In the age of eyes in the sky, security cameras are in most homes and businesses. Security cameras keep a watch over property and strengthen privacy, but most of all, they support families safely. However, they have to be turned on to do their magic.
How can you tell if a security camera is recording? It is a legitimate question for everyone — bystanders and homeowners alike.
So, let’s get to how to tell if a security camera is recording!
The easy answer is, it depends on the camera and the user. The first type of camera records continuously. The second depends on motion detection to trigger it to record.
When considering what best suits your situation, there are two primary factors: the purpose of the surveillance and storage capacity.
Let’s break down the differences between the two types of systems.
Continuous Video Recording (CVR)
Continuous Video Recording captures everything 24/7. It does not require anything to trigger it, and it does not miss a thing. A CVR camera works best for areas with high foot traffic and crime-infested locations.
The two ways that all the footage captured makes it to storage is by using a microSD card (16 GB, 32 GB, 128 GB, and 256 GB) or cloud storage.
The card option has minimal room for all of that recorded activity to be stored. It is a downside but a fixable one. A CVR security device will overwrite in a loop every time the memory fills up.
Magical cloud storage is the second option because storage is limitless under individual home and business security plans. The massive amount of stored footage is at the tip of your fingers and reviewable today or next week.
The best of the best security cameras utilize motion detection and activation. The best 4K security camera activates quickly and clearly.
- Are you a bit more selective about what you want to be recorded? Motion-activated recording devices only begin their job when triggered by movement.
- The more innovative the security camera, the better it reads all motion. The more advanced devices can tell the difference between human and nonhuman movement. The super tech-savvy models possess facial recognition capabilities.
- CVR and motion-activated recording are different because one records activity while the other relies on being set off by action. It’s best to ask yourself if it’s safe to miss undetected activity.
- Blind spots are natural, and false alarms happen. The best battery powered security camera allows the user to change the sensitivity levels to avoid both of these problems.
The user part of the equation puts two more options on the table: manual recording and scheduled recording.
The manual recording gives you power over automation. But is that a good thing?
Scheduled recording works a bit like continuous recording, but instead of all day, every day, it is for specific durations of time.
Ways On How To Tell If A Security Camera Is Recording
Here are eight ways to tell that a security camera is on and recording.
Is The Camera Lens Moving?
Make sure you check the camera lens is moving to assure yourself that it is on. If you have installed a camera that rotates horizontally and vertically (also known as a pan tilt-type security camera), then it would always be moving while it is on. So, you can control it with the pan or tour option.
Is There An External Memory Card?
While the camera records, each image and video are saved either in internal storage or with the help of an external memory card. There is also cloud storage, but it is essential to ensure that the recorded videotapes are safely stored as often hacked security cameras lose their recordings.
Can You See Tiny Red Lights?
It is always advisable to check the LEDs in the IP security cameras. You will be able to see tiny red lights around the lens of the camera when it is dark if it is an infrared lens security camera. And this implies that the camera is on and it is recording.
It also helps in discerning whether your camera has night vision or not. Plus, it is easier to detect during the night whether the security camera is working.
Can You See Any Lights From The Security Camera?
If there are lights around the security camera, you could use any object to block the sunlight and check if the camera is recording. The red lights on the lens will be visible once
you block the light, thereby making it clear that the security cameras are recording
Log In To See If It’s Recording
You can log in to your security camera software to get live streaming to confirm that the recording is on.
When your monitor is on, and the footage is visible to you, the camera is recording. If the streaming does not occur or the footage cannot be viewed, there might be some issue with the connected cables or the camera itself.
Use An Electronic Bug Detector
With the help of an electronic bug detector, you will receive something called a ‘balanced signal’ from the security camera if it is working or recording. This balanced signal is a video signal converted to transmit it through any medium other than a coax cable.
Security cameras radiate high energy within their specified range. If you are suspicious about a particular place, the electronic bug detector can detect those hidden cameras around you.
Use Your Wifi
It’s a little known but effective way to check whether any security camera is working.
If the security camera you buy may have Wi-Fi, then, by looking for nearby Wi-Fi devices, you can effortlessly get to know that your security camera is on by finding your Wi-Fi device on the neighbouring found list.
With the help of Wi-Fi, the camera could be switched on from the device itself used to put on Wi-Fi.
Use Your Android Phone
An Android phone also helps you detect whether the security camera is recording. Many camera detecting apps let you know that any camera around you is on and in working status.
By keeping a battery back–up, security cameras keep working even when there is a power cut and, at the same time, keep your recording and images harmlessly saved. But without back – up, you are sure to lose on the record without power.
If the security camera (wireless) works on a lithium battery, it gets next to impossible to know when the cameras stop working unless your Android or iOS device is connected to the camera.
Other Ways On How To Know If Cctv Camera Is On
- In a pan tilt-type security camera, it continuously rotates when it’s on. A distinct buzz may also be heard, and that means it is spinning. If the patrol or tour function is set up, it constantly moves, which means the camera is recording.
- In infrared security cameras, small red lights are seen around the camera's lens when it is dark when it is on. That also means that the camera has night vision.
- Check whether you can view the live streaming of your camera recording the footage. If the footage is correctly showing up, the security camera is on. Otherwise, the cable or the camera has an issue.
- Using electronic bug detectors, CCTV cameras generate a balanced signal, which means they are on or operational. A balanced call refers to a video signal converted to be ready for transmission along with a medium. Detecting hidden cameras or other surveillance cameras can be found out.
- Different IP cameras, with or without wires, have a status LED that can quickly tell if the camera properly works or connects to the Wi-Fi.
Why Is Buying The Right Security Camera Important?
Well, a camera would never be on or moving if it is fake, despite trying to make the switches work. Neither would any image or video be saved. Unfortunately, some of the security cameras you see out there aren’t real and are solely designed to fool you.
You wouldn’t want to buy a similar one for your property, I am sure.
To ensure that you buy a properly working security camera, always check Google for the brand you opt for. What another says would be, go for a manual zoom lens. Here, you can personally handle the camera as and when you want to and can always be aware of the camera recording.
The Signs Of A Fake CCTV
By identifying whether your CCTV camera is real or fake, you will know if it works. A fake camera will work against you.
- The brand name you never heard of does not show results on Google when you research it.
- Fake cameras have a blinking red light. Real ones do not.
- LED lights are not very bright and noticeable.
- Fake cameras’ covers are usually obviously made cheaply with plastic instead of waterproof platinum covers.
- Installation prices between fake and real surveillance cameras differ considerably considering other factors like wind and rain. Genuine cameras can withstand the outdoors and confront all possible natural elements that may interfere with it.
- Having built-in motion sensors are characteristics of some fake cameras.
- Wires are good signs whether it is a fake or a real camera: fake ones have visible wires.
- If it has infrared lights, it will glow red. Even when it is in the dark or low lights, it will still shine red.
- Using a cellphone with a camera, face it toward the CCTV camera. If you can see a bright light on your cell phone camera, then it is on.
How Long Do Security Cameras Systems Keep Video Surveillance Footage?
This is a question many people ask us about security cameras. However, there is no easy answer. It's going to look different depending on several factors, including the number of cameras you have, the method you're recording, the amount of space available to you, the resolution of your cameras, and your purpose for recording video surveillance footage, to begin with.
So the answer to this question is straightforward: the amount of time surveillance footage is kept on the amount of recording space available. Typically, businesses will have at least one month’s worth of security camera footage saved, while homeowners tend to keep at least one to two week’s worth.
Now, let’s break that down a little bit. We’ll go over two situations: when footage is saved directly to the camera and when footage is saved to an external recorder. But first, we need to go over what happens with older surveillance footage once there is no more recording space.
What Happens With Old Security Footage?
Typically when an SD card or a recorder hard drive fills up, any new footage overwrites the oldest footage. So if you have enough space for two weeks of video surveillance footage, for example, at any point, you will have the last two weeks of footage saved.
This is the standard method for dealing with a whole hard drive, and it’s the easiest. If, for some reason, you’d instead take care of deleting older footage manually, you can usually adjust this setting in your NVR’s web interface.
Saving Footage To A Camera
Many of our security cameras do have a slot for onboard storage using a MicroSD card slot. When a security camera is recording footage only to a MicroSD card, it usually isn’t recording all the time.
These cameras are typically only set up to record during events, such as motion detection, line crossing detection, etc. That said, the amount of storage kept on your security camera’s MicroSD card depends on how much activity your camera is recording.
If you’re recording a busy street with lots of motion, you may only be able to store a day or two with your MicroSD card. However, if your recording events are limited, you could go for weeks or months without using up all your storage.
SD cards are great options if you want to set up a standalone camera. Even if you have an entire video surveillance system, it’s still a good idea to use an SD card. That way, you always have a backup if something should happen to your NVR or its hard drive.
How To Keep My Footage
As we mentioned at the beginning of this post, your security camera and recorder will start recording over your oldest footage once the hard drive or SD card fills up.
This happens automatically with no extra work on your part. However, sometimes there are pieces of footage that you need to keep longer than your storage space will allow. When this happens, all you need to do is export your footage and store it on your computer or a separate hard drive.
The Things To Remember
Do not be misled by blinking red lights because it does not always mean that they are real. Security cameras have red lights only when under deplorable light conditions rather than flashing day and night.
Some old CCTV cameras have green (off) and red (on) indicator lights placed on the backsides of them, so this is one instance that it becomes harder to know if a CCTV camera is on.
With the fast-changing developments in CCTV technology, more sophisticated infrared cameras are equipped with black LED lights that will not give out any glow, whether it’s turned on or off. These cameras are now popularly used for ‘spying’ purposes.
Guiding Principles Per The Data Protection Code
- Surveillance cameras require meeting a burning need and are used for specific purposes. What that means is having a legit reason to record audio.
- The effects on individuals and their privacy need to be evaluated, which requires repeated review and justification.
- Transparency, transparency in all things concerning a surveillance camera system means taking complaints seriously and delivering a handy memo about the contact points.
- Responsibility and accountability for everything collected, kept and used by a camera is a must. How will it be used?
- Policies and procedures are a requirement, which means it’s important to tell everyone and promise compliance on your end.
- ONLY images that need to be kept are those for the stated purpose.
- Access to any recorded information better is restricted with transparent rules on who can view it and possess it.
- Meet and maintain technical, competency and operational standards.
- Security measures need to be in place to safeguard everyone against unauthorized use and access.
- Review and audit everything to meet ethical and legal requirements. This includes policies and standards.
All in all, it has to be worth it.