When most people are looking to invest into a security camera, you don’t find many asking if it’s possible to use your laptop as a security camera ? Well today we’re going to answer that question.
…install a dedicated software that will allow you to use your laptop’s webcam as a dedicated security camera…
And the short answer is actually yes and there’s more to the story than just clicking a few buttons in your laptop’s operating system, and having an instant ready to go camera. You will have to install a dedicated software that will allow you to use your laptop’s webcam as a dedicated security camera.
There are a multitude of these softwares available online, all of which provide a varying degree of functionality, some with more features than others. Though while some in comparison may be limited in functionality, are actually free to use.
Today we’re going to dive deeper into some of the best security camera software available on the market. As well as explore how, and whether should you actually use your laptop as a security camera.
Does It Matter What Kind Of Laptop I Have ?
No, it doesn’t matter if your a Windows or MacOS user, because there are relevant softwares available for both platforms. So you needn’t worry about what particular laptop you have. As long as it has a webcam then you should be good to go.
But make sure that the laptop isn’t too old. Models from the early to mid 2000’s usually come equipped with VGA webcams. These only provide a max resolution of upto 640×480 (around 0.3 megapixels), and if the lighting is anything less than ideal, the image will be filled with noise.
Before we can actually choose and install a software. There are some settings that we need to change in your operating systems power saving settings.
This is done in order to make sure that while recording your laptop doesn’t shutdown or put itself to sleep. Follow the instructions below which are available for both Windows and MacOS.
Step1: Click on the Start Menu,and then click on the Settings icon encircled in the image below.
Step 2: Click on System option
Step 3: Click on Power & Sleep settings from the options in the left sidebar
Step 4: Click on the dropdown that says “When plugged in, turn off after”, and chose Never
Step 1: Click on the Apple Menu
Step 2: Click on System Preferences
Step 3: Click on Energy Saver
Step 4: Make sure the ”Prevent computer from sleeping automatically when the display is off” option is checked within the Energy Saver menu.
Top Laptop Security Camera Softwares
Here’s a list of some of the best software that are available to convert your laptop into a security camera surveillance system. We’re going to be taking a deeper look at a few of them to see what kind of features they offer.
Yawcam, which stands for Yet Another WebCAM, is a free software written in Java for Windows. The latest release for YawCam is currently version 0.6.2, and is available to download here. The installation procedure is pretty straightforward as well, and your ready to go in just a few minutes.
The features that Yawcam provides includes the following:
- Video streaming
- Image snapshots
- Built-in webserver
- Motion detection
- Text and image overlays
- Password protection
- Online announcements for communities
- Scheduler for online time
- Time lapse movies
- Run as a Windows service
- Multi languages
Yawcam not only gives you the ability to record video with your laptop, but it features motion detection with the ability to access the video stream from anywhere in the world.
It is also by far one of the most stable software on this list, as it has been receiving updates and patches ever since its inception back in 2003.
Video can either be stored locally on your laptops internal storage, uploaded to a server or the internet, or have it constantly live stream to a URL that you can access through any browser.
The software is also relatively lightweight with an intuitive interface, so not only will older laptops have no problem running it 24/7, but less tech savvy people will have little to no issues in setting up Yawcam either.
Despite the “i”, in iSpy’s name, it is only available for Windows at the moment. iSpy is an open source video surveillance software, and probably the most popular on this list as well among Windows laptop users.
Given iSpy’s open source nature, you can be rest assured that the company behind the software isn’t secretly accessing your security camera footage without your consent.
The features that iSpy provides includes the following:
- Management of unlimited number of cameras;
- Footage and audio recording;
- Automatic motion detection;
- Video and audio recording schedule;
- Access via the local network;
- Remote access via the Internet;
- Network audio broadcasting;
- Desktop recording (screen recording);
- Password protection (for users);
- YouTube uploading;
- Cloud uploading (Google Drive);
- FTP uploading;
- Control PTZ enabled IP cameras;
- PTZ Object tracking;
- Embed the iSpy Viewer in your own website;
- Capture Snapshots and Timelapse;
- Alerts via SMS, Twitter and email;
If you plan on using more than just your laptop’s webcam within your security system, iSpy has you covered as it lets you connect an unlimited number of cameras, and even microphones to your system.
It can detect movement, and record both audio and video simultaneously. Upon detection it can even sound an alarm, or send an email or SMS alert.
Though while iSpy’s base features are quite robust, if you want to be able to view your feed from any computer on the local area network, or not have to deal with ads, then your going to have to pay for a monthly subscription.
These subscriptions vary anywhere between $5 and $49.95. The base subscription allows you to connect one computer running iSpy, while the top tier allows ten computers to run iSpy simultaneously.
So if your looking to set up a surveillance system on a larger scale than personal home use, iSpy might be the better choice.
Should You Use Your Laptop As A Security Camera ?
This question doesn’t have a simple yes or no answer, it’s more subjective than that. If your security needs are pretty basic like wanting to monitor your pets at home when your away. Then using your laptop can serve as an ideal choice.
You won’t have to invest hundreds of dollars into a basic home security system, or pay any monthly subscription fees. You can choose to enable recording only when your away. All thisl at a grand cost to you of nothing.
…A laptop isn’t as inconspicuous as a dedicated security camera…
On the other hand, if your security needs are of a higher level, let’s say wanting to monitor an office when its closed, a laptop might not serve to be the ideal choice. A laptop isn’t as inconspicuous as a dedicated security camera which can be easily hidden from sight.
Plus if the laptop we’re to crash for any reason, then you lose would all footage up until the laptop was manually rebooted. This is the kind of flaw that’s generally considered unacceptable in a high security risk environments.
In addition to all this, it might not be such a great idea to leave your laptop running for such extended periods of time. This will cause accelerated wear of the internal components. Especially the battery as it will have to be plugged in charging all the time.
This could potentially shorten the lifespan of your laptop by a good few months/years, and issues such as worn out internal cooling fans, or screen degradation might occur prematurely.
Now that you know all there is to know about using your laptop as a security camera. Alongside any benefits and drawbacks that come with doing so. We’ve summed everything up you need to do to get your laptop up and running as a security camera in an actionable list below, if you choose to do so.
- Alter your laptops OS’s settings so it doesn’t shutdown/sleep when plugged in.
- Install a dedicated laptop security camera software, from the list we discussed prior.
- Place your laptop in a location where the webcam has a good view of the environment you wish to monitor.
- Ensure the laptop’s cooling vent’s have an unrestricted supply to fresh air.
- Keep the laptop plugged in, and place the charger in a location, where no one can accidentally trip on it.
- Check in on your laptop from time to time, just to make sure things are still running smoothly.
After reading this, do you now plan on using your Laptop as a security camera ? And if not, then what made you decide against it ? Tell us by dropping a comment down below!