External Drive for storage
  • I'm considering the purchase of the new M1 Mini as my solution for my new home security camera system. I want to get an external drive to store the video. Does anyone have any recommendations for this? Is a USB3 drive sufficient, or should I get a USB-C/Thunderbolt drive?
  • It may depend on the number of cameras you have and their video formats but I've been using a 2.5" USB3 external drive with a 2014 model mac mini and 4 cameras for over a year without any issues. I picked a bus powered drive to use less power and share the Mac's UPS.
  • I have SS recording to an external USB 3.1 SSD which works just fine for 8 cameras. They vary from 1920x1080 resolution up to 3840x1920. They are all set to medium-high quality.
  • I would say USB 3.0 should be your minimum. This provides plenty of speed for even the fastest external drives. So you could either get a USB 3.0 drive and connect it to one of the USB-A ports on the mini. Or you could get a USB 3.1 drive and connect it to one of the USB-C ports on the mini. The price difference between these two options shouldn't be too great, so it just depends on which port you want to use for the drive and which ports you want to leave available for any other devices you might want to connect.

    Thunderbolt drives/enclosures are more expensive than USB enclosures, and there's no point in the extra speed (40 times faster than a fast SSD, and hundreds of times faster than the fastest HDD).

    The other choice is whether to go for the SSD (fast but expensive and reliable) or HDD (slower but cheap). If you're mainly doing motion detection, rather than recording continuously at high frame rates, then a standard HDD drive would do the job. In this case, I would recommend a 3.5" drive over a 2.5" drive, as these tend to be faster, higher capacity, and more reliable in the long run.

    Note that the terminology is confusing, and drives can be mislabelled. USB 3.0, USB 3.1 and Thunderbolt are all protocols, whereas USB-A, USB-B, USB-C are physical port specifications. USB 3.0 tends to use USB-A ports, whereas USB 3.1 and Thunderbolt tend to use USB-C ports. Sometimes, USB 3.1 drives that use USB-C are mislabelled as Thunderbolt.
  • Buffalo DriveStation Axis Velocity High Speed External Hard Drive 3 TB with USB 3.

    I bought this on Amazon for around $90. It seems to work fine.
  • This ↑ looks good for general purpose usage. Reliable brand, high capacity, 7200 RPM, 3.5-inch, USB 3.0 and inexpensive.

    Also: before usage with SecuritySpy, I would recommend using Disk Utility to format the external drive with "Mac OS Extended (Journaled)" format.
  • A client with twelve cameras is asking to move from motion detection only to 24/7 recording. I think he would need at least five days' retention. Currently using low resolution cameras and moderate frame rates but as time moves forward, will be replacing with 4K in mind.

    The USB terminology is a bit confusing. I could imagine a four bay RAID 5 array, perhaps based on 7200 RPM "surveillance grade" hard drives. SSD drives, not just prohibitively expensive, might not be desirable in a continuous read-write setting, not sure.

    Any recommendations for very large capacity direct attached storage for Mac Mini M1 for 24/7 recording? In this case is USB 3.1 recommended?

    Given a properly structured gigabit network, would a NAS (=network attached storage) perform SecuritySpy interaction services just as well?

    Thanks all for any feedback you may provide.

    PS: On edit, I wanted to add my own experience based on older hardware, and I guess I'm wondering what may have changed. In my installation I have twenty cameras, 1080p and 4K and a (now very old) Promise Pegasus R6 (RAID5 10TB usable) connected by Thunderbolt 2 to a 2015 iMac. SecuritySpy files had been recorded flawlessly to this direct attached storage for years. More recently I've chosen to run SecuritySpy on a different iMac and so SS files are being recorded to the RAID by file sharing over the network, and I've noticed no change in performance.
  • Hi @ConvenInteg - I think with continuous recording it's better to go for HDDs rather than SSDs simple because you'll need a lot of storage capacity. According to our System Requirements Calculator, with 12x 4K cameras capturing H.265 video continuously for 1 week, you'll need 5 TB. This can be achieved with a single drive. However 1 week isn't very long, you may want to discuss with the customer about increasing this requirement.

    You might want RAID for redundancy, to minimise the risk of data loss in the case of a drive failure. RAID 5 would work, but this requires a minimum of 3 drives, and write speeds aren't great. For the system you are describing, RAID 1 (mirroring) with two drives is probably best - fast write speeds and 1-drive redundancy.

    Customers do use NAS devices, and they can work well, but I wouldn't recommend them if there are reasonable options for direct (USB, Thunderbolt) attachment. The network connection is inherently less reliable than a direct bus.
  • Hi @Ben, thank you for the detailed guidance, much appreciated. I also want to acknowledge it had been awhile since I visited your System Requirements Calculator and -wow!- all the answers are there. What an incredibly useful resource, thank you very much!

Howdy, Stranger!

It looks like you're new here. If you want to get involved, click one of these buttons!