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How to Know If a Camera Is On: Top 6 Ways

How to Tell If a Security Camera Is On: Top 6 Ways

"How to tell if a camera is on or recording? How to know if a security camera is real or fake?" Maybe you are puzzled by these questions. In this article, you will learn several easy and quick ways on how to know cctv camera is on or off. Before we explore further about how to know if a camera is watching you, you may learn some common security camera types so that you can spot the camera in the first place.

How to Know CCTV Camera is On or Off?

How to tell if a camera is on? How to know if a camera is watching you? Here are 6 simple ways for your reference.

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1. Observe whether the security camera is moving to see if it is on.

If you install a pan & tilt security camera, you can see this type of security camera will rotate continuously when it’s on, and you would hear a distinct buzz when it’s rotating.

If you have set up the patrol/tour function of the pan-tilt IP camera, you can see it moving constantly so you will know if the CCTV camera is on or not.

2. Check the status of the LEDs in the IP security cameras

The meaning of cctv camera red light is quite easy to understand. If it’s an infrared IP security camera, you are able to see small red lights around the lens of the security camera in the dark, when this security camera is on. It’s also a quick way to tell if a security camera has night vision.

You can use a book or any covers to block the light falling on your security camera. If you see the lights turn red, it means that the security camera is on. However, the security camera blinking red light is not always real. A solid red light on security camera in low-lit environments means that a real security camera is on.

How to Tell If a Security Cameras Is On

3. Log in to your security camera software

Log in to your security camera software to check whether you can view the live streaming. Thus you can check if your security camera is on or working.

For example, you can turn on your monitor to see whether your IP security camera is recording videotape. If the footage is showing up correctly, the IP security camera is on. If not, it would be either the cable or the camera issue.

4. Use electronic bug detectors

CCTV security cameras would produce what is called a balanced signal when they are on or in working status. A balanced signal is a video signal that has been converted for transmission along with a medium other than coaxial cable.

It’s also a pretty easy way to detect hidden cameras, or check if there are surveillance cameras are around.

CCTV IP security cameras (systems) would transmit higher energy radiation in their specified range. Thus you can use the electronic bug detectors to figure out the status of the IP security cameras.

5. Know if a CCTV is recording from its power indicator

Some IP cameras or wireless IP cameras have a status LED, so you can easily tell whether the camera is working or connected to WiFi properly.

6. Identify whether the security camera is real or fake

If it’s a fake security camera, it will never be on.

Below are some useful ways to help you solve the other part of your questions — how to tell if it’s a real or fake security camera.

How Can You Tell If a Security Camera Is Fake or Real

Some of you may want to know whether this IP security camera is a real or dummy/fake security camera.

For example, if you visit your friend’s home, you may feel uncomfortable if you are recorded by a security camera. So how to spot a fake security camera?

Besides the above ways to check whether the security camera is on, you can also identify if it’s a real or fake IP camera with the ways below.

How to Tell if a Security Camera is Fake Real

1. Check the security camera wires

Cat 5 or Cat 6 PoE security cameras use wires to connect to the router. Traditional wireless security cameras need cables for power. Thus you can check the cable around the security cameras to determine whether it’s real or fake.

If it’s a wire-free battery powered security camera, you can use the below ways to check whether the camera is fake or real.

2. Google the security camera brand

You may see a label or a mark of the security camera brand name. You can Google it to see whether it is a true security camera brand, or just a company that sells fake security cameras.

3. Check the red light of security cameras

Older fake security cameras have a blinking red light, while real types don’t. It's a clever trick to see if CCTV cameras are working just by looking at it.

If a CCTV Camera Has Been Off, Will it Still Have Recorded a Video?

Many users may wonder "Does a CCTV Camera Record Footage When Turned Off? " The quick answer is: if a CCTV camera has been turned off, it typically won't record any video during that period. Because all IP security cameras require power to function and record footage. When turned off or running out of power, they don't have the capability to capture or store video.


Below are the bonus answers for some common questions about IP security cameras.

1. How to Tell If a Security Camera Has Audio or Sound?

It’s impossible to tell whether this IP camera has audio from the appearance. You can just ask the security camera company staff directly. As you may know, most baby monitors have two-way audio function, so if you want an IP security camera with audio, you can go get a baby monitor directly.

Please know that state laws would have strict legislation on audio recording. One person must know about the video recording taking place. You should turn off the audio recording when this function is not allowed under some circumstances.

2. How to Tell If a Security Camera Is Good?

There are several ways you can try to find a good and reliable security camera.

  • Google the security camera reviews of the IP camera brand.
  • Check the warranty for the security camera company. A good security camera company should offer you 2-year warranty.
  • Read the customers’ reviews of the products.

Most real security cameras come without those blinking red lights. Dummy security cameras would typically have blinking red lights in the front, which is an obvious feature of the fake security cameras.

4. Does blue light on camera mean recording?

Blue light indicators on cameras typically indicate that the camera is active or recording, but it's not a universal standard. Some cameras use different colors or no light at all to indicate activity. Always refer to the camera's manual or documentation for accurate information regarding its indicators.

5. Can a cctv camera work without red light?

Not every CCTV camera incorporates a red light. The presence or absence of visible indicators varies depending on the camera's design and intended function. Some cameras may utilize different colored lights or may not have any visible indicators at all.


Knowing how to tell if a camera is on is essential for its proper operation. By paying attention to signals like red LED lights or rotating buzz sound, users can navigate their surroundings with a heightened awareness of surveillance. Got your answers yet? If not, how do you if a cctv camera is working? Leave your methods in the comment below!


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When not diving into writing about home security, Elvia spends her time watching movies, hiking, reading, etc. Also, she is a big fan of Star War and Orphan Black.