What Causes Video Loss in Security Cameras & How to Prevent It

Security Camera Video Loss desktop

Once you discover the convenience of connecting your smartphone to your home’s video surveillance system, few things can provide that immediate comfort of knowing that what matters most is safe and sound. However, if you go to check in and experience video loss, you could leave with more questions than you had at the start instead of getting the answers you need.

What is Video Loss?

Video surveillance systems can vary, so the definition of video loss will depend on what sort of system you have connected to your home security cameras. A few examples would be:

  • Inability to see one or multiple live video feed through a smartphone app connected to your home security system

  • Inability to access pre-recorded video clips that were uploaded to a cloud-based storage

  • Corruption of digital media stored in a digital video recorder or SD card

  • Obscured vantage points or hampered video quality

If video loss occurs on a live feed, this is a cause for concern, as those notifications may also fail to generate, leaving homeowners and occupants in the dark to the events they would typically want to know. A loss of recorded video clips can also be a concern, as recordings can be used to inform homeowners and law enforcement if an actual event does occur, such as vandalism or trespassing. Video loss causes are numerous, so the checklist to correct the issues can be extensive, but once you have identified the problem, you will be better prepared to correct the cause of the video loss.

What Causes Video Loss in Security Cameras?

Faulty Power Source:

There are several tell-tale signs that your camera has insufficient power needs. Usually, there is an indication LED which may flash or display a particular color to indicate a problem with the power, or the light may simply be off. There are also two separate components to your camera’s power needs:

  • Digital video security cameras require a stable and adequate power source. While this may seem obvious, any of the following can cause a failure to power the camera enough to either record or transmit video.

    1. The power supply has been physically damaged or short circuited.

    2. The power supply is connected to a switched outlet.

    3. The A/C adapter does not stay in the outlet or is loose.

    4. A power surge has created a fault.

    5. A circuit breaker or fuse has caused a failure at the connected outlet.

  • In addition to having a reliable power supply, most security cameras also rely on a fully functioning internal battery, which can incapacitate a camera’s feed upon failure even when the power supply is good. Here are some causes of this kind of failure.

    1. The external temperature is too high to safely charge the battery.

    2. The external temperature is too low for the battery to receive a charge.

    3. The battery life has expired and no longer adequately powers the device.

    4. The battery has been removed or damaged and requires replacement.

    5. The battery connectors are corroded or damaged.

Faulty Signal:

As the camera communicates, first to your home’s Wi-Fi router, then to your security system and any smartphone application attached, it is important to ensure a strong and stable signal.

  • Although the current generation of video security cameras transmit signals wirelessly, one potential consideration for legacy cameras that are connected by cable is a fault in wiring.

  • With all the various brands and types of video security camera available on the market, mixing and matching brands of camera based on features might be tempting. If you are using digital media storage, such as a DVR, then check for compatibility before using these together.

  • For video streaming and cloud storage, having a strong connection through Wi-Fi will be important. Any of these issues can lead to video loss.

    • Too many Wi-Fi signals are simultaneously interfering with each other.

    • Router or Wi-Fi credentials have changed, and the camera needs to be updated.

    • There is an interruption in internet service to your home or a failure with your router.

    • The device is too far away from your home’s Wi-Fi signal source.

    • There are too many metallic or dense materials, such as thick walls of steel or concrete, between your camera and your Wi-Fi router.

Faulty Software:

Even in optimal conditions, a video recording or video feed might be subject to undesirable behavior caused by issues with software. Noticeable dips in quality, inconsistent connectivity, or complete video loss can be a symptom of any of these causes.

  • Firmware updates are sent to cameras periodically to ensure they work with the systems with which they were designed to pair. A missed firmware update can occur if the camera is offline or powered off or if an update was declined due to strict settings or missed notifications.

  • Ensure your camera is properly configured both at initial setup as well as at any point you are making changes to your settings.

  • After checking all other possibilities, it could be other software problems that are entirely outside the scope of the camera’s manufacturer, such as a virus that is affecting how your devices process communications. A virus is likely to be an issue affecting your local system, so it would be hard to identify if this is the problem without ruling out other possibilities first.

Faulty Equipment: Hopefully by this point you have found a fix. In the absence of any other explanation or remedy, it may be that your camera is faulty.

  • The camera itself is an intricate piece of machinery, and it is not immune to being broken.

  • An outdoor camera is exposed to the elements, like hail, and wildlife.

  • Indoor cameras are closer to people and pets that could knock it off of a tabletop or mounted surface.

  • Doorbell video cameras are subjected to high usage, such as by friends, family, salespeople, and delivery people.

  • All cameras are vulnerable to manufacturing defects or damage when shipping.

  • Cameras which have night-vision may also experience a partial failure in their IR sensor, causing a total video loss to occur at night.

How to Prevent Security Camera Video Loss

Research Compatibility:

When you make your initial purchase, have a plan. Whatever system you purchase, review the different components for compatibility. Try to anticipate what your ultimate system may eventually look like.

If you plan to add to your system over time, you may want to be sure that your system can be expanded to accommodate; otherwise, if you are mixing and matching various components, you may find yourself needing to repurchase pieces to make it work together as time goes on.

Test Your Wireless Signal: Ensure you have the bandwidth to run your cameras. A system should state how many cameras can be added, but based on your internet speed or signal frequency, other electronics running at the same time can cause interference.

Check the signal strength. Sometimes this can be too low because the distance between your router and the camera is too far apart. If you are able to move either component, it could fix the problem; however, if you are unable to move either the camera or the router, you may need to look at purchasing a signal extender.

Change the Battery:

Although video security cameras have a robust battery life, different conditions can deplete a battery’s ability to recharge within as little as 3 years.

The reason a battery must be functioning in a camera which is also powered by an outlet is two points. Firstly, in the temporary absence of power, it will act as the camera's only power source. Additionally, some cameras are designed to only utilize the battery’s power, and the power supply continually charges the battery.

Protect the Physical Lines:

Fraying, loosening, disconnecting, or cutting lines can happen at any time. This can affect the power supply, or this can affect communication lines. Things like moving cameras, or moving furniture which holds the cameras, can easily be a cause. Inspect all cords, fixing any loose connections.

Pests in the attic can chew wires or nest near power sources, affecting outdoor cameras. It is best to consult an electrician who might suggest installing conduit lines to shield and protect your home’s wiring.

Test Your Software: Firmware may be pushed to your device by using software included with your device. If you use a security monitoring company, you may also contact them for assistance with updating firmware.

It is also recommended that you use antivirus software on your devices to ensure that there is not any malicious activity on your devices preventing you from receiving a video feed.

Test the Camera:

If the problem is intermittent, take note of the conditions of the camera or cameras. Does it fail only in certain weather? Does it fail when there is a high demand on your home’s internet?

Check that it is receiving power and that the LED light shows connected.

Look at the camera’s case and lens to ensure that there has not been any damage.

If you experience persistent video loss, you can try to reinstall the camera to see if it works. This will often require you to first delete the camera from your smartphone app before you are able to reinstall it.

Choose a Trustworthy Installer:

Make things easier by choosing a full-service home security company. With Brinks Home™, everything from the initial system selection process, through installation, and ongoing support is handled by a team of professionals.

Whether you are looking to purchase a system for the first time, or you need support for your existing system, contact us today to speak with a Brinks Home Security Consultant.

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