Using iSpy you can do pretty much anything, from protecting your business and home with realtime SMS and Twitter alerts to scanning the skies for UFOs, nanny cams, machinery monitoring, neighbourhood watch, iSpy does it all! The best thing about iSpy though is that it's open source and can therefore leverage some of the best open source libraries around representing literally millions of man hours of work - code that isn't available to proprietary developers. No wonder iSpy is the most popular and downloaded home and business security and surveillance application in the world! It's not just us saying that - check out our feedback.
This manual is a detailed guide to how iSpy works, what it can do and how you can get the most out of it. New software can seem daunting at first so we’ve put a lot of effort in to cover the most common scenarios along with comprehensive coverage of every feature of the software. iSpy has been designed to be easy to use although that simplicity belies the complexity under the hood – iSpy is capable of much more than just motion detection! Throughout this guide we assume you have an iSpyConnect subscription and so have access to remote services, alerts, remote commands and the full feature set of the web side of iSpy. Without an online services subscription you are missing out on a large part of the functionality available within iSpy and iSpyConnect. Choose a subscription.
iSpy currently works on Windows based PCs only (both x86 and 64 bit versions). iSpy has been tested on Windows 7, 8 and 10 but may work on other Windows variants that support the .Net v4 Framework.
Hardware recommendations vary a lot depending on how many cameras and microphones you are going to be using at any given time. An old PC with 2GB of RAM and 200 GB of free hard disk space should be more than capable of running 4 cameras simultaneously at 320 x 240 resolution.
iSpy will let you add an unlimited number of cameras and microphones - right up to the point where your computer cannot cope and will crash. Keep an eye on the performance counters on the status bar of iSpy as they will tell you when you are running out of memory or CPU. Note that CPU can spike when recording video and encoding. There are a number of things you can do to squeeze better performance out of iSpy:
- You can increase the number of cameras by decreasing the framerate of each camera
- You can increase the number of cameras by decreasing the resolution of each camera – one 1280 x 960 camera requires the same processing power of 4 cameras at 640 x 480 cameras or 16 cameras at 320 x 240
- Having a dedicated PC running iSpy ensures that user interaction or other software won’t interrupt the video processing tasks.
- Use a 64 bit version of iSpy instead of a 32 bit version if you have a 64 bit PC (improves CPU and increases available memory)
- Save to AVI files instead of MP4 files on the recording tab of your cameras - this takes a lot less CPU (approx. half). You can download the AVI videos through the website but you wont be able to play them over the web/ mobile.
- Reduce the Max Redraw Rate in settings to save CPU on resizing the live video feeds.
- Set Buffer Frames on the recording tab to 0 - any buffering means that ispy is converting frames to JPEG images even when not recording.
- If using grid views minimise the video feeds in ispy using view - auto layout objects - minimise to save on graphics processing.
You can also set a maximum CPU target value in settings. By default this is set to 90%. This means that when your CPU usage goes over 90% iSpy will start reducing the framerates of your cameras to help protect against a crash. Once the CPU drops back below 90% iSpy will increase the framerates again. Common causes for this are multiple simultaneous recordings or scheduled tasks like disk defragmenting.
Of course the better the hardware the better results you will get from iSpy. Using iSpyConnect you can connect multiple computers to one online account with a web based management interface that allows iSpy to scale up to any number of monitored cameras and microphones. A few of our users are monitoring over 150 cameras simultaneously via iSpyConnect. To work with multiple computers you must assign each computer a different external port address. See Multiple Computers for more information.
Wherever possible use a wired gigabit network connection. This is very important if streaming HD video or video from multiple cameras. If you are using a wireless network then you should use the fastest network connection available (currently 802.11n) – this will help ensure that other network traffic won’t reduce the frame rates from your cameras. iSpy will work on older style networks although you may see a noticeable drop in frame rates as you add more network video and audio sources into iSpy or perform other network heavy tasks (such as copying files around or watching movies).
You probably have some old USB webcams lying around or even pre-installed into laptops. iSpy can make good use of these existing cameras saving you some outlay on new hardware. Bear in mind though that due to driver limitations it is usually impossible to use multiple USB cameras from the same manufacturer on one PC. If you want to access multiple USB cameras on one computer make sure that they're all built by different companies. This is not an iSpy limitation - this applies to any software that accesses USB cameras. A workaround is to install your duplicate USB cameras on different computers around your home/ office and broadcast them to iSpy using iSpyServer (more on that later!).
Our software will work on the vast majority of IP cameras. Check our sources database for details. If your camera is not listed there then check if it supports ONVIF. Our software should be able to connect to any ONVIF compatible camera.