Dash Cam Storage 101: How to Choose the Right SD Card for Your Dash Cam

As our roads become ever busier, the use of dash cams has surged in popularity. These vigilant electronic eyewitnesses require reliable storage to preserve your road tales. Thus, choosing the right SD card for your dash cam is more than a mere accessory purchase; it’s an integral part of your vehicular security apparatus. Below, we journey through the ins and outs of selecting the perfect storage companion for your dash cam.

What is SD Card?

Kingston 512GB SD Card
(Image source: Kingston Shop)

An SD card, which stands for Secure Digital card, is a small, portable memory card that can be used in various electronic devices, including dash cams. It is used to store data like video files, images, and other forms of data. When you have a dash cam in your vehicle, the SD card is where the footage captured by the cam is saved.

SD cards come in different capacities, typically ranging from 16GB to 512GB, allowing you to store hours of footage. The size of the SD card you need can depend on the quality of video your dash cam records; higher resolution video (like 1080P or 4K) will take up more space.

When selecting an SD card for your dash cam, you might notice a variety of symbols and numbers on the card. Here’s what they mean:

  • 512GB: It tells you how much footage your card can store. For a dash cam, a higher capacity like 512GB means you can record many hours of footage without needing to overwrite old files.
  • U3: U3 means that the card has a minimum write speed of 30MB/s, fast enough to record high-quality dash cam videos.
  • V30: Similar to the U3 symbol, V30 is a Video Speed Class rating, which also ensures a minimum write speed of 30MB/s.
  • A1: This rating is about the card’s ability to process data quickly, which ensures that your dash cam can save files swiftly and efficiently.
  • microSDXC: The “micro” refers to its physical size—microSD cards are the smallest SD cards available. “XC” stands for Extended Capacity, indicating that this card can hold more than 512GB of data. The dash cam must support the microSDXC format to use this card.

The remaining numbers and letters pertain to manufacturing details and don’t impact functionality for the user. By focusing on capacity (GB), speed class (U3/V30), and type (microSDXC), you’ll ensure a seamless recording experience. Remember, your dash cam’s manual will often list the required specifications, which is a good cross-reference when choosing your SD card.

How long can you record at different resolutions?

recording time by resolution and storage size graph

The recording time can vary based on the resolution set on the dashcam and the capacity of the storage media used. Here are the estimated recording times for different resolutions and storage capacities:

  • 2160 Resolution:
    • 512GB can record for 36 hours
    • 256GB can record for 18 hours
    • 128GB can record for 9 hours
    • 64GB can record for 4 hours
    • 32GB can record for 2 hours
  • 1440P Resolution:
    • 512GB can record for 56 hours
    • 256GB can record for 28 hours
    • 128GB can record for 14 hours
    • 64GB can record for 7 hours
    • 32GB can record for 3 hours
  • 1080P Resolution:
    • 512GB can record for 72 hours
    • 256GB can record for 36 hours
    • 128GB can record for 18 hours
    • 64GB can record for 9 hours
    • 32GB can record for 4 hours

Please note that these are approximate values and the actual recording time can vary based on the encoding, the complexity of the scene being recorded, and other factors. It’s also important to note that dash cams typically use loop recording, which means that once the storage is full, the oldest files will be overwritten by the newest ones unless they are protected due to an event like a collision.

Choose the Right SD Card for Your Dash Cam

Selecting the ideal SD card for your dash cam isn’t just about capacity; it’s about matching your device’s requirements with the card’s features. Here are some quick tips to help you make the right choice:

Check Compatibility

Most dash cams support microSD cards with a storage capacity ranging from 16GB to 256GB. Some high-end models may support cards up to 512GB or more. Always check the dash cam’s manual or manufacturer’s recommendations for the exact specifications required. Using a microSD card that’s incompatible with your dash cam can result in recording errors, corrupted files, or even damage to the device.

Assess Capacity

At 1440p resolution, the 128GB card would store about 14 hours of video. This translates to about 7 days of commutes. And for standard 1080p resolution, you could expect around 18 hours or roughly 9 days of commuting to and from work without overwriting or offloading footage.

Consider Durability

Dash cams face challenging environments, from the intense heat of a summer’s day to the cold of winter nights. This means the SD card must also be able to withstand these extremes. Look for high-endurance SD cards specifically designed for dash cams; these cards are built to handle extreme temperatures and have improved longevity for continuous recording.

Brand

It’s advisable to choose microSD cards from well-known brands. like Samsung SanDisk, Kingston, etc.

FAQ

How often do you need to replace the SD card in a dash cam?

You should consider replacing the SD card in your dash cam every 1-2 years. However, the actual lifespan can vary based on the card’s quality, how often you use your dash cam, environmental conditions, and maintenance like regular formatting. If you notice any issues with file corruption or recording failures, it may be time to replace the card sooner.

How often should I format my SD card for my dash cam?

It’s generally recommended to format the SD card in your dash cam about once a month. This helps to maintain the card’s health and ensures that it continues to function properly, Always remember to save any necessary footage before formatting, as this process will delete all data on the card.

What happens if my SD card is too slow for my dash cam?

If your SD card is too slow for your dash cam, you may experience dropped or choppy footage, corrupted files, and recording errors, and the card may fail sooner than expected. Crucial recordings could also be missed. Always use an SD card that matches the recommended speed class for your dash cam to avoid these issues.

What happens when the dash cam SD card is full?

When a dash cam’s SD card is full, most modern dash cams are designed to overwrite the oldest files with new recordings in a process known as loop recording. This ensures continuous recording without user intervention.

Conclusion

In the odyssey of selecting the right SD card for your dash cam, you must consider capacity, speed, compatibility, brand, and Durability. A thoughtful choice will reward you with dependable storage that safeguards your journeys’ narratives and provides peace of mind on the open road.

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