Video Doorbells With the Most Free Cloud Storage

Consumer Reports breaks down the subscription costs of video doorbells

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Ring video doorbell Ring

Video doorbells are a great way to keep tabs on your front door, whether you're at home, at work, or hundreds of miles away. But without sufficient video storage, you won't be able to go back and see what happened if you missed an alert because the footage is gone.

Most video doorbell manufacturers store your videos in the cloud (on a remote server run by the company) rather than on the device itself, say on a memory card, since the video files can be quite large.

Many companies will give you some free cloud storage—varying from a few hours of storage to up to a week's worth—but some companies, notably Ring, give you none at all. Instead, you’ll need to pay a monthly or yearly fee for a cloud-storage plan.

Two types of recordings are offered in paid cloud-storage plans:
• Motion-based recording, in which the security camera begins recording only when it detects motion.
• Continuous video recording runs all the time, capturing a 24/7 video feed and storing it for playback. (Most of the cameras in CR’s tests offer motion-based recording only.)

For both storage types, video older than the time provided in your plan is automatically deleted. For example, if you have a 60-day storage plan, footage is deleted once it becomes 61 days old.

CR’s video doorbell model pages list available free- and paid-storage tiers for every model we test, allowing you to compare performance and storage costs.

How We Test Video Doorbells

To create a comprehensive testing methodology, we leverage our expertise in cameras, TVs, and other connected devices, focusing on ease of use, wireless setup, response time of both smartphone alerts and doorbell presses, picture quality, and smart features.

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Our video-quality test evaluates the cameras’ picture quality in good light, low light, and zero light (for night vision, so you can actually see those pesky raccoons rummaging through your garbage).

We look for a wide variety of smart features, including monitoring zones (to focus alerts on certain areas of the image), facial recognition, voice control (with Amazon Alexa, Google Assistant, and Apple’s HomeKit), geofencing (to turn the cameras off and on as you come and go), and much more. All these features factor into our unique Smart IQ score for smart home devices, allowing you to see which video doorbells are smarter than the competition.

We’ve highlighted three brands from our ratings, starting with the brand that offers the most free cloud storage. We have also included two brands that don't offer any free storage, but are still worth considering. Unless noted, rates listed for additional storage plans apply to a brand’s entire video doorbell and security camera lineup.

Video Doorbells With the Most Storage

Free storage:
7 days
SkyBell makes two different video doorbells, including its SkyBell HD, which we tested. The company gives you seven days of free motion-based cloud storage. It doesn’t offer any additional storage (all others on this list offer tiers of paid storage).

CR tested: SkyBell HD, $200
CR’s take: The SkyBell HD has superb response time (a critical trait when guests are waiting at your door), but it receives a Poor rating for Smart IQ due to a lack of features—the only features it has are color night vision and voice control via Amazon Alexa and Google Assistant. Its video quality isn't great either.

Free storage:
36 hours
Zmodo is a new and lesser-known maker of lower-priced video doorbells. Zmodo gives you 36 hours of free motion-based video storage, beating out higher-end companies like Nest and Ring. Additional storage plans deliver both motion-based and continuous video recordings.

Zmodo charges you per camera: seven days of storage at $5 per month (or $50 per year) or 30 days of storage at $10 per month (or $100 per year). These are Zmodo’s special introductory rates. We attempted to reach the company but were unable to determine if prices increase after the introductory period.

CR tested the Zmodo Greet, but it's no longer available. Zmodo offers four newer versions of the Greet instead.

Free storage: 1 day
While known for its smart locks, August also makes a video doorbell. (It recently released a second-gen version called the Doorbell Cam Pro with a built-in floodlight.) The company gives doorbell cam users 24 hours of free cloud storage. For more storage, the company offers a Premium Video Recording subscription with 30 days of motion-based video storage for $5 per month or $50 per year.

CR tested the August Doorbell Cam, but it’s no longer available. Our engineers are now testing its successor, the August Doorbell Cam Pro, and we’ll update this guide when our testing is complete.

Video Doorbells With No Free Storage

Free storage: None
Netvue makes a handful of affordable video doorbells. The company does not provide any free cloud video storage. Instead, the company gives users free instant alert images, which its devices capture when they detect activity. For cloud video storage, Netvue offers two paid plans: doorbell ring-based video recording for $2 per month or $20 per year, or seven days of continuous video recording for $5 per month or $50 per year.

CR tested: Netvue Vuebell, $109
CR’s take: The Netvue Vuebell offers great response time, but that’s the only thing it does well. Its video quality and WiFi setup ratings are lackluster, and it receives a Poor rating for Smart IQ. Don’t expect many features either beyond voice control.

Free storage: None
Ring, which was purchased by Amazon in early 2018, doesn’t give you any free cloud storage. You will receive smartphone alerts, but unless you open the live feed right away, you might miss the action. For motion-based cloud video storage, you’ll have to subscribe to a Ring Protect plan.

There are two tiers: Protect Basic and Protect Plus. The Basic plan gives you 60 days of storage for $3 per month or $30 per year per doorbell. The Plus plan gives the same 60 days of storage and a lifetime warranty for an unlimited number of doorbells and security cameras per home for $10 per month or $100 per year. While Ring doesn’t offer a free tier, its basic pricing is quite affordable compared with the competition.

CR tested: Ring Video Doorbell Pro, $250
CR’s take: The Ring Video Doorbell Pro is one of the best video doorbells you can buy. Of the models we’ve tested, it has the best video quality, receiving a Good rating. It also receives decent scores in our other tests, matching or exceeding the competition in every one. As for features, you’ll get alert schedules (to shut off alerts at certain times), monitoring zones, and voice control via Amazon Alexa and Google Assistant. For a battery-powered video doorbell, considered the more affordable CR-tested Ring Video Doorbell, $100.

Smart Doorbells for Your Home

Looking for peace of mind and security when you're not home? On the 'Consumer 101' TV show, Consumer Reports' expert, Eric Hagerman, explains to host Jack Rico why a smart doorbell might be the answer.

Home Content Creator Daniel Wroclawski

Daniel Wroclawski

I'm obsessed with smart home tech and channel my obsession into new stories for Consumer Reports. When I'm not writing about products, I spend time either outside hiking and skiing or up in the air in small airplanes. For my latest obsessions, follow me on Facebook and Twitter (@danwroc).