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Locally stored video is a good choice for do it yourselfers on a budget, but you have to be careful not to overwrite video you may need later. Cloud storage makes it easy to store and access recorded video, but it can cost hundreds of dollars per year depending on your subscription. Some systems offer both cloud storage and local storage, and some provide a dedicated storage drive that gives you DVR capabilities with time lapse recording, which makes it easy to find a video event that took place at a specific point in time. All of the systems we've tested feature an app that lets you use your smartphone as your command center to arm and disarm the system, create rules, add and delete components, and receive push notifications when alarms
are triggered. Most apps also allow you to do things like view live and recorded video, lock and unlock doors, change thermostat settings, and silence alarms. Some apps will even use your phone's location services to automatically arm and disarm the system according to your physical location. The more expensive systems usually come with a wall mounted panel that acts as a communications
hub, with a touch screen display that allows you to do everything the app does. The display lets you communicate with a professional monitoring service when an alarm is triggered and view video from any of the installed security cameras. While many systems use wireless components that are installed using double sided tape, some high end systems use components that require professional installation. These soup to nuts systems typically cost considerably more than DIY systems and offer 24/7 professional monitoring, but you may have to enter into a multi year contract and pay a hefty termination fee if you break it. They usually use touch screen hubs thatcontain RF, Wi Fi, Zigbee, and Z Wave radios, allowing them to communicate with and control a multitude of components including door and window sensors, door locks, glass break detectors, indoor and outdoor cameras, light switches, motion and water detectors, smoke/CO alarms, thermostats, video doorbells, and a host of other home automation devices.