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Milestone Essential v Express

November 24th, 2016 by Paul Sandford

Milestone XProtect Essential and Express

On October 10th this year, Milestone replaced XProtect Go with XProtect Essential as their free Video Management Software (VMS) option for entry-level users.

Ahead of this change, we posed the question “What’s the real cost of making Milestone Essential free?” in a blog post that highlighted the known limitations of the newly positioned product. It was clear even back then that it would actually make more sense for many users to use Milestone Express rather than Essential but, the real difference in cost was still unknown.

It’s now 6 weeks since Milestone launched the new free 8ch version of Essential and we now know more about the new annual subscription packs, the availability of key features and software updates plus the associated costs.

Milestone XProtect Essential is now a non-starter whether your CCTV system is large or small and it all boils down to one crucial element – provision of Care Plus.

XProtect Essential no longer includes one year of Care Plus – it must be purchased inclusive of an 8 channel annual subscription pack. Without Care Plus you’re missing:

  • Updates to new versions of Milestone XProtect
  • Key features such as push notifications

Not being able to update your software to the latest version or make use of push notifications could be a high price to pay for the “free” version of Essential and we’ll explain why, comparing two different size video surveillance systems over 3 years – one using Essential and the other using Express.

Version updates

If you’re wondering how likely it is that you’ll need to update your Video Management Software (VMS) at some point, have a think about how many versions of Windows, updates and service packs have been released in just the last couple of years. No software is ever “completed” if the operating system continually evolves. Milestone updates XProtect to keep up with these changes and ensure the software continues to operate effectively.

Milestone also optimises the performance of each new version of the software, adding new features and bug fixes. For example, XProtect 2016 introduced many performance improvements including hardware decoding and acceleration. This feature was added to meet the demand for higher resolutions (1080p, 4K and above) and allows more high resolution cameras at higher frame rates to be viewed at the same time.

With continued rapid development in the world of IP video and its convergence with other devices, cyber security has become more important than ever. As each vulnerability is identified, it requires a security enhancement in a new version of XProtect – the cost of not plugging these holes in security could be significant to any business.

Push notifications

Staying informed is an important requirement for most users choosing to use a video surveillance system.

Alert on Milestone Mobile app

By using Milestone’s mobile app on your smart phone or tablet, you can be notified when an alarm is triggered on your premises. You can then remotely check live video and even review recorded footage to verify what’s occurring at the alarm location.

These “push” notifications to your mobile device are only available with Care Plus.

Reacting to notifications can make the difference between alerting police about a suspect currently loitering outside your premises on a Saturday night and the Monday morning shock of discovering the weekend burglary that’s cost your business dearly.

Not all costs are visible

The tables below illustrate 2 different sized systems running over 3 years. Prices and conversion rates are correct at the time of writing and it’s acknowledged that prices are likely to change slightly in year’s 2 and 3.

Comparison of Milestone XProtect Essential and Express for a 10 camera CCTV system over 3 years

The tangible costs are quite clear and the tables illustrate that a system of more than 8 cameras is going to cost far less using XProtect Express (a saving of £331 / €390 in the example above). Bear in mind if your business is growing and your system is likely to increase in size then Express also offers more cost-effective expansion.

A further saving could be made with Express if a 3-year Care Plus package was purchased in the first year. We based the figures on purchasing 1-year of Care Plus each year to mirror what is provided with the Essential annual subscription pack.

Comparison of Milestone XProtect Essential and Express for a 4 camera CCTV system over 3 years

For a system of 8 cameras or less, it may appear at first glance that the obvious choice is XProtect Essential but, limitations such as no support for archiving to Network Attached Storage (NAS) and the crucial absence of Care Plus mean it’s simply not viable to protect your business or organisation using this setup.

In reality, if you choose to use the new free 8ch Essential, you may never know the true cost until it’s too late.

Need to upgrade to Express?

If you’re an existing Milestone XProtect Essential user and need to make the move to Express, there are some nice incentives to upgrade. Users that already have a valid Milestone Care Plus plan can upgrade to Milestone XProtect Express for free.

Users that don’t currently have Milestone Care Plus in place, can upgrade by purchasing three years of Milestone Care Plus at a 50% discount. These offers will be valid until 31st December 2016.

If you’re an existing Milestone XProtect Essential user and need advice about upgrading, contact us – we’ll be happy to help.

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