I am an old man yelling at the cloud and the security cameras I connected to it

Things used to be better, and perhaps they will be again

Ring Spotlight camera
(Image credit: Ring)

I do not flat out hate the cloud, not at all. I back up my iPhone, in its entirety, to iCloud and I think it’s a fantastic use of cloud storage. Other things are less well suited, and this brings me to the burning rage I feel about cloud connected security cameras. Although, again, backing up video makes sense, but let me explain further. 

The first issue is cost. You can say what you want, but companies like Amazon, Google and D-Link saw the chance to move from selling you hardware for a modest profit, to selling you hardware for a modest profit and then charging you monthly ad infinitum. So your £99 security camera seems like a steal, but you’ll pay a fortune over the years in monthly fees. 

Now, I’m not anti-capitalism and I’m happy to remunerate companies where their effort is worthwhile, but when it comes to security cameras I have another problem. That of latency. It takes so long for my security camera to detect an event (say someone knocking on my door) and send an alert to the cloud, and back to my phone, that by the time it’s happened the door knocker has probably gone by the time I can see them. 

Cloud cameras have also stripped away the flexibility I used to enjoy. I can remember a time when you could get a live video feed from a security camera and do anything you wanted with it. You could stream it to YouTube, potentially, or you could save it to a local NAS in your house, to keep a record of all the footage it recorded - even if the AI isn’t triggered into alerting you about what it claims is breaking glass, but is actually an enthusiastic bird. 

I realise I might be overthinking security cameras quite a bit here, and ultimately I’m all for choice. But removing the ability to record locally, or watch a stream live for an indefinite period of time, has been taken away in order to push people to the cloud. Add that subscription to all the others, and you can see how real subscription fatigue is. Sometimes it feels like literally half of my salary ends up paying for web services. Sometimes that’s justified, like a good secure online backup, and sometimes it’s just a cash grab.

Ian has been involved in technology journalism since 2007, originally writing about AV hardware back when LCDs and plasma TVs were just gaining popularity. Nearly 15 years on, he remains as excited about how tech can make your life better.