A Troubleshooting Checklist if your GoPro’s Battery is Draining even when the Camera is Switched Off

If you find that your GoPro's battery is draining quickly even when the camera is switched off, here's a troubleshooting checklist of things to try.

If you’re finding that your GoPro’s battery is draining even when the camera is switched off, you’re not alone. It has become something of a notorious and long-running problem with GoPros cameras.

It also isn’t specific to one particular model–I’ve run into the issue myself with HERO3s, HERO4s, and HERO5s. GoPro has put out some firmware solutions that fix it in some cases, but for some reason they’ve never been able to stamp it out completely. Complicating matters is that it seems to be a symptom with several possible causes.

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First, though, to be clear about what I’m talking about here, it’s when you’ve fully charged the battery, leave the camera switched off overnight, and come back the next day or within a few days to find that the battery is significantly drained. Maybe there’s only half a charge left; maybe there’s less. Crucially, this is while the camera is turned off. (If the power is draining while the power is on, well, that’s to be expected, after all.)

A slight drain is normal. If you come back a few weeks later and the battery isn’t fully charged, that’s pretty normal. But it shouldn’t be draining in hours or even a few days when the camera is off.

I’ll say up front that I don’t have a magic one-size-fits-all solution. So far as I’m aware, there isn’t one. But what I can do is put together a consolidated list of troubleshooting steps to try. Any one of these might solve it in your camera’s case, but I’ll start with the ones that seem to work most often and are the least disruptive. Most of these apply to any recent GoPro. Some are specific to the HERO5 models.

Turn Wifi Off

Leaving the wifi on is the most common reason for battery drain even with the power off. Even if the camera is powered off, leaving the wifi on will gradually suck power as the system regularly polls for a signal. Make sure that you don’t have the blue flashing light showing that the wifi is on.

Upgrade the Firmware

Ideally, do it manually rather than using the automatic update feature. And do it even if your camera already says it has the latest version. Here’s the link for manual firmware updates.

Upgrading the firmware is especially important if you’re using the HERO5 Black. In early versions of the camera’s firmware, there was a bug when using some SanDisk cards where the camera was scanning the card even when powered off and draining the battery. A recent firmware update (v01.57) addressed that issue under the vague description of “improves SD card stability”.

Try a Different Memory Card

Related to that, you can also try switching memory cards. If you’re using a SanDisk card, the Lexar 633x or 1000x are good places to start. I’ve put together a list of other gopro sd card recommendations.

And always make sure to reformat the card in the camera to make sure that the filesystem is set up exactly how the camera wants it.

Turn Off On-Camera Voice Control

This is specific to the HERO5 models and later models (earlier models didn’t include voice control).

On the HERO5 Black, you can find the setting under Preferences > Voice Control > On Camera Voice Control.

Turn GPS Off

Again, this is specific to the HERO5 and later models (earlier models didn’t include the GPS feature).

To be honest, this is unlikely to solve the issue, and I haven’t actually heard any confirmed reports of it doing so. But under the same principle as turning off some of the other settings, it can’t hurt to turn the GPS off too to be extra certain it’s not polling for a signal even when off. And it’s easy to do–the setting on the HERO5 Black is under Preferences > Regional > GPS.

Replace the Battery with a New One

This doesn’t work with any of the Session models because those have hard-wired batteries that aren’t user-replaceble.

It’s possible it’s a faulty battery. Maybe the battery isn’t holding a charge, or maybe it’s not actually fully charging in the first place even if it is says it is. Lithium batteries don’t suffer from memory affect as badly as some other types of rechargeable batteries, but over time they can start degrading. Their performance can also deteriorate if they’ve been completely discharged or over charged.

If you replace it, ideally make it a GoPro-branded one. To be clear, I’m not suggesting that non-GoPro batteries aren’t any good. Some of them are, and I’ve been using many over the years with great results. I’ve even recommended some, especially because they can be more cost-effective. But the reason I’m suggesting here that you stick to GoPro-branded ones is in case you end up having to escalate the issue to GoPro support or want to try to file a claim under warranty. Using a third-party battery is an easy red flag for support techs to point to, even if it doesn’t end up being the cause of the problem. So you can potentially save some time and the aggravation by going straight to a GoPro-branded one. Unfortunately, they’re usually more expensive.

And charge the battery with one of the recommended GoPro accessories.

Keep the Camera Warm

This only applies if you’re trying to film in very cold conditions, like if you’re skiing or out in winter conditions. And it’s not actually that the battery is draining–it’s that lithium batteries don’t perform efficiently in very cold conditions and you’ll get worse-than-normal battery life if the camera is very cold.

You don’t need to go to great lengths to fix this–just putting the camera in an inside pocket of your jacket for a while to warm it up a bit should help. But definitely don’t put the camera near a strong heat source like fire—nasty things can happen when you mix lithium batteries with very hot temperatures—and do not under any circumstances put it in an oven or microwave. What you’re shooting for is around room temperature, which is where lithium batteries work their best.

Do a Hard Reset

You can reset the camera to factory defaults to see if that fixes the issue. It’s a bit of a hassle because you’ll lose any settings you’ve changed.

Here are the instructions on how to do it for the various models.

Keep the Battery Out of the Camera When Not Using

This isn’t convenient, but so long as the battery itself is healthy, it works.

Try to get a Replacement

If you only bought your camera recently, the place you bought it from might be open to replacing it. It’s at least worth asking.

Contact GoPro Support

Finally, you can reach out GoPro support–here’s the support contact link.

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This post was last modified on December 30, 2019 3:01 pm

View Comments

  • I've had my battery randomly drain and what I figured out was the GoPro was turning itself back on, thus killing the battery.

  • No, that's not normal unless you're shooting something like 4K video for a while. It's shouldn't be getting very hot simply from being on without recording. I'd ask about a replacement.

  • I ghave a GoPro Hero 5 Black and the original battery went dead being left i the camera for some time. It was not possible to charge it again. I bought some new batteries, not GoPro, andre two of them went dead too,noe aften an hour and one after ca six hours. It is not possible to recharge them. I have not found anything on this issue, when googling it. Have you heard about this issue?

    • No, I haven't, sorry. Quality control can be a bit of a risk with some aftermarket batteries, but it's hard to say whether that might be an issue here (ie. faulty batteries) or if there's some problem with the camera causing it. The only way I can think to troubleshoot it would be trying different batteries, ideally official GoPro-branded ones. Before that, I'd also make sure the firmware is up to date.

  • Just bought a GoPro at Costco is the 7 hero and as soon as I turned it on the cámara gets hot, for as long as I kept it on, also I turned it off and left it alone now hours later it has still warm and for my surprise battery is drained? I like I said I just bought it yesterday, I’m about to return it. Is this normal ?

  • I have had a Hero4 Silver for a couple of years, and only recently have I noticed this problem. Strangely, it seems like it started after I updated the firmware to the most recent version. I tried some of your suggested remedies (different GoPro brand battery, reformat the card, manually update the firmware) and it still happens. For now, I'm just going to store my batteries outside the camera. It isn't a huge deal, but it probably means that I will need to update the date and time a lot more often.

    I also wanted to mention that I bought one of the Anker batteries and it seems to work just as well as the GoPro brand. I know you ran a separate column about non-GoPro brand batteries and thought I'd mention it.

    Love the site, there is always something good to read!

    • Thanks for the tip. I've used Anker powerbricks for years and have found them to be excellent, but I haven't tried their GoPro batteries. Good to know they work well--they're certainly priced well.