Do I need Internet for a security system?

In this article, I answer the question "Do I need Internet for a security system?"

I know. The simple answer is NO; you don't need an Internet connection in order to have a security system working. However, there are some details and pros and cons of having security cameras that are not connected to the Internet.

A word of caution. Be aware that smart cameras are not considered security cameras, and most of them don't work without an Internet connection. So please don't get confused; read the article to better understand what I mean.

Let's talk about this topic.

Professional security systems work without an Internet connection, but smart cameras don't

A professional security camera uses analog or IP cameras to record to a local recorder (DVR or NVR) that does NOT depend on the Internet connection.

You can buy a surveillance camera kit and install them by yourself. You just need to run the chains, connect them to the DVR/NVR and set up the recording.

Take a look at the following diagram to understand how a security system works.

Swann DVR network diagram

Swaww DVR connected to a camera

As you can see, there's a security camera connected to a DVR (Digital Video Recorder) which is connected to a router and the Internet.

This is a traditional analog system where the security camera sends the signal to the DVR, which converts it to digital to record the footage on a hard drive. 

The connection to the router allows you to have local and remote access to the video stream using a computer, mobile phone, or tablet. 

However, even if the Internet goes down, you still can see the video on the computer or connect a monitor directly to the DVR and just look at the screen.

The picture below is another example of this concept.

CMS H.264 Diagram

As you can see, there's no Internet connection in this example.

Everything is local, and even if the router goes down, it is still possible to watch the video stream directly into the monitor connected to the recorder (DVR).

It doesn't matter if you are using IP cameras; the process is the same.

Replace the analog camera with IP models and use an NVR instead of a DVR, and you have a security system that does not depend on the Internet.

Smart cameras don't work without Internet

Smart cameras are everywhere.

There are many brands out there, such as Wyze, Arlo, Reolink, Zosi, Blink, Ring, Amcrest, Lorex, and many others with different tag prices and features.

They are inexpensive and straightforward to set up; however, they totally depend on an Internet connection and a smartphone to display the video.

ONVIF test tool for smartphone shows camera

The footage is recorded on a micro SD card or in the cloud service.

In theory, the camera does not depend on the Internet for recording as long as the micro SD card is inserted. However, still, you need to use your smartphone and authenticate the connection via the manufacturer server that is online.

Advantages of security systems without Internet

The advantages of security systems that don't rely on the Internet are obvious. 

Camera live video feed withou Internet

Imagine a situation where somebody is outside your home, but you can't have access to the security cameras because the Internet is down, and you dependent on it to have the live video stream on your mobile phone.

The same I believe you'd rather prefer to have a professional surveillance system that allows you to look at a monitor and see what is going on outside, don't you?

Local footage recording

The same is true for the recording. Smart cameras record the footage on the cloud, and if the Internet is down, there's no way to have the evidence recorded.

Even though the camera can record to a micro SD card, it's not 100% reliable, and there's no much room for recording, and you can end up without the precious footage that could be used as evidence.

Professional security cameras can handle this type of scenario.


After reading this article, I believe you have the answer to the question "Do I need Internet for a security system?", right?

With a professional surveillance system, you can have the best of both worlds by recording locally in a micro SD card, an NVR (Network Video Recording), and still, have remote live view and recording via the cloud.

I hope this article can help you decide which security system is better for you. Please share this information with your friends.