When was the last time you had a peek into your security camera archives? Are you sure the cameras are still working after the heavy downpour? No? Well, that’s kind of unfortunate because right now you may be missing so much important activity. Just because the provider said the devices are waterproof or you’re seeing the lighted Led doesn’t necessarily mean your system is recording.
So, today, we’ll teach you everything you need to know on how to tell if a security camera is recording. Following the high rise of hidden security cameras in the market, we’ll also share with you a brief on how to tell if there’s any that’s recording your bedroom right now. No joke, don’t trust your floor manager from the grin he throughs at you.
If Max Vest didn’t find the two hidden cameras disguised as phone chargers on time, he would have fallen victim to Airbnb exposé. You can never be too cautious, you know.
Part One: How to Tell If a Security Camera Is Recording
When you install CCTV systems around your property, the idea is to keep a watchful eye on your property and also improve security. But if the cameras are not recording, that’s closer to staying without since you can’t tell what has happened earlier.
Anyway, the 4 top reasons you should ensure your security cameras are recording fine include:
Provide History of Past Events
This one is pretty straightforward as it just means having the access to your past video captions that you might have missed. It can also provide crucial evidence of a sensitive incident that might have occurred.
Detect Dummy camera
Not all security providers are truthful and, sadly, you might be blinded with a dummy CCTV camera instead of the original. But if you can do a quick check on the recording capabilities, you can tell if it’s real or fake before entrusting it to your home.
Identify the faulty connection
Until now, we have dealt with video surveillance for many years. We do know how frustrating it’s to spend the day running cables for your PoE security cameras, only to learn later you need power boosting. So, making sure the cameras are recording well after completing installation is a must.
Still, it’s much easier to identify common CCTV breakdowns if the cameras are recording. Otherwise, how will you tell if the issue is the camera, cable, DVR components, or a crashed hard drive disk.
Test the Night Capabilities
Many CCTV cameras are usually advertised for night use, but not all of them are usually up for the task. Yes, the infrared LED maybe there lighted, but the manufacturer may have introduced some software upgrades that affected night vision.
The 6 Best Ways to Tell if a Security Camera is Recording or Not
Check the status of the build-in LEDs
If not all, most security cameras have an integrated infrared LED to enable the night vision feature. The led usually lights after the IR-Cut filter unblocks it and you can see it in faint red. Therefore, this is one of the quickest methods to tell your camera connection is active and so is the night vision.
But the IR LED can only light up in low-lighted or dark backgrounds. So, you may need to block the light falling on the camera lenses if it’s during the day and you’re farther from the viewing monitor.
Regardless, having a lighted LED doesn’t mean the camera must be recording. Some IR LEDs even continue to light up for several minutes after the power goes out. So, you’ll need to test the next method for clarity.
Check if the camera is moving
This works for only PTZ (pan tilt zoom) and PT (pan-tilt) cameras, in which case you will notice the camera rotating back and from continuously. Some even have advanced algorithms that allow the camera to turn and follow where it hears the movement.
But again, a PT camera or PTZ security camera can still run the patrol/ tour function while literally, it’s not recording. So, don’t end your test there with hopes. Try the next method.
Login to the Security Camera software
Overall, this now is the part you should focus on if you want to know your security camera system is recording or not. After you turn on the monitor, you will notice every individual camera (partition) has a video-tape-like icon and count-up timer. If not that, you can go to the history page and check whether the footage is showing correctly.
Improvise with Electronic Bug Detectors
This is one of the life hacks of detecting hidden spy cams but it works for almost any camera. How it works, CCTV cameras usually produce a balanced signal that they use to transmit data to the receiver. Nonetheless, this balanced signal is only up when the cameras are on and working, and it’s when the bug detector will pick up the signal.
Improvise with your phone camera
This is also a hack for hidden spy cams but it does work with wireless security cameras, as well as other designs. All you need to do is to point your phone to the camera to see whether the invisible IR lights are there or not.
Identify if the camera is real or fake
Lastly, you can tell if a security camera is truly recording by determining if it’s real or fake. If it’s a dummy, you’ll notice strange features like very bright IR LEDs and poor construction.
Remember to Check DVR and NVR Recorder
If everything else is fine but the CCTV’s video management system still shows no recorded footage, then the issue is with the recorder. That’s right. The viewing monitor can still show all the cameras are working and fail to record if the DVR/ NVR functionality is compromised.
Some of the common issues why an NVR or DVR recorder may stop recording include:
- Disabled recording function: This is most likely to happen after resetting the system to factory default. So, you’ll need to look for it in the management software and enable
- Lack of storage space: If you have many cameras or your system has many features, your local storage will surely run low fast. So, always ensure you have sufficient space and if possible you enable loop recording so that you never bother with erasing files.
- Failing hard disk drive: This is likely to happen with an old system, or else if your recorder has an inferior hard drive. The solution is simple: replacing the failing hard disk drive.
- Internet disconnection: If you have set your CCTV system to upload recordings to a network server or cloud account, it can’t work if there’s no active internet connectivity. So make sure it’s working as well
Part Two: The 5 Sure Ways to Identify Hidden Security Cameras
As promised, we’ll now look at some of the best ways you can use to detect hidden security cameras in your rental apartment or hotels. All the methods require something you already have except for the one for a professional detector.
Without much adore, we’ll take you through these steps while starting with the most obvious one- Observation.
Scan the area for anything suspicious
In this method, we advise you to inspect your surrounding thoroughly, inch-by-inch, and see if you’ll spot any hidden cameras. Most of the current spy cams are tiny enough to blend in a hand screwdriver. So, don’t ignore anything you feel might be placed deliberately.
Some of the common places to check include wall sockets (as Max Vest’s case), lava lamps, wall or alarm clocks, desk plants, wall décor, stuffed animals, books, smoke detectors, holes on the ceiling, etc.
Switch off the lights in your room
Usually, most hidden cameras are wireless and battery-powered. As such, they usually have LEDs to communicate special indications, such as battery-low, WiFi connection, and even infrared for night vision. So, you can draw the curtains and turn off the lights in your room for total darkness. You might be able to spot a blink or shine from the hidden camera.
Improvise with mobile phone
That’s right. In fact, there are two different methods you can do this and they are both effective. In one, the idea is to test signal interference from the balanced signal that security cameras emit, remember? You just need to make a phone call to one of your friends and walk around the room as you check for signal interference.
In the second method, you can install “Find Hidden cameras” apps and use them as detector software. A mobile phone has a built-in electromagnetic sensor, thus will be very easy to identify all those infrared light radiations that you can’t see with eyes. A good example of such apps is the Spy Camera Detector & Hidden Camera Detection.
Use a flashlight
This is straightforward to do and only needs an ordinary flashlight. After panning the lit flashlight (in dark conditions), you can capture some of the reflective lights from the hidden camera. You just need to go slow from angle to angle.
Go professional with a CCTV detector or sensor
Although the last on the list, this is the most effective method of detecting hidden cameras and even listening devices in your room. The detector has an inbuilt radio frequency that helps detect signals that cameras emit during video transmission. A good example is the Wattne Anti Spy Hidden Camera Detector.
Truthfully, CCTV cameras are at a stage of a basic necessity for any parent or businessperson who wants to protect his property. Year by year, the technology use continues to become better as for the case of video quality now 12MP is in use.
Regardless, a security camera is nearly worthless if only it allows streaming without recording. Luckily, most modern systems now have dual storage means, whereby you can use either local or cloud space. So, it’s now possible to playback footage of your home or shop anytime, anywhere.
Anyways, hopefully, the article was helpful and you now know where to focus your attention when the cameras aren’t recording.