How to Turn Off Ring Camera Recording

Smart security cameras have many benefits, but many of them use cloud-based recording which comes with some warranted privacy concerns. Even with local recording there are times when we might not want our cameras recording things.

Ring is one of the most prominent cloud-based security camera brands, which means Ring devices record everything to Ring’s servers instead of on your local network. That fact gives plenty of legitimate cause for privacy concerns, and is perhaps one reason that you’d want to be able to prevent a Ring device doing so under certain circumstances. Not so long ago Ring did not provide any way to stop them recording everything they see. Sure, you could turn of motion alerts about those events, but they would be recorded anyway.

Thanks to ongoing pressure from privacy advocates and the general tech press, Ring has been compelled to up their software game and give more control back to us, the customers. These methods apply to dedicated security cameras like thew Ring spotlight Cam, as well as the complete range of Ring doorbell devices.

How to turn off ring cameras

There are two ways to disable a Ring camera using the Ring app; Using the Modes features, or as a one off by using the Motion Detection toggle on a specific camera.

Thanks to the upgraded Modes feature in the Ring app, we can now completely prevent a camera from recording anything in each of the modes provided. There are three of these modes; Disarmed, Home, and Away.

We can set two options on each camera device for each of these modes, so that gives us some control over when particular settings are in effect as well.

Per Camera Modes Settings

Motion Detection - This determines if a Ring camera will be triggered by motion and record an event. By turning this off we can not only prevent motion recording, but it also now disables the camera from taking periodic snapshots for the Timeline view, so it’s effectively off. No recording, no notifications, no snapshots.

Live View - With motion detection off we can still access the live view via the Ring app or Alexa smart screens. Unlike other smart cameras, Ring cameras will record the live view session automatically for future reference. If we don’t want any recording at all then we need to turn this setting off as well, which will also prevent anyone viewing the camera.

With both of these settings off, the camera will not be able to stream anything in any way.

What about a motion schedule?

Under the settings for a Ring camera you can set up a motion schedule. This provides a way to mute motion alerts for set periods of time during the week and can be useful if there are specific periods where you get a lot of false positives (a troublesome shadow falling across the camera’s view at a certain time of day, for example).

Unfortunately, you can only turn off notifications, not recording. Events will be recorded regardless, you just won’t get spammed with messages about it. Under those false positive scenarios this is a good thing as you’ll still have evidence if something does happen. I use these sparingly, but if you don’t want to restrict the motion trigger area, or reduce the sensitivity for most of the time then this can be a useful workaround.

Steps to turn off camera recording with Modes

Here are the specific steps to make these changes:

  1. Open the Ring app

  2. Tap the 3 lines in the top left corner to access the menu

  3. Tap Settings

  4. Tap Modes. Note: if you haven’t enabled the modes feature yet, you’ll see Enable Modes instead. This will give you the option to use default settings or customize them. Use the default settings, and then change the ones you want to using this process.

  5. Tap the mode you wish to change (Disarmed, Home, or Away)

  6. Tap the Ring Camera you wish to turn off from the list

  7. Tap the toggle switch next to Motion Detection and Live View to turn them off

  8. Tap Save in the top right corner

Ring Settings, Modes, and Camera options screens

Shared User Access

But wait, if you’ve granted access to your Ring cameras to other people (such as members of the household), can’t they change the mode to re-enable these features? Yes, they can. But you as the owner of the Ring system will be notified when this happens.

You can prevent them doing that by using the overarching Shared User Access toggle. This is found at the bottom of the Mode Settings page. By turning this off you can prevent anyone but the primary user from changing modes, which will leave your desired settings in place.

Steps to temporarily turn off a specific camera

To just quickly prevent a single Ring camera from capturing motion events, use the camera settings right from the dashboard.

  1. Open the Ring app.

  2. Tap the 3 lines in the top left corner to open the menu.

  3. Tap Devices.

  4. Tap the Ring camera to disable from the list.

  5. Tap the Motion Detection toggle on the right.

  6. Tap the Disable Motion Detection button on the pop up warning to confirm.

Note that this setting will only disable motion recording. Users of the Ring app will still be able to access the Live View which will be recorded automatically to the camera’s timeline. To completely disable any chance of recording you’ll need to use the Modes method above.

 
Motion detection toggle screenshot of the Ring app

Ring app Motion Detection toggle

 

Does turning off WiFi disable a Ring camera?

Yes, turning off WiFi will disable a Ring camera. This is because Ring cameras do not have any local storage capability and must stream everything to the Ring cloud. Without a good WiFi connection they cannot connect to Ring’s servers to save video, stream live, or send notifications of any kind.

This is a pretty blunt way to turn off a Ring camera as you’ll obviously take down every other device in the home as well, but it’s also a downside of cloud-based security cameras in general as you lose their protection completely if your WiFi or internet goes offline.

In Summary

While you could previously only control motion alerts for a Ring device, it is now possible to disable their streaming capability entirely with only a couple of settings by using the Modes feature. Of course this also disabled any notifications, so it’s not possible to prevent recording while still getting motion notifications.

This will also prevent you using the Ring camera as a motion detector for any lighting automation you have have set up using Ring smart lights, so that’s something to keep in mind when setting up your modes.

If you’d rather not mess with your Mode settings, you can always set a specific camera to disabled temporarily if you just want some privacy for a particular period of time, just remember that Live view will still work, and to revert the settings afterwards so you don’t miss anything important.