What Is Nest Aware, and Should You Pay for a Subscription?

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If you want your Nest Cam to store video recordings in the cloud so that you can retrieve them later on, you have to sign up for the company’s Nest Aware subscription service. But is it worth buying in the long run?

What Is Nest Aware?

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Nest Aware is Nest’s subscription service for Nest Cam users that allows you to store video recordings in the cloud for up to 30 days, among other features. When you purchase a Nest Cam, you get a free 30-day trial, but after that you have to begin paying for it if you want to continue using it.

The biggest feature of Nest Aware is the 24/7 recording—without Nest Aware, you can only view snapshots that are taken whenever motion is detected, and even then, those are only kept for up to three hours.

Nest Aware is also pretty much a must if you have the newer Nest Cam IQ and want to take advantage of its face-recognition technology, as that’s the only way to get the feature.

Also, you can also take advantage of “activity zones”, which allow you to highlight a certain portion of what the Nest Cam can see and receive motion alerts if anything is detected within that specific area. This can be great to have if you want to tune out passing cars and only focus on your driveway or walkway.

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There are two different subscription packages that you can choose from. Both come with the same features, with the only difference being how long recordings are stored in the cloud. There’s a cheap plan, which saves video recordings for up to 10 days. It costs $10 per month (or $100 per year), and any additional Nest Cam costs $5 per month (or $50 per year).

The more expensive plan allows you to store video recordings for up to 30 days, and it costs $30 per month (or $300 per year) with additional cameras costing $15 per month (or $150 per year).

Is It Worth Buying?

I’ll be honest: Nest Aware is pretty expensive. And even if it was cheaper, there are plenty of other companies that offer some kind of free cloud storage for video recordings with their own Wi-Fi cams, like the Logi Circle, Netgear Arlo, and Blink.

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However, $8.33 per month isn’t that bad (if you go with the $100/year option)—you likely spend that much anyway on various streaming services like Spotify, Netflix, and YouTube Red. So if 24/7 recording is something you really want or need, there’s really no arguing there, especially if snapshots of motion that are only saved for three hours just won’t cut it at all.

On the other hand, if you ever add more Nest Cams to your setup, the cost of Nest Aware can quickly add up. If you ended up with three Nest Cams with all of them recording 24/7, you would end up spending around $16.50 per month for Nest Aware, at the very minimum, which ends up being $200 per year. After just a few years, the cost of ownership quickly adds up to well over $700, which at that point would buy you a really nice standalone surveillance system with more than just three cameras.

Then again, you can’t really argue with how easy the Nest Cam is to set up and use, so you would definitely be paying for the convenience. But if you’re looking for a more budget-friendly option, it might be better to get a Wi-Fi cam that comes with free cloud recording.

Craig Lloyd writes about smarthome for How-To Geek, and is an aspiring handyman who loves tinkering with anything and everything around the house. He's also a mediocre gamer, aviation geek, baseball fan, motorcyclist, and proud introvert.