Synology Surveillance Station

Review of the Synology Surveillance Station

The Synology Surveillance Station it's no secret that I'm a fan of personal hosting solutions. By returning data that happens at an ever-increasing level, having data that you have yourself, and doubling if you only need to access it from your own home. That's because I like NAS solutions in companies like Synology, QNAP, and Thecus. 

With these devices that are great in terms of storage and offer an excellent solution, more than they offer with great applications that can be installed and managed, which are equipped with easily accessible functionality that includes simple storage. Today I will see the Synology Surveillance Station, a tool that allows you to access multiple IP cameras into one interface. 

Surveillance stations have been around for a while, but Synology recently updated them to version 8.0. One of the best new "features" of the upgraded version is now a desktop application that you can install instead of having to use the system through a web browser. Although using a browser that is very good on many matters, being able to have a tool made specifically for work can often be a better solution. So let's look at Supervision Stations that can meet your needs.

Installation of Synology Surveillance Station

For its review, Synology lent me a DS416j camera and two Amcrest IP2M-841B. Surveillance Station flexibility allows you to use almost all Synology NAS and hundreds of different IP-based cameras, so you are not tied to this combination at all. In fact, the company has a calculator that helps you decide which NAS device is best for your situation, depending on how many video streams you will record, how many days of recording you need, and several other factors. 

Unlike other reviews, I will not go to DS416j performance now, although if there is interest I might do a full NAS review in the future. To start, you must install the Surveillance Station on your Synology NAS device. Just like other packages, DSM makes this process simple. Enter the NAS, open the Package Center, and you will find it below the "Recommended" package list. 

One click "Install" and you will run and run. It is also listed under "Security." After the Surveillance Station is active and running, there are two ways to access it: through the DSM application itself, or through a desktop application. 

Even though the first one was easier, I found that there were many problems that I could not solve, the most important was the fact that I could not play videos, regardless of whether I used Edge, Firefox, or Chrome. Therefore I highly recommend sticking to desktop applications. 

This is one area where Synology can make things a little clearer for end users. Besides downloading Synology Assistant, I rarely have a reason to go to the company's support site to download another. Unfortunately, after installing the Surveillance Station, there is no indication that the desktop client even exists. 

Given the fact that the program is completely new and the web version does not really function properly, I think this should be explained more clearly to the user. There is a client version available for Windows and Mac (sorry Linux users), and installation is a basic wizard that is easy to get through. After completion, you will be given three icons: Supervision Station Client, Live View, and Timeline. 

The main client gives you a desktop that has a look and feel similar to DSM, but includes a range of functions that are different from the core OS. The other two icons only let you jump directly to the features without the need for a desktop Surveillance station, useful if you want to put Live View on a monitor that separates itself.

Configuring Synology Surveillance Station

Now that you have installed the software, you can switch to installing your IP camera and configure the Surveillance Station to function the way you want, all of which are as easy as installing the package itself. 

The IP camera's initial setup will depend on the brand and model you are using, but once configured, adding it to the Surveillance Station is simple and easy to do and you don't need to use the interface of various camera vendors. 

The first step is to go to the Supervision Station. Both the desktop application and the web version will work, but for the rest of the reviews, let's just say I'm using the desktop version. Just enter the IP Camera tool and under 'Add', click 'Add Camera', which will take you to a simple guide. 

The first page is where you give the camera name, give the IP address, and tell the application what made, the model, and the firmware version that the camera runs. One minor bug is when you are asked for the firmware version, the dropdown box cuts the version. 

I can make the right choice based on the data provided, but this has the potential to be a problem depending on how long the version information is. Besides that, I didn't really see a difference in performance regardless of the firmware version I chose. The next page is where you configure the camera's video and audio formats (if applicable), and resolution. 

One good feature is that you can set two different profiles, one high quality and one lower quality. You can use then use these two settings to change behavior depending on what happened. For example, to save disk space, you usually it can record at 640x480 and only 5fps, but when the camera detects motion, you can increase the resolution to 1080p at 30fps for a while. 

The next page is where you set the recording feature like how long each video clip will take and how long you will save the video. The settings are quite clear, and if you want to dedicate all NAS devices, you can store lots of data for long periods of time. Finally, you will configure the recording schedule. You are presented with charts that represent all seven days a week and all 24 hours a day. 

By default, the camera records everything continuously, but to save space you have the option to change this. For example, you can choose a certain time period where it only records when a motion is detected. 

Or, you can leave recording unless there is audio in the room, passive infrared (PIR) is detected, or if the camera is being damaged even though it is important to note that the latter requires a camera to support the feature as well. Selecting a schedule is done by simply clicking and dragging all day and the time you want for the profile chosen to be applied to the Synology Surveillance Station.