How to use a Mac Mini for a security camera system?

Discussion in 'Mac mini' started by iammrhappy, Oct 26, 2014.

  1. iammrhappy macrumors newbie

    Sep 14, 2013
    I own a 8 unit apartment complex that is in a somewhat shady neighborhood. It's adjacent to a supermarket that has security cameras, but I want to get my own system.

    Purpose: To catch and fend off thieves.

    What I have: 2012 Mac Mini. 1TB worth of external hard drives.

    What I want:
    I want to be able to put the Mac Mini at the apartment complex in someone's unit.

    I want to be able to access a live feed of whats going on from my house 30 miles away.

    I want it to save the video into my external hard drives. (This is probably not necessary, but it's nice if anything does happen, I have proof)

    How can I use the Mac Mini as the brain security camera system?

    Would I need to make it into a server?

    What kind of equipment would I need to start this, other than the video cameras?

    Is it possible to see a live feed of the cameras? If so, how could I do this (for free lol)

    Thanks in advanced.
  2. dirtylilhobo, Oct 26, 2014
    Last edited: Oct 27, 2014

    dirtylilhobo macrumors regular


    Oct 16, 2014
    The Southwest
    I'd forget about using the mac-mini as a security recorder for video cameras.

    You'd be better off going to a security camera site such as or and finding an 8ch 2Tb DVR and cameras such as the JVC or Sony. Cameras operate on 12vac, the power and video supplied to the DVR with BNC connect. The DVR, with eight or more channels, can provide numerous alarm and recording capabilities and playback.

    Not that it couldn't be done with a Mac but I'd sure just invest in a dedicated DVR system that can be accessed with the Mac.

    And, if you ever hope to utilize your security cameras as a crime fighting tool then you need to opt for the highest resolution color camera of 1920/1080 at least with low lux capability. You'd better secure those cameras, shield them, and locate them where it would be nearly impossible to reach by thieves. But, your shady neighbors won't be above shooting them out either. Overlapping coverage would help to counteract such destruction. Just be prepared.

    If your not into a do it yourself installation I'd opt for a professional alarm company to install those cameras along with the DVR and any internet capabilities you require. I wouldn't put this equipment in someone's apartment. I'd put that equipment in a secure room or customized safe room that isn't accessible by anyone except for yourself.

  3. thetruth1985 macrumors 6502

    Sep 17, 2010
  4. dirtylilhobo macrumors regular


    Oct 16, 2014
    The Southwest
    I still think that in order to deter and fend off thieves from the neighborhood the installation of cameras for an apartment complex should be done by a reputable alarm company. They can route the cabling, hang and secure the cameras, build or equip a secure equipment room with appropriate internet connectivity and power distribution if it doesn't exist already.
  5. tizeye macrumors regular


    Jul 17, 2013
    Orlando, FL
    The biggest problem with a Mac Mini, aside from it's lack of power, is what security software. Yes there are some for remote viewing, but not control such as recording, storage and other features. Yes, I use it on my MacBook Pro, as I VPN to my home network and view remotely. Probably the leader is Blue Iris, but it is PC only - and due to 1 computer licensing, never tried it using Parallels. My initial attempt was using a Lorex package but the DVR was so loud it was annoying in the same room constantly running and would tell a thief right where it was. I actually did a YouTube video documenting the decibels. There are some quieter DVR's on the market. I also returned an Arlo system, while it is wireless, the master control unit is network wired to your router...and the alarm is internal to the controller bringing thieves to your network hub, and worse, a button on the control unit labels "alarm off". That is why I went DIY and assembled my own. Looking at various forums that were not dominated by firms with the advise "hire a pro", I learned that a Core i5 chip was minimal (forget AMD) and ended up building out a Core i7 machine with WD "Purple" series hard drives dedicated to security cameras running 24/7. Thankfully didn't need a gaming level video card as Blue Iris is tuned to the Intel video chip on the motherboards. Best forum I found was They will also reference "Andy" in Hong Kong where I purchased Dahua camera (one of the top 2 brands) at significant savings. Lorex and others are re-branded Dahau. Shipping still amazes me how quick it was, even arriving and clearing US Customs on the same day but hours before it left Hong Kong thanks to the International Date Line.

    If I had it to do over again would probably do the DVR system, but a quieter model.
  6. archer75 macrumors 68000

    Jan 26, 2005
    Could do several nest cams. Spendy to set up but nothing to manage. All video stored in the cloud for you to view and save as needed. Only 8 unit complex isn't too big so you wouldn't need too many cameras.

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