Recommendations

We recommend the following drives that are available at many retail and online stores. Any of these should work great to record Tesla’s dashcam video. Speeds are from the manufacturer for the drive sizes listed.

Smaller capacity drives (not shown below) are often slower than larger ones. Price categories are rough range of the 128 GB drives unless otherwise stated. 

Value Indicator Range
$ up to $24.99
$$ $25 to $49.99
$$$ $50 to $99.99
$$$$ $100 and above

SD Cards with Adapter

There are several adapters that convert an SD card for use as a USB stick. This allows the use of micro SD cards, often designed specifically for dashcam video with extended lifetimes and suitable temperature range over other flash drives. In addition, the adapter can be connected to a phone, tablet or PC to view the video.

The adapters listed support a variety of SD card types (we recommend micro SD, but others work as well). They are USB 3.0 and work on both PCs and MACs. The first two work with Android phones that offer OTG and the specified connector. The Difini works with current iPhones (not shown in picture). This allows you to quickly view video files on your phone.  Adapters below are shown with caps removed, and I’ve inserted a micro SD card in the side of each adapter.

Vendor Value USB Connector Phone
Sabrent $ 3.0 Micro USB Android
Vanja $ 3.0 USB Type C Android
Difini $ 3.0 Lightning iPhone 5 to X

The adapters above require an SD card, which is sold separately. All of the micro SD cards below are designed for dashcam use and are longer life MLC types.

Vendor Value Category Read/Write Temp
Samsung PRO Endurance 32 GB $ UHS-I U1 100/30 MB/s -13 to 185°F
Samsung PRO Endurance 64 GB $ UHS-I U1 100/30 MB/s -13 to 185°F
Samsung PRO Endurance 128 GB $$ UHS-I U1 100/30 MB/s -13 to 185°F
SanDisk High Endurance 32 GB $ Class 10 20/30 MB/s -13 to 185°F
SanDisk High Endurance 64 GB $ Class 10 20/30 MB/s -13 to 185°F
SanDisk High Endurance 128 GB $$ Class 10 20/30 MB/s -13 to 185°F
SanDisk High Endurance 256 GB $$$ Class 10 20/30 MB/s -13 to 185°F
Transcend High Endurance 32 GB $ Class 10 12/30 MB/s -13 to 185°F
Transcend High Endurance 64 GB $$ Class 10 12/30 MB/s -13 to 185°F
Transcend High Endurance 128 GB $$$$ Class 10 95/50 MB/s -13 to 185°F

Stick Style Flash Drives

Before V10, Tesla added a performance test and will shut out the drive if too slow. We and others are finding even some seemingly fast drives are being failed by Tesla’s speed test. On closer examination, the drives fail to maintain the write speeds at a sustained rate and can slow down dramatically as the drive fills up.

We’re now recommending using micro SD cards with an adapter, but we list the best stick drives that may work for you. Note the temperature range may be inadequate in your car.

Sizes Vendor Value USB Read/Write Temp
32-128 GB Kingston DataTraveler Elite G2 128 GB $$$ 3.1 180/70 MB/s 32 to 140°F
64-256 GB Samsung Bar Plus 128 GB $$ 3.1 300/50 MB/s 32 to 140°F
32-256 GB Samsung Fit Plus 128 GB $$ 3.1 200/60 MB/s 32 to 140°F
64-256 GB Transcend JetFlash 128 GB $$$ 3.0 210/140 MB/s 32 to 158°F

The price differences are likely due to the type of memory used. We could only confirm the Transcend drive uses MLC memory, which has the best lifetime (and highest price).

Drives that are known not to work reliably in all cars:

Sizes Vendor USB Read/Write Temp
128-256 GB SanDisk Extreme Go, 3.1 3.1 300/50 MB/s 32 to140°F
128-256 GB SanDisk Extreme Pro, 3.1 3.1 420/380 MB/s 32 to 95°F

SSD Drives

Some owners use an SSD drive with a SATA to USB converter. This should work fine, so long as the SSD drive peak power consumption is under 2W for S/X or 6.2W on the Model 3/Y.  Many larger SSDs 256 GB or larger consume more than 2W while writing, and peak consumption is even higher. Even some smaller drives exceed Tesla’s USB power budget. If you exceed the power needed, writes become intermittent and it’s even possible to damage the SSD drive. Here’s one SSD power consumption guide we found, but it does not rate peak power.

SSD drives often have great wear-leveling technology that extends the life of the drive. This technology is not in USB stick type flash drives or SD cards. The downside is the limited temperature range. The drives are intended for use in a home, not a car.

Here are some USB based small packaged SSD drives that are below 6W, and will work fine in the Model 3.  During writing, the peak power may exceed the power available on the Model S/X USB 2.0 ports, so it may not work reliably on the S/X. Price categories are for the 500 MB version as of Oct-2019.

Sizes Vendor Value USB Read/Write Temp
500-2000 GB Samsung T5 Portable SSD 500 GB $$$ 3.1 540/540 MB/s Unstated
250-2000 GB SanDisk Extreme Portable 500 GB $$$ 3.1 550/500 MB/s 32 to 95°F
256-2000 GB WD My Passport SSD Portable Storage 512 GB $$$ 3.1 540/300 MB/s Unstated

Wireless Connection USB Drive

A few users have purchased the SanDisk Connect Wireless Stick, which acts as a normal flash drive for recording, but when removed and separately powered, it can connect via WiFi to your phone or tablet.

It’s a USB 2.0 drive, that is fairly slow, and may not keep up with the four channels of video streaming. That said, a few owners are using it and haven’t reported issues.

Sizes Vendor Price USB Read/Write Temp
32-200 GB SanDisk Connect Wireless Stick 128 GB $$$ 2.0 16/10 MB/s 32 to 113°F

TeslaUSB with Raspberry Pi

For the power DIYer, there is the Raspberry Pi or the smaller Raspberry Pi Zero. In combination with the TeslaUSB software, you have a small computer that makes the file system available to a USB port.

You can have video files saved for later, getting around the Tesla one-hour limit, or even having the Pi computer auto-upload via WiFi to a home network when you arrive home. The Raspberry Pi uses a micro SD card, which allows for a dashcam grade memory. See our section above on micro SD cards if you go this route.