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 marzo 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.):

lunde | 15 marzo 2019

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

decoss | 15 marzo 2019

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

jvcesare | 15 marzo 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 marzo 2019

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

sroh | 15 marzo 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 marzo 2019

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

cascadiadesign | 15 marzo 2019

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

Alameda EV Guy | 15 marzo 2019

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

JakeMacaw84 | 15 marzo 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 marzo 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 marzo 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 marzo 2019

does it matter if it is USB 2.0 or 3.0?

Icepucks | 17 marzo 2019

Thank you!

Carl Thompson | 17 marzo 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 marzo 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 marzo 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 marzo 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 marzo 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 marzo 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 | 1 aprile 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. | 1 aprile 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. | 1 aprile 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 | 1 aprile 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 | 1 aprile 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 | 1 aprile 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 | 1 aprile 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 | 1 aprile 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 | 1 aprile 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 | 1 aprile 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 | 1 aprile 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 | 1 aprile 2019

@Taz - that's a pretty nifty idea.

9114s | 1 aprile 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 | 1 aprile 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 | 2 aprile 2019

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