First Surveillance SD Cards Released (SanDisk)

By John Honovich, Published Mar 12, 2015, 12:00am EDT

The black eye for on-board recording has gotten pretty bad.

Culminating with Axis admitting a serious edge recording problem, the claimed culprit is insufficient SD cards.

Now, one of the biggest SD card manufacturers has released their first surveillance specific SD card.

Inside this note, we examine this offering, with technical feedback from SanDisk and our analysis of how this will impact the burgeoning / struggling on-board storage market.

SanDisk Surveillance SD Cards

Called "SanDisk High Endurance Video Monitoring", the micro SD cards are designed for video surveillance, with 32GB and 64GB sizes available, and respective street pricing of ~$25 USD and ~$50 USD.

Duration Concerns

The most important other specification is recording duration, which they list as "up to 10,000 hours of Full HD video recording". 10,000 hours is equal to ~416 days or a little over a year. For surveillance cameras that are expected to run 5, 7, 10 years that is not a lot.

SanDisk explained to us that:

"The card was tested at a continuous 24/7 recording rate of 26Mbps, and in this case the 64GB card would withstand approximately 10,000 hours of Full HD video or 400 days."

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On the plus side, even full frame rate HD video streams are generally just a fraction of 26Mbps. When asked about how much this would improve duration, SanDisk declined to offer a specific number:

"The expected duration can still vary greatly depending on the host device, whether it is constant streaming or recorded based on motion detect, how the host writes to the card. Without knowing the specific camera and set up, we cannot say how long the card will last. However, we are the only brand that will stand by the card for up to 10,000 hours."

Differences With Existing High-End SD Cards

Axis recommended SanDisk Extreme Cards in 2014 in response to numerous problems experienced with Axis on-board storage.

With this new surveillance release, SanDisk emphasized the importance of the new cards:

"The High Endurance card has been engineered and optimized for high-intensity Full HD video recording applications, such as dash camera and home video monitoring systems - other SanDisk SD cards, such as Extreme and Extreme PRO SD cards, have been designed, tested and engineered for performance applications like 4K video, burst mode photography, continuous RAW file capture, etc. These cards may work in dash cams and home video systems, however, they have not been designed, tested or engineered for this application."

Pros of the Surveillance Card

There are two clear pros of this offering:

  • Now, at least from an expectation / positioning standpoint, there is an SD card that fully stands behind its use in surveillance. By comparison, SD card vendors have repeatedly pushed back on using 'regular' SD cards for video surveillance, arguing that their cards were not designed for such use.
  • The pricing is only modestly more than 'regular' higher end SD cards, such as SanDisk Extreme Cards. On the other hand, they are roughly double the cost of more basic SD cards (that, in fairness, are far more likely to have issues).

Cons of the SanDisk Surveillance Card

On the other hand, the two key cons of this offering:

  • Maximum size of 64GB is much less than the 256GB cards that are now commonplace for non surveillance specific storage. This is offset by many IP cameras who only support 64GB max anyway. However, 64GB cards is the equivalent of a 1TB, 16 channel NVR, which is puny by today's standards / use.
  • Specified duration of only 10,000 hours / 13.5 months means that if the card fails after just 14 months (of continuous recording), that it is the integrator / user's 'fault', not SanDisk. On the other hand, if the cards are used for motion based recording or just backs up, it should stay within spec for at least 3 years, if not more.


Overall, it is a good thing to have a surveillance specific SD card, just like there are surveillance specific hard drives to choose from. However, given the size and duration specific limits, caution should still be used in specifying and using on-board storage.

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