Sentry Mode - USB Data Storage

Sentry Mode - USB Data Storage

It appears Sentry mode created a subfolder titled “SavedClips” and stores potential threat recordings there. Most of these recordings are of motion (I.e. people walking by in a parking lot). Curious, as my USB drive gets full, will Sentry Mode automatically write over older files? Details on Sentry Mode data storage would be appreciated. Thanks!

OCModel3 | 6 May 2019

So what I experienced was simply noticing that the "red dot" on the screen disappeared and became gray.

I then pulled out the USB, replaced it with my spare USB, and it turned back to red. Now I need to wipe the first USB clean and have it in the car ready to go when it changes again.

There was no tone or other "alert" that let me know...I just happened to notice it on my own, so it could have been like that for a day or two. But it definitely makes sense to keep a spare USB in the car so it is always ready to go incase you have an accident and need a clean drive to record it.

goodman | 16 May 2019

*left repeater* camera records zero bytes:

I just set up USB on my Model 3 for the first time. I recorded a clip by pressing/holding the touch screen's new "record" icon, then initiated a few clips with sentry mode. I used the touch screen to pause recording and took the thumb drive to my Mac.

The two new folders appeared as expected. Each record session creates three files, sometimes a bunch more. But when it creates three files, the *datetimestamp*-left-repeater.mp4 file nearly always has zero bytes.

Anyone have any ideas why that occurs?

snailboat | 16 May 2019

I noticed that my sentry recordings are kind of iffy as well, especially the left repeater. The dashcam function (while driving) always records perfect video, but Sentry often records videos that have corruption (where half of the video will blur out for a few seconds at a time) or are 0 bytes.

info | 16 May 2019

Please provide step by step directions to format a thumb drive on a MAC.
Many thanks,

EVRider | 16 May 2019

@info: Specific instructions depend on which macOS version you have, but use Disk Utility in all cases. In the latest version, you select the USB drive in the Disk Utility, select Erase, select MS-DOS FAT32 (or MS-DOS FAT if FAT32 isn’t selectable), and go for it. Even if you select FAT, you’ll get FAT32. There are plenty of YouTube videos and step-by-step instructions out there, just google.

Frank99 | 16 May 2019

@info -
Strange request considering your username....

Teslatap has a good writeup:

KamiTesla | 15 June 2019

I have a large capacity USB inserted into a port in my M3. I have plenty of storage, but for some reason it didn't record my whole trip. 1st we went to my son's hockey game and then went to dinner. I had sentury mode on but didn't get any notifications and there weren't any recordings under saved clips. There were recordings on "recent files", but only from us backing out of the parking spot of the restaurant and heading home. Why no recordings on way to hockey, in parking lot there, on way to the restaurant etc? What it did record only used up 2 gb and I still had over 230 g space left. Any idea why it didn't record more driving, parking?

EVRider | 16 June 2019

The dashcam records at most an hour of video before it starts overwriting files.

marc.e.marcsf | 30 June 2019

So I’ve had marginal success with Sentry mode on my late 2017 Model S 100D with AP2.5. I read a lot and it seemed decent positive reviews on the Tesla sites and ordered a Samsung FitPlus 256 GB USB flash drive. I formatted it FAT32 just like the directions, created a ‘TeslaCam’ folder and placed it in the USB slot. Nothing happens and no small USB icon on the screen like there was with the older 1GB USB stick I had laying around.

Any ideas or magic tricks? | 30 June 2019

@marc - Are you sure it' formatted for FAT32? Windows standard format can't do that on a drive > 32 GB. It can work on a MAC and there are other tools that can format it. Here's a few ways to do it properly:

I don't see anything else on your car that would cause it not to work. P.S. not sure why you're in the 3 thread on a S issue, but I've made that error on occasion :)

Brett.Darrow | 1 July 2019, I bought a SanDisk Extreme Portable SSD, downloaded the software you recommended and couldn't get it to format the drive to FAT32. I called SanDisk who recommended HPUSB Disk Format 3rd party software. After some administrator errors, I finally achieved the reformat, and the 1T SSD is formatted as FAT32. However, after several hours, it still does not work. It is recognized now by the car, but with the grey X. As a comparison, both 32 and 128 G flash drives, which are automatically shipped as FAT32, work just fine. Any last thoughts before I send the SSD drive back?

rwa | 1 July 2019

I hope Tesla is considering a feature where camera data is streamed over wifi to external storage when wifi is available (parked at home). That would kick this up a few notches in practicality.

finman100 | 2 July 2019

in order for the guiformat.exe program to work, I've had to "add a drive letter" to my empty 250 GB SSD.

In a PC, under computer management, after deleting the NTFS partition, and then trying to re-format using guiformat.exe, the program couldn't "see" the empty drive because it didn't have a drive letter assigned. In that same Computer Management screen, you should be able to right click the empty drive and "add/assign a drive letter".

A little confusing, but look to see if a drive letter is available for your empty drive.

I've successfully partitioned and formatted FAT 32 for my SSD drive that i have in a USB enclosure. Three FAT 32 partitions: 1 for TeslaCam, one for my wife's music, and one for my music.

accentcreate | 15 July 2019

I have a new 128 GB drive that was working well with Sentry and Dashcam modes. I was able to record some great footage driving through quaint French villages.
After a long recharge at a hotel in Spain it was completely filled up and now impossible to erase.
Each time I try (with Mac Disk Utility) I get the dreaded "Unable to write to the last block of the device” message.
I'm now reluctant to try another USB until I figure out what the issue is.
I think an automatic overwrite of older files is the way to go. | 15 July 2019

@accentcreate - Did you remove the drive from the car without first turning off dashcam and waiting 20 seconds or so? If you remove the drive without stopping the write process, there is a good chance of damaging the drive, as that last few milliseconds as power is lost it may write anywhere on the drive. This true of a PC/MAC as well, but the difference is you are rarely writing massive amount of video in the middle of pulling out the drive from the PC/MAC.

donatello | 5 August 2019

after months of trying several different USB flash drives there was only 1 USB drive that Tesla displayed on screen " usb too slow " ... i've had NO problems using a USB 2 16gig flash drive that had 10MBs writes and 20Mbs reads = images look no different then the scanDisk USB 3.1 extreme GO 128gig that had 144 MBs writes and 190 MBs reads . i had to replace the extreme go twice .. the 1st lasted less then 24hrs = started with 73MBs writes and after 24hrs it was down to 35Mbs - Amazon sent a replacement and the 2nd was 144MBs writes and 190 MBs reads = however on the 4th day Tesla 3 display said the extreme Go was too slow & could not record to it . i tested it and now it had 9MBs writes and 190Mbs reads ,dead by end of day 5 .. i tried a few other USB 3 with 70+ MBs writes and they all slowly turned into USB 2's speeds after a few days in the Tesla ... the Patriot Rage 2 128gig is still performing 78MBs writes and 170 MBs reads after 5 days .. PNY usb3 turbo 256gig =dead within 24hrs ... micro center USB 3 super speed 128gig 70MBs writes turned into 25MBs after 1 day in tesla ..Lexar 4 year old USB 3 jump drives 32 & 64gig drives have had no problems = these are 35 - 40 MBs writes ...also i have a 4 year old 128gig Lexar jump drive ( very small- discontinued) that has 55MBs writes = no problems in Tesla ... i've also tried using 128gig micro SD cards samsung EVO with different USB3 readers - so far all 3 readers started off with 70-100MBs writes but after 24 hrs in Tesla they are now 25MBs writes . NOTE that the micro EVO SD card read/writes speeds remain 70-100MBs when inserted into a new reader ... IMO TESLA 3 is hell on USB 3 drives .... every time i eject a USB drive out of Tesla ( yes, i wait 20-30 seconds after icon goes grey and i make sure the blinking light on USB drive has turned off) and i then put it in any of my computers windows always says there are errors and needs to scan and fix ...
update: the Rage 2 is now writing at 40MBs on day 7 in Tesla(down from 70+MBs) ....

has anybody retested their USB drives write speeds after few days in Tesla ??

keytickler00 | 6 August 2019

Last week my display gave me an error icon showing that the thumb drive was full and could not accept any more images from Sentry. I removed the drive and emptied (deleted) the files in all of the folders, but left the folders on the drive.

After reinserting the drive in the car later, the error icon still appears on the screen showing that the drive is full. I pulled the drive and rechecked it, and it's still empty.

How do I reset the display so the "drive empty" icon goes away?

TrexTesla | 6 August 2019

I had the same problem with my SanDisk Connect...i wound up having to re-format/erasing it and creating the files again...seems to work now.

keytickler00 | 8 August 2019

Thanks petergalindez. I emptied the thumb drive folders once a month or so ago and did not have this problem. I'll try to reformat it and see what happens.

Frank99 | 8 August 2019

donatello -
Unfortunately, USB drives are designed to show maximum speed when new (when hardware websites test and rate them), at the expense of longevity (how many times will the average 64GB flash drive actually get used before it gets lost). So, USB drive manufacturers do NOT spec lifetimes on them, or how much data you can write/erase before the drive is considered "worn out". My first USB drive for the car (a SanDisk UltraFit) lasted a few months before it died - marked itself "read-only", and nothing could write/erase it any more.
So, I'm not surprised at your results - although the rapidity of the degradation is surprising.

jcjoseph | 8 August 2019

I sure hope this is an issue Tesla is looking at. I have reformatted my SanDisk 128 GB drive multiple times. It seems that since Tesla introduced sentry mode that I have been experiencing these issues. Has anyone identified a USB drive that consistently works? Thanks.

Syed.Hosain | 8 August 2019

@jcjoseph "Has anyone identified a USB drive that consistently works? Thanks."

For me, the Sandisk Extreme Portable SSD has been great - I am at version 2019.24.4 at the moment. It is a fast 500GB SSD drive (not just a simple USB stick).

I have partitioned it into two FAT32 partitions - using third-party software to format them as FAT32. I used EaseUS Partition Manager for this purpose - it is free.

This SSD is larger than a USB "stick", but still quite small and fits trivially in the compartment in the Tesla. Look it up on Amazon - I have also posted the link here multiple times.

jj | 2 September 2019

I'm using a lexer 16gig drive (usb3) and have had mixed results with it. After cleaning files from both both saved, and recent folders, it still will not record any files in sentry mode. Unfortunately it did this when it was hit in a parking lot and nothing was recorded. It is fairly new drive, and has been formatted correctly with proper folders. I will try a different USB drive to see if that helps. It has never worked 100% in terms of saving all sentry mode activities that are reported on Tesla dash screen. | 2 September 2019

@jcjoseph - I have a good list of suitable drives here:

I now feel the micro SD cards with an adapter is one of the best solutions. You can buy micro SD cards that are designed for dashcam use and have the temperature range often encountered in cars.

We often forget that most flash drives are designed for home use and 70F type temperatures and not for continuous video writing.

To make that speedy write speed, flash drives often employ a tiny RAM cache. Once that fills, the writes slow down dramatically. I've seen as much as 20 times slower than the peak speed as you stream video to the flash drive. This allows them to use far cheaper flash memory internally.

@jj - 16 GB is way too small. It may fill up in a day and stop recording, depending on Sentry mode use. I recommend 128 GB as the very smallest, and you'll still need to erase files every 2-4 weeks.

hsuan.carol | 27 September 2019 is the micro SD cards with the adapter only for dashcam (i.e., do I need to get a separate one for sentry mode?) also, the links you have the largest size for the micro SD card is 128. Do you suggest to go up to 256? Thank you!

@Syed.Hosain do you use the SanDisk Extreme Portable for both dashcam and sentry mode? what's the maintenanc e like, how often do you have to clean up files? thank you!

Rodo | 27 September 2019

@hsuan.carol: microSD card is not just for dashcam. It is also used for Sentry mode. Some people have it partitioned for music as well. I'm gonna try the partition for music this weekend, some people report the car sometimes does not see the music partition all the time.

doctorsmile | 27 September 2019

try using an old phone and sd card via usb. Wifi access will be a plus!

jmf | 28 September 2019

Switching from a 32 Gb to a 64 Gb USB drive made a huge difference in how often I need to clear the saved videos, so I made a few calculations. Each 1-minute video file takes around 37 Mb, so the one-hour driving videos from the 3 cameras take 3 x 60 x 37 = 6.7 Gb. Each Sentry event generates 10 or 11 1-minute videos from 3 cameras, or about 1 Gb per event.
Setting aside about 7 Gb for the driving videos, there are 25 Gb left for the Sentry cams on the 32 Gb drive, enough for about 25 events. On the 64 Gb drive, there is room for about 57 Sentry events.
It has been reported that the new V10 software is adding rear camera videos to the TeslaCam. Going to a 128 Gb is going to be unavoidable, I think.

ODWms | 28 September 2019

The new software version also brings with it the clearing of old Sentry Mode videos. That should offset at least some of the space taken away by the rear camera footage.

dorin.moise | 4 October 2019

I am using an 128Gb USB drive. I just put it in my computer and, in the 'SavedClips' folder I have about 200 folders named like YYYY-MM-DD_HH-MM-SS.
How do I know which one of them were created by the Sentry Mode and which ones were created by myself? (by tapping the camera icon while driving).

First world problem, I know, but I can't think that Tesla didn't think about this use case. Something simple as adding an S in folder names created by Sentry...

andy.connor.e | 4 October 2019

date and time should be enough to know which video you need to grab for reference.

256GB USB sticks are under $40. Talk about peace of mind.

Please again remember to double check the WRITE SPEED of the storage devices you are buying. Companies like to boast big letter advertisements about their super fast speeds 130MB/s and faster, when those speeds are the READ SPEED. Recording video will be WRITING to your storage device so make sure you are not buying a device that is boasting 130MB/s READ SPEED, and only actually giving you ~30MB/s WRITE SPEED.

radean84 | 4 October 2019

I was just testing sentry mode last night as I finally got my thumb drive setup. I'll double check later but I believe V10 is now separating sentry footage from regular driving footage and saved clips. It was very easy for me to tell them apart. One thing I'd like to see in the future though is a way to view the footage on the screen inside the car.

I can also confirm that the rear cam now records while driving and in sentry mode. Here are short samples of each from yesterday:

Using front, right, and rear driving cams to track a motorcycle:

Sentry mode captured some movement on all four cams and flashed lights when someone got too close (sound up for this one hahaha):

I'm using a 256gb Samsung thumb drive formatted to FAT32.

dorin.moise | 4 October 2019

@andi.connor.e - the large capacity contributes to problem :)
Because I only check the USB Drive when it fills up, which is - every 2-3 weeks.
How can I remember which date and time have the clips I want to review?

(I'm not talking here about a major event, in that case I would save the video and then immediately replace the USB drive with a spare I always have in the car. I'm talking about smaller events, which I would like to review sometime, but not right after the event).

My point is, why not saving the Sentry videos in /TeslaCam/SentryClips' instead of '/TeslaCam/SavedClips'?

andy.connor.e | 4 October 2019

Not sure how to help with suggestions. The video file should have a time stamp saved on it for "date created", if you can remember the general day of the week you want to review for something small.

dorin.moise | 24 October 2019

"My point is, why not saving the Sentry videos in /TeslaCam/SentryClips' instead of '/TeslaCam/SavedClips'?"

My point was just implemented; now we have the 'SentryClips' folder :)

rebremner | 5 November 2019

I only once got any dashcam video when driving and it only lasted about 3 minutes. I only get recorded events when parked in my garage even though I have the Home Excluded checked. I have tried two different flash drives and the same happens on both. I have rebooted the car several times and asked Tesla for help via support. Finally called a Service Center and after at least 15 minutes on hold I got a very nice technician who looked into my car and after some discussion said it needed to be serviced.

EVRider | 5 November 2019

@rebremmer: How large is the flash that you’re using? Note that the dashcam will continue to record in your garage until the car turns off, even if Sentry Mode is off, but the dashcam clips will be in the RecentClips folder, not the SentryClips folder.

charllykorpa | 4 January 2020

This sounds so good. Sentry mode will help to add a unique layer to Tesla vehicles. This is done by monitoring the surroundings of the vehicles continuously. If a significant threat is detected, the cameras on your car will begin recording, and the alarm system will activate.

apodbdrs | 4 January 2020

I didn't read all the comments, but Sentry Mode files, you no longer need, can be simply deleted, no need to reformat the stick. The deleted areas will just be reused as it they were continuous as is done with in the overwrite of recent files.