It’s a very common question, especially nowadays when many companies offer recording plans on the cloud only: do security cameras work without the internet? The answer is: of course – YES.
Security cameras or CCTV systems can work without the internet and technically all the CCTV systems can be set up to work standalone. All they need is a constant power supply and a correctly designed security system.
In essence, security cameras capture images and transmit them to a central point where these images are broadcasted live (on the monitors) and stored on the hard drives. There’s no need for the internet to do this procedure. In this article, we will explain if security cameras work and record without the internet.
Can CCTV security cameras work without Internet
An internet connection is only necessary if you intend to view the cameras remotely on your phone or tablet. There’s a feature that most people use nowadays, but that doesn’t mean that the security camera system cannot work without an internet connection.
Originally, CCTV stands for closed-circuit television which in simple words is a TV system where the signal doesn’t get broadcast but it’s monitored locally, mainly for surveillance purposes. Although, when it comes to IP cameras, IP is an abbreviation for Internet Protocol, an IP camera system will work perfectly without any internet connection.
You can view the cameras on the monitors connected to the system, on local computers, record to the installed hard drives, search through the footage using the monitor, etc. Basically, you can do anything that the system is designed to, except to see this system remotely.
However, without the CCTV system exposed to the internet, you cannot view your system remotely from your phone, tablet, or computer. It is important to determine if you need to access your security system remotely. If you need to, then you have to connect it to the internet.
In fact, many users prefer not to connect their CCTV systems to the internet since it makes them prone to hacking or other possible cyber attacks. It’s likely that a system exposed to the internet getting hacked and having someone gain control remotely. On the other hand, no one can access a system that is not connected to the internet.
When we say hacking, we don’t mean that every security system is easily hacked. Reliable and well known CCTV manufacturers invest a lot of their resources in creating secure software for their CCTV equipment. But, try to avoid cheap no-name companies.
How can CCTV security cameras work without internet?
There are different ways and schemes on how you can connect and design a security system in order to work without having an internet connection. The main point that you need to understand is that such a system cannot be accessed or viewed remotely (since there’s no internet), it has to be accessed on-site only.
Use a DVR/NVR
In this case, the CCTV system is considered standalone and can be an IP system or analog HD system. The cameras are directly wired to the DVR or NVR and a monitor is connected to the recorder. You will live view the cameras on the monitor/TV, you can playback and do other settings.
If you use a NVR, you need to make sure it’s a NVR with a built-in PoE switch. In this kind of setup, the footage/video is stored on the hard drives installed on the DVR/NVR. Below is a diagram of the connections.
If you’re planning a CCTV system and intend to have 4-32 cameras, we always recommend going with a DVR or a NVR. This kind of setup is very reliable and will work smoothly. Everything is in a closed loop and there’s no need for an internet connection.
Connect the camera directly to the computer
This method works better if you have one or two IP cameras. You can connect the camera to the laptop via a PoE injector. As you can see on the diagram, the IP camera is powered via a PoE injector which, as the name suggests, has a PoE feature and is able to transmit the power and the data through the same Ethernet cable. You can access the live view on the laptop by using the camera’s software.
Another way to power up the camera is by using a separate power supply for the camera and use an Ethernet cable to connect it to the laptop or computer. But how can you view the picture or playback on the laptop? Well, you can either install the management software that the camera comes with or you can buy a third-party camera management software such as Blue Iris.
Or if the camera has a built-in microSD, you can record directly on the camera and view the footage via the camera’s local web interface.
What’s the difference between CCTV systems with and without the internet?
Let’s take a look at the differences and the similarities between CCTV security cameras (or systems) that work with and without the internet.
CCTV cameras with internet
- You can access these types of cameras locally or remotely. And this is the main difference and advantage: you can see the live view or playback from anywhere using your computer, smartphone, or tablet. It’s very convenient if you’re off-site or you’re traveling. Take out your phone and you can check in real-time the live feed. You cannot do this with security cameras that are not connected to the internet.
- Another perk of having your cameras connected to the internet is getting live push notifications. You can set up the system in a way that when the motion sensors are triggered you’ll instantly receive a live notification or alert. This is a very convenient feature and it increases the overall performance of your CCTV system.
- Security cameras that are connected to the internet offer you another way to backup the files: on the cloud. Having the recordings off-site can prevent any future issues in case the CCTV system is damaged or stolen. It won’t matter because the footage is backing up into the cloud.
- You can easily update the cameras easily via the Internet and keep them safe.
CCTV cameras without Internet
- Can’t be hacked via the internet. Many CCTV systems that are obsolete or have bugs on their software can be hacked if they’re exposed to the internet. This is what happened a few years back to Dahua and Hikvision equipment. A CCTV system without internet can’t be compromised remotely.
- The footage has to be saved locally only: on the hard drives installed on the recorder or on microSD cards if the cameras support the function.
Questions about security cameras that work with and without internet
How long can the cameras back up to the cloud?
It depends on the cloud plan that you have, the number of cameras deployed on the site, the resolution, the internet’s upload speed. So, there are many factors to consider and the cost varies. Usually, most companies offer 1-3 weeks backup on motion detection.
Can wireless security cameras work without internet?
Yes, they can. Obviously, it is more convenient for you as a user to connect them to the internet, however even if these cameras are wireless you can still hook them up to your local network (wireless router). They can record on a microSD card or on the computer via camera management software.
However, if you connect these cameras to the Internet you’ll take advantage of their smart features such as motion alerts, notifications, remote viewing, remote playback, etc.
Do the NVRs/DVRs stop recording if the internet is disconnected?
They will continue to function normally. No internet means that you can’t access them remotely to see the live view, playback, or get notifications. The cameras will continue to operate fine and store the recording locally on the hard drives installed on the DVR or NVR. However, the CCTV system needs to be designed and installed correctly.