Build your own video surveillance system with ContaCam


The freeware video surveillance system ContaCam has been helping PC users monitor their video feeds since 2010, and it’s grown to be one of the most capable and configurable systems around. We haven’t checked out the program for a while, but after the recent release of ContaCam 7.0, we grabbed a copy and took a closer look.

The program has always had wide device support -- webcams, WDM and DV devices and IP cameras -- and the latest release improves that further. ContaCam 7.0 now features native RTSP camera support, and is able to record audio from a custom source.

ContaCam has a very configurable motion detection algorithm. You’re able to set its sensitivity, define the size of zones to use, to ignore detections shorter than a defined period, even to schedule when detection is enabled or disabled (9:00 am to 5:00 pm on weekdays, say).

What happens next? At a minimum, you could just save the video. ContaCam allows you to define a "before" and "after" period to ensure you capture the full event (the five seconds of footage before and after the detection, maybe).

In addition, the program can send you an email, upload the footage to an FTP server, or run custom commands to trigger whatever action you like.

There is an array of other settings to cover basic camera operations (resolution, frame rate), when and how footage is recorded, and how it’s kept on your hard drive (a day, a month, a year, what’s the maximum camera folder size, more).

ContaCam has almost as much control over viewing. You can check out live footage from within the program, easily browse to historical recordings, or access the system from anywhere by using the integrated server, enabling port forwarding or using Dropbox.

This is all well-implemented, and with real attention to detail. The internal server isn’t some toy written by the developer, for instance. As the ContaCam release notes point out, it’s now been updated to Apache 2.4.25 and PHP 5.4.45, both with OpenSSL 1.0.2k-fips.

Put this all together and it’s a hugely impressive package, which somehow still finds ways to improve with every release. Go grab your own copy immediately.

ContaCam is available for Windows XP and later.

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