How to Check If A Security Camera Is On or Recording | Best 8 Ways

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Nowadays, surveillance cameras break our lives and become one of the most essential devices that exist in our houses in order to keep our family and loved ones safe and protected.

However, sometimes due to the wrong installation process, and other factors some of these cameras are damaged which in term makes it harder for the homeowners to know if the camera is on and working or not.

So, here in this article, we’ll explain the main elements that you should look for to check if your security camera is on and recording or not?

Pro Tip: Some of the methods below rely on the camera body and LEDs while there are other ways that require you to use your mobile or the viewing software of your camera.


How to Check If a Security Camera Is On For Recording

There’s no specific way when it comes to check if a security camera is on for recording or not? You can look at camera lights, movement, and wifi signals if it’s a wireless or wire-free camera. 

There are more and more methods that you can use to know if security camera is recording. Here are some of these methods

1- Check the security camera movement to see if it is ON

Check the security camera movement to see if it is ON

For now, there are a lot of security cameras out there in the market and each camera has different models and designs.

One of these cameras that make your job easier to know if the security camera is on or recording is the PTZ camera.

PTZ security cameras are designed to rotate on a horizontal and vertical axis to allow homeowners to control the camera movement and let them direct the camera lens to the area where they need the camera to monitor and record videos.

Not PTZ cameras only, there are dome cameras. These security cameras are a popular choice for both home and business owners because they can be placed in any location and are less likely to be targeted by vandals.

When it comes to knowing if the dome security camera is recording or not?

There is one way to tell if a dome security camera is on, this way is by looking at the movement of the lens inside the dome.

The lens of the camera exists in the middle between night vision LEDs, so when you see the lens moving, this means the camera is recording videos and capturing images.

If it’s not moving, then it’s likely that either the camera has been turned off or there’s something wrong with the camera making the lens not move.

2- Look at the Red LEDs on the security camera Body

Red LEDs on the security camera Body

While it’s easy to check if the PTZ security camera is on for recording or not from the camera movements.

However, there are other types of surveillance cameras such as dome, and bullet cameras that may take you days or weeks to know if it’s recording or not.

What I mean, relying on the camera body only and how it’s moved is not the best solution for knowing if the security camera is on.

There is another way that you can use and it’s suitable for the different types of surveillance cameras, this way is by looking at the Night vision LEDs around the camera lens.

Now, Each security camera manufacturer tries to make its product the best device available in the market, especially in recording videos during the night.

As a result of this, the camera manufacturer tends to use more LEDs around the camera lens to make the camera capture high-quality images, and videos at night when there’s no light in the camera area.

So, wherever you’re near or far from the camera, you can easily look at the camera LEDs and see if it’s working or not, in case you see red spots of lights around the camera lens then the security camera is recording and works fine with no problems.

Pro Tip: A large number of homeowners tend to hide infrared lights on security cameras to protect their devices from burglars and thieves.

3- Go to the security Camera Mobile app or Viewing Software to see if it is recording

What if you are in the daytime and want to know if the security camera is recording or not? 

Well, you may think and go to take a look at the camera lens and red lights, but unfortunately, this will not be effective as you will not be able to see the lights clearly.

In this scenario, you need to use a different way to know if the security camera is on. 

One of the perfect ways to check if the camera is recording or not? is by checking the security camera recording on the mobile app or PC viewing software.

Currently, most security cameras provide mobile apps and PC viewing software to their customers to enable them to manage and control their cameras, and features.

One of the features that are available in mobile apps is the live view. By using the internet, this feature allows you to see what your camera is recording at the time you’re using your mobile. 

Aside from that, you can use the live view feature on your PC, laptop, or mobile application to check if the security camera is on or not.

So, if you open the smartphone application and press the live view button and the camera feed appears in front of you on the mobile screen, then your camera is on and recording. 

If not, then the chances are your camera is turned off, or there is an issue with the camera or the internet connection.

For more info, watch the next video on how to check and playback recording on a CCTV security camera.

Source: Its Five

4- Use electronic bug detectors to search for the invisible security camera

electronic bug detectors to search for the invisible security camera

When wireless security cameras are on and working they produce signals between the NVR or home wifi router to send and receive the data.

With the help of electronic bug detectors, you can easily know if your camera is on for recording or not. 

Just purchase a high-quality bug detector or hidden security camera detector from a trusted online store, turn it on, and within seconds you’ll know if your camera is on and recording or it’s off.

5- Look to power indicator LEDs to know if the camera is On

Another way to check if your security cameras are on is by checking their power LED indicator. 

Most top security cameras will have some sort of power LED indicator located either near the power button or near the built-in microphone of the camera itself. 

This indicator should be lit up when the camera is powered on, and there’s another LED that is blinking when the camera is recording videos. 

In case you don’t see any LED light in front of your camera body, then it could mean that either: 

  • If the camera is a wire-free cam, then maybe the battery in your security camera has died and needs to be plugged into an outlet for power.
  • In case the camera is a wired camera powered by a DC adaptor, then maybe the power adapter is not plugged into the power outlet, or it’s damaged.
  • There’s an issue with your security cameras that may not be functioning properly. 

6- Check the WiFi signal to see if the security camera is recording

One of the easiest ways to know if a security camera is recording, especially with a wireless security camera, is by searching for the wifi signal of the camera.

When you pick a new wireless security camera and after you install it on its location, you’re required to go through the setup process of the camera.

In this step, you search for the wifi signal of the camera to connect it to your mobile and then link the camera to your mobile app for control.

So, to know if the security camera is on, you can open your mobile phone and go to the Connect settings, turn on the wifi, and you’ll see your security camera wifi signal, once you see it then it means that your camera is working.

7- Be near the security camera and try to hear the sound out of the camera

One of the available methods to figure out if the security camera is working or not is by hearing the camera sound. 

For doing some of the basic functions, sometimes the security cameras make a loud sound because the camera motor is moving, or because the camera lens is open and closed fast way. 

For you to know if the security camera is on or off, you can just move and be near the camera location and hear if there’s a sound coming from the camera or not. 

Note: Not all security cameras that exist on the market make a sound when it’s working. 

There are some models of cameras designed to be installed in the baby’s room that require the camera to work without issuing any sound that can wake up the kids.

See Also: How to Block Neighbors Security Camera Audio.

8- Check the security camera Real or Fake

Burglars and thieves become smart these days as they can steal your home, or property while you’re away from your home. 

The worst is they do some tricks and one of them is to replace the real security cameras with fake ones to deceive you. 

Replacing real security cameras with dummies allows them to enter your property every time they want without worrying about being captured by cameras.

To know if your security camera is still the real camera and it’s working normally, look at the camera and notice how it works, fake security cameras are never on, only real security cameras are ON.

However, here are the main 3 signs that will help you to differentiate between fake and real cameras.

How to Know If a Security Camera Is Fake or Real?

There are some additional signs you can use to differentiate between real and fake cameras such as

Fake vs Real Security Cameras

1- Fake cameras are light and have No Wires

Before starting to check the security camera to see if it’s working or not, look at the camera power wires to decide if the camera is real or not.

Real security cameras have the main cable that supplies the camera with power such as wired CCTV cameras, or sometimes the main cable supplies the camera with both power and data such as PoE cameras which use Ethernet cables.

On the other hand, Wire-free real security cameras are powered by batteries, and wireless cameras are powered by a power adapter or rechargeable battery.

2- Blinking Red Right

As we mentioned above Red LEDs are one of the main signs to inform you if the security camera is on or not, it can also inform you if the camera is real or a dummy camera.

Real security cameras have powerful LEDs around the camera lens to enhance the camera footage during the night, while fake cameras use only a few LEDs to convince the people It’s a real camera. 

Also, LEDs on real cameras are stable, not flashing, while the fake camera LEDS are Blinking.

3- Solid-body, No spots for Mic and Sensors

If you’re familiar with security cameras, you probably know that each camera may have 1 or 2 small holes in the camera body specified for the camera’s built-in mic, and the motion detection sensor.

Based on our experience in security systems and surveillance cameras we found that the small spots in the camera body only exist in real security cameras.

Sometimes fake camera manufacturers make holes similar to the ones used in the real cameras but if you look inside these holes you’ll find nothing.

How do you know if the CCTV camera is off?

Well, to know exactly if the CCTV camera is off, in case you’re away from the camera and want to check the camera physically, then you can look at the camera LEDs and Power indicators to see if they are glowing or not, you can also search for power wires and see if they’re connected correctly to the power supply or not.

On the other hand, you can know if the CCTV camera is off by opening the camera mobile app on your phone when it’s off there is nothing displayed on the mobile screen and you’ll see only a black screen.

Final Thoughts

Right now, you have more than one way to know if security camera is on and recording or not? You have the freedom to choose any of the above methods unless you don’t violate anyone’s privacy or break their property.

In general, if you want to know these methods for adding them to your knowledge about security cameras then you can use each one of them and test and see the result of each method.

Marvin H. Tarrance

Marvin H. Tarrance

Marvin Is an Electric and Electronic Engineer passionate about content writing and marketing. In the past, He was installed a large number of CCTV security cameras, and IP cams also. For now, He is the Head of the Content Team which is responsible for writing informative and detailed posts for Safebudgets.Com

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