Webcam Program Reviews
Edited by Earl
Go right to reviews
I looked for a webcam program that meets these specifications:
Detection triggers video recording.
This feature is good for security applications.
When a person walks in front of the camera, they trigger the motion
detector, automatically starting the video recorder.
message to my cell phone when motion is detected.
- Uploads video
to a web server by FTP.
This feature allows remote monitoring. It also
as a backup. Without this option, if a burglar breaks into your house
and steals the computer that you recorded your video to, you'll lose
the video with the computer. However, if you back up your video to a
remote location, you can download it from another location, even if
your surveillance computer is gone.
format for video recording.
The videos should be viewable on any
operating system, including Linux, Windows, and Macs. The videos should
be in a format that can be edited years from now using freely available
tools. Acceptable video formats include: AVI, MPG, MPG4, OGM.
Programs are sorted from favorite to least favorite.
1. Blue Iris
2. VisionGS BE
3. Webcam Monitor
4. Active Webcam
5. WheresJames free
6. Yawcam free
Price: $50 for full version
Operating System: Microsoft Windows XP, Server
2003, Vista, or Windows 7
Downloaded from: blueirissoftware.com
This was the best program that I tested, but not the cheapest.
Can connect multiple
cameras at the same time. The cameras
can be camcorders, webcams, network IP cams, analog cards, or your PC
I was able to successfully connect 2 camcorders to the
program at the same time. According to the documentation, you can
connect up to 25 cameras. However, you would need a
powerful computer to be able to handle that much input at one time. My
test computer maxed out on the CPU cycles (100% CPU usage) for just 2
cameras when they recorded video. The test PC has a Pentium 4 2.5 GHz
CPU with 1 GB RAM. My test computer is probably an average
one, so the average user might find it difficult to add more than a
motion. When motion is detected, Blue
Iris can trigger an alarm.
Instead of an alarm, you can choose for the program to send you an
email, or start up another program or script. I set up my installation
to send me a text message on my cell phone whenever the program detects
motion. It has worked reliably, with no false alarms so far.
in a non-proprietary format. I like that I
can record videos to AVI format. I can edit those videos using the
software of my choice.
- There are frequent
updates. This shows that the software is
actively maintained and improved.
- Must get online to validate your software license.
This limits the number of computers you can run this
software on with a single license. If you want to use this
program on more than one computer at the same address, you might run
- Worked only with Windows. I would like to see this program
function to work
My PTZ webcam, one that has the capability to move itself,
could not be moved with Blue Iris when I first got started. The Blue
Iris website indicates that
it supports the PTZ control for other camera models, but not mine,
which I feel is a popular model. I have the Logitech Quickcam
This webcam worked fine with the program for everything
but Blue Iris could not access the PTZ movement control.
I sent an email to Blue Iris and received a prompt reply
from Ken. He gave me two points which solved this issue.
First, he said to choose the DirectShow option in
the PTZ settings.
Second, the Logitech Quickcam Orbit/Sphere MP
requires an update to the Logitech software, which allows the
camera's PTZ to work with 3rd party software, like Blue Iris.
I downloaded new software from Logitech.com
. I was running version 10.4. This update brought
me to 11.5.
Now I can access the PTZ function of my webcam using Blue
Iris. It's pretty cool to be able to remotely move
the camera from another computer on the web.
might disable your program
on Mar-01-2010, by Earl
Blue Iris popped up a notice saying there was a new update
that the old
version of Blue Iris be uninstalled. Blue Iris uninstalled
itself and loaded back up in demo mode and put a
watermark on my video stating that my version of the program was not
registered. I actually paid for the full version of the
program, so I knew this was some mistake.
I sent Blue Iris an email and received a prompt response.
It looks like
during my testing on multiple computers, I activated the license key
too many times. After explaining my issue, Blue Iris reset my
key and now the program is again working as it should (and on
only one computer).
michael - Wednesday,
August 20, 2008 at 11:57 PM
Hi, good information, thanks.
i'm using blueiris and the orbit MP and can't get the ptz to work. very
frustrating. Ken told me the same things to try but they didn't work
for me. i can not figure out why. i'm running 11.4 and can only choose
i wish it would work, i like blueiris a lot and i've tried many myself.
You are running version 11.4 of the Logitech Quickcam software?
I am running 11.5. It might be worth a shot to
download the latest
. Personally, I would uninstall the Quickcam
software first, then install the latest version. What OS are
you running it on? I have the PTZ functions working on XP.
- Sunday, March 8, 2009 at 04:13 AM
Excellent reviews on various webcam programs. My home was burglarized
so I am looking for some webcam software that allows me to watch my
home when I am away. I have bought the Dlink network camera and when I
look at the reviews at Newegg, people complained about Dlink own
software and people there recommended either Iris or Active Webcam.
Your review steers me toward Iris. But I am a little bit concerned
about your statement that Iris uses up a lot of CPU power with more
than 2 cameras recorded. I plan to use 3 cameras but my original idea
of using a netbook such as the EEE PC to conserve energy is shot now
because the eee pc doesn't have a lot of horsepower. So I am
wondering if I set the recording only when motion is detected - and can
I do this per webcam - will this require less CPU power?
Yes, Blue Iris records video on just those cameras that detected
motion. The computer will not start recording video for all
camcorders attached to your computer unless they all detected motion.
The less recording your computer is doing, the less CPU usage
your computer will consume.
- Wednesday, April 8, 2009 at 1:17 PM
It may be the Logitech drivers that are actually eating up the CPU
power, not Blue Iris. Most USB cameras do the majority of the image
processing in the driver software on the PC, to avoid having expensive
dedicated video processing circuitry inside the camera. This image
processing takes CPU cycles.
I use Blue Iris with a multi-cam PCI board (4 cameras) that does the
image processing on the board. Running all four cameras at once, Blue
Iris rarely moves my CPU more than 5%. The only time it starts using
any significant CPU is when it records video. Recording all four
cameras at once will use about 75% CPU.
Thank you for that informative feedback. I guess if I want to
more cameras to my computer, I should look for a camera with its own
- Wednesday, March 3, 2010
Great review, thanks a lot. I have been using BlueIris for years and
love it. also had the same problem with the Logitech cam. Ken has
always been fast with replies. love that.
it's my understanding that the CPU usage shoots up with Motion
Detection. it has to compare every image against the next etc... motion
detecting on more then one camera sucks up more CPU.
my old single-core pentium struggles with 4 cams motion detecting, but
it works. if your netbook is dedicated to this purpose i bet it would
be fine for four cams.
- Saturday, August 7, 2010
The CPU usage depends on various things. Like resolution, FPS,
video mode (mjpeg jpeg push, h246 etc.), motion detection configuration.
- November 30, 2010
Reading this forum I am unsure if the term "webcam" is referring to
a USB camera connected to a computer, or if it is, in fact, a Network
or IP camera connected to a router, switch, or hub on a network? I have
1 Trendnet TV-IP410 network (IP)camera connected to a switch and 1
Foscam FI8918W wireless network (IP) camera connected wirelessly to a
router. I plan to purchase additional network cameras as well and am
looking to view all makes and models on one software program with tiles
where I can click on one tile to enlarge it, should I wish to view only
one camera briefly. I would also need to do pan and tilt on the models
with that option. Can you tell me if the Blue Iris software is capable
of my needs? Or another program? Thanks...
- January 31, 2012
well it looks like the grinch may be behind blue iris.. as of 25
dec 2011, the release of blue iris 3.0 put an end to updates for all
existing customers. anyone who bought blue iris more than 3 months
prior to the 3.0 release is stuck with a dead end piece of software
that will never be updated again, a great christmas present, thank you.
a blue iris smartphone app would have been a much better development, i
would have paid extra for that but this update with new licence
purchase is simply a greedy low blow..
if you buy this software
whatever version it's up to now just expect the updates to end anytime
and start reading the fine print carefully when you download an update
so you don't get switched to a convenient monthly subscription licence,
possibly on a lag cloud.. that might be the next move, times are tough
I noticed the nagging screen asking for a paid update, too. My
Blue Iris installation no longer works on IE9 for any view except the
Motion JPEG mode. The Java and Active-X do not work any more,
which is disappointing, even when I make the required updates.
- February 21, 2012
I get Blue Iris to work on Android phone but I cannot get it to work on a Balckberry 9900.
- February 29, 2012
For some unknown reason, it doesn't detect nor record live video
from my first webcam, an antique, Filand, 640x480 7.5fps max. With
other applications accessing it, I have no problem getting live video
out of it, although it's blurry.
Once every 30 seconds
approximately, video briefly turns to colored vertical stripes, and an
updated image appears. I don't think it detects motion properly.
questions Blue Iris?
Review updated Feb-04-2011
Operating System: Microsoft Windows
Bought online from visiongs.de
This program has lots of cool features for its modest price.
VisionGS successfully sends me text messages
on my cell phone when
motion. It also successfully sends pictures in emails, which
could view on a Blackberry cell phone. It was successful in
uploading pictures to my FTP server every 30 seconds.
The main disadvantage I see with VisionGS compared to Blue Iris regards the video
recording feature when motion is detected. With VisionGS,
there is no video recorded before
motion is detected. You want to know
what triggered the motion, right? VisionGS only shows what
the motion occurred. The video might not show you what
triggered the alarm.
VisionGS will take still images before the motion trigger.
But I would rather have this information included in the
menus are not intuitive to use. Seems like I had to add the
information in multiple locations to get the program to function.
The main advantage of
VisionGS compared to the #1 program reviewed here is the cost... a full
$20 less than Blue Iris.
There are quite a few good features included with this
program considering its price.
with camcorders on Firewire or USB. This is an
advantage to free programs, like WheresJames, which
crashed when connected to camcorders.
motion. When motion is detected, VisionGS
can send you an
email, or start up another program or script. I set up my
to send me a text message on my cell phone whenever the program detects
motion. It also archives images to my FTP server.
When motion is detected, it can execute a program.
a test script that opens a movie on the computer and begins playing
it. Unfortunately, VisionGS opens the program every time is
detects motion. So every few seconds, another copy of the
movie began playing. There were multiple instances of the
movie playing at the same time, resulting in an echo and a bogged down
CPU. I had to edit my script to only start if it was
already running. The average user may not be into writing
own scripts, so this part of VisionGS is not quite right.
should be an option within VisionGS to execute a script just one time.
So this could be a con. For me, I can edit my
get around this.
- FTP uploads.
Could not automatically upload video to my FTP
server. VisionGS will upload images, but
not videos. The videos get saved to your local hard drive.
If someone steals your computer, you lose the videos.
Detection. Videos recorded do not
footage of what triggered the motion detection.
- No Audio.
VisionGS does not record sound.
lacks control. There
is no fast way to turn on or off the program without being caught by
the motion detection as you leave your computer running the program.
Program should be more intuitive to use.
The user interface can be tough to navigate. Here are some
set up VisionGS to upload a photo by FTP every 30 seconds
If you want your webcam to send a photo to your server automatically,
regardless of whether there is motion...
Click on the device settings icon.
Click on Capture/Upload...
Then make sure the check box is marked for "Capture/Upload
You can choose any time interval you want. In the above
example, I chose one picture to be uploaded every 30 seconds.
the blue bar that moves at the bottom of the program?
Sometimes the bar is black...
This black bar means that the program is not connecting to the
internet. It's in offline mode.
And sometimes the bar is moving and blue...
If the progress bar is blue, that means the program is set up to upload
images to the internet.
So, if you want your webcam to be offline, be sure that the progress
bar is black. If you want your webcam to upload photos to the
internet, it should be blue.
More examples and tools available from the VisionGS Workshops
Version v4.24 tested Jan-22-2008
Operating System: Windows 7 / 2008
/ Vista / 2003 / XP
Comments edited Feb-2-2011
Downloaded from: deskshare.com
This program has been updated
since I tested it. As
of March 1, 2010, the program is now up to version 5.24.
Just looking at their website, I don't see any compelling
to choose this program over the other ones tested above. See
- It takes pictures and video when it detects motion
- Worked with a high-definition
camcorder using firewire. (I
could monitor video in high-def
but I did not test recording in high-def.)
- Program emailed me a JPG image when it sensed motion.
- Can only monitor one webcam at a time. Must pay extra for
multiple cameras. They have a $90 version of the program, called Security Monitor Pro
that allows motion detection and recording from multiple cameras at the
same time. But why pay $90 for this when you could use one of
less expensive programs shown above?
- Records video only to the .WMV format. There is no choice
to change the video to any other format, like AVI or MPG.
This is a
deal-breaker for me. I don't want to be stuck with WMV files
that require specific software to edit and play back.
- Could only record video at a maximum resolution of 320 x
in our test setup. (Sony Handyman Mini-DV camcorder, model DCR-HC21,
connected via USB). It's possible another setup could get a
higher resolution, though... I don't know.
questions about Webcam Monitor ?
Price: $49 for Active WebCam Pro (which has motion detection
As of March 7, 2009, I see that the product name may have changed.
It now appears to be called Argus
Works really well with motion detection
Can capture video using a firewire
connection, meaning the resolution of the video
is higher than that achieved with a streaming USB connection.
Recorded audio and video using a USB connection with an
old Digital8 camcorder.
Successfully uploaded snapshots (still images) to my FTP
server once every 10 seconds.
Video is saved in their proprietary format: AWlive. It's
if not impossible, to edit the video or convert it to
different formats, like MPG or AVI. Our
computers crashed when Active Webcam tried to save videos in AVI format
using many codecs, including the Xvid codec.
We were not able to stream video by FTP using either
or a Java Applet. Our only success with FTP was to upload still photos
to our website, about one
image per second.
The program automatically deleted images, preventing us
archiving images on our FTP server.
Comments or questions about Active Webcam?
- Sunday, January 29, 2012
It seems like I've tried every software option out there, and this
one is by FAR the best. I've noticed a lot of changes since your
review...including the price...it's almost doubled. Everything is
really straight forward, but that's not to say easy, you will need the
manual with this one. I did have it up and running with a single
cam in about a half an hour though, and felt pretty comfortable about
it. The program now has a built-in function to change the video
format to wmv, mpeg, or avi. I'm going to keep using this for a
while and see if it's worth the money (sure seems pricy, but it really
is feature rich.)
I suggest you revisit this one if you
are still doing these. Thanks though, without your reviews I
would have never found this one, and all the recommendations on "large
mainstream" sites seemed to be the same, crappy, and completely wrong.
- February 22, 2012
Active Webcam is the worst of them all, You pay for each cam that
you have on it, and by the video quality you want, the cheapest is
20.00 per mpnth (YES I SAID PER MONTH NOT PER YEAR)Its a real rip off.
Thanks for testing the programs out for us. I almost paid for one that i didnt need.
- February 29, 2012
Active WebCam seems more recent than Argus DVR. At least the
former is easier to navigate, and hides its antiquated technology
better. Argus relies on the really antiquated ActiveX controls that
Interface is awful, very confusing to navigate. One can
not be quite sure what "snapshots" should be used for, why they would
be constantly generated, as opposite to updated pictures that get
deleted after an even has ceased. It's also not clear how to start and
stop the program manually.
I found a very bad surprise: on a
3.2GHz Pentium 4, Windows XP Pro with two webcams, it's sluggish as
frozen hell. Also, although it does allow you to select another codec
than its AWLive format, it doesn't alert you when it cannot find the
codec, and doesn't provide any straightforward way to point the
application toward the codec. The consequence? It detects motion, as
you want it, but when you're looking for the corresponding videos, you
just end up with a 0-byte file.
There are more user-friendly applications.
- May, 22 2012
I have recently tested both Argus and Active WebCam. They
are sold as two separate products now. Argus has an antiquated
interface, but still has all the functionality of Active WebCam.
Support for either is non-existent. I really mean ZERO. So I find it
REALLY difficult to give them $. The pro here is that the free version
of Argus has a nag screen on the preview pin only. Any recorded video
views without the nag screen.
Active Webcam has a slicker
interface and a stand alone viewer for those who dislike using ie.
Althought the tech behind the viewer is the same used by Argus through
ie. I find the Argus ie viewer to be a better solution bc you have full
setup control from the exact same interface.
Active WebCam can be difficult to configure with Netgear firewalls, while Argus has no such issues.
main difference between the two is the resources utilized. Argus can
run four cameras with a capture card using less than 50% cpu with a now
ancient Pentium 2.5 Ghz and 1 GB RAM. I even have an older Celeron
running 4 cams with ease. Active WebCam and most other programs lock up
these same machines.
#5 WheresJames Webcam Publisher
Operating System: Windows
Tested again on Jan-31-2011.
Comments edited Feb-02-2011.
Downloaded from sourceforge.net
Before you install, please read.
Before installing, I suggest that you disconnect your computer
from the Internet. Here's why...
The program connects to the WhereJames server the first
time you start it up, revealing your IP to the site owner. You
in the settings. Uncheck the box shown below.
2. The program has the default setting to allow guest access.
I assume the site owner, now knowing your IP, could connect to your
webcams as a guest. I suggest you disable this in the settings.
In Vista, I could not get my Sony Handyman DCR-HC21 camcorder to work
The exact same computer and camcorder worked fine with another program:
that is a paid product.
- Works with webcams. I finally got this program to work when
I connected webcams instead of camcorders.
- Does not work with camcorders
plugged in by Firewire or USB. (It does
work with USB webcams,
- Crashes when connected to camcorder. Crashed on
first attempt to minimize program to taskbar. We
could not get program running again after the crash. Even re-installing
the program would not
restore the function of the program. Installed the program on
another computer. Worked great
we closed the program. Next time we tried to load the program, it would
not load up without crashing. Video resoltution was horrible
with serious blocking
Programs above gave much better resolution.
Solution: use a webcam
instead of a camcorder - or use a different program.
- Does not record audio.
Comments or questions about WheresJames?
Operating System: Windows NT or newer. Does not
work with Windows 98.
Tested on Jan-31-2011.
Comments edited Feb-03-2011.
- Worked great when tested with Windows XP and three
- Records images fast, which could be assembled later into a
low frame-rate video.
- Motion detection works.
- Can use multiple webcams. The trick is to open
the program more than once, one instance for each webcam you want to
monitor. For my test, I opened the program two times to
monitor two different webcams. The CPU usage got up to about
65% on a 3-year-old Dell notebook.
- Does not record audio.
- Does not record to video files. Only records
Comments or questions about Yawcam?
- March 31, 2011
Have you considered WebcamXP? I've used it for a few years
and it is robust for my monitoring needs, with the ability to connect
multiple different types of cameras at once.
I see that WebcamXP is free
for personal use
. I have not tried it.
- October 10, 2011
I've been waiting and waiting and waiting for software that can
recognize objects (you would think that faces would be HARDER to do
from a programmers perspective than, say, vehicles (make and model) but
nothing is out there other than Matlab which has a silly learning curve
and technical prerequisites up the wazoo.
Same goes for audio apps.
I have found the usual speech recognition, song recognition,even
bird-call recognition apps. But I have yet to find an app that can be
trained for any kind of sound or image and has sliders for narrowing or
widening the swath of possible matches along various applicable
For instance say you want your computer to inform you
when it "sees"; via a web cam or video feed, a car pull into your
driveway, a person walking up the path to the front door, or a child
near the swimming pool. You could use simple motion capture, but
it will also alert you when a dog is near the pool, and butterflies
flying in front of the lens, bird shadows, blown leaves, so you'd be
very busy with false alarms. Today's PCs are capable of being taught
the difference between species, or even to tell the make and model of a
vehicle, but today's software won't touch it. Why?
Very good points and interesting question. I'm too busy to
address this, though, as I am preparing for the return of Jesus.
I hope you seriously consider what I just said.
Operating Systems used:
1. Windows XP Pro
2. Vista Ultimate
Video capture devices used:
1. Sony Handyman Mini-DV camcorder,
DCR-HC21, connected two different ways: firewire and USB
Sony Digital Handyman, DCR-TRV740, connected via USB
Logitech Orbit/Sphere MP connected via USB.