Why Are Your Security Cameras Not Working?
Security cameras are great for keeping an eye on your property, and I can’t imagine not having them. But sooner or later, you will have issues connecting to one or all of your cameras. I will explain the common problems that would cause this to happen.
What are the most common problems with security cameras not working, and how to solve them?
- The camera is unplugged.
- The camera too far from your router.
- You are entering the wrong username and password.
- Your router was reset or replaced?
- The DVR or NVR unplugged.
- The DVR or NVR disconnected from your router.
- Your security cameras were hacked.
1. Is the camera plugged in?
Wireless security cameras need power to work. Some wireless security cameras are battery-operated, while others are plugged into an electrical outlet/receptacle.
A common reason for a security camera to be offline could be caused either by a dead battery or someone unplugging the power cable from the camera or the wall outlet.
- First, make sure the camera is plugged into the electrical outlet or make sure the power cord is plugged into the camera. If your camera is battery operated, change the battery and wait 2-3 minutes for the camera to boot up.
- Once you power up the camera it takes a few minutes for the video to be displayed on your smartphone so be patient. Most cameras have lights on the front of the camera. You will see the light come on the camera as soon as you plug it in or change the battery.
- If the video doesn’t come on after a few minutes you might have to close the app and reopen it.
2. Make sure the camera is not too far away from your router.
Most wifi cameras have a signal strength indicator within the camera’s settings. Go into the camera’s settings in the app, look for the camera status, and make sure the wifi signal strength is within an acceptable range of your wireless router.
Most cameras will display the signal strength and provide you with a guide for what the signal strength level means, and some highlight the signal strength number in either a green, yellow or red color.
When the signal strength is displayed in red, the wifi signal is poor, a yellow display means it’s acceptable but could be better, and green means that the signal strength is good.
If your camera does not have a signal strength reading, try moving it closer to your wireless router, I usually plug it in within 5 to 10 feet from the router and wait a few minutes for the camera to boot up.
If the camera starts working, unplug it again and move it a little further away. Repeat this until you get to the point where it doesn’t work, and you will know how far you can place it from the router until it is out of range.
What happens if you move it close to the router and it still doesn’t work? Some wireless cameras have an ethernet port on the back of the camera. If you have an ethernet cable, try plugging the camera directly into your router and wait for it to power up.
If you don’t see video from the camera after a few minutes, close the app and open it again. If the camera starts working, the problem is most likely because the wrong wifi password is entered.
3. Did you change the password for your router of wifi network recently?
If you have changed your wifi password recently, then your security cameras will not connect to the network. Log in to the camera’s app, go into the setting, and update the new wifi password.
4. Have you reset your router recently?
If you have reset your router, then your wireless cameras will not connect because either the password has changed or the camera is not linked to your router anymore.
Some security cameras do not give you the option to enter a wifi password; instead, they link to your router using the WPS button. WPS stands for wifi protected setup.
Linking your security camera to your router using the WPS button.
- Bring the camera close to your router and plug it in. Wait for 2 to 3 minutes for it to boot up.
- Press the WPS button on the router for three seconds until the light starts blinking, the WPS light will flash for a few minutes to give you time to press the WPS button on the back of the camera.
- Some cameras might not have a Button. Instead, you will have to insert a paper clip into a small hole on the back of the camera and press it in for three seconds.
- An orange light will start blinking on the front of the camera to indicate that it is linking to the router. When the camera links successfully it will stop flashing. It should not take more than 30 seconds for the camera to connect to the router, sometimes you might have to do this step a second time if it fails to connect.
Why are Ip cameras offline?
Make sure your cameras are plugged in.
IP cameras will have a blinking light either in the front, back, or inside the camera when they are powered up or plugged into the network. If you don’t see any lights on the camera, make sure that the camera has power.
There are two ways to power up an IP camera:
- By using a transformer plugged into an electrical outlet or to a power supply mounted near the NVR.
- By using power over Ethernet (POE). POE cameras only need one cable from the ethernet switch to the camera for video and power. The Ethernet switch is either built into the NVR (Network Video Recorder) or it can be a separate unit mounted near the NVR.
Check to make sure your camera is getting power.
- If the camera is using a transformer or a power supply make sure that it is plugged in and wait a few minutes from it to power up.
- If the camera is getting power over Ethernet, make sure that it is plugged into the POE ethernet switch.
If the POE switch is not built into the NVR, then not all of the ports on the back of the Ethernet switch may be POE ports. A few of the ports are usually standard ports that don’t provide power to the camera.
Ensure the camera is plugged into a POE port and not into a standard port on the router.
Reboot the camera
IP security cameras are on 24/7, and just like computers, they need to be rebooted once in a while. There are a few ways of rebooting the cameras.
- Reboot the NVR. If your IP cameras are plugged directly into the NVR then you can just reboot the NVR. By rebooting the NVR your will cut the power to the IP cameras momentarily, allowing them to reboot.
- Unplug the Ethernet cable from the camera or the Ethernet switch
- If the cameras are plugged into a separate Ethernet switch and not the NVR then you can power down and reboot the Ethernet switch. Powering down the ethernet switch will also power down any other devices that are plugged into it.
- If the IP cameras are powered from a power supply then you can unplug or reset the power supply, wait 10 seconds and plug it back in. Doing this will also power down any other cameras that are plugged into the power supply.
- If the camera uses a transformer, then unplug the transformer wait 10 seconds and plug it back in.
5. Your DVR or NVR could be offline?
You will know when your DVR (Digital Video Recorder) or NVR (Network Video Recorder) is offline because you will get an error when you try to view your cameras on your smartphone. It will say something like, connection failed, or the camera is offline.
The most common reasons for a DVR or NVR being offline are:
The DVR or NVR is unplugged.
The DVR or NVR is unplugged and has no power. Check to make sure that the lights on the front of the DVR or NVR are on. If not, check the following:
- Make sure that it is plugged into the electrical outlet.
- Check the power strip or surge protector, and make sure they are on and plugged in.
- Check the power cable on the back of the DVR or NVR. It’s possible that the cable was unplugged from the back of the unit or it’s not making a good connection.
6. The DVR or NVR is disconnected from the Network
- Check the ethernet cable, It could be unplugged from the router and it is no longer connected to the internet.
- Check the router to see if it is unplugged and is not getting any power.
- There is a setting in your router called port forwarding that allows you to view your cameras remotely. If the router was reset or replaced, then the port forwarding is disabled and blocking you from viewing your cameras remotely.
I can’t tell you how to set up port forwarding because it is different for every router. You can google port forwarding for your router to find out what you need to do.
To set up port forwarding, you will need your router’s administrator user name and password. Then you will need to login to your DVR or NVR, go to the Network tab and find the IP address and the port used.
You will see several port numbers in the settings, but the port you need is usually called server port, watch port, mobile port.
Setting up port forwarding is a little complicated and not something that most people want to do, so it might be best to call your security company if you have one or contact a company like Geek Squad to do it for you.
Your IP address might have changed.
Every device that is connected to the internet has an IP address. Your internet service provider assigns your modem with a dynamic IP address. Dynamic means that the IP address changes, and it is not always the same.
When you view your security cameras remotely, the app on your phone tries to connect to your cameras using the IP address provided to your modem, and if that IP address has changed, you will not be able to connect.
For this reason, we use what’s called a DDNS address instead of your IP address. DDNS stands for dynamic domain name server, and this server keeps track of your changing IP address so that you can view your cameras all the time.
But on some DVRs or NVR’s, this update is not instant or sometimes fails to update the new IP address. To correct this, you will have to call the person or company that installed your system and ask them to update your IP address manually in your DDNS account.
Reboot your router
When all else fails, sometimes rebooting the router will do the trick. Your router is on 24/7, and just like anything else, it just needs to be restarted to work properly.
It doesn’t hurt to reboot your router before doing any of the other steps mentioned here. There have been a few occasions when I have spent an hour checking everything and rebooting the router fixed the problem.
7. Your security cameras may have been hacked.
The topic of hacking mainly applies to analog and wired IP security camera systems. Hacking has become a big problem for security cameras, and one of the symptoms of hacking is that the user can’t log in to view their cameras.
Someone hacking into your cameras can delete your username and password, therefore not allowing you to log in. To find out if your system has been hacked, you must first log in to your DVR or NVR. and follow these steps.
- To log in you will need to attach a video monitor to the DVR if you don’t already have one, and get into the settings menu. If your system has been hacked then you might not be able to login to the DVR at all because the DVR might have locked you out or the user name and password have been deleted.
- You will know if you have been locked out of the DVR because there will be an error message when you try to log in that says something like “the user has been locked out please try again later”.
- You can try to reboot the DVR by powering it down for about 10 seconds and then powering it back up. Doing this usually unlocks the user allows you to get into the settings menu.
- If you reboot the DVR and you still can’t get log into the DVR, then you will have to contacts the manufacturer of the DVR or the person who installed it.
- If you are able to log in to the DVR, go to the main menu, then to user settings and check to see if there are any users added to the system, if not, go to add users or accounts tab and create a new user profile for yourself. Then try to login to the app and see if you can view your cameras.
If you were hacked, another thing to check is the video settings for the cameras. Sometimes the hacker will max out all the video settings, such as contrast and color, to the point where the image is entirely black, making it seem like the camera is not working.
To check for this, find the video settings, usually under the camera tab, and reset the values back to the default settings if you can or change them manually.
Once you reset the video settings, you will see the image from the cameras appear on the video monitor.
I hope some of these tips help you out. Even though these tips are general tips and not specific to a particular brand or model of a security camera, most security cameras have very similar settings.