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Using Ring Devices Without A Subscription: What Won’t Work

The basic Ring Protect plan costs just $30 per year (per device) and it appears to offer a bunch of nice features over and above not having a Ring subscription. But after shelling out hundreds of dollars on Ring devices, you might be forgiven for wondering whether you can skip paying the extra Protect fees too. What will work without the subscription? And – crucially – what won’t work? I wanted to write this article to cover these exact questions.

Without a Ring Protect subscription, you won’t be able to view back any recordings at all – even ones triggered by doorbell presses or your Ring alarm system. If you get a notification of motion in the middle of the night, you have to watch the stream live there and then – or you won’t be able to access the recording later.

What Ring Protect offers

Ring are quick to explain all parts of their Ring Protect plan, saying that:

With Ring Protect Plus you’ll receive 24/7 monitoring for your Ring Alarm system and be able to save up to 60 days of Ring videos for a reasonable price.

Ring.com website

This sums up the big value that Ring Protect brings, to be honest:

  • For the alarm system, you get 24/7 professional monitoring (so that Ring’s staff will check in on things if your alarm system is triggered) along with a cellular backup in=case your internet connection drops.
  • For their cameras and doorbells, all events – whether it’s motion being detected or your doorbell being pressed – are saved to the cloud for 60 days, allowing you to go back and check on any suspicious activity for almost 2 months. Please note that clips are only stored for 30 days in some countries though, including the UK and across Europe.

There are two Ring Protect plans (more on this in a second) and the more expensive ‘Plus’ version also gives you a 10% discount to Ring’s products on Ring.com too. Ring often have the same offers and discounts as Amazon, so an extra 10% on top can be quite useful.

The two plans – and how much they cost in different countries – are listed below:

AmericaUKCanadaGermany/EuropeAustralia
Ring Protect Basic$3/month ($30/year)£2.50/month (£25/year)$5/month ($50/year) CAD€3/month (€30/year)$4/month ($40/year) AUD
Ring Protect Plus$10/month ($100/year)£8/month (£80/year)$15/month ($150/year) CAD€10/month (€100/year)$15/month ($150/year) AUD
Ring Protect plans, along with their price in various countries.

As you can see, the price varies a bit around the world but they all work out roughly the same monthly/yearly price – even if video clips aren’t stored as long in the UK and across Europe.

Nonetheless, the features that are offered are fairly consistent worldwide. With the Ring Protect Basic plan, you get the following (over and above not having a subscription):

  • Video recordings are saved for 30-60 days (60 days in America), whether they’re triggered from motion, live view or a doorbell press.
  • The ability to share and save videos.
  • Snapshot capture (also called ‘camera preview’), where still images are taken every 30 seconds – 3 minutes to give you an overview of what each Ring camera/doorbell is picking up.

With the Ring Protect Plus plan, you also get the following (i.e. in addition to everything listed above for the Basic plan):

  • An extended warranty for all Ring devices that are currently under warranty. In other words, a 4 year old Ring camera wouldn’t suddenly get a warranty again, but newer devices would. The standard Ring warranty is 1 year in America and 2 years in some other countries (including the UK).

    The extended warranty continues until you cancel your Ring Protect Plus subscription, i.e. it will provide 3 year’s of extra warranty if you hold the Plus subscription for all 3 years.
  • Ring Alarm professional monitoring and cellular backup (in America and Canada), making your alarm system more like the professional at home alarm systems that used to cost $30+ per month to run.
  • 10% off various Ring items on Ring.com.

Ring devices that (might) benefit from Ring Protect

Various Ring doorbells and cameras in a UK store.
Various Ring doorbells and cameras in a UK store.

The items that Ring sell fall into four main groups:

  1. Smart video doorbells – including the Ring Doorbell Pro, the Doorbell 1-3 and the PoE Doorbell Elite.
  2. A range of indoor and outdoor cameras – including the stick-up cam range, the floodlight camera and the cheaper Indoor Cam.
  3. Ring’s smart alarm system which has window/door sensors, motion sensors, a base station and keypad.
  4. A range of accessories and extra sensors including flood/freeze sensors, a solar panel charger for the stick up cams, chimes and more.

Both the ‘Basic’ and ‘Plus’ versions of the Ring Protect plans will benefit the items in groups 1 and 2 – i.e. Ring’s smart doorbells and indoor/outdoor cameras.

This is because you’ll start getting 60 days’ worth of saved video clips (30 days in some parts of the world though), along with the useful snapshot capture feature.

This costs as little as $30 per camera (per year), and it’s definitely worth it because otherwise you’ll receive a motion notification at night, but then you have no way of knowing what triggered it. Without the paid-for plans, you always have to be 100% alert and jump onto Live View the moment that you receive a notification.

The Ring Protect Plus plan can then be very useful if you have the Ring Alarm system, or if you have more than three Ring doorbells or cameras (otherwise you’ll start paying 4 x $30 = $120 per year for four doorbells/cameras, instead of just paying $100 per year for the Ring Protect Plus plan that protects all your devices).

You don’t have to have a Plus plan with your alarm system (as I look at later on), but it does introduce professional monitoring which is a fairly standard – and useful – benefit of alarm systems, and one which can often cost more than $10 per month with traditional alarm system companies.

You’ll also get a cellular backup as part of your Ring alarm system, incase your WiFi fails (or worse, gets jammed). This means that your Ring alarm system can still notify you (and/or Ring) when there’s a possible intrusion attempt.

Of course, these features vary per country. Not all countries receive a cell backup, or professional monitoring. The UK, for example, gets the cell backup for only receives ‘assisted monitoring‘ – which is where your emergency contacts get called up when the alarm is going off. There’s no 24/7, Ring-managed monitoring avaialble.

So if you’re not based in North America, be sure to double check whether you’ll get professional alarm monitoring and/or cell backup before paying $10 per month for the Plus plan.

Skipping Ring protect for Ring cameras/doorbells

Screenshot from the Ring app's "History" section, with a big red 'x' across it.
Screenshot from the Ring app’s “History” section, with a big red ‘x’ through it.

So you’ve bought a Ring doorbell or camera, but you didn’t realize that you have to pay an extra monthly fee. Annoying, right? As a result, you decide “screw it” and to run without the subscription. So what happens?

Well, if you’re on your phone a lot – and maybe you have some Amazon Echo Shows around your house – you may not notice too much downsides. This is because when motion is detected – or your doorbell is pressed – you’ll get a notification on your phone, and also the output can appear on your Echo Show devices.

When you receive the notification, simply click it to enter ‘Live View’ and get a realtime view of what your doorbell/camera is seeing – and what triggered the motion alert.

Simple.

Unless, of course, you do that annoying that that some humans do: sleep.

Many opportunistic burglars go around at night, usually 1-4am. They try door handles to see if people forgot to lock them, and get up close to houses to see if there’s open ground floor windows. If so, they seize the moment and burglarize the house. This is what happens in at least 41% cases of burglaries – i.e. they are unplanned and not targeting a specific house.

So in this case, your Ring devices will be sending you motion-detected alerts in the middle of the night. You have two choices here:

  • Keep your phone on loud, so you can always wake up and check the ‘Live View’ feed (even if it’s a false alarm: cats and critters still trigger motion detection at times, even with “people only” mode enabled!).
  • Keep your phone on silent, and ignore any overnight notifications. After all, you can’t check the recordings the following day so you could just not worry about them.

For me, neither option is ideal really. You either keep getting waking up at night (possibly for false alarms), or you lose a key benefit of Ring’s doorbells and cameras – the ability to spot opportunistic burglars.

This is why I’d personally always pay the $30 per year for the Ring Protect Basic plan, but it’s totally up to you. As I say, if you’re near your phone quite a lot and it’s usually on loud, you might get by just fine without the paid-for plan – especially if you live in a secluded area and so don’t get many motion-detected events.

Skipping Ring protect for the Ring alarm system

A Ring Alarm keypad by the front door, with the dad activating it and the mum coming to get the two children.
The Ring Alarm keypad mounted on the wall by the front door.

This is where the decision to ‘subscribe or not subscribe’ gets more complicated. Home alarm systems traditionally have come with bulky and expensive monitoring solutions, and Ring’s alarm system sought to end this with its smart funcionality which means that you can ‘DIY’ and manage your home security yourself.

But some people wanted more, and so the $10 per month (or $100 per year) Protect Plus plan was formed, which introduces the professional monitoring and cellular backup that I mentioned earlier.

For me, the cellular backup is a nice feature, but probably not worth $100 per year unless my WiFi connection regularly drops and fails (in which, I’d probably get a new router, to be honest!).

However professional monitoring – the ability for Ring to monitor your system too and contact local law enforcement if they notice anything suspicious during alarm events – is quite a nice benefit. This can also be paired with a Ring panic button, although areas with Verified Response protocols may end up costing more than the $100/year fee.

Overall though, if you don’t feel like checking all your Ring cameras every time you get an alarm alert, paying the $100/year fee could definitely make sense – especially since you then get the cell backup on-top for cases when your WiFi is playing up.

The relative cost of the Plus plan also falls with every new Ring doorbell or camera that you buy – instead of paying $30 per year for them too, you get the 60 day recordings for free under the $100 per year Plus plan. In other words, if you have 3 Ring cameras (which would have cost 3 x $30 = $90 per year) you’ll only be paying $10 more per year to upgrade to the Plus plan – and thus $10 per year to protect your Ring alarm system. That’s much cheaper than the subscription fees to traditional alarm companies!

27 thoughts on “Using Ring Devices Without A Subscription: What Won’t Work”

  1. I agree with Kim. I really didn’t know how the ring system worked, what was included, etc. Your article was very informative and helpful. Thank you.

    Reply
  2. 12 months ago I purchased the Ring Doorbell, it works very well and I am very pleased with it.

    However I noticed that £25 had been taken from my account and I had not asked for this service, since I have very limited need of more than to see who is at my door .

    Since the Covid Virus I was unable to go to the bank to rectify this, until yesterday, The first payment was from the beginning of March 2021 .

    I would appreciate quick action since I am 89 years old and I am not very active, mostly LOCKED IN .

    Thank you Harry.

    Reply
    • Hi Harry,

      Sorry to hear about the deducted payment, that’s frustrating. Unfortunately Smart Home Point is a third party blog which isn’t directly linked to Ring, so I can’t help directly. However Ring’s “Get in touch” page (at https://support.ring.com/hc/en-gb/articles/360036196372 ) covers all their contact methods. Their UK number is 01727 26 3045, and this might be better than speaking to your bank as Ring should be able to refund the payment their end. You should also be able to do a Live Chat via their help page by typing in your query, and then keep clicking “No this doesn’t help” when it offers a suggestion. Eventually it will offer ways you can speak to them, and one of the options is “Live Chat”.

      I’m sorry to hear the current Covid situation has been tough on you – it’s not an easy time for many of us, but I can especially imagine it being tough on you due to your age. I hope you can get this issue with Ring sorted soon.

      Best,
      Tristan

      Reply
  3. When my ring alarm goes off and I view it, I have an annoying message telling me I need to subscribe to view blah blah blah…that annoying message prevents me from seeing the activity right away. How can I stop the message from being displayed? I need it to allow me to see the activity as soon as I press my app. I have searched all over the app to find where I disable this annoying message.

    Reply
    • Hey Donna, unfortunately I don’t think there’s a way of disabling this annoying message – Ring just really want people to subscribe, so they don’t seem to have a way of turning off these notifications.

      Reply
  4. Hi. We’re going to update our Ring 2 and would like some advice please. We don’t whether we should get a Ring 3 or Ring 3 Plus. If we go for the Ring Plus with the pre-roll facility, will this work without subscribing to the Ring Protect Plan? Thanks.

    Reply
    • Hi Ann, great question! So pre-roll will work without the Ring Protect Plan. There’s more information at https://support.ring.com/hc/en-gb/articles/360038650731-Understanding-the-Pre-Roll-Feature, but the key things to know are:

      1) Without Ring Protect, you just get the pre-roll as a ‘picture within a picture’… basically, the pre-roll is shown within your existing video recordings. So you end up seeing less of the pre-roll, as it’s just super-imposed on top of the recording.
      2) With Ring Protect, the 6 seconds of pre-roll gets added automatically to the video recordings. This means that your video recordings become 1 minute and 6 seconds long, and it’s all seamless.

      Reply
  5. I have Arlo and Ring. All I can say is don’t waste your money on Ring. What a bunch of nonesense. The recordings can be saved on your mobile device and not use any of Ring’s apparently precious data. It’s another recurring subscription model that just piles on the costs. I’m going to sell my Ring cameras and buy more Arlo cameras. Ring is not providing good customer service but are doing a disservice. I am nothing but disappointed.

    Reply
    • Hello, interesting view-points – thanks for the comments. Whilst I do like the convenience of Ring, they are a little pointless without a subscription and I do agree that it’s nice to have locally stored footage instead.

      Reply
  6. Motion detection wont enable without the recording, so you don’t even get motion detection without a subscription. What a con i won’t be buying any more of their products.

    Reply
    • You should get motion notifications to your phone, though, and you can jump into Live View (I quote Ring’s website below). But you’re right that it won’t start recording when motion is detected – it’ll purely notify you. And even then, Live View doesn’t trigger a recording to be saved so I agree it’s not ideal.

      All Ring devices will operate without an additional fee or subscription. You will receive alerts when visitors press your doorbell or trigger motion sensors in your device. You will also get live streaming video and two-way audio.

      Reply
  7. Hi Tristan, if you share a ring video, say to my email, and save it as something else, will the video disappear after the 30-60 days or will it remain? I have a video I need to maintain and want to confirmation that if I have saved it to my videos on my computer that it will not disappear. Thank you!

    Reply
    • Hey Barb, shared videos do get kept for longer. I used verified this by going to my Ring app, clicking “Control Center” and then “Video Management”. There are 4 videos I shared (some more than a year ago), and I can still view them fine.

      Reply
  8. Under the ‘Skipping Ring protect for Ring cameras/doorbells’ section, I still don’t understand the difference. Plan or not, you still need to look at the app to see what it detected. Do you mean that it will no longer connect to your physical (non-Ring) doorbell ringer in your house if you don’t have a plan?
    We didn’t do the plan again, because frankly, we were underwhelmed with its effectiveness at how it was notifying and its speed of connecting, but can’t remember if that timeline coincides with when our physical doorbell stopped working. Thanks.

    Reply
    • Hey Dena,

      Sorry if that section is unclear. The non-Ring doorbell ringer will still ring with or without a subscription.

      I was pointing out that without the subscription, nothing is ever recorded, so you must react in real time to motion alerts and doorbell presses. Whereas with a subscription, the footage is saved in the Ring cloud – meaning that you can always look back later at recordings.

      Reply
  9. Thank you for the concise article- I wish I read it before purchasing my Ring products. In the past, I always used Swann for security and could save everything for free on the included hard drive. I only discovered the need for a Ring subscription after I bought two wireless cameras.

    It’s also infuriating to see how Ring overcharges Australian customers. The only options we have are Ring essential for $4 AUD a month, which allows us to view, share and save recorded video on one cam. The other option is Ring Plus Plan for $15 a month, which provides access to the recordings of all Ring devices at one address. This is the full subscription price ( after taking exchange rates into account). Surely, Ring could have provided a slight discount to compensate for the lack of the monitoring features?

    Reply
    • Hey Penny,

      Thanks for the comment, and yes it’s definitely frustrating that Ring don’t seem to advertise the necessity of the subscription in advance. I mean, yes they do ‘work’ without a subscription – but they aren’t much use. I guess that wouldn’t be a good marketing slogan though!

      That’s also frustrating about AUD being overcharged. I’ll take a closer look at that, it’s an interesting point that I hadn’t considered.

      Reply
  10. This was so well appreciated thanks.
    I never knew I needed a monthly subscription when buying this and I do think they should mention this when selling to promote full disclosure with purchases.
    I only bought the one device but I planned to get another. After reading this it makes more sense to get the four for all sides of the home and pay the $100/ yr subscription.

    Reply

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