Suggested size for USB jump drive for Sentry Mode

Suggested size for USB jump drive for Sentry Mode

Any suggestios for the size I need to have for adequate storage. In addition, how does one "format" the drive? In the car?

Thanks! | 15/03/2019

32 GB should be a good (and cheap) starting point, but the prices are so low now, I'd jump to 64 or 128 GB. Don't buy an off brand or anything from eBay - most are counterfeits and fakes, with a fraction of memory than the stated size.

You can format in Windows or Mac, but it must be FAT32. Windows does not provide a standard utility to format to FAT32 on any drive > 32 GB. I wrote this article a while back on USB for music, but much of it applies for the dashcam USB (i.e. how to format, how to detect a fake drive, etc.):

ken.lunde | 15/03/2019

I sprung for a pair of these 64GB ones for both of our Model 3s:

decoss | 15/03/2019

SanDisk Cruzer 128GB USB 2.0 Flash Drive (SDCZ36-128G-B35) $20.00 from Amazon

jvcesare | 15/03/2019

I bought a 480GB SSD for $55 and put it into a USB 3.0 case, made two partitions (32GB for video and the remaining for musi). Works like a charm and has totally eliminated the USB losing it's place when playing music.

jvcesare | 15/03/2019

In addition, thumb drives aren't designed to handle constant writing. SSDs do a better job at this.

sroh | 15/03/2019

Sounds like a great solution. I'm using two separate jump drives for sentry mode and music. Yours is more elegant and practical. Thanks.

suddled | 15/03/2019

64GB or even 128GB, they are so cheap now why even go smaller?

cascadiadesign | 15/03/2019

@jvcesare - Sounds great. Care to share model numbers and sources?

Alameda EV Guy | 15/03/2019

Not a single issue since I bought and installed (after formatting)

JakeMacaw84 | 15/03/2019

SSDs actually have a limited amount of write cycles. It probably won’t be an issue. Depending on how much you drive and record. With a 480 GB drive though it’d have to be a loooottt

Carl Thompson | 15/03/2019

_Any_ kind of flash drive, including SSDs and USB thumb drives, have limited write cycles. An actually SSD is likely to be rated to last far, FAR longer than a thumb drive.

syclone | 16/03/2019

A reasonable quality thumb drive should last a minimum of 10,000 cycles. Probably far longer than anyone will own the car.

cbmilehigh | 16/03/2019

does it matter if it is USB 2.0 or 3.0?

Icepucks | 17/03/2019

Thank you!

Carl Thompson | 17/03/2019

"A reasonable quality thumb drive should last a minimum of 10,000 cycles. Probably far longer than anyone will own the car."

A very good quality thumb drive might last 10,000 cycles but most consumer thumb drives won't. And you have to take into account write amplification exacerbated by poor or no garbage collection and lack of TRIM / discard support in both thumb drives and FAT32 so that 10,000 cycles isn't nearly as much actual data written as you think.

Have you ever tried running an OS (such as Linux) from a thumb drive? It works, but if you run it constantly from a thumb drive 24/7 it will fail reasonably quickly... Sometimes in as short as a few months. This is because Linux is constantly writing a little bit to the drive (mainly logs and temporary files) and this causes lots of write amplification despite the small amount of data written and the drive wears out.

At work I have 6-7 storage servers in a lab I manage. We used to run FreeNAS from 2 RAID-1 flash drives on these servers (just for the OS not for the stored data of course). Even though this is the recommended configuration and relatively little data was written to these drives I still had to replace one of the flash drives every few months.

Thumb drivers are great for storing lots of data that is written occasionally in big chunks. They are a poor choice for applications such as this where data is being written constantly.

gmr6415 | 18/03/2019

Just ordered a Sandisk Connect wifi drive I won't be able to stream live from the car, but should be able to access the files using my phone once they are written to the drive. As long as there is public wifi access from my provider, which is everywhere around here, I'm within range of my home wife, which is 1.5 miles through a range extender or if I'm in range of the wifi from the USB stick itself I should be able to connect and view the files. | 18/03/2019

So many issues with USB drives for a dashcam, I wrote an extensive article on how to pick a drive that works, along with step-by-step preparation guide. | 18/03/2019

@cbmilehigh - Any will work - you can use USB 2.0, 3.0 or 3.1. Tesla USB connection is 2.0, and using a 3.0/3.1 drive is backward compatible. That said, there is no cost premium for 3.0 drives, and they often are quite a bit faster on a PC when you want to read files from the drive (if your PC has USB 3.0/3.1). See my article above for more details. | 18/03/2019

@gmr6415 - Cool idea, but the Sandisk Connect write speeds are quite low (1 to 8 MB/s in tests). I'm not sure you'll be able record dashcam video reliability. Hope you'll come back and let us know how well it works.

gmr6415 | 18/03/2019, That test shows 1.96MB/s to 8.01MB/s, but the slowest write speed was writing 5.47GB of almost 46,000 small files. Writing 3 consecutive 1 minute clips of video shouldn't be as demanding.

1 minute of recording on the front camera is about 30MB per minute. The two repeaters are about 22MB per minute each. All together roughly 74MB per minute ÷ 60 = 1.23MB per second. That looks pretty doable.

The way I look at it is that I spent $54k on the car, what's $65 to try it out. If it doesn't work I've got almost endless uses for a wifi connected thumb drive.

If it can write the files efficiently, it's connected to my wifi network at home, and I can manage them from my laptop sitting in the house, that's a plus. If I'm sitting in my local pub connected through their wifi or through public access, I get an alert from my Tesla app and I can download and look at the video form my phone, that's big. If I were in an accident and could pull the video up on my iPad or iPhone for a COP to take a look at on site that's huge.

zoecoombes | 01/04/2019

@gmr6415, This wireless USB sounds promising but isn't this another door for the information/data in the car to get hacked? I am no expert in the matter, but perhaps you have some thoughts? Thank you. | 01/04/2019

@zoe - I'd have zero worries about being hacked this way. The worse that could happen is someone extracts your driving video from the stick.

@grm - Most (all?) flash drives slow the write dramatically with continuous/large writes. So that 30 MB/s drive may act more like a 3 MB/s drive under heavy loads like dashcam video recording that is writing 3 simultaneous streams. No harm trying out a slow drive, but many owners have reported all sorts of video problems when using cheap/slower drives. Video works for a while, then disappears, or the bottom half of the video image is distorted. All these kinds of problems are likely due to the drive being unable to keep up. Some controllers in the drive are better than others, and some have a cache that makes it appear fast, but once the small cache is used, the real drive speed slows dramatically.

Anyway, it doesn't really matter if your drive works! I hope you'll come back and report after using it for a weeks or so and confirm the video looks good. It seems like it might be a cool product if it works. | 01/04/2019

"Anyway, it doesn't really matter if your drive works! " That doesn't sound quite right :) I meant to say all that I've talked about USB speeds doesn't matter so long as your drive works!

Frank99 | 01/04/2019

I bought a Sandisk Ultra Fit 32GB for my car; lasted about 4-5 months before it permanently set itself to "Read-only" mode because the number of write cycles exceeded it's specs (which aren't published). I loved the size of the drive, hated that it got so hot, hated that it killed itself so quickly in the Model 3.
I replaced it with Samsung Pro EnduranceMicro SD card ( ) in a USB adapter (something like ). This card has a write speed fast enough for the Tesla cam functions (Sentry, DashCam with 3 cameras), but has an extraordinary published write cycle life so you can plug it in and forget about it for years.
As for size, I'd recommend 32GB simply from an ease of use standpoint - it'll come correctly formatted, and both Windows and MacOS can reformat it if needed. 64GB or 128GB would last longer (more years, more stored video), but require more sophisticated configuration (TeslaTap's guide is awesome for this, BTW). The Dashcam seems to record about 100 MB/min total from all three cameras, so 32 GB will store roughly 5 hours of video - that should be enough for any rational scenario of dash cam/sentry mode storage.

Techy James | 01/04/2019

I originally used the 16GB variations, but found after a few Sentry Mode uses, that the 16GB was full and needed to be cleared out. I am now using a 128GB PNY Module so now I should have to clear out the drive a little less frequently. With the new 128GB USB 3.0 Drives many times on sell around $20 it's the best value for the money.

gmr6415 | 01/04/2019, After testing the Sandisk Connect drive it works great. The write speeds are not a problem. I did find a problem though in what my expectations of the drive are. First off you can connect to the drive through wifi, LTE, or even through a web browser. The problem is that if the drive is plugged into a USB port it cannot be connected to through any of the above. This is buried deep in the manual.

My hopes were that I could manage the drive while it's plugged into the car, which I now find I can't. That said, if you have a break in event or were in an accident you could pull the drive from the USB port and access the files through wifi, LTE or a web browser using you phone or iPad and play the video on your device. This could still be handy if a LEO wanted to see the video on the scene, but not completely what I had in mind.

SteveWin1 | 01/04/2019

Lots of good advice so far. Just wanted to add that you should get a much bigger drive than you think you need. The car "overwrites" files after an hour, but if you have a big enough drive, it doesn't REALLY overwrite them and you can still recover them using various tools, if you need to.

I had to do this yesterday after driving an hour and a half home from a hotel, only to realize that two rims and one tire was damaged by the valet. My heart sank when I realized that it had been more than an hour and the video of the damage occurring would be long gone. Luckily, I have a pretty large micro SD card and it hadn't re-used that memory space yet, so the videos weren't really lost and I was able to recover them. I posted a nice video on YouTube of the valet slapping my key card against the door over and over again while yelling "OPEN", running over a curb and then giggling about it with one of his co-workers before bringing me the car and taking my tip without mentioning the damage he'd caused. Since I didn't notice the damage until I got home, I was at the hotel's mercy. The first time I spoke with them, I got the feeling they were going to try to blow me off. I can't really blame them for that, since I'm sure people try to pin stuff on them all the time. Once I sent them the video, they quickly did a 180. Guy's getting fired and they've agreed to replace my wheels and tires. With any other car, I would have been screwed. Love this car!

PhillyGal | 01/04/2019

I went 128 gb and am now on my second work day of activating sentry mode.

I'm curious to see how frequently I will have to remove it to clear it out.

jvcesare | 01/04/2019

@cascadiadesign Here is the USB enclosure I'm using. Just install a SSD drive, format two partitions (video goes on first), and you're done. USB 3.0 allows you to copy your music to the drive much quicker. The car only uses 2.0.

Taz | 01/04/2019

After a few cycles of getting the USB drive out, copying/looking at the video, etc. I'm considering buying 2 similar sized drives. That way when I need to pull something off, I can insert the 2nd drive right away so I don't forget to re-insert the drive back in the car.

kallian | 01/04/2019

I put a 750gb spinner in there (old laptop hybrid drive), not worrying about it for a while. Velcro'ed to the side wall.
It works fine, not worried about write cycles either.

PhillyGal | 01/04/2019

@Taz - that's a pretty nifty idea.

9114s | 01/04/2019

Samsung T5 Portable SSD - 500GB - USB 3.1 External SSD (MU-PA500B/AM)
Now with Sentry on all the time outside home and the 3 camera, you need a big solid SSD. I use this one formatted MSDOS ( fat 32) on my Mac.
Run perfect no more issue of missing anything, very solid, no corruption. Transferring back to Mac or PC is so quick with USB 3.1.
With Teslafi or Stat, you can program Sentry automatically and forget about it.

jefroman | 01/04/2019

PLEASE READ BEFORE BUYING ANY FLASH DRIVE....Corruption issue.... Sandisk Tech rep told me that you should not use any USB flash drive for Model 3 dash cam...because they are not designed for continuous read/write recording. Sandisk said you need to use a High Endurance Micro SD card with USB reader for continuous read/write capabilities.

jvcesare | 02/04/2019

@jefroman +1
(I switched to a SSD drive)

lahnm6 | 03/06/2019

What about heat? My car can get over 100 degrees inside while parked. I am thinking about using a WD My passport 2tb drive. Any thoughts?

Bluebird 3 | 05/06/2019

Ordered a High Endurance Micro SD Card with USB Reader per @jefroman's recommendation. Thanks for the info!

nipper2 | 06/06/2019

@9114s so do I need to get Fat32 on the Samsung T5 Portable SSD - 500GB - USB 3.1 External SSD (MU-PA500B/AM) or is it already on it?

Hal Fisher | 07/06/2019

Just got a Sandisk wifi 128g someone recommended and it works great! Can create two partion, one with TeslaCam, other for music. Just make sure the first partion (can be large) is the camera. Both must be fat32. Only drive that can connect to iphone and be dual boot. I tried two different drives, one for camera or for music, but the music drive kept losing connection. The 128g size is hard to find and like $65. The 64g is too small.

Bluebird 3 | 07/06/2019

I've now tried a 4GB HP Flash Drive, a 32GB Samsung Flash Drive, a 128GB Samsung Flash Drive, and a 32GB SanDisk High Endurance SSD Video Monitoring Card with USB adapter. I've Quick and standard formatted all drives with a Windows 8 and a Windows 10 machine, always using FAT32. I've tapped the video monitoring icon and pulled out the drive upon seeing the arrow-down icon, I've tapped the recording icon and waited until *after* the arrow-down icon goes away, and I've tried pressing and holding to stop recording, then pulling out the drive. Every single configuration results in a corrupted drive and none of the video files are playable. I'm beginning to think it's you, not me, Tesla. Am I overlooking something?

ManuRandhawa | 08/06/2019

I was previously thinking about a Samsung 256gb flash drive but now leaning towards 500gb SSD from Samsung currently about $88 at amazon.

I currently have a 16gb flash drive and it sucks.... with Sentry mode.

vmulla | 09/06/2019

I wish Tesla sold whatever is the best solution. Actually, I wish they answered this question instead of forum members with a helpful attitude. Better still, I wish they built the required memory built into the car.

jim | 09/06/2019

I'm going to try using an M.2 drive in an external enclosure:

The 250GB M.2 drive is only $36. Even if it doesn't workout for the car, I'll use it for something else.

shank15217 | 09/06/2019

@vmulla At least they were forward thinking enough to make the front USB ports data ports.

vmulla | 09/06/2019

Do not mistake my feedback as not being appreciative of the approaches Tesla took in the past. We are able to see the future a bit more clearly only because Tesla predicted the needs and executed on their vision.

jlaurie | 10/07/2019

I just ordered sandisk connect 32gb wifi. have been using a 32gb stick which is fine but tired of it filling up and having to take it in to erase it monthly. What's going to be most valuable is remotely being able to erase the files. Lets face it. 99%+ hopefully won't be needed. And then to be able to review if car dinged/scratched or accident or bigfoot sighting on the phone will be convenient albeit slow I'm sure. Had to read the pdf file on the drive to find that you can erase remotely. Cheap until tesla includes it on day. Plan on using with Sentryview app.

Brian | 10/07/2019

I think you should go as big as you can. I noticed a nice big ding on my car today, and it is so low, that it doesn't look like it could have happened accidentally. It is much too low. However, my 16GB drive keeps filling up too fast, so it was full and I have nothing to look at. I just ordered two 128 GB drives, and I got the usb 3.1 that is 300 mb/sec. I will have one plugged in, and the other in the console as a back up for when the first one fills up. If it was a ding because someone was a little careless, it wouldn't bother me as much, but this looks deliberate. I want to know who did it, but I won't.
My car has already been dinged at work, and it was blatant carelessness. The guy was pissed because he had to come off the roof of the building and go to someone else's truck and get a tool box. He wipped the door open and left a bunch of paint transfer. I spent some time with the security team checking the video, and finding out who drives a while pickup. I found the guy, and work told me to get it fixed and expense it.
It's just a car, but it is my car, and if I can make some SOB pay for stupidity, or vandalism, I will.
Sorry, just a little peeved tonight.
BTW, I had the first one removed with paintless dent removal. I'm hoping they can do this one also.

Brian (The one from Massachusetts)

Joseb | 10/07/2019

USB sticks are so cheap, go 128GB.

Micro SD card makes more sense for the reasons stated above. I also wished the manual would include more details and recommendations than users just trying to figure it out by basically some googling and trial/error.

I'm actually more concerned about the battery drainage, is quite substantial. :-(

EVRider | 10/07/2019

This article, which was referenced early in this thread, is helpful:

Tony O. | 15/07/2019

I purchased a 16 GB USB drive (SanDisk Cruzer Fit CZ33 16GB) for like $7 on Amazon, but I just bought a 128 GB new one to replace it.

After reading earlier recs online, I thought 16 GB would be enough, but I quickly realized that when Sentry Mode is used frequently, those saved Sentry Mode videos (especially if you're parked in a city like SF) from cars nearby and even just birds flying around, eat up a lot of memory. I'd have to remove the USB drive and delete/reformat the drive about 1x every 1-2 weeks normally, which was a PIA.

I know you can turn on/off Sentry Mode manually, but it's hard to remember =)

TL:DR - I recommend getting 128 GB or more so you don't have to constantly delete/reformat the drive.