Turn Your Laptop into a DIY Security System

ContributorComputer Software, DIY

The overwhelming majority of laptops sold today include built-in webcams. Although the primary purpose of these cameras is video chat, there is a major market emerging for their use as a security system. With a little bit of know-how and the right software, you can make full use of your laptop’s webcam functionality as a security system.

The Basics

The first thing you’ll need to do is decide how to position your camera. If you have a wireless camera then you’ll have the most freedom and can place it out of site. Some good brands of wireless webcams are the Logitech HD Pro Webcam C920 (check price), the Microsoft LifeCam Studio Webcam (check price), as well as many other Logitech and Microsoft webcams. It seems they have the corner of the market.
If you already have a webcam but it is built in to your laptop or has a cord, then you’re obviously a little more limited. Place the camera in a spot that can see the most space of what you want to monitor; elevated in a corner usually works best. If you’re looking to protect your doors, for example, placing your laptop on the table may be a great spot to view if anyone comes in and starts poking around in your living or dining room…more than one crook has been caught this way!


Although most webcams come with a pre-installed application for regular use, a separate application will be necessary for maximizing your laptop’s security capabilities. Try out YawCam, this is a free application that will let you access your webcam over the Internet via a secure link.

You’ll want to review the pros and cons of each application, as well as search some out for yourself. It’s up to you to decide what suits your needs best. Some programs provide a consistent video feed, while others are designed to only activate the camera when movement is detected. If your computer is newer, then you have total control over that choice. If you’re using an older machine, then choosing a program that is motion-activated might be your best bet since it will require fewer system resources.

Setup and Test

The final step, once you’ve decided on a program, is to install it on your computer and go through the installation instructions. For the most part, these are fairly self-explanatory and will require little assistance. Once you’ve installed the program, launch it by clicking on its desktop icon and register with the service provider. With most services, the handle that you create here will be the one you use to access the feed over the Internet.

After everything is installed and running, log on from a third-party computer. If everything has gone according to plan, you’ll be able to view your webcam’s feed via the browser on this computer. Congratulations – you’ve successfully taken your laptop from a simple consumer electronic to a very handy security system!
This guest post was written by Jeanie on behalf of Vivint; Corpus-Christi TX Vivint home security and home automation. Our Vivint alarm system can help your house be more safe and energy efficient.