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Home surveillance is important even if you live in a traditionally safe neighborhood. You never know what might go wrong, and when it does, it’s so good to have video evidence. Unfortunately, dedicated home security camera systems Decorate Your Home With These 7 Stylish Security Cameras Decorate Your Home With These 7 Stylish Security Cameras First-generation home security cameras had many flaws, including connection issues and poor video quality. They were also rather dull looking. Here are 7 stylish alternatives! Read More can be expensive!

One way to save a lot of money is to set up a network of webcams instead. Budget webcams A Guide to the Best Budget Webcams for Under $60 A Guide to the Best Budget Webcams for Under $60 If you don't own a webcam, you should get one ASAP. It's one of those things that seems unnecessary until you have one, and then it suddenly becomes useful for all kinds of things. Read More are surprisingly good these days, and you can buy several for the price of one security camera. You can also set up old smartphones as webcams How to Use Your Smartphone as a Webcam for Your Computer How to Use Your Smartphone as a Webcam for Your Computer Lacking a webcam? Use your Android device as a webcam for your computer! Read More around the house.

The hard part is managing all of those webcams. The good news? Software can handle all of that for you, plus provide some much-needed security features like always-on recording, motion detection, intruder notifications, etc. Here are the best home surveillance apps for webcams.

Free Webcam Surveillance Apps

1. Ivideon

Ivideon is a webcam surveillance solution that’s designed for both homes and businesses. The business version is obviously more powerful with greater features, but that doesn’t mean the home version is wimpy! I found it surprisingly effective and easy to use.

Simply install the Ivideon Server software on a computer with webcams. Ivideon Server runs in the background and controls all of the webcams, which you can view using Ivideon’s web interface or one of Ivideon’s mobile apps. IP cameras are supported in addition to webcams.


Notable features include:

  • Continuous and detection-triggered recording modes.
  • Schedule with 1-hour blocks, where each block can be continuous mode, detection-triggered mode, or no recording at all.
  • Motion detection support with 3 sensitivities.
  • Sound detection support with 3 activation thresholds.
  • Unlimited local footage. Subscription plans exist for full cloud-based footage storage for up to 24 hours ($4/mo), 10 days ($9/mo), or 30 days ($19/mo).

Download: Ivideon (Windows, Mac, Linux)

2. ZoneMinder

ZoneMinder is a complete surveillance solution for Linux systems that’s able to monitor, record, and analyze home cameras of all types. It’s powerful enough for business use but easy enough for home users. And true to its Linux roots, ZoneMinder is open source software What Is Open Source Software? [MakeUseOf Explains] What Is Open Source Software? [MakeUseOf Explains] "Open source" is a term that’s thrown around a lot these days. You may know that certain things are open source, like Linux and Android, but do you know what it entails? What is open... Read More !

Notable features include:

  • Remote access from the web or mobile apps.
  • Supports most advanced features on modern webcams (e.g. 4K video, night vision).
  • All data is in your control — no worries about privacy.
  • 100% freeware!

Download: ZoneMinder (Linux)

3. iSpy

iSpy is the most feature-rich option of the free options on this list and comes in two parts: the first, the iSpy software that runs on your computer, and second, iSpyConnect for connecting remotely, viewing your webcams from anywhere, and receiving alerts.

Notable features include:

  • Set up cameras to record videos or take photos.
  • Advanced motion detection options, including high-precision trigger range and region-based detection zones.
  • Upload recordings to Dropbox, Google Drive, or even YouTube.
  • Supports microphones in addition to cameras.
  • Supports email, SMS, and Twitter alerts.
  • Unlimited local footage. Web-, remote-, and cloud-related features require a subscription: Basic ($8/mo), Pro ($20/mo), Pro Plus ($30/mo), Ultimate ($50/mo).

Download: iSpy (Windows)

4. ContaCam

ContaCam is a simple app that’s designed for lightweight resource usage, making it a viable choice for older machines. Although you’ll miss out on some nifty features like cloud storage integration, don’t think of it as barebones. ContaCam is more than enough for most.

Notable features include:

  • Continuous recording and motion detection recording modes.
  • Motion detection events can be viewed remotely as animated thumbnails.
  • Motion detection events can be sent as emails or uploaded to FTP.
  • Supports unlimited cameras and can record in parallel.
  • 100% freeware!

Download: ContaCam (Windows)

Paid Webcam Surveillance Apps

5. Blue Iris

Blue Iris is our recommended software of choice for home surveillance. The interface has a bit of a learning curve to it, but it offers a depth of features that isn’t available in free alternatives or other paid options in this price range.

Blue Iris costs $30 for the lightweight version (which only supports one camera) and $60 for the full version (which supports up to 64 cameras).

Notable features include:

  • Continuous, periodic, and detection-triggered recording modes.
  • Supports motion and sound detections.
  • Detection alerts by email, instant message, voice call, or loudspeaker.
  • Remote camera viewing on the web or mobile devices.
  • Digital zoom and pan in case you need a better look.

Purchase: Blue Iris (Windows)

6. Sighthound Video

Sighthound Video is prohibitively expensive for casual home users, but if you’re absolutely serious about home surveillance and can afford several high-quality webcams, then there is no better solution. However, it does require a powerful machine!

Sighthound Video costs $60 for the basic license (which supports up to 2 cameras) and $250 for the pro license (which supports an unlimited number of cameras).

Notable features include:

Purchase: Sighthound Video (Windows, Mac)

Key Tips for an Effective Home Security Cameras

Regardless of which software solution you go with, it’s important that you avoid these common security camera setup mistakes How to Set Up Security Cameras and Avoid Common Mistakes How to Set Up Security Cameras and Avoid Common Mistakes In this article, I'm going to explain five of the most common mistakes people make when setting up their security cameras. Hopefully, it will help you avoid making the same errors. Read More . In particular, you should be mindful of where you point your cameras 5 Dangers to Consider When Pointing Your Home Security Cameras 5 Dangers to Consider When Pointing Your Home Security Cameras It is important to carefully consider where you position your cameras, and what parts of your home you point them at. Keeping things secure is important, but so is maintaining your privacy. Read More because it’s entirely possible for others to hack your webcams How to Make Your Wireless Security Cameras Untouchable to Hackers How to Make Your Wireless Security Cameras Untouchable to Hackers Over the past few months, stories about security vulnerabilities abound. Clearly this is not an acceptable state of affairs. To combat this, you should secure your security cameras. Let's find out how. Read More .

With that said, it’s also good to bear in mind all the practical ways you can use a surveillance camera Practical Uses for Your Home Surveillance Cameras Practical Uses for Your Home Surveillance Cameras Home surveillance cameras are getting more popular with each passing year as technology improves and prices drop. Here are some practical uses for home security cameras, some which may surprise you. Read More as well as all the creative uses for a surveillance camera 6 Creative Uses for Wireless Surveillance Cameras in Your Home 6 Creative Uses for Wireless Surveillance Cameras in Your Home Security cameras are useful for more than just surveillance. With a dash of creativity and elbow grease, you can kick your quality of life up a notch with these atypical ideas for your security cameras. Read More . Of course you want to keep your home safe and secure, but there’s so much more you can do!

What software do you use to manage your webcams? How many webcams do you have in your home surveillance network, anyway? Share with us in the comments below!

Image Credit: thaistockphoto via

Post Originally Written by James Bruce on November 7, 2012

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  1. dragonmouth
    September 2, 2017 at 4:19 pm

    "it’s entirely possible for others to hack your webcams"
    Then of what use are "security"cameras if they themselves are not secure?