After working with Nest Camera products for many years, we have run into a lot of issues and figured it would be worthwhile to document how we fixed it. The process for fixing issues is the same for DropCam Pro and the original DropCam so if you have the predecessor to the Nest Cam, refer to this Nest Cam Troubleshooting tutorial.
Nest Cam Offline
This is likely the most common issue with a Nest Cam. A message in the Nest app is the way you will know the camera is offline. It means the app cannot communicate with the camera. Sometimes, over time, the issue cures itself. If the issue is still present after a day, it’s a problem that needs external intervention to fix.
All wireless home security cameras have processors in them. Some are running fully blown operating systems like Linux or Android. When you’re running an operating system, memory can get corrupted. Only way to fix that is a power recycle. Unplug your camera and plug it back in. There’s a good chance this will re-establish connectivity.
Seems a lot of Nest Cam troubleshooting ends in recycling the camera.
If you aren’t local and cannot intervene, prepare yourself on important Nest Cam and Drop Cam devices by investing in a WeMo Mini Smart Plug. A WeMo Mini Smart Plug is a remotely controlled adapter that plugs into any A/C outlet. Your home security camera plugs directly into the WeMo plug. The WeMo Mini SMart Plug is an internet controlled switch by a smartphone app. Using the WeMo smartphone app, you can remotely reboot the camera.
An alternative approach is to turn the camera on and off at a set time daily. Nothing wrong with this method if you don’t mind being without a camera for a few minutes daily. Use a Stanley TimerMax Digislim 1-Outlet Digital Bar Timer 2-Pack and just set the use a one minute duration for the power off / on sequence.
If your camera is still offline, check the other devices in your home. If they are also down, the issue could be with the modem or router. A power off and on could also fix that as well. Read How to Remotely Reboot a Modem or Router for more information on that topic.
Everything already mentioned assumes the Nest Cam was working just fine for many days. If this occurs during the initial days you have owned the camera, the issue could be in distance from the router so try to move the router or the camera to improve the wireless signal.
Nest Cam Status Light is Off
Remember what we said about basic Nest Cam troubleshooting? Powering the camera off and on fixes a lot of problems including where the status light is off. Assuming the status light isn’t turned off in settings, this is indicative the camera is not functioning at all.
Hopefully recycling the power fixed it. If not, try another outlet. Still no luck? This is a hardware issue. Hopefully the camera is still under warranty and if so, contact the manufacturer or place it was purchased from because this isn’t something you’re likely to fix on your own.
Nest Cam Home / Away Assist not Working Properly
This is bit of an advanced option that turns your camera on when away and off when home. It’s handy for eliminating false motion alerts and enforcing privacy when home.
Remember this feature is tied to the location of your phone. So if your phone isn’t with you when leaving the house, then this feature isn’t going to work properly. Also, try to limit the number of users to one. If more than one, you can lose control of whose phone is doing what and when.
Be sure your phone has the GPS turned on. This feature will not work properly if it’s off.
Nest Cam Getting Too Many Motion Alerts
Too many motion alerts will eventually lead to ignoring the alerts that matter. Reducing, and hopefully eliminating false alerts can sometimes be fixed by moving the camera or changing the angle. For example, alerts caused by a dog or cat can potentially be eliminated by ensuring the camera isn’t tilted towards the floor.
There are several software settings that can help. You can use the Home / Away feature to only alert you when nobody is home. That will eliminate alerts caused by a known person moving around.
Lastly, a feature called Activity Zones can be used to isolate motion detection to a specific area of your home or office. So for example if you simply wish to detect alerts at the door, you can set the Activity Zone to exclude the rest of the room. This is a very effective method for reducing, if not eliminating, false motion alerts. As luck would have it, this feature is only available with a paid subscription to Nest Alert. If archived video is important, you definitely want to check out Nest Aware.
Nest Cam Viewing Issues
If the image is distorted or fuzzy during the day, the issue could be a smudged lens. Wipe it with a clean soft cloth. That should help.
Issues at night can be caused when using your Nest Cam to look out a window can usually be fixed by turning off the night vision and the status light. We go into a lot of detail on using a Nest Cam to see through a window in another article.
All of these articles are written by someone (me) that figured out how to do this stuff the hard way. I have owned and tested dozens of cameras. Manufacturer support varies. There are a few good companies that provide timely answers when you have questions. There are several that sell you the camera and seem to have little interest in post sales support (which leads me to finding out stuff the hard way).