How to Setup a Petcam

Like most pet owners, you probably want to keep an eye on your pet while you’re away. Most people end-up having to rush home earlier than they want to, worry all day for no reason,  or worry all day for a very good reason when they get home and see the mess that’s been left by that cute new puppy or ever-curious cat.

With today’s growth in cloud services and mobile technology, combined with the availability of internet-connected cameras (webcams, IP camera, etc), there are a lot of options, all with their pros and cons.

Here’s a quick recap of the available methods to setup your own petcam:

  1. Use a webcam combined with a webcam software application. This approach allows you to access your webcam from any machine. Some software like Fwink is purpose-built for webcams but as this Fwink tutorial outlines, you need to setup FTP, have a web server at the ready, and build a page to serve the results. Bottom line: free and purpose-built for the task, but requires technical know-how.
  2. Use a webcam with remote access software. The ubiquitous VNC leads this category, but there are a bunch of others which are summarized nicely in this remote access solutions post. Geek-level tools like these are powerful, work great but are not for the non-technical type. The post also covers easier to user remote access services like LogMeIn that could work for you as well. Bottom line: probably overkill for a petcam, but if you have other reasons to access your machine remotely, that’s the way to go.
  3. Use a webcam with a cloud service. These types of services are starting to crop up (we have one – Camcloud, check us out). Make sure to use one that requires no software install – that’s just a pain, and ensures setup is quick and easy. Look for features like IP camera support, motion detection, and motion-activated video recording options. Combine those features with live video monitoring and you’ll be well on your way.

So bottom line: options for a simple petcam are plentiful, and it really comes down to whether you want to install and configure software or have an internet/cloud service do it for you. They each have their pros and cons. Chime-in with your comments if there are any other services that you want to list.

Brendan Harrison
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