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How to Select the Best SD Card for Your Dashcam

There are several factors that play into the decision of which SD card is best for your particular situation.  There are many options available. Below, we offer the top things to consider based on your preference, and how you need your SD card to function.

1.) SD Card Brand

First of all, choosing a popular name brand card doesn’t mean that the SD card can last forever (that is impossible), but we do recommend using the cards manufactured by the reputable companies such as SanDisk, Kingston, etc. However, we still suggest being proactive which means check your SD card every month and change it every year. If the footage being recorded is valuable to you then you want to make sure it's being recorded properly.

2.) SD Card Type

There are two common types of memory cards, SD and microSD. Some cameras on the market support only micro SD, and most microSD cards come with a full SD Card adapter. You will need to put the micro SD into the adapter and insert it into your laptop or PC to view the videos you took with your dash cam.

If your camera take full size SD cards then we recommend using them and not a micro SD card with an adapter. From our experience we have seen issues when a micro SD card and adapter are used in dashcam that takes full size SD cards. We are not sure to a science why this causes issues but from what we gather it is just one more thing that could potentially not work and if you are constantly reading from and writing to the SD card, as you do when recording constantly, it puts a lot of wear and tear on the SD card.

If your camera takes a micro SD card then it is absolutely fine to use one and then only use the adapter to read (or watch) the video files on your PC or Laptop.

Micro SD Card and Adapter

3.) SD Card Format

There are two different formats, “SDHC” and “SDXC”. To format your card correctly, we suggest using the format function on the device to avoid compatibility issues, but if you need to format it on your laptop or PC, please use FAT32 for “SDHC” and exFAT for “SDXC.” Always remember not to put other files on the SD card that you use for your dash cam. It may cause the recording files to become corrupted.

Luckily most new Dashcams come with an auto-format feature so this is something you will not have to worry about. One thing to remember is when you format an SD card all the data saved on it is lost. This is why it's important to save any important files you wish to keep to your PC or Laptop before formatting the card. (the new cameras auto format when card is placed back into the camera.)

4.) SD Card Size

The memory capacities of SD cards vary from 4GB to 400GB, and you may find there is a small mark “SDHC” and “SDXC” on the card. These are different types.  SDHC contains 4GB to 32GB and SDXC contains 64GB to 400GB. Normally, the real size of the SD card will be a little smaller than the listed size. For example, a 8GB card only has around 7.4 GB size.

Let’s calculate how long a Dashcam can record with memory cards. Usually, one-minute 1080P footage is around 100MB, so you can easily calculate how many hours you can store. Generally, an 8 to 32GB SD card is enough for a commuter because events usually happen within 3 minutes. Don’t worry; the loop recording will rewrite over the useless files. Some of the models can only support SDHC, so please confirm compatibility before purchasing.

For our fleet customers we recommend getting the largest capacity SD card that your Dashcam will take. The more memory you have on the SD card, the longer the loop of your footage will be, which in turn will give you more time to pull your cards to get footage. (any "events" will not be overwritten on any of the cameras New England Mobile offers)

5.) SD Card Speed

Resolution and bit rate of video files are getting bigger and bigger nowadays. That’s why we need a faster SD card to store video files. There is a mark you may see on your SD card.

Minimum Sequential Write Speed:

  • Class 4 – 4 MB/S

  • Class 6 – 6 MB/S

  • Class 10 – 10 MB/S

  • UHS Speed Class U1 – 10 MB/S

  • UHS Speed Class U3 – 30 MB/S

New England Mobile recommends that Class 10 SD cards are used in the Dash Cameras we offer to support the constant HD (1080p) recording they will experience.

6.) Fake SD Cards

It is not easy to distinguish between genuine and fake cards when purchasing online. If the price of the micro SD card is too good to be true or if the text on the card and packaging is misaligned or poorly printed, most likely it is a fake. The best way to get a decent SD card is by purchasing from the manufacturer’s website or reliable sellers. You may find a lot of sellers offer cheap or fake SD cards on the internet. Please don’t buy these cards just to save a small amount of money. These cards may break much sooner and cause damage to your important video files.

You can also always contact your local camera experts, New England Mobile Systems, to help you choose a card for your dash cams or to purchase

Conclusion & Other Tips

If your dash cam is backing up files too often (if you have parking mode) that you feel should not have been locked to prevent over writing, you can adjust the sensitivity level in the menu settings. When lots of video files in the memory card are protected, the available, or loop able recording space becomes too small, and it will cause the card to run out of space faster and decrease its usage duration as well.

The life of an SD Card is limited. It could range from a few months to a year or more, depending on amount of usage and quality. Be sure to format the memory card once a month for optimal use. (Replace memory card when it becomes unusable). We recommend you purchase high endurance SD cards, which tend to last longer than normal SD cards. With a high endurance card in a dash cam that records constantly, you will usually get roughly 1 year of use but you should still check your cards regularly and format them if needed.

You can calso always upgrade your dashcam to a camera with Format-Free technology. If you have any questions about SD cards, formatting your dash cam, upgrading to a format free model or anything else please don't hesitate to contact New England Mobile.


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