Home network upgrade + surveillance

Hi Everyone!
I’d like to upgrade my very basic home network setup while adding a couple of cameras for surveillance. I’d be grateful if any of the experienced people would give their opinions about the hardware/software I have to purchase.
Here’s what I have:

  • a crappy modem/router provided by the ISP and one old wireless router in the living room, so I’m not tied to any company/system
  • a room separated from our living space, so the noise of fans, hard drives, etc. is not an issue
  • the same room has 8 CAT6 cables running to every room in the house

Here’s what I’d like to achieve:

  • A surveillance system with 3-4 cameras around the house + a doorbell camera:
    • The cables needed for these are not included in the aforementioned 8 cable.
    • I don’t need 24/7 video recording. I only need footage when something happens but would like to have live view via a mobile app if I’m not at home.
    • I’d like to see who’s at the door and answer the call via a mobile app.
  • A “proper” home network:
    • wired internet connection in every room
    • separate vLANs for the cameras, guest network, private network, etc.
    • a NAS for the movies, family pictures, videos, etc.
    • the ability to run our internet access through NordVPN/ExpressVPN/etc.
    • the ability to securely access the home network remotely

What are your hardware/software suggestions?

I would go pfsense for the firewall and Synology for the NAS & Surveillance.

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Yeah Tom did a vid just recently on Cams, 4k is the way to go, and the view in the dark looked very good.

The synology set up for cams looked interesting, I’ve got a QMAP and it also has a cam surveillance system, which works for me.

The gotcha is if you buy a NAS you have to factor in the cost of licenses, the number free will vary by unit, so could be cheaper buying a bigger unit.

It has a free app for mobile, most 3rd party apps for Android I’ve found to be crappy.

At least with QNAP they are adding new features like AI for smart alerts etc. but they are charging a subscription for this, so those costs will add up if you want all the bells and whistles.

My cams are 10 year old Trendnet’s, they still do a good job, but from what I’ve seen the lifespan of cams are only a couple of years of updates, so sticking it on its own vlan which can’t dial out is the way to go.

pfSense will give you what you want for your home network, but it’s a steep learning curve.

I am not a big fan of the QNAP devices due to their bad security practices.

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I wasn’t aware of the issues with QNAP and their better hardware specs for the same price was tempting but then I’ll stick to Synology.
I’ll obviously need a switch and forgot to mention that wifi is also needed. Also, the only reason why I lean towards pfsense because neither the Unifi nor the Omada systems can’t be configured to run with a VPN provider, like Nord. Am I right or do I miss something?

You are correct, UniFi routers and probably the TP Link ones can not easily be configured to do that. There are some unofficial ways to do it, but lots of more work and not at all supported by UniFi.

Ok, then I’ll stick to pfSense. Since two key elements in the setup, namely the router (maybe a Protectli Vault) and the NAS will not be part of a system like Unifi and TP-Link Omada, I guess it doesn’t make sense to buy a controller, a switch, and ACs from them. Ok, maybe the latter does…
Can you recommend me a 16 port switch with a couple of PoE ports for the cameras and some ACs?

Yeah QNAP seem to have pretty frequent firmware updates, I think the risk is less if you don’t expose it to the web. Pays your money takes your pick.

Have been using EAP245 | AC1750 Wireless MU-MIMO Gigabit Ceiling Mount Access Point | TP-Link United Kingdom for a while, if you only have one AP you don’t need a controller, though you can also just run it in a vm too.

Also use Netgear switches, they are pretty cost effective as long as you get the Managed Pro version, it has a lot of features, don’t bother with the Plus if you want LACP and SNMP.

16 ports are a bit tricky to find for some reason, not too many options.

…and those go back more than a few years. Go with the Synology licenses for the cams is a one time purchase $50 each but you get 2 with the NAS, Now if you are feeling your Wheaties you could build your own TrueNAS Core box but then you’d not have the video for security.

Thanks for your thoughts about the subject!

Is it possible/isn’t it a bad practice to use 2 HDDs in a RAID 1 setup for family photos, movies, etc. and the other 2 HDDs for surveillance on a 4 bay Synology NAS?
I’d like to access the cameras remotely but not the family stuff…

To access Synology Surveillance Station remotely the “best” (smoothest?) way is to enable QuickConnect and use their app or the QuickConnect website if on a computer. With that in mind it doesn’t matter how you chop up your disks, they will all be available remotely. Just sort your data and make good use of your users and the access they have and don’t forget to turn on multi-factor authentication.

What is likely a more important issue is space and performance. Your Surveillance Station will gladly fill up all the space you give it and even though this can be limited it might be easier to manage if you have things on two different volumes. As long as you don’t plan on keeping the video long term and have a plan to export incidents off the Synology for safe keeping then I would see no problem with a raid mirror volume for your personal data and a stripe volume for the cameras. Keep in mind for the future that this may limit the performance and thus scalability a bit vs having all of the disks on one volume.

Then again, if it’s not in use yet I would try it both ways first and see which one I like better. By “I” I mean “you”, because I know that I like managing one big volume better unless I have a good reason not to. In the past I have always put surveillance systems on dedicated hardware to make sure they are safe and run smoothly.