10 Best ZoneMinder Alternatives: Free and Paid Video Surveillance

ZoneMinder is an awesome and free video surveillance software. But it can be a bit overwhelming for beginners. Here are some ZoneMinder alternatives to consider.

If you are like me, you appreciate your access to modern technology and love to have good control over your gadgets and electronic devices. Some time ago my cameras and NVR seemed like a set of black boxes without many configuration options. Luckily, I learned there is much more to do with those valuable items of my home setup.

Hosting a surveillance solution in my home lab allowed for a flexible setup in which I know the ins and outs while being able to manage according to what I need. While it may sound intimidating, the setup process can be simple and straightforward.

ZoneMinder is a popular choice and one of our favorites, but there are many ways a surveillance setup can serve you. For that reason, we want to shed some light on which software works best as a ZoneMinder replacement. If you haven't, make sure to check out our ZoneMinder Docker Guide for Beginners to see what that's about.

Best ZoneMinder Alternatives

Today we are going over some of the best ZoneMinder alternatives. We will cover the capabilities, pros, and cons of some of the most popular surveillance tools.

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This will give you a good idea about what to expect from each, and where each of them shines. We will also briefly look at what it takes to get each of them working as a ZoneMinder replacement.

With our Docker media server guide as your resource, you can try most of the options listed below without affecting your host operating system. In addition, you can gain secure remote access to your video surveillance software using Traefik reverse proxy.

1. Frigate - Free

There is no way we could leave Frigate out of this article. This open-source software NVR offers out-of-the-box AI-assisted object detection, processed in your own hardware. It also provides excellent Home Assistant integration and is compatible with any MQTT system. With over 2 million pulls on Docker Hub, you can be sure it has been tested by many users. [Read: Frigate Docker Guide for Beginners: Best Free Video Surveillance]

Frigate Is One Of The Best Zoneminder Alternatives
Frigate's Birdseye View

The type of object detection this solution uses tends to be hardware intensive, but Frigate supports several hardware platforms. For optimal performance, you can use Google Coral TPU, which makes video analysis faster and more accurate. However, you can run analysis on CPU, GPU, and other detectors like OpenVino or TensorRT.

While Frigate is free, you can pay a monthly fee for Frigate+, which offers support for open-source Frigate and access to custom models for AI recognition. Custom models allow for more accurate detection and classification of different objects. All things considered; Frigate may be the best ZoneMinder alternative.

How to install Frigate?

Frigate runs as a Docker container; you can get the official compose file and tweak it according to your needs. It is best to run the container on a host running a Debian-based distribution for easier access to hardware components. You can go through the Home Assistant Integration tutorial once Frigate is up and running. This surveillance suite is also available as a Home Assistant Operating System addon (formerly HassOS), with a few limitations.

ProsCons
  • Home Assistant Integration
  • AI-assisted object detection
  • Broad hardware compatibility
  • Free for the most part
  • Only runs on Docker
  • No mobile app

2. Shinobi - Free

Widely known and used, Shinobi is one of the most popular choices in software video surveillance. While development is ongoing many users report experiencing glitches and bugs.

Screenshot Of Shinobi Showing Multiple Cameras
Screenshot Of Shinobi Showing Multiple Cameras

The web interface looks better than many of the alternatives, but it isn't very straightforward and is far from perfect. This may keep it from being a good ZoneMinder replacement.

Nevertheless, the extensive range of features it offers means it might be a good fit for your needs. Considering it is free and easy to install, you may want to give it a try. If you need any help, it does have a somewhat active community where you may find answers to your questions.

ProsCons
  • Easy to install
  • Active community
  • Motion and object detection
  • 2FA support
  • Web UI is buggy
  • Setting up triggers can be tricky
  • Doesn't integrate with Home Assistant

3. iSpy/Agent DVR - Freemium

Another complete solution that is a favorite of many users is iSpy. This project started as an open-source application intended to provide an alternative to expensive surveillance systems. Later on, the team started the development of Agent DVR, which has already outclassed its predecessor. Agent DVR is a great ZoneMinder alternative as it provides many of the same features.

Example Of Ispy'S Ui
Example Of Ispy's Ui

This software can use DeepStack AI and CodeProject.AI to recognize faces and objects and can be integrated with Home Assistant. It supports more cameras than any other surveillance system, as well as many motion detection sensors, trip wires, and audio devices.

Running locally for private use is free, with an unlimited number of cameras. Services using iSpy's online platform calls for a paid subscription starting at $7.95 a month. This includes SSL-secured web access, alerts, cloud uploads, and several additional features.

How to install iSpy/Agent DVR?

While iSpy is still available for installation and will continue to receive updates, we recommend using Agent DVR if possible. The latter features a complete web UI, runs as a service, and uses less CPU than iSpy. It can be installed on Windows 7+, Ubuntu, macOS, and Raspberry Pi 4+, and can also be used as a Docker container.

Installing on Windows requires downloading a standalone installer, while the Docker image is available as well as the configuration options. On other operating systems such as Ubuntu, you have to run a script that helps you download and set up the software.

ProsCons
  • Face and object recognition
  • Home Assistant integration
  • Supports all major platforms
  • Most useful features need a subscription
  • Licenses are per server

4. Blue Iris - $79.95 per year

Blue Iris is a commercial option that charges a yearly license, starting at $39.95 for one camera. The full version supports up to 64 cameras and goes for $79.95 per year. If you want to try the software there is a 15-day demo available. This company also offers support plans costing up to $99.95, which gets you phone and remote desktop support.

Screenshot Of Blue Iris Showing Multiple Cameras
Screenshot Of Blue Iris Showing Multiple Cameras

Developers of Blue Iris chose to deliver a full business-grade surveillance solution. This means that features used mainly by home users are not present, like Home Assistant integration for example. However, it features mobile access through an app available for Android and iOS and alerts through different platforms.

In fact, you can access Blue Iris from any web-enabled device connected to the internet. This is usual in commercial surveillance solutions and is the main difference when comparing them to free ZoneMinder alternatives.

How to install Blue Iris?

This software is installed as a Windows service and is not available for installation in Linux. Installation is simple and straightforward; you can have it running within ten minutes. When you use it for the first time you will be prompted if you want to install CodeProject AI Server. This is recommended to receive more accurate alerts.

Including this component, the whole installation process may take about 30 minutes depending on your hardware. Even with an installation process this simple, the lack of Linux support prevents Blue Iris From being a good ZoneMinder replacement but it is arguably the best NVR software for PC.

ProsCons
  • Easy to install
  • Easy access from remote locations
  • Offers a mobile app
  • Only runs on Windows
  • No free version
  • Doesn't integrate with Home Assistant

5. MotionEye - Free

MotionEye is a web frontend for the Motion daemon, building on top of an open-source tried and tested video surveillance software. If you intend to install it on a single-board computer such as the Raspberry Pi you may want to try MotionEyeOS. This last project arranges all the goodies from MotionEye into a lightweight Linux distro.

Screenshot Of Motioneye'S Ui
Screenshot Of Motioneye's Ui

Supporting Home Assistant integration, motion detection, and email notifications, MotionEye is a rock-solid option for any smart home fan. It can also upload media files to Dropbox and Google Drive. With these features, MotionEye can compete with many commercial surveillance systems depending on your needs.

MotionEye is a decent ZoneMinder replacement and is well-suited for beginners.

How to install MotionEye?

If preferred, you can pull an image from Docker Hub to run it within a Docker container. The only drawback to this method is that you won't be running the latest stable release of MotionEye. [Read: MotionEye Docker Guide for Beginners: Simplest NVR]

You can also install MotionEye on Debian, Ubuntu, Raspbian, and many other distros. First, you have to install Motion, and then you can go ahead with the installation of MotionEye. This is not a lot of work but does require some level of familiarity with the Linux console.

ProsCons
  • Home Assistant integration
  • Good support for single-board computers
  • Motion detection
  • Email alerts
  • Does not run on Windows
  • Not very easy to install

Honorable mentions

Chances are you will find yours in the best ZoneMinder alternatives listed above. In case you'd like to explore other options, here are some of the top surveillance solutions that didn't make it to our top 5.

6. Surveillance Station by Synology - Paid

Synology is an industry leader in the field of NAS (Network-Attached Storage) that also offers complete solutions in the surveillance realm. With robust support and an ample suite of services related to video security, it is a serious option. That is if you don't mind paying for their hardware.

With a Synology NAS purchase, you get free licenses to monitor up to two cameras. Beyond that, it costs, 50 USD per camera.

It didn't make it to our top picks because it does not provide the flexibility and cost convenience of the self-hosted setups.

7. Eyeline by NCH Software - Paid

With ample experience in software development, NCH has created several widely used tools, especially in the video and sound editing realm. Eyeline is an NVR software for Windows by NCH, supporting all cameras with Windows drivers.

Starting at $249 Eyeline seems rather pricey when compared to other surveillance solutions. It is a valid choice and may be convenient if you already use some of NCH's products. However, all things considered, it does not make it to our top 5 ZoneMinder alternatives.

8. Security Monitor Pro by DeskShare - Paid

Offering most of the features you will find in a paid surveillance suite, Security Monitor Pro is a solid choice. It supports many cameras and configuration options while being easy to set up.

While it is not among the most expensive, at $89.95, it lacks the most useful web tools of other licensed ZoneMinder alternatives. Available for Windows only it is also somewhat limiting in terms of implementation.

9. OS-NVR - Free

Looking like a crude version of a software NVR, OS-NVR is a good ZoneMinder replacement. It is free and can be installed as a docker container or directly without virtualization or containerization on most distros.

While OS-NVR does not feature the most advanced capabilities it is a decent standalone surveillance suite. If you are looking for an alternative to ZoneMinder that is easy on resources you may find it is the right fit for your setup.

10. Viseron - Free

Presenting many advanced features and configuration options, Viseron is another excellent ZoneMinder alternative. It runs as a docker container and leverages the use of AI for object recognition, image classification, and motion detection.

While it is very customizable, it requires some previous knowledge, as you will have to edit some configuration files. You don't need to be an expert to make it work, but it is not as beginner-friendly as our top 5 picks.

FAQ

Is there anything better than ZoneMinder?

While there are several good options in the surveillance software space, ZoneMinder is still an old-time favorite. Frigate and Agent DVR are excellent competitors offering many of the same features. They may be a better choice for you if you value face recognition and object detection, given their focus on those features.

Is ZoneMinder any good?

ZoneMinder is a good choice for a surveillance system and many users consider it to be the best one. My own setup has been running for many months without issues, and without missing a beat. Once you get used to the ZoneMinder UI you can get anything you need in just a few clicks, and ONVIF cameras can be added in a matter of seconds.

Is ZoneMinder open source?

Yes, ZoneMinder is an open-source project with over 250 contributors. It has an active community and extensive documentation which can help you troubleshoot and move forward if you happen to run into issues.

Does ZoneMinder work on Windows?

Installing on Windows is not supported nor recommended. However, if you need to you can try to run ZoneMinder using Windows Subsystem for Linux (WSL). I would advise against doing that for video recording or other critical features.

Conclusions

This article may have given you a strong idea about which is the best surveillance tool for a ZoneMinder replacement. Depending on the hardware you have available and what you expect from your setup one of these options will probably stand out.

Here is our recommendation:

  • If you intend to run on a single-board computer, it makes sense to try MotionEyeOS to see how it works out.
  • To run on a Windows system, you may want to use BlueIris.
  • The best integration into Home Assistant seems to be through Frigate, MotionEye, or Agent DVR.

One of the most solid ZoneMinder alternatives available is Frigate. It offers most if not all important features, is easy to install, and is user-friendly. If you ever need any help, Frigate+ is available and for a modest price will help you solve most issues.

You may also be interested in our review of some of the best free wifi camera apps. To check out new cameras for your setup see our article on the best outdoor security cameras. Make sure to leave a comment if you'd like an update on any of those subjects.

Hope this article helped you choose the surveillance system that works best for you. The ZoneMinder alternatives listed here will surely give you a good idea of what to look after. Let us know in the comments how it worked out for you, or if you'd like us to expand on any of these!

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Agustin Aponte

I have a passion for technology and writing. With years of experience building my own setups, I have experienced the good, the bad and the ugly of hardware and software. My IT background surely helps, but my love for tinkering with new tools takes me to know their capabilities and limitations by heart. No topic is too complex if we can take it apart and learn about each piece.