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Top 5 most frequently asked technical questions about network cameras

December 17th, 2012 by Raymond Crawford

Our technical team get asked the same questions a lot and so we’ve let one of them loose on this blog to tell us which ones. Over to Raymond…

We receive many queries on the technical support line here at NW, and of course they do vary widely, from customers looking for advice or technical help, right through to providing support for full security systems installations and integrations.

We do, however, answer certain questions more often than others. In fact, I would say that the majority of technical support questions would fall into a handful of issues.

In this blog I will outline five of the issues we most commonly see and provide a link or a brief guide on each so we here on technical support can spend more time discussing Star Trek!

Question #1
“How can I access my camera from the Internet?” – Port Forwarding

This is by far the most common question we are asked. The reason we receive the amount of calls we do regarding this is simple; it’s not a simple process and the method more often than not requires some sort of router configuration, as well as an update to camera settings . For single camera installations or small security systems some form of external access is usually required and port forwarding is the way to do this.

The trouble is, every router brand has its own unique way of setting up port-forwarding and even same-brand models occasionally differ in port forwarding method. We have, however, previously written a guide on setting up port-forwarding which you should find helpful.

How to set up port forwarding for your IP camera

The guide doesn’t attempt to explain all the different ways to set up each router (unfortunately) but it will explain how it is done generically and provides a link to an invaluable website that contains hundreds of router guides.

I hope though that our guide will improve your understanding of what port-forwarding is and why it is such an important thing to configure if you want to access your network camera from another network.

Question #2
“I have port-forwarded but still can’t get access my camera!?” – Dynamic DNS setup

Dynamic DNS – this little beauty of a system is helping thousands if not millions of network cameras remain contactable through thick and thin. This is the unsung hero of IP video – and I will explain why.

You are probably aware of the fact each that time you connect to the internet you have an IP address. In standard broadband accounts this address is normally randomly assigned from your ISPs pool of IP addresses (to a certain extent) meaning one day, from the internet, you may be 84.211.111.2, and the next 84.211.56.26. Now the problem here is if you want to connect to your IP camera at home from the internet you would need to know this current, ever-changing IP. Not ideal.

This is where Dynamic DNS comes in. A dynamic DNS service (such as dyndns.org, no-ip.com, axiscam.net or viewnetcam.com) means your camera will automatically send updates with the current IP address, when it changes, to a server somewhere on the internet. You then access your camera using a pre-defined address, for example http://mydnsaddress.axiscam.net. By having this address you will never have to worry about the current IP address and you should always be able to access your camera.

Here are our guides on setting dynamic DNS up on network cameras from Axis and Panasonic. We’ll bring you other guides in the near future.

Dynamic DNS for Axis IP cameras
Dynamic DNS for Panasonic IP cameras

Question #3
“Do I have my .what file?” – Installing Milestone XProtect

Milestone XProtect is a great recording solution for use on home networks right up to enterprise level solutions. XProtect offer a solution for everyone. The installation process, however, could be a little more user friendly. There are SLCs and .lic files flying around and for even the more experienced customers it can be quite confusing. Never fear though, we’ve recently written a clear step-by-step walk-through of the whole process. The guide uses XProtect Essential, but to be fair there’s not much difference between any of the versions during the installation process itself.

How to install Milestone XProtect

Question #4
“I can’t access my camera on my local network!!” – NAT Loopback

We often spend time helping customers set up their systems with all the goodies (port-forwarding, dynamic DNS, wireless settings etc), but often receive a call back with “I can’t access my camera using the address you provided!!” which can be confusing for the customer.

There is normally a simple reason for this. When we have helped a customer set up a dynamic DNS address they want to ensure it works, so they type in their new web address expecting to get through to their camera and find it fails to connect. “Why” they ask?! Well, thankfully, the answer is usually quite simple. On some routers the ‘NAT loopback’ system prevents an external address (such as a dynamic DNS address) being reachable on the local network. Routers either have, or don’t have this feature enabled, and you won’t know until you try to access a local device, like a network camera, using an external address.

Learn more about NAT loopback and how to get around it

Question #5
“How can I receive emails from my camera, when motion is detected!?” – Email Alerts

Email alerts is a very useful feature found in most IP cameras. Email alerts can be sent by the camera to notify you of any movement it has detected, for example, if there is movement in your house when you’re on holiday. Cameras can be set up to detect this and send you an email as a notification. Since you have set up port-forwarding and dynamic DNS you could log into your camera and take a look.

Email alerts are relatively easy to set up. We have a couple of guides which you can find below for BB range Panasonic cameras:

Guide 1
Guide 2

In the future we will add to this list for other popular cameras. In the meantime stay safe and have a lovely Christmas and New Year from the NW elves.

Let us know if you have any other issues you’d like us to cover or give us a call on 0151 633 2111 if you need any technical advice or assistance.

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