Digital Sentry: How to extend video storage retention time on DSSRV / DSSRV2 and DS NVs recorders


Current video retention time is less than desired.

Product Line

Pelco Video Management


  • Digital Sentry


Lots of factors contribute to storage retention time, bitrate, HDD storage capacity, recording schedules, camera location and activity.



Verify all Data drives are activated for storage in DS Admin.


  1. Open Windows Explorer (WIN + E) and check which drives are available for video storage. Take note of the drive letters.
    Recorders with a RAID volume may have a single data drive with a large amount of storage or JBOD systems may have multiple data drives used for storage.
  2. Open DS Admin on the server (START > All Programs > Pelco > DS Admin) and login with the admin user account.

    Note: If the folder tree does not expand after logging in or you get a message stating the connection failed, most likely using the wrong password.  Locate the correct password for the admin account, default = admin.
  3. Expand the VAU(s) folder and click on the system name like hyperlink (click directly on the name). 
  4. Select the Storage Locations tab, verify the data drives documented in Step 1 are listed and have a checkmark in 'Activate Storage Location'.

    The OS C:\ partition should NOT be activated for storage.


Verify video saved on the data drives is current.

Video is recorded to the data drives in the following folder structure:  'X:\Month\Day\videofilename.XPA'   (replace 'X' with your local data drive letters)
     Example:  D:\02\26\036EE88A.XPA    (Video file recorded to the D:\ drive on February 26th)

Navigate the data drives and right-click on the current 'Month' folder and select Properties,  verify the same months which show video in a DS ControlPoint search are using all of the storage of the data drives.

Note:  Video is placed in the folders based on UTC time (no timezone) so you may notice video towards the evening being moved to the next day folder, this is normal and the modified time for the file will still be accurate with timezone.


Locate and document the bit-rate of your IP cameras.

*For non-Pelco 3rd party IP cameras, refer to the manufacture documentation for bit-rate information.


  1. Run DS Quick Setup on the recorder (Start > All Programs > Pelco > DS Quick Setup)
  2. Next  > YES (UAC prompt) > select Add/Remove IP Cameras - Keep Existing Configuration and then click Next > leave default recording selection and click Next.
  3. DS Quick Setup will build a list of cameras, once completed, click the Record column to sort by cameras that are being recorded.
  4. Click the Globe icon to open the cameras web interface next to the Record checkmark.

  5. The default web browser will load to the cameras IP address, Login (if requried) to the cameras web interface (default = admin,admin)
  6. Navigate the cameras web interface to Settings > A/V Streams > Video Configuration
  7. Document the Bit Rate (kbit/sec) value for each camera (example: 5946)

    Note: Adjusting the slider in the camera's web interface will lower the bit-rate value but the Digital Sentry software will just re-adjust automatically to the prior setting, the cameras bit rate is directly related to the 'Quality' value in DS Quick Setup / DS Admin.  If you would like to adjust you must adjust using the Digital Sentry software.

  8. Repeat for all IP cameras on the system.

    Note: For analog cameras connected to a ENC5416 / ENC5516 direct attach encoder, the DS storage estimator must be used to determine bit rate.


Use the DS storage estimator to understand current storage and then determine how much additional storage is required.

  1. Launch the Digital Sentry Storage Estimator on
  2. The DS storage estimator does not allow for multiple camera group calculations, this means that you may need to do several separate calculations and then total yourself when completed.  This article is assuming we are using an existing DVR with cameras already recording and the desire is to extend storage. 

    The steps below are to understand your current usage and then to determine how much storage would be required to extend to retention to the required time.
    1. Start by grouping your cameras into like bit-rate groups. 

      Note: The estimator allows you to enter your own bit rate value so you can enter the bit rate found in the previous step and then multiply by the number of cameras.
      • For Camera Type:/Compression: Select the camera model which is close to the model you have.
      • Number Of Cameras: Leave the value at '1' for now, will fill out the other fields and then change after.
      • Images Per Second:  Change to match existing camera configuration.
      • Activity Level (%): This is the amount of motion activity, changes in activity level can drastically change the retention time.  Motion recording recommend between 30% - 60% and for Continuous recording set to 100%.
      • Resolution:  Select the resolution which matches or is close to the resolution configured in Digital Sentry for the group of cameras.
      • Bit Rate (Mbps)+:  The estimator will have a default value after you select the other fields for bit rate, this may or may not match your specific camera configuration.
        • Enter Bit Rate: After the other fields have been set and the 'Number of Cameras' is set to (1), type in the bit-rate value (of a single cameras bit rate) which is close to most of your cameras (example from image above: 5946Kbit = 5.8Mbps)
        • Add Number of Cameras: Once the bit rate has been entered, now enter the number of cameras and click or tab to another area for the page to update.
    2. Example camera group estimate:

      10 Spectra Enhanced IP cameras running 15fps, 1920x1080 with 60% motion activity and a bit rate of 5.8Mbps per camera.

      The number is RED indicate recommended order when entering in the fields.

    3. The 10 Spectra Enhanced cameras require 11275GB's of storage for 30 days retention.
    4. Take note of the 11275GB for the first camera group, repeat the estimate for other groups of cameras with like bit rates and then add the results together to understand the total storage required for all cameras.

      If I also had an additional 5 IME319's running at  2048x1536, 30fps (80% quality configured in DS software) with a bit rate of 9175 (kbit/sec) or 9Mbps.

      Total for 5 cameras is 45Mbps with 60% motion and 30days retention = 8748GB's.

      Camera group 1 + Camera group 2 (11275 + 8748) = 20,023GB's / 19.6TB's for 30 days retention. 


Configuration optimizations which can increase storage retention.

  • Scheduled video recording - Continuous or Event based.
  • Camera Bit Rate - Resolution, Frame Rate, Quality
  • Adding Additional Storage


Scheduled Video Record - Motion Recording

If the cameras are currently configured for full time Continuous recording, one option could be to change the recording schedule to Event Based > Motion only recording.


Camera Bit Rate - Resolution, Frame Rate, Quality

Adjusting the camera quality settings can make a large difference in the bit rate being handled by the recorder as well as storage retention.

A couple of things to understand:

  1. The camera 'Quality' value in DS Quick Setup or DS Admin (DS Admin > click on the camera under cameras folder > under the General tab click the "Edit IP Camera Settings" button) directly relates to the Bit Rate value in the cameras web interface > A/V Streams > Video Configuration > Stream Configuration.  Example: If you set the camera Quality to = 50 via DS Admin or DS Quick Setup, you'll notice the Bit Rate (kbit/sec) value in the cameras web interface > Stream Configuration will now show the slider at around 50% usage and the associated bit rate (after a page refresh).  Doing this will lower the bit rate without impacting resolution or frame rate. The general rule is you need more bit rate (higher Quality) to match more movement in the image. 
    Recommend configuring a quality between 35 to 50 and then watch video to verify quality is not too negatively impacted.  If the camera is viewing something like a highway or fast moving traffic, may need to a quality around 65 to 80.
  2. Adjust the camera resolution or frame rate by half does not necessarily equal half the bit rate.  If you adjust camera resolution or lower the frame rate using DS Quick Setup or DS Admin, make sure to check the cameras web interface to see how much of impact the changes made on the bit rate.

    How to adjust the Name, Resolution, Frame Rate, or Quality of an IP Camera connected to the Digital Sentry system? 
  3. Some Pelco IP camera models support a sophisticated variable bit rate mode called Smart Compression. This mode when enabled can significantly reduce bit rate when there is low activity in front of the camera but then increase when needed. The Smart Compression option can be located in the cameras web interface, Settings > A/V Stream > Smart Compression.

    Note: Digital Sentry does not support the Dynamic GOP Length option availabe in the Smart Compression page, do not enable. DS does support the Smart Compression levels Low, Medium or High.

    Models which currently support Smart Compresssion:


Adding Additional Storage 

  • DSSRV - Supports up to 6 3TB internal storage drives - Drive 1 includes a 50GB OS C:\ partition and the remaining allocated for storage.
  • DSSRV2 - JBOD: Supports up to 5 4TB internal storage drives - There are 6 slots but due to the use of an internal SSD drive for the OS, only 5 bays are availabe for use.
                     RAID5: Units with RAID cards installed can use all 6 drive bays and havqe 6 4TB HDD's installed.  To add drives requires either a system recovery with Create RAID 5 array (data loss) or an (OCE) online capacity expansion.
    • *models with an the internal DVD drive installed can have a maximum of 4 4TB storage drives installed.
    • 4TB HDD Part Number: DS-EN-HDD-4TB
  • In order for new storage drives to be included into the software, must be formatted NTFS with a drive letter recongnized in Windows, then the system rebooted/restarted.  On the system restart the drive will be automatically added to DS and activated for storage.  Refer to the first section in the article to verify if the new drives are listed and activated in DS Admin after the system reboot.

For reference: Adding a new unformatted storage drive to Digital Sentry DSSRV / DSSRV2 (JBOD)