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Use Your Webcam For Home Surveillance With These Tools

Joel Lee 01-09-2017

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 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 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 an Android Phone as a Webcam Need to record video on your PC but don't have a webcam? Use your Android phone as a webcam with these nifty apps! 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

Use Your Webcam For Home Surveillance With These Tools home webcam surveillance 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

Use Your Webcam For Home Surveillance With These Tools home webcam surveillance 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!


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

Use Your Webcam For Home Surveillance With These Tools home webcam surveillance 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

Use Your Webcam For Home Surveillance With These Tools home webcam surveillance 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

Use Your Webcam For Home Surveillance With These Tools home webcam surveillance 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. In particular, you should be mindful of where you point your cameras because it’s entirely possible for others to hack your webcams.

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 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 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, such as watching your babysitter The 6 Best Hidden Cameras for Protecting Your Home Need a discreet security camera so visitors won't know they're being watched? Try these hidden cameras for around the home. Read More , interacting with your pet The 7 Best Pet Cameras to Monitor Your Pet's Behavior Ever wondered what your beloved pet gets up to when you're not there? Find out with one of these great pet cameras for your home. Read More , but there’s so much more you can do!

Image Credit: thaistockphoto via Shutterstock.com

Post Originally Written by James Bruce on November 7, 2012

Related topics: Surveillance, Webcam.

Affiliate Disclosure: By buying the products we recommend, you help keep the site alive. Read more.

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  1. Ben
    January 22, 2020 at 12:13 pm

    To make the best use of webcam for video surveillance try - "WebCam Monitor". I am using it to monitor my home when I am in the office. It automatically records video and captures photo, and also sends sms with photo to a mobile phone. Very easy to use.https://www.deskshare.com/wcm.aspx

  2. John
    May 24, 2019 at 12:59 am

    Figured I would put a list of scammers that called me and a couple of my friends. That way robots could pick them up and call them.

  3. StagaTv
    January 12, 2019 at 10:32 pm

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  4. John
    July 18, 2018 at 9:28 am

    Memes are becoming a part of today's internet world. Everytime you login to Facebook or anyother social media site, you would come across a number of memes. It is because people have started using these memes to express their thoughts and feelings and when others see these memes they also want and try to make these memes.

  5. 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?