Wi-Fi cameras are great for keeping yourself safe or just checking in on pets, but what happens if the Wi-Fi goes out? Does a Wi-Fi cam turn into just a…cam?

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Convenience is the name of the game when it comes to Wi-Fi cameras. You can place them pretty much anywhere, as long as the power cord reaches an outlet. From there, they connect to your home’s Wi-Fi network, and the magic starts to happen. But what if that Wi-Fi magic disappears?

Basically, You’re Screwed

Long story short, if you have a Wi-Fi cam like the Nest Cam or any other camera that requires a Wi-Fi connection to do pretty much anything, then the device essentially becomes a paperweight when your Wi-Fi goes out.

The Nest Cam, in particular, doesn’t let you do anything from within the Nest app—it pretty much acts like the camera doesn’t even exist by giving you a “your camera is offline” message. You can’t even go in and look at past video recordings.

RELATED: How to Get the Most Out of Your Nest Cam

The good news, though, is that it at least sends you a notification when your camera goes offline, accompanied by an image of what the camera last saw before it lost its connection.

Of course, other Wi-Fi cams may act differently, but most of them rely heavily on a Wi-Fi connection to do anything. Now, if your Wi-Fi cam can record video locally (rather than storing it in the cloud), you might be in the clear.

Some Wi-Fi Cams Can Record Locally

If you’re lucky enough to own a Wi-Fi cam that can also record video locally to an attached USB device or SD card, then it’s likely that the camera can still record footage even without a Wi-Fi connection.

Netgear’s Arlo Pro is a great example. The cameras are genuinely wireless (meaning battery-powered and a Wi-Fi connection), but they directly connect to an Arlo base station, and then that base station connects to your router.

You can plug a USB flash drive into the base station to record video locally, and whenever your Wi-Fi goes out unexpectedly, your Arlo Pro camera will still record whatever it needs to but will save it to the USB flash drive.

RELATED: How to Record Netgear Arlo Pro Video to a USB Drive

If your particular Wi-Fi camera can record video locally, you should check to see if it can still do so even if the Wi-Fi were to go out.

So What’s the Solution?

If you need a security camera and can’t afford to have it go out on you when the Wi-Fi goes kaput, there are some alternative options.

As mentioned in the previous section, you could get a camera that also can record video locally, like the Arlo Pro and the Wyze Cam, the latter of which is one of the cheapest Wi-Fi cameras on the market.

RELATED: Wyze Camera Review: The Cheapest Home Security System You'll Ever Find

Perhaps the best option, though, is to install a wired security camera system. You can get a system that costs just as much as a Nest Cam but comes with a handful of cameras that you can place around the house in various locations.

Obviously, there’s a lot more work involved, because you have to run wires every which way in order to hardwire everything together, but you’ll have better reliability and, most importantly, they don’t need to rely on your home’s Wi-Fi.

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Craig Lloyd is a smarthome expert with nearly ten years of professional writing experience. His work has been published by iFixit, Lifehacker, Digital Trends, Slashgear, and GottaBeMobile.
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