Does Amazon Cloud Cam protect your privacy?

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Best answer: Yes. Video from your Cloud Cameras is sent to Amazon’s servers whenever it detects motion. Amazon stores this video on its servers but does not share it with third parties. Whether you’re comfortable with that will determine whether you want to purchase an Amazon Cloud Cam.

How cloud cameras work

Cloud cameras generally work by capturing footage of a room whenever they detect motion or sound. You can then watch the footage (or just check in on the cameras at any time) from your smartphone or a website. Then, the footage is uploaded from the cameras to a remote server. So, when you go to access the footage from your phone or other devices, you’re getting the footage from the remote server, not straight from the camera. This is still true even when you’re looking at a live feed.

You can get cameras that record to and transmit from a Network Attached Storage (NAS) box in your home if you don’t want to send videos of your living space to a company. We recommend the Foscam Home Security camera, which is not only cheaper than the Amazon Cloud Cam, but works similarly by only recording when it detects motion or sound. You can upload the data and store it on a local server like this Western Digital NAS with 3TB of storage.

How the Amazon Cloud Cam works

The Cloud Cam starts recording when it detects motion, and you can check in on your feed from anywhere in the world on your phone. Again, there has to be something that gets the feed from the camera to your smartphone, and that something is Amazon’s servers.

The Cloud Cam terms of service — that thing you agreed to whether you read it or not — explicitly says:

Cloud Cam streams your Cloud Cam recordings to the cloud when it detects motion. Amazon processes and retains your Cloud Cam Recordings in the cloud to provide and improve our products and services. You give us all permissions we need to use your Cloud Cam Recordings to do so. These permissions include, for example, the rights to copy your Cloud Cam Recordings, modify your Cloud Cam Recordings to generate clips, use information about your Cloud Cam Recordings to organize them on your behalf, and review your Cloud Cam Recordings to provide technical support. Learn more about Cloud Cam, including how to delete your video clips.

It’s important to note that Amazon isn’t sharing the footage with any third parties, and Amazon Web Services has proven robust enough for a lot of third parties to run their websites right from AWS. It’s never a bad idea to be aware of who you’re giving your data to, but we think Amazon is perfectly safe.

Putting a security camera in your home — especially a cloud-connected one that feeds video to someone else’s server — understandably causes some privacy concerns. Yes, we all walk around with smartphone cameras and microphones, but that doesn’t mean more cameras are a good thing. Ultimately, you’re in charge of your privacy and your home. If you’re comfortable having your footage stored on Amazon’s servers, the Cloud Cam works really well. If not, there are other options.

Our pick


Amazon Cloud Cam

If you’re okay sending video to Amazon, this is a great security camera.

If you do want a cloud-connected security camera, the Amazon Cloud Cam is one of the best choices. It’s less expensive than comparable cameras from Nest and others, and the subscription fees are smaller too. Most of all, it’s just an easy-to-use camera.

Do it yourself


Foscam Home Security camera

If you want videos stored on your own server, this is the camera for you.

This camera from Foscam is a good bit cheaper than Amazon’s Cloud Cam, but you’ll need to spend the money on storage as well. It starts recording when it detects motion or sound, and you can watch recordings or the live feed from a smartphone app or website. There’s two-way audio support so you can talk to people at your door, and you can get push notifications from the smartphone app. The camera connects to your network with Wi-Fi or Ethernet, and the night vision feature works better than expected.

The NAS for you


Western Digital 3TB My Cloud

Plenty of space for your home surveillance needs.

This NAS from Western Digital gives you 3TB of space, enough for about a month’s worth of continuous footage. This is a single drive, so it doesn’t have a backup built-in. This drive will plug right into your router with Ethernet, where it can be used by any of your devices — including your security camera.

A NAS with a backup


Western Digital 6TB My Cloud Dual Drive

If you want automatic disk backups.

If you want your NAS to be backed up automatically, you can get a dual-drive model like this one. This offers two 3TB drives, so even if one fails you still have a copy of your home security footage on the other drive. This connects to your network with an Ethernet cable just like the previous model, so recording your security footage and having a backed up disk will be automatic once you get everything installed.

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