How To Tell If A Security Camera Is Recording – Simple Ways To Test The Efficiency Of Your Cameras

by Patricia Costello
Security Camera Is Recording

Safety comes first and when it comes to security cameras, nothing makes you feel better than knowing that everything is recorded. You can install security cameras on your property – around your house or your business. In fact, while this practice was initially made popular by businesses, more and more homeowners decide to invest in more advanced security for their environments.

Whether you install a camera around your house or one of your neighbors has a camera that overlooks your property too, you want to know whether or not it actually works. When it comes to your own camera, you want to know it works properly and it keeps an eye on you. As for your neighbor’s camera, you certainly do not want anyone to spy on your backyard, do you?

So, is there a way to tell whether a security camera is recording or not?

How to tell if a security camera is recording

a functional security camera

There are a few simple ways to check on your camera every once in a while.

Moving lenses

While many cameras are fitted into one position, you can usually tilt and pan them with an application over your smartphone or a software over your computer. Of course, there are a few cameras that can tilt and pan automatically, so they cover a wider area.

If you opted for a camera that rotates vertically and horizontally, you should have no problems at all – take a look at the lens and make sure it moves. If it does, it works. The recording option is usually automatic – make sure you go through the settings.

Red lights

A good security camera comes with a night vision too. For the night vision to work, some infrared lights will be required. Most cameras today come with night vision – it is a standard of the industry. When not sure whether or not your camera works, take a look at it when it is dark. Can you see any tiny red lights around the lens?

If the lights are there, it means your camera works and records. You can spot the red lights during the day too, but it will be much harder and you have to be right next to it.

Log on

The simplest way to tell if your camera is recording is to log on to it. Go on the app or the software and check the live streaming. This will confirm that the camera works. If you cannot see the stream, there might be a problem with the actual camera or the cables.

This option is clearly useless if you want to check if someone else’s camera works. For instance, if you are not sure whether or not your neighbor spies on you, you will be unable to log on to their camera. It is out of the discussion, so you have to rely on other options.

Wi-Fi connectivity

This is a little used way to check if a camera works. However, it is extremely efficient and just like the method explained before, it usually works for your own cameras only. If your camera has Wi-Fi connectivity, you can simply turn the smartphone Wi-Fi on and check the nearby devices. If you can see the camera there, it means it is on and recording.

Obviously, you can check on other cameras too, but you might need more details – such as the camera make or the model. Most cameras have Wi-Fi names describing their manufacturers, but it is not a general rule.

External memory cards

This is not necessarily a way to check if the camera is recording or not. Instead, it represents a simple solution to make sure it will not stop recording due to running out of space. Camera recordings can be saved on multiple devices.

For example, most cameras come with internal storage, but it is usually limited. You can also invest in an external memory card, which should provide plenty of space for videos and images. Cloud storage is also accepted, as it can offer lots of space.

The general idea is fairly simple – make sure there is plenty of storage space if you want to make sure your camera does not stop recording.

Upsetting lights

The infrared light is usually the most common indicator that your security camera works and records. However, there are situations when you may not be able to see the red lights. If there are other lights around the camera, your eyes will adjust and you can no longer spot the infrared ones.

Simply cover the surrounding bulbs or lights with some cardboard or a magazine, then look closely into the camera. The infrared light should be visible now. If you still cannot see it, it means the camera is not recording.

Electronic bug detectors

An electronic bug detector is a good option to tell if a security camera is recording. This kind of device is not expensive. It will receive balanced signals from security cameras, so it will basically tell you if there are any cameras around you. The so called balanced signal is nothing but a video signal.

A security camera will radiate lots of energy around its range. If the electronic bug detector shows a signal, it means the camera works. Obviously, most homeowners will not necessarily invest in other devices to check on their cameras. But then, the device can be handy if you are worried about your neighbor spying on you.


There are a bunch of applications out there that can detect cameras around you. They will tell you where they are and whether they record or not. You can use such an app around your home as well – simply turn it on and identify working cameras. If everything is alright, you know your property is well looked after.

Signs of a fake camera

You can tell if a security camera is recording by determining whether or not it is fake too. A fake camera will clearly be unable to record anything. How can you tell the difference then?

If there are no infrared lights, the camera is either dead or fake. Some fake cameras come with red lights, but they blink to draw attention. After all, they are useless if potential burglars cannot see them. If you see blinking lights, chances are the camera is fake.

Other than that, look around the camera. It should have a relatively thick wire. If you can see a thin one, it is probably fake. Modern cameras come with a wire only. Two wires may also indicate a fake one, but this is not a standard rule.

Finally, come close to the camera and check the make and logo. You might be able to research it over the Internet for more details.



As a short final conclusion, there are more reasons wherefore you might want to know whether a security camera is recording. Most commonly, people want to ensure their cameras are in good condition and record everything around.

But on another note, there are situations when you simply do not want to be on tape – especially on your neighbor’s tape while getting a tan in your swimsuit in the backyard. Your privacy is as important as your security.

Related Topic: How To Spot A Fake Security Camera – Five Easy Steps

You may also like