Viewing Swann cameras from the Internet: Comparing your speed

Last Updated: Aug 31, 2017 02:41PM AEST

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Here at Swann we are proud to be able to provide quality recording systems that have a number of online features, the most common of which is to be able to view your cameras from the internet.  Unfortunately for our customers, sometimes the speed or quality of their internet connection can impede the Swann equipment's ability to provide a solid viewing experience.  The following will help you to determine whether your internet connection may be causing potential issues.

Once you have identified a speed deficit, you can use this article to assist with adjusting your settings to suit.

1.  Test the speed of your connection

We should start by testing the speed of the internet connection where you will be connecting the Swann equipment (e.g. DVR).  Using a computer connected to the connection you will be using, open your internet browser and navigate to www.speedtest.net.  This site is a very popular speed testing site, and has a number of test sites all over the world.  It also is not tied to any one Internet Service Provider (ISP) and therefore is much less likely to provide speed information that does not measure up to real world performance.

Once the site loads up, you will see a projected map of where the Speedtest site believes you are connecting from.  Sometimes this might be a bit off, it's OK to readjust to closer to where you are connecting from.  Some test sites will have multiple test nodes, that's not important.  Just pick your location and select Start Test.  The site will then perform the test and once complete will provide you with the results.

2.  What do the numbers mean?

Once you have the results, it's time to look them over to see how well you can expect your Swann system to perform.   First, we'll have a look at our test from our corporate HQ in Melbourne to explain the information presented.

Download:

This is the speed at which your connection receives information from the internet.  Download speed is usually measured in megabits per second (Mbps or Mb/s).  Higher numbers are better.  This information does not usually impact your ability to view your Swann equipment as most internet connections have a comparatively higher download speed.

Upload:

This is the speed at which your connection sends information to the internet.  Upload speed is measured similarly to download speed and once again, higher numbers are better.  This is the most significant factor in how well you will be able to view your Swann equipment through the internet.  This is because this shows how fast your Swann equipment can send your video to the internet for you to watch elsewhere.

Ping:

This is the time that it takes for a communication to travel to the test server and back.  It is measured in milliseconds (ms).  Lower numbers are better.  As you get further away from the location you are communicating with, ping will increase naturally.  While this doesn't have a direct correlation with your ability to view your Swann equipment, ping is useful to diagnose potentially faulty connections.  Also, if the connection is dropping data during transmission, the ping will determine how long it takes to retransmit the data which would impact your ability to view the Swann equipment if there is a problem with your connection or the greater internet.

Our Melbourne office connection is on a high-speed fibre connection with plenty of bandwidth to utilise.  This is not indicative of most of our customers' internet connections.

3.  Example test results

This is indicative of a fairly common cable connection.  The upstream is ~5Mbps with the download speed anywhere from 4 to 30 times that.

(DSL Close range)

This is what you would expect from a DSL connection that is close to the exchange.  Only 1Mbps upstream and usually 20 times that downstream.  DSL is arguably the most common connection type.

Here we see a DSL connection that would be around 1.25 miles or more from the exchange.  You can see the common ratio between upstream and downstream, but the overall performance is reduced, only providing 0.5Mbps up.

Here you can see a DSL connection with something wrong.  Here the ping gives away the game as the ping is significantly higher than it should be to such a close server.  We can get pings to the US West Coast from Melbourne around the 250ms mark, so something is clearly wrong here.  You would still be able to get a mobile quality stream through those results as long as the speed was consistent, but the video may be jumpy or freeze for small periods.

Here we can see an internet connection that is clearly malfunctioning.  If you see this, contact your ISP for assistance as none of our network enabled products will work on this connection.

4.  Understanding the requirements

All of our systems have a recording quality stream (Main Stream) that is stored on the products Hard Disk or Memory Card. This (Main Stream) and a mobile quality stream (Sub Stream) are also able to be streamed to our apps but only the fastest connections will be able to stream even one recording quality stream (camera dependent) but a modest connection will be able to view 2 to 4 mobile stream connections.  Recording quality is also generally the playback quality, so playback will usually follow the recording stream numbers.  We will examine some example cameras/DVRs from each of the high-end, mid-range and entry level kits to show how many potential cameras can be streamed at the same time.  All numbers will be default settings per camera (multiply by number of cameras) and can be changed within certain ranges.

High-end

This recording system is capable of 4K (8 megapixel) images.  As such, each camera's recording stream is extremely bandwidth heavy.

Recording stream: 8Mbps/camera (default)

Only cable or fibre connections will be capable of a single camera or more.  DSL will almost always be out of the question.

Mobile Stream: 0.25Mbps/camera (usual default, sometimes requires configuration)

Some DSL connections will struggle with more than one camera but most will be able to present one camera reliably.  Any more than 4 cameras at a time may freeze up and will require cable/fibre for smooth playback.

Mid-range

This is a 3MP recording system.  Bandwidth requirements aren't as heavy as the top of the range.

Recording stream: 3-5Mbps/camera (default, depends on system)

Still firmly in the realm of cable connections, although certain advanced DSL systems are able to manage 2Mbps+ upstream which would enable one camera.

Mobile Stream: 0.125Mbps/camera (128kbps)

8 cameras are possible here on a good DSL connection, however this stream will look best on mobile and tablet screens.

Entry-Level and standalone

The entry-level for recorders is now arguably a 720P HD system.  These are now very affordable and offer the majority of features that the high-end systems possess.

Recording stream:  2Mbps/camera (usual)

A good DSL connection will not provide enough bandwidth for 1 camera.  Limiting the main stream recording setting may allow this to work, but you should compare the settings to determine if the recording quality is sufficient for your requirements.

Mobile Stream: 0.0675Mbps/camera (64kbps)

Even the slowest connection (that is operating correctly) should be able to manage one camera.  Better connections should easily handle a full set of 4.

Please note that these are the usual settings for the example systems.  Many of our other systems use similar settings, you should consult your unit's configuration to determine which of the examples would best represent your environment.

Update 2017/08/29: Edit the recorders to better represent the current lineup and market expectation.

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