What Happens If You Unplug A Security Camera?

When you unplug a security camera, it will power down and stop recording any footage. However, if the camera has a battery backup, it can keep recording until the battery dies. 

Constantly unplugging security cameras can also damage its internal components. Therefore, it’s better to set up battery-powered cameras or backup power via a UPS. 

Things to Know

  • Unplugging a security camera will cause it to stop recording and transmitting footage.
  • Unplugging a video recorder can also result in the loss of footage. 
  • Unplugging these devices can also cause internal damage. This can corrupt previous footage and reduce the lifespan of these devices. 
  • Security cameras with battery backup are less susceptible to power outages and unplugging. 
  • To prevent data loss, you can use multiple data storage methods. These include cloud storage and local storage via Micro SD cards. 
  • You can use UPS or battery-powered cameras to make sure the cameras stay on, even when they are unplugged. 

What Happens to The Security Camera When You Unplug It

Most security cameras will stop recording when you unplug them. However, depending on its setup, the camera might stay on or alert the owner before switching off. 

For Wired IP and Analog Cameras Connected to an NVR/DVR

  • For wired security cameras, disconnecting the DC power jack will power it down. 
  • This will interrupt the video transmission, where it will stop sending data to the DVR/NVR.
  • Most DVRs/NVRs can detect this. They will then send out an alert to notify that an individual camera is disconnected.
  • These alerts are usually labeled as “IP disconnect error.”

The same applies to wireless IP cameras that transmit data over Wi-Fi but need a wired DC power source. 

For more information on power, check out this article on the different ways to provide power to security cameras

Also, when the cameras are unplugged and plugged back in, it can cause damage. This can damage the internal components, void the warranty, and corrupt the footage. 

Meanwhile, wire-free cameras can keep recording until the battery drains. Most of these cameras usually send out an alert when the power is down. Sometimes, they might also put out beeping noises. 

What Happens to the Footage and the CCTV System

Unplugging a security camera will halt its ability to record footage. If the camera is connected to a video recorder, it will save the footage. However, only until the moment the camera was receiving power. 

If a video recorder is unplugged accidentally — without the proper shutdown procedure — it might damage the existing footage. 

If this happens over and over, the internal components of the system can get damaged. 

This is especially true for hard drives. So, if you don’t power down via the proper shutdown procedure, the footage inside will get corrupted.

For businesses or homes with high-security needs, every minute and second counts. Each gap could mean a missed incident or breach. Therefore, it’s important your cameras and video recorders stay powered on 24/7. 

How to Minimize Footage Loss and Security Breaches During Power Outages

Sometimes, power outages can be unavoidable. In those situations, it’s important to consider precautions such as:

  • Backing up your footage
  • Making sure the system has time to shut down properly
  • Providing backup electricity until the power comes back

So for these, you can consider:

  • Setting up a UPS for your video recorder and cameras
  • Uploading footage to remote servers or the cloud
  • Setting up local storage, such as MicroSD on the cameras
  • Going for battery-powered cameras with mains power as an optional feature 


Unplugging a security camera has several ramifications. It can halt the surveillance and intervene with the system’s ability to store footage. 

It can also cause previous footage to get corrupted. On top of that, it will interrupt the system’s flow and cause the settings to reset. Additionally, it can decrease the lifespan of the equipment.

Setting up backup power sources and several means to store data will help minimize these. 

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