SD Card or Hard Disk Storage – which is best for your Vehicle Camera System?

When purchasing a camera system for your vehicle you should expect a supplier to have several options of recording systems to choose from. Some of those will store footage onto an SD Card and others will record onto a Hard Drive. One of the most important decisions will be the type of storage media included on the system as this will usually dictate how long video footage will record on the system for before the video footage begins to overwrite. It’s usually the case that SD Card systems are the cheaper option but would typically give you fewer days or weeks of footage. Before you decide the best type of storage media for your system it is worth considering the following :

Location of the Vehicle recording unit (DVR)

You can expect a DVR with SD Card storage to be much smaller in size. On certain types of vehicles, in particular cars and small vans, there are very limited options of where the DVR can be mounted (ideally this should be in a secure location which will not be disturbed on a day to day basis). Therefore if there is a size limitation then an SD Card based DVR may be the best solution.

How many cameras will be fitted on your vehicle?

A camera recording at a high resolution setting will utilise around 2.5GB of recording data per hour. Multiply this amount by each camera required and then by the number of operating hours per day, a 3 camera system on a 10 hour operating day would utilise around 75GB of data. You can adjust resolutions on individual cameras on less sensitive areas of the vehicle to increase the amount of recording data, but based on the above a 128GB SD Card would only give around one and a half days worth of footage. After that period of time, the system automatically overwrites the oldest footage. Alternatively, a 1TB hard drive system would give almost 12 days worth of footage. Bear in mind that the more cameras that are fitted on the system will result in the recording time will drop accordingly.


SD cards typically are not designed to be constantly overwritten on a regular basis. This is particularly common on cheap brands and the SD cards require regular reformatting. Centrad systems are supplied with their own approved SD cards which are high grade and resilient to overwriting.

How long do you need to store video footage for?

Certain industries have more benefits of storing video footage for a longer period than others. For example, a bus or coach operator carrying passengers may not be aware of an incident at the time or a driver fails to notify his line manager. It could be a prolonged period of time until the incident is notified to the operator, by which time the video footage is likely to have been overwritten. The best solution for an operator in this instance is a hard disk system with the largest size hard disk (typically 2TB) which gives as much time as possible to download video footage after the event.


If you’d like to discuss your CCTV requirements for your fleet vehicles, simply call 0121 696 4784 and we’ll be happy to help.

Alternatively, have a look around our website and drop us a message if you have any questions.

CEN103-AHD Mobile Digital Video Recorder


Headshot of Geoff Cross, Centrad's Managing Director
Geoff Cross
Managing Director

I’m Geoff Cross, Managing Director here at Centrad. You might not know, but I used to be a fleet operator. So, I know the challenges and frustrations you’re facing with theft, vandalism, and of course, insurance claims.

In fact, back when I owned a fleet, we knew all too much about  insurance claims, but that’s a story for another day. That’s what gave  me the idea for Centrad – because I know how much of a pain those  issues are. I wanted to solve that problem.

I understand the issues you face, which is why we help fleet operators  like you increase vehicle safety through CCTV and telematics AND  save thousands of £ every single year.

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