
When speaking about using camera’s local storage in real surveillance applications, one would
have many questions: What is the role of camera’s local storage in the surveillance solution
architecture? What are the advantages of local storage? Is it safe to rely on camera’s local
storage? What are the limitations of local storage? How to use ACTi cameras’ local storage?
This article gives the answers to all these questions.
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Surveillance Solutions Using Local Storage
ACTi cameras’ local storage system is based on MicroSDHC memory cards. Below is the list of
possible scenarios where the local storage could be used.
LOCAL STORAGE ONLY
The “Local Storage Only” solution is the most basic recording system – it uses camera’s built-in
local storage to save video clips or snapshots either periodically/constantly, or only when the
events occur, triggered by motion, digital input, etc. When there is an incident reported by
someone, or the user receives an e-mail notification from the camera about the intrusion, the
user would then use a remote computer to access the camera to download the video clips and
snapshots from its local storage and review them in remote PC.
Network
Live Stream (for recording)
Download
Normally, such solutions do no require constant live view since the main idea of this solution is
to optimize the cost – the person to watch constant live view would be a major cost of human
resource. However, if it is necessary to peek at the live view of the camera once in a while, it is
possible to do it conveniently by Web Configurator.
Since the recording speed of MicroSDSC is not as fast as Hard Disk, therefore one should
keep in mind that MicroSDHC based recordings may sometimes have less frames
recorded compared to HDD recordings, while the quality of a single frame is just as good as
in case of HDD recordings.
Possible recording methods:
Method
Snapshot to MicroSDHC
Video to MicroSDHC
Event triggered (motion, DI)
Yes
Yes
Periodical (e.g once in hour)
Yes
Yes
Constant (non-stop)
Yes
Yes* (not recommended)
* MicroSDHC technology has not been designed for non-stop 24-hours-a-day recording. The long-term impacts of
non-stop recording are yet to be surveyed by IP camera manufacturers.
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Advantages of “Local Storage Only” solution:
Very cost efficient. It does not require any additional investment on recording
solution except for purchasing an inexpensive MicroSDHC card.
Easy to maintain. There is no need to maintain an additional server computer. The
camera acts as a 24/7 recording server. Easy to troubleshoot as well.
Save bandwidth. In the locations where the network bandwidth is limited due to
technical reasons or costs a lot, it is good to record videos to local storage and only
download the videos you need. Whereas downloading speed does not have to be
high, compared to real-time live view bandwidth requirements.
Easy to access. The camera’s local storage can be accessed in many ways and
from different types of computers and operating systems. In addition to browser
based remote access, there is also built-in FTP server inside the camera that allows
FTP clients to download the files of local storage conveniently.
Disadvantages of “Local Storage Only” solution:
Risk of dropped frames. When the amount of data is big, there is a risk that
MicroSDHC cannot record them all in real-time speed, because it is not a hard disk.
In such case, some of the video frames may be discarded by storage system.
However, the video quality of each single frame is still excellent.
Risk of vandalism or theft. If the camera is within the reach of an intruder, there is
a risk that one could damage or steal the whole camera together with recordings in
them. In such case, all the video evidence would be lost.
Smaller storage space. Compared to large storages of NVR servers, the
MicroSDHC size is limited to 32GB. With the constant recording of 1Mbps video data,
the 32GB memory card would be full in 3 days, and then the oldest files would start
to be overwritten. Make sure to download the important videos within 3 days then.
Less User Interface Functions. Compared to powerful functions of NVR, the local
storage management interface is very basic.
File Access Depends on Network. While NVR-based solutions offer playback
capability to its local client regardless of network status, the download/playback
capability of camera’s local storage files depends on healthy network – if the network
is temporarily down, it is impossible to get any of the recordings from the camera.
Considering advantages and disadvantages, the “local storage only” solution is suitable for
budget-sensitive retail stores, one-time events (concerts, parades), construction sites,
residential, day care centers and nursing homes, pet hotels, and other locations with
lower demand on security.
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LOCAL STORAGE + FTP SERVER
This is a solution that is mainly based on local storage of the camera, but with the nice
additional failover capability by streaming video or snapshots automatically to a remote FTP
server in case of failure of camera’s local storage.
This solution is good for minimizing the risks of recording failure that may happen when the
card is physically damaged or removed by someone.
Normal Situation
FTP Storage
in Cloud
(idle)
Network
Local Storage Failure (damaged, removed, etc).
FTP Storage
in Cloud
(recording)
Network
Live Stream (for recording)
Download
The FTP Server in this solution would be WAN based third party FTP hosting (Cloud FTP).
Although it is also possible to use self-installed LAN or WAN-based FTP server, it would not be
an economical decision – the same money you spend on building up your own FTP server, you
could spend on a PC with ACTi Free 16-channel NVR instead, which is much more reliable
and user friendly solution compared to FTP hosting.
To minimize the WAN bandwidth cost for failover recording, the resolution, frame rate and
bitrate could be much lighter compared to local storage plan. For example, you could record
video on MicroSDHC, and if it fails, then send snapshots to remote FTP as a bandwidth
friendly method.
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Possible recording methods:
Snapshot to MicroSDHC
Video to MicroSDHC
or to FTP as failover
or to FTP as failover
Event triggered (motion, DI)
Yes
Yes
Periodical (e.g once in hour)
Yes
Yes
Constant (non-stop)
Yes
Yes* (not recommended)
Method
* MicroSDHC technology has not been designed for non-stop 24-hours-a-day recording. The long-term impacts of
non-stop recording are yet to be surveyed by IP camera manufacturers.
Advantages of “Local Storage + FTP Server” solution:
Cost efficient. Compared to NVR solution, this solution is more budget friendly.
Nowadays there are many FTP hosting plans that are totally free of charge.
Easy to maintain. You don’t need to maintain the cloud FTP hosting by yourself –
the owner of the hosting would do it.
Save bandwidth. In the normal condition, the bandwidth is not used at all. The
bandwidth is only used when the system goes to failover mode or when downloading
needed video clips from the camera.
Easy to access. The camera’s local storage and FTP server can be accessed in
many ways and from different types of computers and operating systems.
Damage proof. When the local storage gets damaged or removed, the video
recording can still go on by using FTP server’s storage.
Disadvantages of “Local Storage + FTP Server” solution:
Risk of dropped frames. When the amount of data is big, there is a risk that
MicroSDHC cannot record them all in real-time speed, because it is not a hard disk.
In such case, some of the video frames may be discarded by storage system.
However, the video quality of each single frame is still excellent.
Risk of vandalism or theft. If the camera is within the reach of an intruder, there is
a risk that one could damage or steal the whole camera together with recordings in
them. In such case, all the video evidence would be lost.
Smaller storage space. Compared to large storages of NVR servers, the
MicroSDHC size is limited to 32GB. With the constant recording of 1Mbps video data,
the 32GB memory card would be full in 3 days, and then the oldest files would start
to be overwritten. Make sure to download the important videos within 3 days then.
Less User Interface Functions. Compared to powerful functions of NVR, the local
storage management interface is very basic.
File Access Depends on Network. While NVR-based solutions offer playback
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capability to its local client regardless of network status, the download/playback
capability of camera’s local storage files depends on healthy network – if the network
is temporarily down, it is impossible to get any of the recordings from the camera.
Cloud FTP Uncontrollable. Theoretically, the third party FTP depends much on the
actions of its administrator. Should they accidentally remove files or suspend the
service, the evidence may be lost. Also there is a theoretical risk that unauthorized
people might get the chance to look at the video clips hosted in cloud FTP.
Considering advantages and disadvantages, the “local storage only + FTP server” solution is
suitable for similar projects as “local storage only” case, with more increased security
with additional cost.
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LOCAL STORAGE + NVR SERVER
This is the most professional solution – to have the NVR server continuously record the
best quality video from the camera while the local storage of the camera is being used for
backup recording at the same time to have the redundant video evidence in case of NVR
server failure (for example power loss of server PC, unexpected Windows OS reboot, network
link failure between camera and NVR, etc.). Those backup videos can be downloaded by user
by using Web Configurator or FTP Client program whenever necessary.
NVR
Storage
Network
Live Stream (for recording)
Download
Although the video streamed to MicroSDHC could be in the same format as the one streamed
to NVR, it does not necessarily have to be so. For example, you could simply save snapshots
to local storage and video to NVR. Or use the dual stream capabilities of the camera to record
full quality video by NVR and the lighter stream by local storage of the camera, therefore being
able to save longer time period of video evidence.
Possible recording methods:
Snapshot to MicroSDHC
Video to MicroSDHC
and to NVR the same time
and to NVR the same time
Event triggered (motion, DI)
Yes
Yes
Periodical (e.g once in hour)
Yes
Yes
Constant (non-stop)
Yes
Yes*
Method
* Although MicroSDHC technology has not been designed for non-stop 24-hours-a-day recording, the system is mainly
relying on NVR server recordings and only in case of NVR failure the MicroSDHC content is needed. In such rare
cases, even the non-smooth video is acceptable, compared to having no video evidence at all.
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Advantages of “Local Storage + NVR” solution:
Video backup. Camera’s local storage can act as a video backup system. The user
does not have to invest into an additional backup server computer. Besides, the
remote backup server would still be useless if the network connection from the
camera fails, whereas the local storage based backup system does not require
network connection.
Perfect quality. Since NVR records videos on the hard disk, it is possible to record
highest possible video quality from the camera.
Vandalism-proof evidence. Since the main recorder is the NVR, the vandalism act
on the camera does not erase the critical evidence – NVR will still be able to capture
the face of the person who went to damage the camera or steal the MicroSDHC
card.
Large NVR storage. Since the main recorder is NVR, the storage size has
practically no limit. The user can expand the storage according to the project
requirements. Since MicroSDHC recordings have the role of backup only, its
capacity is big enough to record videos until NVR sever or network is repaired.
Convenient user interface. Since the main recorder is NVR, the user can work with
convenient user interface most of the time and enjoy all the benefits, such as instant
playback, synchronized playback, etc.
Disadvantages of “Local Storage + NVR” solution:
Additional Cost. Compared to “NVR only” or other solutions, “NVR + local storage”
solution may cost a bit more, but is definitely worthy for the projects requiring
ultimate security.
Considering advantages and disadvantages, the “local storage only + FTP server” solution is
suitable for banks, governmental facilities, airports, high end retail and other high
security projects.
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Solution Comparison Table
There are surveillance projects that require the highest degree of recorder security and
reliability, such as banks, while some others merely need basic video evidence and prefer
cost-efficient solutions, such as construction sites, pet hotels, residential, etc. The following
comparison table gives a simple and clear overview of each recording solution and their value
to the customer.
Security & Reliability – the higher is the value, the safer are the video recordings against
possible technical recording failures, vandalism impact and theft of recording equipment and
storage.
Recordings Quality – the higher is the value, the higher quality videos (high resolution and
frame rate) can be recorded to given storage.
Cost Efficiency – the higher is the value, the lower will be the cost of the solution.
Recording
Advandages &
Security & Recordings
Cost
Disadvantages
Reliability
Quality
Efficiency
★★
★★★
★★★★★
★★★
★★★
★★★★
★★★★★
★★★★★
★★
★★★★
★★★★★
★★★
Suitable Projects
Solution
- budget-sensitive retail
- one-time events
- construction sites
Local Storage - residential
Only
- day care centers
- nursing houses
- pet hotels
- non-security sites
Local Storage
Similar to “Local
+ FTP
Storage Only” projects
- banks
- governmental
Local Storage
- airport
+ NVR
- high end retail
- high security projects
NVR Only
All verticals
+ Very Cost efficient
+ Easy to maintain
+ Save bandwidth
+ Easy to access
- May drop frames
- Risk of vandalism
- Less UI functions
- Playback not instant
+ Cost efficient
+ Easy to maintain
+ Save bandwidth
+ Easy to access
+ Damage proof
- May drop frames
- Risk of vandalism
- Less UI functions
- Playback not instant
- Cloud Uncontrollable
+ Video backup
+ Perfect quality
+ Vandal-proof evidence
+ Large NVR storage
+ Convenient UI
- Additional cost
+ Perfect quality
+ Large NVR storage
+ Convenient UI
- Risk of network loss
- Risk of NVR failure
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Required Hardware
To be able to use local storage based solution, please make sure if the camera you chose
supports local storage. It is written in the Datasheet, under “Interface” section.
ACTi local storage standard for cameras is MicroSDHC interface. The camera package does
not include the memory card, therefore the user would have to purchase one by oneself,
depending on project requirements.
There are 4 specifications to notice when choosing the suitable SD (secure digital) format for
ACTi cameras: physical size (Micro), family (SDHC), speed class (4, 6, 10), capacity (4GB,
8GB, 16GB, 32GB).
Supported storage format of ACTi cameras:
Family
Physical
size
SDSC
SDHC
Speed Class (MB/s)
SDXC
2
4
6
10
Y
Y
Y
16
Capacity (GB)
2
4
8
16
32
Y
Y
Y
Y
64
128
SD
Mini
Micro
Y
Examples of compatible memory cards:
It is recommended to use Class 10, as it has the highest possible recording speed.
If the biggest possible storage size is required, then please use 32 GB capacity.
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Setting Up the Recording System
Recording system setup consists of 2 parts – storage preparation and recording rule
configuration, to let the camera know under which condition and what kind of data is to be
recorded.
STORAGE PREPARATION
If your camera has the local storage capability please make sure it has the firmware version
that supports the local storage management - TCM-series: version 4.12 or newer (from June
2012); KCM-series: version 5.08 or newer (from July 2012).
The local storage capability will have the [+] Local Storage item
shown in the “Setup Page” of Web Configurator when the
MicroSDHC card has been inserted into the storage drive slot of the
device. Select “Utilities”, to prepare the storage.
When the Mount storage media button shows “Mount” button
then it means that the mass storage has been inserted to the
camera, but the connection between camera and the
storage has not been established yet. By pressing the
“Mount” button, the storage becomes active. It is then
possible to check the Status of the disk, write or read data on the disk, remotely access the
storage by Web Configurator or FTP client, etc.
If mounting of the memory card fails, it means that the file system of the memory card is
different from camera – in such case, press “Format” button to convert MicroSDHC card into
compatible file system. It might take couple of minutes to format the storage. It may be needed
when using brand new MicroSDHC cards or the ones that have been used in other devices
before, such as photo cameras or mobile phones.
If the formatting of the memory card fails, then the card is either physically damaged or does
not comply with the specification of the camera. In such case, please use another card.
Once the drive has been mounted, it can later be unmounted
by pressing “Unmount” button, if necessary. The Unmount
function is used when the camera is to be shut down for
maintenance or when the mass storage has to be physically
removed for some reason. The purpose of unmounting is to
protect the currently processed data on mass storage at the moment of removal of the storage.
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If the local storage is being used by camera and some videos or snapshots are being recorded
to the disk, then the sudden shutdown or removal of the disk without unmounting may corrupt
the file that currently being used by the camera. The rest of the files are not influenced in any
way. Please note that “Save&Reboot” function of the camera also does unmounting
automatically for the user.
When the storage has been properly mounted to the camera, the “File
Management” page would become accessible - it is no longer grayed out.
You can later use “File Management” to search, download or delete the
recordings. At first, the “File Management” page would be empty since
there are no files to manage yet. Therefore, you may skip that page for now.
The storage is now ready to save the recordings. It is now time to configure the recording rules.
For more details about storage preparation, please refer to the firmware manual.
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RECORDING RULE CONFIGURATION
To define how the camera records videos or snapshots, please go to Event Handler page of
the camera. There are 2 parts to configure – the content (video or snapshot) and the
recording trigger/schedule.
To prepare the content, click on [+] Event on main menu of Setup and
choose “Event Configuration”.
Then press the Edit button behind “Upload
video/snapshot and Audio”.
Decide whether the camera should record video clips or snapshots.
Video configuration
Snapshot configuration
The camera has the capability to buffer up
With the settings above, it would create 1
to 3 seconds of video at any time, so that
snapshot within 1 second from the moment of
we can include these 3 seconds of video to
triggered event.
the file, to capture the moment right before
the event occurred.
With given settings (Pre-Buffer Time = 3;
Upload Period = 57)
the length of the video clip will be 1 minute.
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You can freely decide the name of the file. Whatever name you choose, the camera will
automatically append milliseconds in the end. It is recommended to include day code in file
name so that later when the files are downloaded to remote computer, it is easier to pick up the
right video.
For example, you may consider using following file name:
video_%YYYY-%MM-%DD-%hh-%mm-%ss
where %YYYY displays current year, %MM displays current month, %DD displays current day,
%hh displays current hour, %mm displays current minute and %ss displays current second.
Notice! Please note that the camera uses its own date and time settings to write the file
name, so please make sure the camera’s date and time are correct!
Upload Path can be simply “\”, which means that the files will be saved in root folder of the
storage.
The video source can be either “1” or “2”. If you want to have different video/snapshot
parameters for remote NVR recording and Local Storage recording, then you may consider
adjusting camera’s media 1 and media 2 settings accordingly and then choose the right video
source in Event Handler page.
If you want to implement “Local Storage + FTP” solution, then you need to create one more
Upload Configuration – push video to FTP, and later connect this rule with local storage
failure or removal condition. In such case, you may use “Upload/video/snapshot2” item to fill
in the additional configuration. Please remember to fill in FTP server settings as well.
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When the content has been defined, you can move on to define the
recording schedule under “Event List”.
Create a new event rule for recording purposes by clicking one of the “empty” event slots. For
example, choose Rule 3:
Decide whether the camera should record continuously or by specific schedule or only
when the events occur.
Scheduled or Continuous Recording
Event Recording
By choosing Triggered by Scheduler it is
By choosing Triggered by Motion it is
possible to define the exact time of recording.
possible to let the recording begin only when
If the frequency “Once Every x minutes”
motion is detected by the camera.
matches with the length of the video clip
defined earlier, then it would basically mean
continuous recording.
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In case of “Local Storage + FTP” solution, you also need to create 1 more rule, to handle the
local storage failure or removal. In this example, we use rules 4 and 5 for that.
Push video to FTP Server Upon Local
Push video to FTP Server Upon Local
Storage Failure
Storage Removal
Here, we chose event Rule 4 to define the
Here, we chose event Rule 5 to define the
condition of recording of “image” 2 upon
condition of recording of “image” 2 upon
local storage failure. By checking “Image 2”
local storage removal. By checking “Image
you choose the response to the trigger to be
2” you choose the response to the trigger to
“Upload/video/snapshot2”.
be “Upload/video/snapshot2”.
As a result, we have 3 rules defined:
Rule 3: default recording plan by using local storage
Rule 4: storage error failover by using FTP
Rule 5: storage removal failover by using FTP
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Downloading Recordings
There are two ways to view the list of recordings and download them.
MANAGE FILES BY WEB CONFIGURATOR
It is possible to manage the recordings conveniently by Web
Configurator’s “File Management”. You can search, download or delete
recordings.
Search recordings by time
If you are looking for the recordings of specific time period, then you may check the “Search
recordings by time”, and select the starting time of the searchable range as well as the length
of the time period.
Search recordings by triggered events
Another convenient way of searching specific recording files is to define the events that were
either the triggers of the recordings or occurred during the scheduled recording. Check the
“Search recordings by triggered events” and choose one of the 4 event types – Dis, Motion,
Schedule or Ready for Service. All these events and can be managed under Event Handler
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The largest possible recording file is approximately 30 minutes. You can see the length of each
file in the file list. In case of snapshots, the length is not available.
Under continuous recording mode, the camera will make sure that the file size would not
exceed 30-31 minutes – it would start writing a next file when the first file is full.
The file that is currently being saved will show the status “Writing”.
Download Recordings
You can download the files manually to remote PC by clicking on the File Name. The
downloaded .RAW files can be viewed with ACTi Archive Player or Camera Demo Tool.
Delete Recordings
You can manually delete the files by filling the checkboxes and then pressing the “Remove”
button.
Search Snapshots
If the event rule of the Event Handler defines that there should be Snapshots stored on local
storage instead of Video, then the snapshots will appear in File Management’s file list. The
extension of snapshot file is “jpg”.
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View and Download Snapshots
By clicking on the snapshot file name in file list it is possible to view the snapshot within Web
Configurator. To download the snapshot, right click on the picture and save it to the computer.
Deleting Snapshots
You can manually delete the snapshots by filling the checkboxes and then pressing the
“Remove” button.
Special Rule!
When the event triggered snapshot happens during the video recording process, then the
camera will not save the snapshot to the local storage, to avoid redundant information and
waste of storage space, as the snapshot frame can be later extracted from video file instead.
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DOWNLOAD FILES BY FTP CLIENT
In addition to Web Configurator’s File Management, it is also possible to use any of the FTP
Clients to list and download the recordings from the local storage thanks to the built-in FTP
Server of the camera. Use the http:// followed by camera’s IP and then type the camera’s
account and password (default is Admin, 123456).
Notice! You may download files via FTP for your convenience, but do not delete any of the files
via FTP because it would cause inconsistency between camera’s file database and actual file
availability.
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Integration with Software
If you want to create your own user interface or software to manage the recordings in the
camera, then you may refer to the list of local storage related URL commands below.
Local Storage of the Camera
Get the recorded files
list
system
DISK_FILE_LIST
-
Get the recorded file
system
DISK_GET_FILE=[filename.raw]
Any file name from the file list
Delete the recorded
file
system
DISK_REMOVE_FILE=[filename.raw]
Any file name from the file list
Get the status of local
storage
system
DISK_INFO
-
Mount or unmount the
disk
system
DISK_STATE=MOUNT
MOUNT, UNMOUNT
Format the local
storage
system
DISK_FORMAT
-
Check the report of
disk format
system
DISK_FORMAT_LOG
-
DISK_REMOVE_OLD_FILES=0
The number represents the
amount of oldest files to be
deleted. 0 means deleting all
files.
Remove older files
from local storage
system
1.
Set date and time filter
for local storage file
search
system
DISK_FILE_SEARCH_TIME=1,2011,09,
23,13,40,30,60
2.
3.
4.
5.
6.
7.
8.
1 (use time filter), 0 (not
use time filter)
4 digits for year
2 digits for month
2 digits for day
2 digits for hours
2 digits for minutes
2 digits for seconds
1-60 (time period in
minutes, defines the end
time of search range)
Search for event
related recordings
system
DISK_FILE_SEARCH_EVENT=DI1,DI2
NONE, DI1, DI2, MD1, MD2,
MD3, PIR, SCH (scheduled
recording), READY (continuous
recording)
Scan the disk for
possible errors
system
DISK_SCAN
-
Check the report of the
disk scan
system
DISK_SCAN_LOG
1.
Set overwrite
parameters and low
disk warning rule
system
DISK_CONFIG=1,5
2.
0 (not allow overwriting), 1
(allow overwriting of oldest
files)
1~50 (% of remaining
storage at which camera
sends warning message)
For more information about URL commands, please refer to the full article “ACTi Camera
URL Commands” in ACTi Knowledge Base at:
http://www.acti.com/kb/detail.asp?KB_ID=KB20120327001
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