Selecting the Right Micro SD Card for a Home Security Camera

Transcend Micro SD Card from a Samsung Home Security CameraSeveral home security cameras use a micro SD card for on-board storage of video events.  Three that come to mind are the Samsung SmartCam, Amcrest HDPro and Guardzilla home security cameras.  I like using a micro SD card as a means to access video archives resulting from motion events.  Unlike cloud services, the video archived to a micro SD card will stick around for as long as you don’t overwrite the card.

We’re going to discuss selecting, and then using, the right micro SD card for a home security camera.  The brand of camera doesn’t matter much.  Most have the same requirements.  Of course, refer to the instructions to see if the manufacturer recommends anything.  However, in most cases, they do not.

Most manufacturers do not include the micro SD card with the camera.  You need to purchase one.

First, let’s look at the types of speed categories.  There are currently two types.  The most common are called Speed Classes which range from Class 2 to Class 10.  The lowest which is Class 2 will record at least 2 MB per second.  That’s recommended for standard definition recording.  If you have a high definition home security camera, avoid these.

Most of the home security cameras manufactured over the past few years have high definition capabilities of 720p or higher.  Class 4 provides at least 4 MB per second, and Class 6 is 6 MB per second.  I recommend at least a Class 4 card but ideally a Class 10 which is at least 10 MB per second.  Looking at the market for these cards, you may pay more for a slower card.  Class 10 appears to be optimally priced.

The newest speed category type of micro SD card is called UHS.  These cards are capable of recording higher speeds of video.  A rating of UHS 1 records at least 10 MB per second.  A rating of UHS 3 records at least 30 MB per second.

Most home security cameras will support either of these formats.  Hopefully the manufacturer documentation will specify the card type but if not, go with a Class 10 or UHS 1 card and you shouldn’t have any issues.

How about the size of the card?  Many home security cameras will not support over 32 GB of data on the card.  Some people buy the largest card they can find but are disappointed to find that it will not work in their camera.  A 32 GB micro SD card will hold a lot of video.  You should be fine with this size for event recording.  I’m finding that the price differential between a 32 GB micro SD card and a smaller size isn’t a lot so go with the 32 GB size.

If you are using continuous video recording, I suggest continuously overwriting the card when full to avoid stoppage of recording.

Stick with brand name cards.  Sure, you can save a bit with off brand cards, but these are the ones that will stop working or not work at all.  I have had great success with SANDisk and Transcend.  In fact, the card in the photo was taken directly out of my Samsung SmartCam SNH-E6413BN Security Camera.  This card has been in service for well over a year.  Never had an issue.

The SanDisk Ultra 32GB microSDHC UHS-I Card with Adapter is a good card that should work in practically any home security camera.  I like this particular card because it comes with an SD card adapter which makes it easy to use if needing to port it over to a PC.  There are a few cameras, Guardzilla is one that comes to mind, that will not allow you to see video recording to the card when it’s inserted into the camera.  This is an excellent quality card that is rated at 10 MB per second.

Another reliable brand of micro SD card is Transcend.  The Transcend 32GB MicroSDHC Class10 UHS-1 Memory Card with Adapter is rated even higher than the standard 10 MB per second.  Like the SanDisk card, this comes with an SD card adapter to make it easier to insert into a PC.

Sticking with SanDisk or Transcend should ensure that your card is reliable now and in the future.

When inserting the micro SD card into your home security camera, here are a few tips.  First, unplug the camera, then insert the card, then plug the camera back in.  When the camera comes back, format the card using the formatting function within the camera app.  Starting fresh with a format recognized by your home security camera ensures compatibility.

All of these articles are written by someone (me) that figured out how to do this stuff the hard way.  I have owned and tested dozens of cameras.  Manufacturer support varies.  There are a few good companies that provide timely answers when you have questions.  There are several that sell you the camera and seem to have little interest in post sales support (which leads me to finding out stuff the hard way).