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Do I need a subscription for an Arlo security camera?

Arlo Video Doorbell With Box
Arlo Video Doorbell With Box (Image credit: Nick Sutrich / Android Central)

Best answer: No, Arlo cameras do not require a subscription to operate and can store footage locally when paired with an Arlo base station. However, if you subscribe to Arlo Smart, you'll get additional AI-powered motion detection options, cloud storage, and customizable motion zones.

What Arlo cameras can do without a subscription

Arlo makes some of the most capable smart cameras on the market, even if you're not looking to pay extra for a subscription. All of Arlo's cameras can connect to an Arlo Base Station — including the Arlo Video Doorbell — which enables better battery life, longer-range wireless connectivity, and the addition of local storage. Videos are stored on either USB sticks or SD cards, depending on which base station (opens in new tab) you have.

If you don't want to spend money on an Arlo Secure plan every month, most Arlo cameras store footage locally for free.

Some older Arlo cameras, like the Arlo Pro 2, come with a free base cloud storage plan, which includes the following:

  • Seven days of cloud recordings storage
  • Three months limited support
  • Five-camera limit
  • Motion alerts

Arlo Secure is the way

Arlo further simplified its Arlo Secure subscription plans in 2021 and now offers just two options: Arlo Secure and Arlo Secure Plus.

Arlo Secure Plans

Source: Arlo (Image credit: Source: Arlo)

Arlo Secure plans are designed to help customers get the most out of their Arlo cams, whether that's just one Arlo Video Doorbell or a whole host of cameras monitoring your premises. If you've only got one camera, the $2.99 per month Arlo Secure plan is your best bet.

Folks who have more than one Arlo camera will have two choices: Arlo Secure, or Arlo Secure Plus. Both plans support unlimited numbers of cameras, so it doesn't matter if you have two or 30 Arlo cameras on your property; these plans are a flat rate.

Upgrading to an Arlo Secure Plus plan will depend on if you need footage stored at 4K resolution, and if 24/7 emergency response would benefit you. Not all Arlo cams record at 4K, so the most obvious upgrade here for most folks would be the 24/7 emergency response benefit.

No matter which of the two plans you choose, your Arlo cameras will be enhanced with the following features:

  • 30-day cloud storage
  • Custom motion zones
  • Person/package/vehicle/animal detection
  • Enriched notifications that say what Arlo sees from your notification shade or lock screen and offer quick options like calling an emergency contact or activating your system's siren
  • Call a friend
  • Smoke and CO2 alarm sound detection on some cameras (opens in new tab)
  • Priority support

What about 24/7 video recording?

Arlo Pro 3 Cam

Source: Arlo (Image credit: Source: Arlo)

That 24/7 recording can only be used with certain Arlo cameras (opens in new tab) — Arlo Ultra or above, Pro 2 or above, Q, Q Plus, Essential Indoor, or Baby camera — and if you want to record 24/7 video, you will need to add a CVR (Continuous Video Recording) plan to your camera in addition to an Arlo Smart plan.

The recordings are not available for download or local backup; you have to have a CVR subscription and watch the video through the Arlo app or website. You'll also need the camera hooked up to a constant power source, as 24/7 recording would deplete a battery very quickly.

  • $10/month/camera — 14 days 24/7 cloud recording
  • $20/month/camera — 30 days 24/7 cloud recording

CVR is an additional subscription cost made in addition to the regular Arlo Secure subscription.

Arlo has actually dropped the price of these plans over the years, which is a nice change from the usual subscription cost uptick that most companies have to do over time.

Ara Wagoner was a staff writer at Android Central. She themes phones and pokes YouTube Music with a stick. When she's not writing about cases, Chromebooks, or customization, she's wandering around Walt Disney World. If you see her without headphones, RUN. You can follow her on Twitter at @arawagco.