12 Software to Turn your Computer into Video Surveillance System

8. Sentry Vision

Sentry Vision is free webcam surveillance software that only works on webcams and not on IP cameras. It can record both video from a webcam and audio from a microphone if it is available on the computer. Motion detection, broadcast, schedule, email and sound alert are included.

Sentry Vision

Two unique features that can be found in Sentry Vision are the ability to remote control the software by sending commands to a listening Gmail account and also the ability to hide the program so that normal users won’t know that the webcam is being monitored. There is a password protect function but didn’t work for us.

Download Sentry Vision


9. Sighthound Video

Previously known as Vitamin D Video, Sighthound Video aims to be a more intelligent video software by being able to recognize humans or objects on camera rather than simply detecting motion through frame comparison. After adding a camera, the actions can be easily configured from the flexible rules editor. It comes with a remote access option to turn on or off the camera and view recordings.

Sighthound Video

Sighthound Video is very user friendly but it runs multiple processes that take up a huge amount of memory. The free version of Sighthound Video is limited to only 1 camera with low resolution recordings.

Download Sighthound Video


10. Yawcam

Believe it or not, Yawcam has been around for a decade! Although Yawcam’s development isn’t very active, the author of this video security software has at least made an effort to keep the project going by releasing updates from time to time, mainly to fix bugs. Yawcam supports both webcam and IP camera, has motion detection with actions such as save file, ftp upload, send email, run executable file, or play sound, video streaming from built-in webserver and overlay.

Yawcam

Yawcam requires Java to run and it is the only video surveillance software that outputs the recordings as images and not video. It does however come with a built-in tool to merge multiple images to a movie file.

Download Yawcam


11. Cyberlink YouCam

A free version of Cyberlink YouCam software can be found bundled into HP laptops and some OEM webcam. Starting from version 2, it comes with motion detection recording which turns your webcam into a basic security camera.

YouCam Video Surveillance

As you can see from the screenshot above, you are only able to set the recording end time and define the area that you want to detect for motion. Oddly the auto e-mail feature is disabled in version 5 prompting you to upgrade to a paid version 6 while it is fully enabled in version 4. So if you need to be notified via email when a motion is detected by Cyberlink YouCam, use version 4 instead.

Download Cyberlink YouCam


12. Logitech Webcam Software

Since Logitech is a commonly used webcam, we thought we should mention that the Logitech Webcam Software comes with a very basic Motion Detection module that is able to automatically record both video and audio when motion is being detected. Some branded computers such as Dell can use Logitech webcams which makes it possible for the software to be installed and used. To determine if your OEM camera is Logitech made, look for 046D in imaging devices hardware ID from Device Manager.

Logitech Webcam Software Motion Detection

You are able to set the motion sensitivity and maximum recording duration, time stamping recorded videos, simultaneously recording audio with motion detection video and scheduling motion capture.

Download Logitech Webcam Software


Below you can find four comparison tables which we’ve created to easily compare the features and usability of the 12 video surveillance software listed above.

video surveillance software feature comparison

The main features table above shows that all software supports webcam and motion detection. Audio/sound detection is only supported by iSpy and Netcam Studio which can be used as a baby monitor to alert you if it detects a baby crying.

cctv software additional features comparison

The additional features table above shows if video recordings can be played back directly from the software itself or you have to manually locate the video files and play them with a compatible player. You can also find if the video surveillance software can do live streaming automatically or through manual refresh. Rear View Mirror, Sentry Vision, Sighthound Video and YouCam don’t have text overlay support to embed additional information such as the time and date of recordings to the video.

motion alert actions comparison

It is important to configure the motion detection actions correctly. You may want to be notified via email or SMS when a motion is detected so that you can instantly login to view the live stream, automatically upload the snapshots/recordings to a remote FTP server in case the burglar takes away your computer/laptop, run some custom actions such as playing a really loud warning sound and turning on the lights as a deterrent.

video surveillance software usability comparison table

This last table shows the user friendliness of each video surveillance software because some of them can be really difficult to set it up correctly. Do note that the CPU and memory usage shown in the table are taken when motion detection is enabled on 1 webcam.

The best webcam surveillance software?

Our current favorite choices would be either Camera Viewer Pro or ContaCam mainly because both are very light on system resource usage, easy to use and have nearly all the important features. Camera Viewer Pro has a very flexible scheduling functionality where you can create multiple schedules per day while ContaCam only allows one. ContaCam has an additional feature for advanced users that will allow you to execute a custom command with parameters which is not available in Camera Viewer Pro.

In short, ContaCam is more suitable if you need to execute custom commands. Otherwise Camera Viewer Pro is an excellent choice for multiple schedules. If you prefer something that is really easy to use, Sighthound Video’s step-by-step camera setup wizard gets your webcam up and monitoring in just a few mouse clicks. Netcam Studio has a lot of potential because it comes with tons of features except the developers still need to work hard on the stability to get it out of beta development stage.

Additional Tip: Even though most of the mentioned software above doesn’t support SMS notification on motion detection, it is still possible to receive SMS alert by using World-Text’s Email to SMS Gateway. You’ll need to sign up for a free account, top up credit and register your mobile number so that World-Text will forward any email message to the given number via SMS.

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