Can you use a Blink Outdoor Camera without a subscription? [wafact]

Blink’s Outdoor Camera has made it into some of our top recommendations thanks to its affordability and ease of use. The cam is weatherproof, wireless with a two-year battery life, and includes important smart features like motion detection with customizable zones and two-way audio from the Blink app.

But home security cams come with a key caveat these days: Video storage often depends on subscription plans and may be highly limited outside of live feeds unless you pay an extra fee. Blink’s plans (purchased through Amazon) start at $3 per month. It’s always a good idea to ask about the features included with any security cam, and if it can be used without a subscription so you can save money.

Does the Blink Outdoor Camera require a subscription to use?

Blink Outdoor closeup of camera.
John Velasco / Digital Trends

Technically, no. You still have access to a number of Blink Outdoor Camera features without paying any subscription fee. These include the ability to save motion alerts, access two-way audio, and watch live feeds. That compares quite well against other home security subscriptions, many of which disable alerts if you don’t pay ongoing fees.

However, you won’t be able to save any video clips, and that’s a key feature for security cams. Saving video clips allows you to spot porch pirates you may have missed, see who is scouting out your yard, and if worse comes to worst, show footage to the police or an attorney to take further action. Recording video is the feature you need for serious home monitoring, so it’s hard to say goodbye to it.

You’re also limited to just five-minute Live View sessions — which isn’t ideal for most homeowners — and lose out on cool features like Person Detection and video sharing.

How does video storage work with the Blink Outdoor Cam?

Here, things get a little complicated. Let’s break it down by options based on the two plans.

Blink Basic Plan: For $3 a month, the plan adds active video recording to the cloud for one device. If you only plan on having a single Blink cam, that’s a pretty good price for cloud storage. Although, keep in mind that some options like the latest Nest Video Doorbell offer it for free. Cloud video clips will last for 60 days, then they are permanently deleted. The Basic Plan also adds a backup option using a Sync Module 2 hub, a Blink accessory for managing security data. Attach and configure a USB drive to the Sync Module 2, and it will back up eligible clips saved in the cloud to the USB drive, so you can keep them permanently.

Blink Plus Plan: This plan costs $10 per month, and basically does the same thing as the Basic plan, except you can have unlimited devices, so you can use more than one Outdoor Camera if you want. It also adds a discount for purchasing Blink devices in the future, and an extended warranty. Video storage still lasts for 60 days, and you still get an option to automatically back up your cloud clips on a USB drive if you have the Sync Module 2.

You’ll also gain access to the Custom Snooze feature, letting you pause motion alerts for up to 24 hours (which may come in handy if you have contractors working in your home or if you’re throwing a party, both of which could trigger dozens of alerts in a matter of minutes).

Does the Blink Outdoor Camera have local storage?

Blink Outdoor profile view
John Velasco / Digital Trends

For those who don’t want subscriptions, many security cameras come with a local storage option where you can insert an SD card, USB drive, or something similar to store capture footage. It requires a lot more manual work to monitor and clear than cloud storage, but you don’t have to pay any fees.

The Blink Outdoor Camera takes a slightly different approach. That Sync Module 2 hub we talked about? It can also support purely local storage with the right configuration, which allows you to store video without a subscription.

How can I use the Blink Outdoor Cam with local storage?

First, purchase a Blink Sync Module 2. They are available for a one-time fee of $35. Connect it with the Blink app, along with your Blink Outdoor Camera.

Insert a configured USB drive into the module with plenty of space. If your USB drive isn’t recognized, the Blink app should prompt you to add it.

Now, clips from the camera should be automatically added to your USB drive as they are picked up. The really good news is that you can monitor all your recorded video directly from the Blink app, which makes management a lot easier. You cannot record live video feeds as you are watching them (not without a plan), but this is the only major limitation.

And that makes sure I don’t have to pay any ongoing fees?

Yes. Just make sure to keep your Outdoor Camera and the Sync Module 2 updated through the Blink app when necessary. If you buy future security cameras from Blink, you may also need to upgrade your Sync Module to ensure this method still works.

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