11 Excellent Ways to Know if a Security Camera is Recording

Security is a basic human need. People can sometimes get a little paranoid, especially if you’ve recently installed a new security system. In this article, we’ll go over some of the different ways to know if a security camera is recording or not.

know if a security camera is recording

How Do You Know if a Security Camera is Recording?

So you’ve installed a security camera in your home or business, but you’re not sure if it’s actually recording. You’ve been watching the monitor for a while, but you can’t tell whether or not the system is working. What do you do? No matter why you’re using security cameras, you want to make sure they’re working properly.

Here are 11 ways to know if a security camera is recording:

1. See if the Camera Has a Recording Indicator

A recording indicator is an obvious way to know if a security camera is recording. This is usually a red light emitted from the lens of the camera when it’s powered on.

The absence of a red light indicator doesn’t necessarily mean the camera is powered off. Most modern cameras don’t have an indicator light, so a recording indicator isn’t the best way to know if a camera is recording.

2. Check the LEDs Around the Camera Lens

The LEDs around the lens can sometimes tell you whether or not a security camera is recording. When they’re lit up, the camera is probably on and recording.

You can see the LEDs by holding a piece of cardboard or some other solid object up to the camera. When the LEDs are working, you’ll see the red reflection on the object’s surface.

However, if the LEDs are not lit up, it doesn’t necessarily mean the camera is turned off. Some cameras have a power-saving mode that turns off the LEDs when they’re not being used.

3. Review the Systems Storage for Video Recordings

Reviewing the system storage is perhaps the best and easiest way to find out for sure if a security camera is recording. If there’s no video footage, then the camera obviously wasn’t recording. However, reviewing footage can be time-consuming, especially if you have a lot of cameras

No video in storage can be the result of more than simply a faulty camera. You’ll need to do further troubleshooting if you suspect more than a malfunctioning camera.

4. Check the Camera’s Settings

Check the settings to see if your camera is recording or not. Security cameras have many features, some of which are on by default and others that must be manually enabled. Most security cameras have a setting to turn recording on or off. The camera won’t record if the setting is turned off, even when it’s powered on.

Security cameras sometimes have a physical switch that controls the power, as well as a software switch that determines whether the camera is recording. Check for any external switches to make sure your cameras are powered on.

Also, check that the DVR is powered on. If the DVR is for some reason unplugged or powered off, then your security cameras will be offline and not recording.

If the monitor is not showing your cameras, it doesn’t necessarily mean that the cameras are not recording. Check the monitor’s settings to see if it’s on the right input. Someone might have switched the input and your security footage is playing on a different screen setting.

know if a security camera is recording

5. Check the Camera’s Wiring and Connections

Checking the wiring is another way to tell if a security camera is recording. Unplug the power cable from the camera and plug it back in. If the lights on the camera come on, then it’s likely getting power and is recording.

Next, find the video cable. Unplug it from the camera and plug it back in. If the monitor shows a live feed, then the camera is set up for recording.

Poor cable connections are often to blame when the security cameras fail to function at night. Check that all connections, cables, and power are secure and firmly connected. If you have wireless security cameras, double-check that they’re connected via WiFi and working properly.

6. Swap the Camera with a Different Camera

This troubleshooting method is a bit more extreme, but it will tell you definitively if the security camera is the issue.

Swapping out the camera is the best way to know for sure if it’s defective. If the new camera works, then you know the old one was the problem. If the new camera doesn’t work either, then the issue is probably with the DVR, cabling, or power.

7. Use a Phone App to Check for a Working Camera

Certain phone apps use GPS and magnetic fields to detect hidden cameras. These same apps can be used to see if your security cameras are receiving power.

With a hidden camera app installed on your smartphone, hold your phone near one of your security cameras. If the app doesn’t register a working camera, then the power is likely turned off or the connections are loose.

CCTV camera with housing

8. Check the Camera’s Angle

If your security camera is mounted in a fixed position, check to see if it’s pointing in the right direction. You may have simply pointed the camera in a direction in which the system monitor shows a seemingly blank screen.

Also, check to see if anything is obstructing the camera’s field of view. Perhaps a plant or piece of furniture is blocking the camera and a simple angle change will fix the issue.

9. Reboot the Security Camera

Rebooting the security camera is a good troubleshooting step to take if a camera seems to be malfunctioning. A reboot will often fix minor software glitches that may be causing the camera to act up.

To reboot most security cameras, simply unplug the power cable, wait a few seconds, and plug it back in. For a wireless system with battery-powered cameras, you may need to remove any malfunctioning cameras from their mounts, and take out and put back the batteries.

10. Confirm with the Camera’s Manufacturer

If you’re still unsure if your security cameras are recording, the best way to find out is by contacting the manufacturer. They will be able to tell you for sure if the cameras are recording or not.

Most companies offer free technical support via email or telephone. A professional technician who knows the equipment can help to identify the issues.

11. Hire a Professional to Check for You

A professional security system installer can help if you don’t feel comfortable troubleshooting your camera system. A professional will have the tools and expertise to identify the issue and get your cameras up and running.

Hiring a professional is also a good idea if you have a complex security system with many cameras. A pro can check each camera and identify any that aren’t working properly.


As you can see, there are several ways to know if a security camera is recording. By troubleshooting the issue yourself, you may be able to save time and money. However, if the issue is complex, it’s always best to hire a professional to check for you.

camera lens close up


How can I tell if my wireless security camera is recording?

There are a few ways to tell if your wireless security camera is recording. You may be able to see a red light coming from the lens, or you may be able to hear a sound coming from the camera. You can also check to see if the video footage is being stored on a hard drive or some other type of storage device.

Why isn’t my security camera working at night?

There are several reasons why your security camera might not be working at night. The most common reason is that the power is turned off or the connections are loose. Another possibility is that the camera’s angle is wrong and it’s not pointing in the right direction.

Why can’t I see anything on my security camera monitor?

There are several reasons why you might not be able to see anything on your security camera monitor. The most common reason is that the power is turned off or the connections are loose. Another possibility is that the camera’s angle is wrong and it’s not pointing in the right direction.

village at night by the water

How do you know if a camera is recording audio?

A camera that is designed for audio recording will have a small hole in the camera frame near the image sensor. If you see a black hole in the middle of the camera, you’re more than likely being recorded in audio and video.

Do security cameras delete footage?

Most security cameras have a set timeframe for how long they will keep video footage before it is automatically deleted, typically around 30 days. The old footage will be deleted to make space for new video storage. Some cameras have the option to save footage to an external hard drive or cloud storage so it won’t be automatically deleted.

How often do security cameras need to be replaced?

Security camera lifespan depends on the type of camera, the quality of the camera, and how often a camera is used. Generally speaking, most security cameras will last between 3-5 years before they need to be replaced.

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