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Best Video Surveillance Systems of 2020

By Kiely Kuligowski,
Business News Daily Writer
| Updated
Oct 26, 2020

Business News Daily conducted extensive research to find the best video surveillance systems for small businesses that are affordable, offer robust features and are easy to set up and use.
Featured Sponsor
Featured Sponsor
Best Hybrid System
Connections: Up to 16 BNC connections in plug and play, plus two IP channels
Best Overall System
Connections: Up to 24 Class 3 PoE ports; more than 800 IP cameras supported
Best Budget System
Connections: Plug and play; PoE not supported
Business News Daily conducted extensive research to find the best video surveillance systems for small businesses that are affordable, offer robust features and are easy to set up and use.
Updated 10/26/20

We've updated our FAQs with new info about what IP cameras are, how you can keep your video safe and how long surveillance footage lasts.

Update: This page has been updated to include information on Eagle Eye Networks' collaboration with Delaget to improve security insights for restaurants.

When you have a small business, one of the most important things is protecting your assets. Luckily, video surveillance systems have advanced to the point where many of them function like miniature computers, capable of motion detection, intelligent zone identification and smart alerts. Some systems automatically contact law enforcement or integrate with other security systems. 

There are many options for video surveillance systems out there, built for every type of business need. Some businesses need advanced functionality and multilocation cameras, while others only require a basic system to capture and record footage. 

To help businesses of all sizes, Business News Daily conducted thorough reviews of more than 40 of the most popular video surveillance systems to find the best ones on the market today. Our top recommendations are below, but if you want to take a step back and learn more about the different types of video surveillance systems and what you should look for when shopping for a system, read our buyer's guide.

Find the Right Video Surveillance System for Your Business

Fill out this questionnaire to find vendors that meet your needs.

Our Reviews

SimpliSafe: Featured Sponsor

SimpliSafe Security is an easy-to-use surveillance system that keeps your business protected 24/7. The system requires no professional installation and can be set up in less than an hour. Once it's up and running, the system uses window and door sensors, motion detectors, freeze and water sensors and HD security cameras to protect your business at all times from break-ins, power outages, leaks and dangerous temperature changes. SimpliSafe was carefully built to be incredibly easy to use. You have multiple ways, including via a key fob or keypad, to arm the system. Employees can also be given a unique PIN code so they can enter your business when a manager isn't there. Since you can do it all on your own, there are no installation costs. Professional monitoring, which provides emergency dispatch services, starts at $14.99 per month.
Read Review

Alibi Security: Best Hybrid System

As a hybrid surveillance system, Alibi offers the perfect solution for businesses looking to upgrade their current system while staying within a budget. A hybrid system allows you to connect your existing analog surveillance system with more modern IP cameras. Another plus is that you can gradually upgrade your system as your security needs change. Alibi offers several options, including full plug-and-play systems and individual products like cameras and recorders. Storage options are similarly varied – you can choose from cloud-based services (Dropbox, Google Drive, and OneDrive) or traditional NVRs and DVRs. Additional features include customizable displays, device grouping, and alarms and notifications. You can even search and log events, and detect IP-enabled cameras.
Read Review

Eagle Eye Networks: Best Overall System

Eagle Eye Networks offers a cloud-based system that is flexible and easily scalable, and doesn't require much maintenance. There is mobile and web browser viewing and management, as well as cloud recording, which replaces the need for traditional NVRs and DVRs. Because it is a cloud-based system, updates and maintenance are carried out automatically. Eagle Eye uses two-factor authentication and internet isolation of cameras to keep your data safe from hackers and malware. Flexibility is key for a cloud-based surveillance system, and Eagle Eye offers plenty of room to customize and scale the system. Its system is compatible with any type of camera, and it can be accessed on Android, iOS, Mac or PC. Additionally, if you have an existing NVR or DVR, you can add Eagle Eye Networks' cloud-based, offsite backup to extend your current capabilities. The system can integrate with emergency alarms and other systems, like access control, and can be programmed to share access with designated first responders in the event of an emergency. April 2020: Eagle Eye Networks has recently enhanced its cloud-based video management system (the Eagle Eye Cloud VMS) to fully support dual-spectrum cameras for elevated temperature detection. These enhancements will enable cameras to more accurately read temperatures on the human face and output specific analytic information to the Cloud VMS. June 2020: Eagle Eye Networks has officially launched its cloud-based elevated temperature screening system to its reseller partners. The system includes a thermal camera, blackbody calibration unit, cloud-based recording subscriptions and real-time notifications. The system can receive, record, alert and report on elevated temperature information. It also allows you to manage and view the cameras locally or remotely and store the video either locally or in the cloud. September 2020: Eagle Eye Networks recently announced a new partnership with Delaget, a SaaS provider that specializes in business intelligence for restaurants. As part of the partnership, Delaget is incorporating Eagle Eye's video API platform with its loss prevention and analytical tools. This combined solution will enable restaurants to analyze suspicious transactional data while looking at corresponding video footage in one easy-to-use tool.
Read Review
Blink is the best option for a very small business looking for a straightforward security system. Blink's biggest benefit is its low price tag and ease of use. There are no subscription fees for video storage, and all footage is easily viewed via its mobile app. Blink offers cameras that are completely wire-free and operate through lithium batteries that last up to two years with regular use, making them extremely easy to set up and maintain. Blink is an Amazon company, meaning the cameras integrate with other Amazon products. You can add voice control functionality to your cameras, for example, or set "if this, then that" protocols. May 2020: Blink has introduced a new 1080p HD indoor camera to its lineup. The new camera features motion detection, two-way audio, and easy plug-and-play setup. The camera comes with a free trial of the Blink cloud storage subscription through Dec. 31, 2020.
Read Review

Pricing

Because each business has different security requirements, costs, of course, run the gamut. 

You must also take into account how much or how little you need your system to do for you. For example, you should expect to pay more for an advanced video management system with analytics and centralized management, and less for a system that has limited viewing and control from an app. The number and type of cameras you plan to use will also contribute to your cost – if you have a large facility with many places you want to surveil, your costs will go up compared to a smaller business. 

Video surveillance systems typically range anywhere from $100 to $5,000 depending on the type, quality and number of cameras you require, as well as the amount and type of storage you use. 

Here is an example of how much a surveillance system can cost. If you have a small business with two doors, one main room, a parking lot and a stairwell, you will want a camera at each door, one in the parking lot, and one in the stairwell. Ideally, you want 30 days' worth of footage stored in the cloud. For a four-camera system with cloud storage, expect to pay roughly $600.00 upfront for the cameras and $30 per camera, per month for storage. Many companies offer plug-and-play cameras, but for advanced systems, be prepared to pay for professional installation, which can cost $1,500 or more if installation will be complicated or there are several cameras to be installed. So, all told, hardware and installation costs could top $2,100, and your monthly fees would then cost $120, or $1,440 annually.

How to Choose a Video Surveillance System

Before you start contacting surveillance system companies, know what you want or need your system to do for you. Ask yourself these questions:

  • How many cameras will I need?
  • How do I want my video footage stored?
  • How long do I want to store video footage?
  • How do I want to manage my surveillance system?
  • Do my cameras need to be weatherproof, vandalproof and able to pan, tilt or zoom?
  • Do I want to integrate my video surveillance system with other systems?
  • Will I ever need to scale my system?

Once you have a general understanding of the specific features you need in a system, you'll then want to determine what type of cameras you want and how you will place them. Cameras in plain sight can be a deterrent to intruders, though hidden cameras can help you build evidence or catch an incident in real time.

Next, decide which type of storage you would prefer. There are several options when it comes to how your footage is stored, how you access it and how long it stays in storage. A popular new form of storage is in the cloud, though many services provide it as a hybrid along with an NVR.

The last consideration is your preferred mode of managing the system. The most common method is by mobile app, which most services provide with the purchase of a system. The app allows you to control your cameras, review and share footage, and manage your storage.

Video Surveillance System FAQs

What equipment do you need for a video surveillance system?

A basic video surveillance system requires at least one camera, either wired or wireless, and a way to store your video data. If you want more advanced features, or have several cameras to manage, you can also add a remote management system.

There are many types of cameras to choose from. The main types include:

  • Box: One of the most commonly used camera types. These are practical and cost-effective with minimal features. 
  • Dome: Dome cameras feature a compact, discreet shape and are well suited for dirty environments, like kitchens or warehouses. 
  • Pan tilt zoom: These cameras feature pan-tilt-zoom capability, which allows the camera to move and survey a wide area. 
  • Bullet: These cameras work well in low-light environments; they require little maintenance and have a small footprint, making them ideal for small spaces.

What is the difference between NVR and DVR?

Both an NVR and DVR record video captured by your surveillance cameras. The difference is how those systems process video and which cameras they are paired with.

DVRs are used primarily with analog cameras; they are always a wired system and process video data at the recorder.

NVRs are used with IP cameras; the cameras process and encode the video data, then stream it to the NVR, which is used for storage and remote viewing. NVRs can be a wired or wireless system.

What type of storage is best?

DVRs cost less than NVR systems, but analog systems are quickly falling out of use as image quality and storage capacity for NVRs becomes more advanced.

NVR systems provide greater flexibility in scaling, applying updates and new technology, and NVRs offer more features and customization options.

What main features should I look for in a video surveillance system?

Look for a storage solution that works for you, whether that is DVR, NVR, cloud or hybrid, and high-definition cameras that offer easy control and allow you to easily review footage.

Most cameras come with features like night vision, PTZ capability, a wide-angle lens, motion detection with alerts and weatherproofing. Determine which features are necessary for your business.

You should also look for an easy management solution, whether it's a mobile app or sophisticated software. Most midlevel surveillance systems come with an app that you download on a smart device that allows you to control your cameras and review footage.

What types of businesses could benefit from video surveillance systems?

Any business that is looking to protect its assets and prevent theft or fraud can benefit from implementing a video surveillance system. Often, the mere presence of cameras can be enough to deter thieves or vandals.

Which is better? Wired or wireless security cameras?

Neither system outperforms the other, but there are certain benefits one system may offer over another, depending on your needs. Wired video surveillance systems tend to be more reliable, but can be clunky and difficult to use with modern technology. Wireless systems are easier to install and come with user-friendly software.

How does a surveillance system help improve a business's safety and security?

A video surveillance system can provide a deterrent to intruders just by being placed in a visible location. And if your business is broken into or experiences another type of incident,  a system can provide invaluable information. Video surveillance captures evidence and provides the peace of mind of knowing that you can see what’s going on in your business at any time.

Some systems automatically alert emergency responders if an incident is detected.

Where is the best place to put security cameras?

This will depend on your business and which areas you feel need surveillance. Most experts recommend placing a camera above the main entrance to your business and off-street windows, above a back door or garage (if applicable), and in the basement or storage room. Try to avoid placing cameras behind glass due to glare that will distort images.

What should you ask the security camera installer?

As you compare various installers, inquire about internet access requirements, recording time and ability, and the warranty length on camera parts and labor. Additionally, ask the installer for references or sample work before you hire them.

Do you need Wi-Fi for security cameras?

Typically, yes, for wireless security cameras, you will need Wi-Fi, though some cameras are battery-powered. Internet protocol cameras connect directly to an IP network to send and receive image data. These cameras require an internet connection, but your ability to monitor and control them is improved, you can easily access footage for playback, and you receive notifications whenever cameras detect movement.

What is an IP camera?

IP, or internet protocol, cameras run on a digital video system that transmits data over a network. (IP cameras are also called network cameras or webcams.) An IP system works with mobile devices, making it easy for you to view your security feed anytime, anywhere, as long as you have an internet connection.

How can you keep your video safe and secure?

There are several things you can do to protect your security footage from hackers. You should:

  • Choose a router with Wi-Fi Protected Access (WPA) or WPA 2 security, which encrypts your video data.
  • Utilize your camera's built-in firewall, which monitors and controls any information that passes to and from the camera.
  • Use a password on your cameras.
  • Use a different password on your Wi-Fi router.
  • Turn on two-factor authentication, if it's an option.
  • Regularly update your camera's firmware.

How long does surveillance footage last?

How long your surveillance footage lasts depends on your provider and the service plan you choose . Some plans allow you to store footage indefinitely; other plans automatically delete footage after a certain period of time, usually anywhere between 30 and 90 days.

Our Previous Winners

Business News Daily strives to find the best products and services for your small business. We invest hours into identifying and researching the best products and services so you feel confident about our recommendations.

We revisit our categories each year, evaluating new changes in the industry and new companies. Our process involves revisiting our previous best picks to determine if they are still the best in their category.

In addition to our current recommendations, here are the companies we selected as best picks last year:

Best Overall Surveillance System: TRENDnet

Best Budget System: SecurityMan

Our Methodology

To help you find the right Video Surveillance Systems, we researched and analyzed dozens of options. Here is a roundup of our best picks for Video Surveillance Systems and an explanation of how we chose them.

Locating the Best Services

We spent dozens of hours researching various video surveillance systems to come up with our best picks. We gave each vendor equal consideration. 

We began by compiling a list of vendors that offer video surveillance systems. We searched the web and consulted other lists and reviews of the most popular vendors. Our initial list topped 43 video surveillance systems.

Next, we visited the websites of each vendor, comparing pricing and features. We scrutinized the systems companies offered, such as digital or network video recorders, and the variety of cameras available. We spent considerable time comparing features; for example, does the system support IP cameras, mobile viewing and motion detection? Can you easily scale up the system? Does it cover multiple locations? At the end of this process, a pool of 38 candidates remained. 

We also watched product demos (if they were available) to understand the system's interface and how the surveillance system worked.

Choosing the Best Services

We called all of the services we were considering, posing as a customer (except for a few services that offered email-only contact). We wanted to experience how companies handle actual customer interactions. 

We asked all of the customer service reps the same set of questions about features, options, and pricing, and we evaluated the overall experience. Company representatives who were friendly and forthcoming got higher marks, and those who were less than helpful or too pushy scored lower.

Researching Each Service

For our overall best pick, our final decision came down to which company offered the best balance of affordability, desirable features, and ease of setup and use. We shied away from vendors that offered extremely low-priced, off-the-shelf solutions that might not be as durable as other systems. We also ruled out expensive and specialized services that cater to one industry in particular, or that offer advanced capabilities (which most small business owners likely will not need).

Many of these services are great – and worth the investment for some companies – but our goal was to choose the service that provided the best value and benefits for the largest number of businesses.

From 38 candidates, we arrived at our final winners for the best overall surveillance system, the best budget system and the best hybrid system.

Kiely Kuligowski
Kiely Kuligowski,
Business News Daily Writer
See Kiely Kuligowski's Profile
Kiely is a staff writer based in New York City. She worked as a marketing copywriter after graduating with her bachelor’s in English from Miami University (OH) and now writes on small business, social media, and marketing. You can reach her on Twitter or by email.

Full List of Video Surveillance Systems

ADT offers the ADT Pulse video surveillance system, which also can be coupled with a monitoring service for an additional fee. Only ADT's cameras can be utilized with the system.
AFA is an integrator that provides hardware from a variety of manufacturers. AFA can also integrate your video surveillance system with existing alarms and security systems. The company offers analog, IP and hybrid solutions.
Amcrest is an excellent source for prebundled, plug-and-play systems that don't require a lot of technical know-how. The company has a variety of "NVR" kits that come with a handful of cameras and hard drives powerful enough to record days' worth of footage.
Annke gives you the ability to either build your own system or select one of its prebundled kits. Annke's selection includes IP cameras and wireless cameras that are night-vision-enabled and can be monitored from a mobile device.
Arlo's series of security systems don't rely on a video recorder. Instead, you can connect up to 15 of the Arlo cameras to the cloud and then check in via mobile device or computer to live-stream up to five of the cameras at once. The cameras use an SD card for backup when internet service is interrupted.
Brickhouse Security offers video surveillance solutions from a number of manufacturers, including Swann, Vivotek, Lorex and Defender. Most of Brickhouse Security's offerings are systems that come with several cameras.
CPI Security offers the complete InTouch Business System, which includes two motion detectors, two door and window sensors, two HD indoor cameras, and free access to the InTouch mobile application.
D-Link maintains a full stock of video surveillance components, including cameras, switches and video recorders. The company also offers a variety of video recorders for businesses of varying sizes, NVRs for small businesses, network-attached storage for midsize businesses and storage area networks for large businesses.
Defender offers both wired and wireless security systems, available in both complete kits or as component parts. The company keeps dome and bullet-style cameras, plus it offers monitors to view your system onsite.
FLIR FX offers a small selection of indoor and outdoor cameras equipped with night vision and audio capabilities. The cameras connect through Wi-Fi to either your smartphone or a cloud server and do not utilize a video recorder.
Foscam offers a midsize selection of indoor and outdoor cameras, including plug-and-play IR cameras. Many of Foscam's cameras can shoot in high definition. Foscam's video management software works with other brands as well, such as Amcrest. However, the company does not sell video recorders.
Frontpoint's video surveillance systems are tailored specifically to your unique circumstances. The company also offers a monitoring service along with its surveillance systems. To learn more, the company requires a personalized quote.
Funlux offers both full NVR and DVR kits complete with up to 16 cameras as well as individual IP and wireless cameras and component parts. Funlux makes affordable systems for homes and businesses.
Honeywell's products cover the entire spectrum of video surveillance systems. From IP cameras to hybrid video recorders, Honeywell maintains a huge selection that allows you to build your own video surveillance system to your precise specifications.
LaView offers both complete video surveillance systems, as well as DIY customizable kits for both NVR and DVR systems. You can also purchase individual components parts, such as IP cameras and hard drives.
Linksys' network video recorder supports up to eight channels, which can be expanded with the use of a PoE switch. Linksys also offers two dome IP cameras, an outdoor bullet IP camera and one mini-dome camera.
Lorex's wide array of video surveillance systems and components are generally affordable and adaptable. With IP cameras and HD NVR and DVR systems, Lorex's products can be tailored to your specific requirements.
Protection 1, a division of ADT, is geared primarily toward home security, but it offers an affordable solution that could be of use to a small business. With an indoor and outdoor wireless security camera, a pan-tilt-zoom camera and storage on the company's server, Protection 1 is a unique solution for entrepreneurs.
Q-SEE has a number of different series for varying video surveillance needs. Whether it's a traditional analog system, a more modern BNC HD system or a high-tech IP system, Q-SEE has components to build it. The company is geared toward simplifying the complexities of surveillance.
Designed for easy setup, Revo Lite has a single cable for power, video and audio. Revo cameras are enabled with night vision, come either separate or in bundled kits, and can be viewed over mobile devices.
Samsung offers both high-definition and standard-definition video surveillance systems. It has a limited selection of IP cameras to accompany its kits, including dome cameras and the tabletop SmartCam.
Swann is focused on providing options for every budget. The company offers high-tech IP cameras with advanced functionality, as well as the more traditional analog cameras with lower resolutions.
Synology's Surveillance Station 7.2 is designed to allow quick connections and setup for people without any knowledge of networks. This system can handle up to thousands of cameras across a number of locations.
Tyco maintains a wide selection of IP and networked video surveillance systems, along with component parts like cameras and recorders. To begin building a system with Tyco, log on to the company's website for a quote.
Vimtag's CloudBox video storage system eliminates the need to save footage locally. There is no monthly fee for Vimtag's cloud storage system, which can be linked directly to a variety of wireless cameras.
Zmodo has a wide array of complete bundled kits to choose from. You can also browse a vast selection of individual cameras and video recorders to build your own system. Zmodo's mobile applications allow you to access your video feeds on the go.
airVision, also known as UniFi-Video, is an Australia-based company that offers network video recorders and accompanying IP cameras. Between a wide array of "airCams" and airVision's video management system, the manufacturer makes it easy to build your own system.
TRENDnet is our favorite choice for small business owners who are looking for a simple, affordable and adaptable video surveillance system.
SecurityMan's all-in-one video surveillance system is extremely cost-effective and doesn't skimp on features that most businesses require.
Featured Sponsor
SimpliSafe Security saves your business time and money. The system can be set up in under an hour. After that, it protects every inch of your property 24/7 with emergency dispatch and instant alerts for break-ins, power outages, leaks and dangerous temperature changes. You no longer have to worry about whether your business is safe.
Image Credit: scyther5 / Getty Images
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