How Much Data Does a WiFi Security Camera Use?

Not everybody has the convening of having an unlimited data plan from their Internet Service Provider (ISP).

Even today, many ISPs offer limited data plans.

Though they can be very budget-friendly, they can pose some problems when it comes to running security cameras through them.

How much data does a WiFi security camera use? WiFi security cameras can use between 0.5 GB to upwards of 400 GB of data per month. WiFi security cameras that capture videos only upon a triggering event tend to use less than 60 GB per month, while WiFi security cameras that are always recording use upwards of 100 GB per month.

Below you will find a more detailed breakdown of what you can expect to see from security cameras when it comes to data usage. So let’s take a look.

WiFi Security Camera Data Usage

Do All WiFi Security Cameras Use Data?

Nearly all WiFi security cameras require an internet connection with good upload and download speed, including good bandwidth. There are a few reasons why a WiFi security camera uses data:

  • To upload video footage to cloud storage.
  • General cloud communication and pinging.
  • To stream live video upon request.
  • To keep their firmware up to date.

Home security cameras can vary a lot in their features and capabilities, which inadvertently affects how much data they can and will use.

WiFi security cameras use a lot of data when used for live viewing or while uploading videos to the cloud service. And the amount of data they will use can vary a lot depending on the video’s size and quality.

Generally, WiFi security cameras, when armed, will always remain on and working. However, it is important to know how they operate when a triggering event occurs.

Most cameras use motion sensors to detect movement, at which point they will start recording and uploading video footage.

But even when security cameras do not record videos, they tend to use tiny bits of data for pinging back and forth to the server or saving snapshots during the rest of the time.

So the WiFi camera will use some data even when not streaming or uploading videos, but the amount of data tends to be negligible.

WiFi security cameras that have a continuous video recording (CVR), meaning they are recording and storing video footage 24/7, will generally use the most data granted they are constantly uploading to the cloud storage. Though, if the video is stored locally, there should not be any major impact on your internet connection.


How Much Data Do WiFi Security Cameras Use?

So how much data can WiFi security cameras use?

Generally, a WiFi security camera uses between 3 GB to upwards of 389 GB per month. If we break down that further, on average, we get between 100 MB and 13 GB per day, or 4.17 MB to 540 MB per hour, or 0.01 to 1.2 Mbit per second, per security camera.

Smaller security cameras like the ones found on video doorbells tend to use less data. They can use 3 to 5 GB a month—and sometimes even less than 1 GB—depending on how the camera has been set up to work and how often it is being used. (There are anecdotes about WiFi cameras using as little data as 100 to 500 MB per month.)

About 60 GB is the average data consumption of today’s WiFi security cameras.

Google Nest IQ cameras are a good example displaying how much data can a WiFi camera use sometimes—their typical monthly data usage can vary between 100 GB to 400 GB. Some users have also reported data usage exceeding 500 GB per month.

Of course, depending on the quality of the video, these numbers can go even higher. For example, 4K videos can be up to 7 GB per hour, and some of the more demanding video encoders like specific M-JPEG video files can be upwards of 33 GB per hour. Uploading these video files to a cloud server, granted the security camera is capable of recording such high-quality videos, will use a lot of data.

This is precisely one of the reasons why some security systems require using storage servers capable of storing upwards of 6 TB.


What Affects How Much Data a WiFi Security Camera Uses?

There are a few different factors that will affect how much data your WiFi security camera will use.

  • If the camera recording only after being triggered or all the time.
  • How often the camera is triggered, thus recording and uploading videos over the internet.
  • Where the video is stored.
  • How often the camera is used for live viewing, thus streaming video over the internet.
  • The quality of the video.
  • The length of the video.


Can WiFi security camera data usage slow down your internet?

In order for a WiFi security camera to upload videos to a cloud server, stream live video, or communicate with other devices and services, it will use your WiFi network bandwidth.

People that have limited bandwidth connections can reach their network’s bandwidth limit if they use multiple cameras. WiFi security cameras’ maximum upload bandwidth typically varies between 0.1 Mbps to 4 Mbps.

Although unlikely, having one or multiple WiFi security cameras can potentially result in occasionally slowing down your internet due to high data usage.


Can You Have a WiFi Security Camera Not Use Any Data?

Technically speaking, you can set up a WiFi security camera in such a way as to not use any data. So you do not need an internet connection to have a WiFi security camera working.

However, having no internet, you will not be able to make the best use of your security camera.

In most cases, this means that you will not be able to access the camera remotely. You are unlikely to receive any notifications as the camera will have no way of communicating with you or the security center. On top of that, it will not be capable of uploading videos to a cloud server where they can be later reviewed.

The only alternative here is to have the camera store the videos locally on an SD card, a PC, or a Network video recorder (NVR). However, if something happens to these devices or they get stolen, you can lose the video footage.

So what happens with security cameras when your WiFi goes out? Some cameras cannot work effectively when the WiFi goes out, while others can continue working if they are hardwired or have a cellular backup that includes a data plan.

Security cameras work with most cellular mobile networks like 2G, 3G, 4G-LTE, and even 5G. However, in these cases, you will have to consider your mobile data usage. Most companies may offer limited mobile data plans or limited bandwidth plans, which can interfere with your security camera’s ability to work correctly.


Can You Reduce How Much Data a WiFi Security Camera Uses?

Data usage is an integral part of how WiFi security cameras work. However, that does not mean there is nothing you can do to lower the amount of data a WiFi security camera uses.

However, it should be noted that lowering the amount of data the camera uses also comes with certain limitations and drawbacks.

Here are a few things that you can do to reduce how much data a WiFi security camera uses:

  • Arrange for the data to be stored locally. If a camera does not upload to a cloud, then it will use very little data. However, this also means that your videos will be stored onsite.
  • Set up the cameras to work only when a triggering event occurs.
  • Lower the motion sensor sensitivity. Motion will usually increase the amount of data a WiFi security camera will use. The higher the number of motion-detecting events that trigger the camera, the higher the data usage.
  • Switch to lower quality, resolution, framerate, bitrates, or a different encoding standard.
  • Switch the WiFi security camera off while you are onsite or during specific time periods.

There is also another thing that you should consider.

If you are using your smartphone or tablet to watch the live view of your security camera remotely, keep in mind that you are using your mobile data. If you are on a limited mobile data plan, you can use it all up very quickly.

Lastly, keep in mind that we have been discussing how much data a single camera can use. Having multiple cameras will thus increase the data usage proportionally.

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Edward Clark
Edward Clark, with 15 years of hands-on experience, is a distinguished expert in smart locks and home security systems. He holds a B.S. in Computer Engineering with a focus on Cybersecurity and is a member of the Electronic Security Association (ESA). His credentials include certifications from ASIS International, IAPP, CompTIA, NTS, and CEDIA. With expertise spanning risk management, electronic security, and data privacy, he's been featured in The Guardian, Forbes, Wired, and more. Edward's mission: guiding individuals toward secure homes using the latest technologies.

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