Formatting micro SD card for Tesla Cam

Formatting micro SD card for Tesla Cam

After many failures at finding a flash drive that can consistently work for TeslaCam recordings, I have opted to go with a SanDisk 32GB micro SD card which is promoted as being "for dash cams & home security cameras". With this, I purchased an Anker USB 3.0 card reader. Now that I have what I think I need for consistent recording, how do I format the 32GB card &/or card reader? Thanks for your guidance Tesla community!

calvin940 | August 13, 2019

1. Plug SD card into said Anker USB 3.0 card reader.
2. Plug Anker USB 3.0 card reader into the computer USB slot
3a. Windows use: to format it as FAT32
3b. Mac OSX - Use Disk Utility to format FAT32

M3D | August 13, 2019

It needs to be formatted for FAT32. (the card, not the reader). What computer are you using? Mac or Windows? Google can tell you how to do it

EVRider | August 13, 2019

A 32GB card isn’t really big enough if you plan to use Sentry Mode. You should go with 128GB or larger.

jcjoseph | August 13, 2019

Thanks for the info. The 32GB card literature claims up to 2500 hours of continuous video recording. How will I know when card is full?

legna_fo_htaed | August 13, 2019

Update recently will let you know if your drive is full. Also if the drive is too slow, although I wouldn't think that's going to be an issue if the micro SD is made for dash cams. 32 gig will need a lot of cleaning out though. Sentry mode captures a lot. | August 13, 2019

@ jcjoseph - For FAT32, you can use the standard Windows format or Mac format - nothing special needed for 32 GB. Beyond that in Windows will need an alternative tool, as Windows will not do it with the default utility. I wrote up step-by-step with photos here to format any drive on Windows here:

32 GB will not record 2500 hours of 3 channels of HD 720p video at 38 fps. In the Tesla, figure about 3 GB per hour, so a 32 GB will hold less than 11 hours. With sentry mode, it could fill in less than day if triggered a lot. I consider 128 GB the bare minimum, and many owners go to 250-500 GB range. The key test for your specific use is how fast it fills up and stops recording. Perhaps it will be a few days before it fills. If you drive the car very little and have sentry turn off at home - maybe a few weeks.

The claim of 2500 hours of video must be a joke. Maybe 240p (320x240) at 5 fps. | August 13, 2019

I also recommend using a micro SD card. They have a wider temp range and are available in high-endurance versions. Here's more on adapters and SD cards that work:

These adapters can also plug into your phone so you can immediately look at a video. Pick the adapter that matches your phone connection.

bjrosen | August 13, 2019

I wish they would make Sentry mode more selective, it records way to much stuff. My 128G card was filled after a couple of weeks and there is no way to figure out if anything is interesting. The other thing they should do is allow in car formatting, automatic deletion of old videos as room is needed for new ones, and in car viewing. Having to pull the stick out and put it into your computer to see anything make no sense, neither does the requirement that you pull the stick out to erase old videos.

To the OP, after you format it to FAT32 create a directory called TeslaCam, the car doesn't do that on it's own although it does create the subdirectories.

EVRider | August 13, 2019

@bjrosen: I agree. It would be good if Sentry Mode events were generated only when someone or something might have actually made contact with the car, not just walked/drove by it. I assume we’ll get the ability to view and manage videos on the car’s touchscreen someday.

calvin940 | August 13, 2019

"For FAT32, you can use the standard Windows format or Mac format - nothing special needed for 32 GB"

ya I keep forgetting it's above 32 rather than 32 and above.. sheesh. :D

tluv3k | October 18, 2019

I see lots of very help information here when formatting a 32GB micro SD card. I've got a 128GB SD card. The formatting tools I've seen so far don't go up that high. What should I use to format the SD card to FAT32 for a 128GB card?

Syed.Hosain | October 18, 2019

@tluv3k "I see lots of very help information here when formatting a 32GB micro SD card. I've got a 128GB SD card. The formatting tools I've seen so far don't go up that high. What should I use to format the SD card to FAT32 for a 128GB card?" has excellent instruction on his site - I think he has provided the link often enough that you can find it.

For the 500GB SanDisk that I like and use (see, I ended up using EaseUS Partition Master (for a Windows system) ... there is a free version available.

rehutton777 | October 19, 2019

Syed: Just Google and download either EaseUS Partition Master or AOMEI Partition Assistant (I think I used the AOMEI app). Both are free and will allow you to partition large drives (>32 GB) to FAT32.

Rodo | October 19, 2019

Isn't the 32GB card already formatted as FAT32? I thought 32GB and smaller are FAT32 any bigger are exFAT. If you don't mind a slightly used 128GB microSD card you can buy mine (link below). I'm downgrading to 64GB. | October 19, 2019

A new website is only about Tesla dashcam. It includes requirements, recommendations, how to use, ways to view videos, troubleshooting and more.

For formatting, it has walk-throughs with screenshots with 3 different methods using Windows, and 1 method with macs.

EVRider | October 19, 2019

@TeslaTap: Nice job on the new dashcam site, but without the “teslatap” URL people will think I’m a spambot if I post a link. :-)

My sense is there are more questions about TeslaCam than any other topic at this point, so the new site was probably a good investment of your time. | October 19, 2019

Yep, the Tesla dashcam does seem to get a lot of questions, and my old single page was so long. It was time for a full reworking and a single site makes it so much clearer (I hope!).

rehutton777 | October 19, 2019

Nice job on the DashCam and SentryCam website, TeslaTap! If owners can't figure it out from this site, they probably are having LOTS of problems with other Tesla systems. Great work!

Sarah R | October 20, 2019

Is there any point to using a USB hard drive or SSD instead of a Micro SD? I seem to have terrible luck with Micro SD - lost thousands of photos in several different phones (I learned after the first one to rely on Google Photos)

EVRider | October 20, 2019

@Sarah: A microSD is better suited for the environment of a car than a hard drive. I don’t know how you lost your photos, but I doubt it was a microSD-specific issue unless you were using a low quality one.

jrweiss98020 | October 20, 2019

Sarah, the SSD idea is a good one. You can get a USB-SATA adapter cable (~$10 from Newegg or Amazon), and simply plug in an SSD. The USB port provides sufficient power for an SSD.

Sarah R | October 20, 2019

@jrweiss98020 if I format the SSD to ext3 can I evade the recording limits? I'm assuming that they're a result of the file size limits of FAT32.

EVRider | October 21, 2019

The recording limits have nothing to do with FAT32. Using ext4 (not ext3) won’t make a difference.

jrweiss98020 | October 21, 2019

Try formatting it to ext3 or ext4 or exFAT, and see if the car recognizes the card. if it does, try it out for a while. If not, reformat to FAT32.

EVRider | October 21, 2019

The car will only recognize FAT32 and ext4, so don’t bother trying other formats. As I said above, the format won’t impact how much storage the TeslaCam will use. | October 21, 2019

While some users have had success with an SSD drive, I've yet to see one that has a rated temperature range suitable for the car. A vehicle is a very hostile environment!

I outline all the different memory options, with known temperature ranges, speeds, etc. here:

I agree with EVRider - micro SD is the best choice, although you do need an adapter.

Sarah R | October 21, 2019
Samsung has automotive grade parts too, but that Micron unit seems to be available from multiple sources.
I couldn't imagine a car with a computer as complex as a Tesla would be possible without an automotive grade SSD. They do exist. They are expensive. I'm sure that there are parts for " special customers" that are Mil-spec and rad-hard, as well as certified for space flight.

Sarah R | October 21, 2019

Arrow has the 256 GB part for a reasonable price with a minimum order of 1

klshome | October 22, 2019

I skimmed 's excellent guide, but still have one question. On a Mac, how do I format a 128GB SD card to FAT32? The Mac method shown depicts a 32GB card. Can I use the same method for a larger card? Thanks!

EVRider | October 22, 2019

@klshome: The macOS Disk Utility will format the drive as FAT32 regardless of size, if you pick MS-DOS FAT as tge format.

EVRider | October 22, 2019

... the format.

jrweiss98020 | October 22, 2019

TeslaTap said: "While some users have had success with an SSD drive, I've yet to see one that has a rated temperature range suitable for the car. A vehicle is a very hostile environment!"

I would NOT spend $300+ on that Micron SSD!

Most SSDs I've seen have a 0-70°C operating range. The center console is unlikely to ever approach 70°C. For those who live in cold climates and park their cars outside, there may be a problem in winter. For anyone who parks in a garage or carport and on a charger every night, the temp should seldom drop that low. If it might on a cold night, simply set the climate to keep the car above a reasonable temperature (5°C or 40°F?) while charging.

The SSD won't totally fail when it gets below freezing. It just might not record reliably until it warms up.

klshome | October 22, 2019

Thank you, EVRider.

I had had the impression that the macOS Disk Utility would format an SD card as exFAT if it is larger than 32GB. My understanding also is that exFAT won't work for Tesla Dashcam. Based on your comment, I'll try formatting the 128GB SD card using "MS-DOS FAT" in Disk Utility.

Sarah R | October 22, 2019

FWIW The datasheet for the Micron SSD rates it -40°C (-40°F) to 85°C (185°F). But that's what you'd expect from an automotive grade part. Obviously the SSD from Fry's or Micro Center won't get it. This will.

neazy | October 27, 2019

Anybody know if it's safe to download to my computer and use RMPrepUSB to format my microSD to Fat32? Already did after seeing it mentioned on a couple of sites, but now a little nervous about having downloaded the program to my PC and wanted to be sure. Thank you.

jrweiss98020 | October 28, 2019

You shouldn't need any special software to format an SD or flash drive. Win10 or your other OS should be able to do it.

Also, I am using a 256GB SanDisk Dual flash drive ( in my Model 3 that I repurposed from my phone. Works fine for me!

EVRider | October 29, 2019

@jrweiss98020: Windows won’t format anything larger than 32GB as FAT32, so you do need a third-party format utility to do that.

mikebomgren | November 17, 2019

I've followed the instructions. Formatted my Samsung Pro Endurance micro SD to FAT32 using guiformat. Created the TeslaCam folder and my model 3 still says, "USB drive is not accessible by Dashcam." Did something change with the new software (2019.36.2.1) that is making it so this format doesn't work anymore?

rehutton777 | November 17, 2019

Mike: What is the size of the micro SD card? The message you cite is different that the "USB drive is too slow..." message that is routinely reported. Your drive is possibly too small to handle the dash cam and sentry videos recorded? Other than that, I don't know. Does your drive confirm on a computer that it is formatted to FAT32? Are any folders created under the TeslaCam directory? Any files in those folders?

EVRider | November 18, 2019

@mike: I’ve never heard anyone report that message, but if that’s what you saw, it implies that the car detected the TeslaCam folder but couldn’t access the drive for some reason. Maybe it was set to read only somehow?

If the TeslaCam folder was missing, the car would not display that message, because the drive might be used for media playback.

mikebomgren | November 24, 2019

@rehutton777 The micro SD card size is 128 GB so it is definitely not too small. I had the USB drive is too slow with my previous attempt using the SanDisk adapter. Now with my RockeTek adapter I am getting the, "USB drive is not accessible by Dashcam" message. Also, the drive does show as FAT32 when I look into its properties. Thanks for your repsonses.
@EVRider sounds like I'm a special case. It was not set to read only. I'll try a different micro SD card and see how things go.

ronjolley | November 24, 2019

Just remember to use Endurance. Designed specifically for Dashcam, e.g TeslaCam.

berg.colin | March 30, 2020

If you that that error "USB drive is not accessible by Dashcam." I fixed it by formatting with RMPrepUSB instead of GUIFormat
Set partition as non-bootable.
6. Prepare drive

FISHEV | March 30, 2020

Or skip steps 1-6 and likelihood the Tesla will still eat the USB and get this, so far, very reliable product.

Fastidious | March 30, 2020

@FISHEV absolutely overpriced.

FISHEV | March 30, 2020

Fastidious | March 30, 2020 "absolutely overpriced."

Well absolutely works is my first priority. Telsa ate two others whose combined price was more than this so far easy to use, reliable device. Get what you pay for perhaps.?

Lonestar10_1999 | March 30, 2020

@Fastidious - FishEV likely gets a kickback

FISHEV | March 30, 2020

Lonestar10_1999 | March 30, 202 @Fastidious - FishEV likely gets a kickback"

I did. It stopped eating Flash drives and works great and now I can kick back and not worry about it working.

As we see from sooo many complaints about it, Tesla made it way too complex.

ronjolley | April 18, 2020

I guess that I'll just beat this to death. The Puretesla is a near perfect solution if you use Windows 10 and an Android phone like me - USB-C and micro SSD. The car will go up to 130 degrees F sitting in the sun. It can get really cold at night. Dashcams do a lot of writing. At work a storage device has a 80/20 rule - 80% read.

Preformatted wiht FAT32 is a plus. How do you format with FAT32 on Window 10? I did - several choices. Still waiting for Tesla to support exFAT. I call it extra fat - not what it stands for.

FAT16 was 2GB. Windows NT stretched it to 4GB. Anyone remember the max 4GB C: partition? Microsoft lists FAT32 max as 32GB, but it has always been capable of much more. For the OS C: they really want you to use NTFS. NTFS was stolen from Digital (Files-11) by David Cutler. I worked at Digital for 17 years. Windows 10 is Windows NT in disguise.