Tesla Model 3 Owners & Service Manuals

Tesla Model 3: USB Flash Drive Requirements for Videos and Recording

Tesla Model 3 2017-2024 Owner's Manual / Using the Touchscreen / Security Settings / USB Flash Drive Requirements for Videos and Recording

Flash drives used to store video from your vehicle's cameras must meet these requirements:

  • Use a flash drive with as much available storage as possible, since video footage takes up a large amount of space (Tesla recommends using a flash drive with at least 32 GB of storage). Some personal computer operating systems may not be able to format flash drives larger than 32 GB as FAT 32. Consider using a third party application to format flash drives larger than 32 GB.
  • The flash drive must have a sustained write speed of at least 4 MB/s. A sustained write speed is different from the peak write speed. Check the product details of your flash drive for more information.
  • The flash drive must be USB 2.0 compatible. If using a USB 3.0 flash drive, it must be able to support USB 2.0.
  • Use a dedicated flash drive exclusively for saving footage for your vehicle.
  • The flash drive must be properly formatted

Although not a comprehensive list, Tesla has confirmed through testing that the following flash drives meet the requirements for Dashcam and Sentry Mode use:

  • SanDisk Ultra Fit USB 3.1 Flash Drive
  • Samsung MUF-64AB/AM FIT Plus - 200MB/s USB 3.1 Flash Drive

Formatting the USB Flash Drive

To correctly save and retrieve video footage, your vehicle requires a properly formatted USB flash drive containing a base-level folder called "TeslaCam" (without quotation marks).

In addition, the flash drive must be formatted as FAT 32 (for Windows), MS-DOS FAT (for Mac), ext3, or ext4 in order to save videos.

NTFS and exFAT are not currently supported.

For MacOS:

  1. Insert the USB flash drive into your personal computer.
  2. Navigate to Utilities > Disk Utility (or you can conduct a Spotlight Search for this).
  3. Select your flash drive in the left menu.
  4. Navigate to Erase in the top menu ribbon.
  5. In the pop-up menu, select the correct format (MS-DOS FAT) and click Erase.

Note: Selecting Erase completely erases all content on your flash drive. If you have other content stored on the flash drive, migrate it to a different device before erasing it.

  1. Once the flash drive is successfully erased, navigate to Finder and select your USB flash drive from the left menu. The flash drive should not contain any files.
  2. Right-click in the empty space of the flash drive and select New Folder. A folder appears in your flash drive space.
  3. Right-click on the folder, select Rename, and name the folder to "TeslaCam" (without quotation marks). Click "Save".

    This folder will contain all recent and saved clips from Sentry Mode and dashcam.

  4. Properly eject the USB flash drive from your personal computer.

For Windows:

  1. Insert the USB flash drive into your personal computer.
  2. Navigate to File Explorer.
  3. Right-click on your USB flash drive and select "Format...".
  4. In the pop-up menu, under the File System section, select "FAT 32".

Note: You can also name your USB (under Volume Label) for easier recognition.

  1. Check the "Quick format box" and click Start.
  2. Go back to File Explorer, click on your flash drive, and right-click to create a folder, or select "New Folder" in the top menu.
  3. Name the folder "TeslaCam" (without quotation marks) and click "Save". This folder will contain all recent and saved clips from Sentry Mode and dashcam.
  4. Properly eject the USB flash drive from your personal computer.

Once you have created the "TeslaCam" folder in your USB flash drive and ejected it from your personal computer, insert the flash drive into one of the front USB ports in Model 3. Do not use the rear USB ports, as they are solely meant for charging devices. It may take your vehicle up to 15 seconds to recognize the flash drive. When recognized, icons for dashcam and Sentry Mode appear at the top of your touchscreen (note that you may need to enable to Sentry Mode by going to Controls > Safety & Security > Sentry Mode). Your vehicle is ready to record video.

Retrieving Footage

To retrieve video footage from the flash drive, remove the flash drive from the front USB port and use a personal computer or other device to access the files. Navigate to the "TeslaCam" folder on the flash drive.

Within the "TeslaCam" folder, there are three sub-folders: Recent Clips, Saved Clips, and Sentry Clips. The footage in Recent Clips constantly loops in a 60-minute cycle when the cameras are activated. Therefore, the footage is constantly being overwritten every hour unless the footage is saved. When an event is recorded, one video is recorded for each of the front, rear, left, and right cameras.

Saved footage is located in either the Saved Clips or Sentry Clips folder. Footage in the Saved Clips folder contains all saved recordings from dashcam, which have been manually saved by touching the dashcam icon on the touchscreen. Sentry Clips contains all saved footage from Sentry Mode events, which have been automatically saved when the Alert or Alarm state was triggered. Once footage of a particular event is saved, the latest 10 minutes of video is archived in your flash drive labeled with a unique timestamp.

Note: As your USB flash drive runs out of available space, the oldest footage in Sentry Clips are deleted to make room for new footage. Once the old footage is deleted, you will be unable to retrieve them. When the flash drive is full, Sentry Mode and dashcam can no longer save video footage.

Note: To prevent the flash drive from getting full, move saved videos to another device as soon as possible.

Note: You are responsible for complying with all local laws, regulations, and property restrictions regarding video recordings.

Note: The cameras do not record audio.

Save Clips on Honk

Once a properly formatted USB flash drive is inserted in one of the vehicle's front USB ports, you can choose to save dashcam clips while driving when you honk the horn on your steering wheel. Navigate to Controls > Safety and Security > Save Clips on Honk > ON to enable. The most recent ten minutes of footage is saved. You can also save dashcam footage by touching the dashcam icon at the top of the touchscreen.


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