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Using A DW Spectrum Server As A Client

Using A DW Spectrum Server as A Client


Affected Roles:  All Users

Related Digital Watchdog VMS Apps:  DW Spectrum

Complexity:  Low

Last Edit:  March 18, 2020


Server As A Client

As DW Spectrum is continuously improved, new features and functions are added with every update.  New camera models have added functions, features, and improved video resolution.  As more amenities are added and technology improves, more processor resources are required for DW Spectrum.

In cases where computers are maxing out CPU usage, users may experience DW Spectrum Server or Client issues.  Digital Watchdog recommends against using the DW Spectrum Client on the same computer system as the DW Spectrum Server software for normal viewing.  This is to mitigate and reduce the workload that is placed on the computer, while still allowing DW Spectrum to archive camera video with minimal issues. 

This article will outline general operator guidelines for using the DW Spectrum Client on the Server.

Supported/Affected Devices

  • DW BlackJack Series
  • Custom Built Servers


In this article, you will see the term “Server” used regularly.  This may be in reference to the DW Spectrum Server (software) or to the computer system itself.

Additional terms you should know:

  • Workstation – client-based system used purely for the viewing, exporting, and management of the Server.  Typically, footage is not recorded to this system directly, but will run the DW Spectrum Client for viewing only.
  • Server – the location where the DW Spectrum Media Server software is installed.  The Server's purpose is to receive video streams from cameras, manage local camera settings, process and analyze video for motion or other special settings, archive and store footage, and act as the central device in the surveillance network. Typically, this system will have both the DW Spectrum Server software and the DW Spectrum Client software installed.
  • Client – the DW Spectrum Client software that is used to view live video, view recorded video, manage Servers, and to manage connected devices.  This software can be installed on either a Workstation or on the Server.  It is recommended to use the DW Spectrum Client from a Workstation, when regularly viewing cameras that are connected to the Server.

General Guidelines

It is recommended to use a separate workstation from the Server when continuously monitoring camera streams.

When using any software program, processing resources are consumed from the computer to provide the user with display, program functions, and more.  Being that the DW Spectrum Server program runs in the background of the computer, resources are already being utilized by the DW Spectrum System.

As general guidelines:

  • Servers should not have CPU usage above 60% when running the DW Spectrum Client only
  • Server functionality should take precedent over Client functionality


When users stream camera video through DW Spectrum Client, the computer uses CPU (Central Processing Unit) resources, not GPU (Graphics Processing Unit) resources.  The CPU is responsible for relaying and managing nearly all communication of data throughout the computer, essentially acting as the “brain of the computer”.

The following factors affect the processing of the CPU:

  • CPU Model (determines starting resources)
  • Quantity of cameras in use
  • Camera type (video resolution, panoramic/pre-stitched video, fisheye lenses, etc.)
  • Recording settings
  • Additional plugins
  • Viewing video playback
  • Exporting video
  • Transcoding/Converting video formats
  • Device Auto Discovery feature

Reducing CPU Usage

If the Server is constantly maxing out processing resources (80% or more), the overall performance of the computer will begin to be affected.  Common issues like application crashes, OS slowdown, or OS freezing may be caused by CPU overuse.

Here are some of the ways that users can reduce the CPU workload:

Reduce the quantity of cameras that stream simultaneously

Streaming cameras increases CPU usage for each video stream that is monitored.  By reducing the number of cameras that the user is viewing at any given time, the number of processing resources available will increase.

Adjust Camera Settings

By lowering the Recording Settings for devices in DW Spectrum, more processing resources will become available.  Some settings that users can change to reduce the CPU workload are the FPS (Frames-Per-Second), quality, and bitrate of devices/cameras in DW Spectrum.

Note:  These setting changes affect how camera video is recorded.  Archived video will reflect these setting conditions when viewing playback.

To adjust a camera’s Recording Settings:

  1. Right-click on the device/camera in the Resources List, then select Camera Settings.

  1. Select the Recording tab at the top of the Camera Settings window.  From this menu, users may reduce the FPS, Quality, and Bitrate for the device.  The lower that these settings are assigned to (for each device), the less workload is placed on the CPU.

Use Low-Resolution Layouts

As CPU usage increases when a user is actively viewing camera streams, adjusting the overall quality of Layouts can also help to reduce the CPU workload.

Note:  This setting change will only affect the way that the video streams display.  This setting change does not affect camera recordings.

To create a Low-Resolution Layout:

  1. Open a set of cameras to display in the center-pane of the DW Spectrum Client.
  1. Right-click in an empty area of the center-pane, then select Resolution.

Select the Low option.  As a result, the video stream will show in a lower quality with less CPU workload.  The user may change this setting at any time.

  1. At the top of the DW Spectrum Client window, right-click on the tab that you are viewing, then select Save Layout As.

Name the Layout, then click Save.  The low-resolution Layout can now be re-opened from the Layouts folder, in the Resources List.

Note:  If the CPU utilization continues to max out (80% or more) after the suggested adjustments have been made, use of a separate Workstation is advised.


Servers that remain running with maxed out CPUs may begin to experience degraded processing speeds, slowed UI response, or freezing issues over time.  To mitigate these potential issues, the use of a separate Workstation is preferable.  Using a separate Workstation divides the workload between the Server and the Workstation, rather than placing the overall stress solely on the Server’s CPU.

In some situations, users may not be able to use a separate Workstation.  It is permissible to use the DW Spectrum Client on the Server in this case, but only when adjusting settings for DW Spectrum.  Regular use of the DW Spectrum Client on the Server may lead to the issues that were previously described.