Do You Really Need the Yi Cloud Service?

Do You Really Need Yi Cloud Service?The YI Home Camera Wireless IP Security Surveillance System has become one of my favorites.  It’s low priced with features comparable to much higher priced competition.  Cloud has become a standard inclusion for any manufacturer that wants to call their camera a home security camera.  After all, what good is on-board storage via a micro SD card if your camera gets stolen?  That where the Yi Cloud service kicks in.

This article provides an overview of the Yi Cloud service.  We also discuss if it’s a good deal and whether you should consider using it.  Yi Cloud is available with most of the cameras introduced over the past year or two.

Yi Cloud Overview

The Yi Cloud implementation is a bit different from their competitors.  There are three levels of Yi Cloud storage.  One is free and the other two are subscription based.  To complicate matters, the two paid tiers have two levels depending upon the length of time you want the data to be retained.

Their free basic cloud storage retains a six second video clip of motion events over the past seven days.  This is optional and can be deactivated by the user.

The next tier of Yi Cloud is called Standard.  This tier retains motion events to the cloud.  For $9.99 monthly, it keeps 15 days.  Upgrade to 30 days for $14.99 monthly.  The subscription is account based and includes up to five Yi cameras.

The third tier of Yi Cloud is called Premium.  This tier archives all video to the cloud.  Unlike the Standard level, this is camera based.  So for $9.99 monthly, all video is retained for 15 days.  You get 30 days for $19.99 monthly.

None of the tiers have limits on the amount of storage that can be consumed and the video is encrypted prior to being sent to the cloud.

Yi Cloud Analysis

The pricing of the paid Yi Cloud tiers are about average.  There are less expensive subscriptions with other cameras.  There are also more expensive subscriptions.  Of interest to me is that while Yi cameras offer a fantastic value just based on hardware, the addition of these paid tiers have the potential to double or triple the cost of ownership.  So unlike the hardware, the Yi Cloud service is no bargain.

Using a cloud service for archival of motion events isn’t a bad idea.  If your camera gets stolen or the on-board storage fails, it’s nice to be able to see what happened.  While a thief can steal your camera, they can’t steal the cloud.

The challenge with any cloud service is bandwidth.  Both Wi-Fi and broadband.  Motion events are six second clips and don’t use a lot of bandwidth.  If you can see your camera from your phone when not at home, then you should be able to send motion events to the cloud without any problem.

However, if using the Yi Premium tier as a CVR, we’re talking a lot more bandwidth.  Generally speaking, if your connection is strong, you should be able to stream without a technical issue.  However, be aware of any potential bandwidth restrictions imposed by your provided.  Some limit and begin to throttle after reaching a threshold of data during a given month.  Constant streaming and archival of video can quickly add up and risk crossing that threshold.

Personally, I’m fine with the free level of Yi Cloud.  While I’m sure some need the CVR coverage, most homeowners aren’t likely to benefit a lot.

Micro SD Card versus Yi Cloud

So if you have a micro SD card installed on your Yi Camera, do you need to even bother with Yi Cloud?  Maybe not.  If you aren’t worried about the camera being stolen, then you can survive without the cloud.  The presence of the micro SD card will provide similar historical video viewing capabilities as Yi Cloud.  However, to make this a true security camera, implementing one of the three tiers is a good idea.

All of these articles are written by someone (me) that figured out how to do this stuff the hard way.  I have owned and tested dozens of cameras.  Manufacturer support varies.  There are a few good companies that provide timely answers when you have questions.  There are several that sell you the camera and seem to have little interest in post sales support (which leads me to finding out stuff the hard way).