First Surveillance SD Cards Released (SanDisk)

Author: John Honovich, Published on Mar 12, 2015

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.

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Comments (25)

TBH this proves they should be used for event based recording or failover recording only. Still a Postive step by Sandisk

This is potentially a good sign of things to come. If the sales volume justifies it and if the reliability is as advertised (or better) larger capacity cards will be released. Perhaps the greater quantity of storage requires much more flash memory chips/circuitry, leading to greater potential for failure?

Regarding this warranty portion of the article -- Does 1 year of stated reliability seem a bit light for something used in this fashion? Having to replace hard drives each year would be time consuming, but at least they're all generally in one location versus many field devices.

Maximum size of 64GB is much less than the 256GB cards that are now commonplace for non surveillance specific storage.

This is pure speculation on my part, but I'm guessing this durability improvement comes more from wear leveling than from advancements in the actual chips themsevles. Most likely these cards are really 128GB units with additional on-board logic to detect and mark bad sectors, and also to spread the bit-flips out over more storage area.

It's been brought up on this forum before that it is surprising how using an onboard SD storage feature for redundacy is seldom used when it seems like a no brainer. This may be partially because of uncertainty about SD card reliability and durability. With a purpose built card that quantifies MTBF for video applications some of this uncertaintly is removed. This could be an opportunity for integrators to upsell service contracts with an option to do an annual SD card swapout to insure very close to 100% camera recording uptime.

Also, I don't know of any camera manufactures who offer an SD card option bundled with purchase. I am guessing this is because of their own concerns about reliability. If there is a hard spec that can be relied upon maybe this will change which I think would greatly increase the adaption of the use of onboard storage if the card comes in the camera box.

Personally I thought edge storage would have developed into main stream use by now.

Several years ago while still working at Sanyo we started developing a then second gen HD IP camera the HD4000 which included both SD and a full size USB 2.0 port that supported a local optional external 2.5" HDD caddy. I first observed prototypes in Japan almost 10 years ago now. Early deonstrations of the backup local recording looked like a great idea. Eventually we realized that more and more installs involved a POE cabling scheme, we started asking if you loose network don't you risk losing power as well? At least the camera still supported 12/24V power terminals. Early US adopters were quick to snap up units add a 250BG platter drive and supply local power viewing the product more as a feature rich stand alone solution. Our problem became the lack of software integration to make it easy to use. Seems like a good concept but there is more to it than just the local storage element.

I have to agree, early attempts were ill-fated, but good intentions. There are at least three early attempts at having onboard storage within cameras that I can recall back when POE couldn't power the cameras and seperate power was needed:

Sony SNC-RZ30N and the SNC-Z20N allowed for internal storage back in 2003. We used this for CYA storage in case a wireless link failed.

Bosch Netcam DVR in 2002. I don't think Bosch had anything beyond encoders for a few years after that unit. If I remember right it was discontinued right after they bought VCS, the encoder manufacturer that made the Videojet.

SanDisk provided an explanation of why the max for the surveillance SD cards is 64GB:

"A higher capacity was not created is because there are very limited number of consumer video monitoring devices that are SDXC. Approximately 80% are SDHC hosts."

That's too bad that they won't make a 256GB one, it might have stood up to 40,000 hours before falling down.

SanDisk 64GB microSDXC card will stand up to 10,000 hours of Full HD video recording, providing a durable, reliable record of what happened at home or on the road. The 32GB card will stand up to 5,000 hours of Full HD video recording.

It is a shame that they are still considering this device a "consumer video monitoring device". In the surveillance world, it would be nice to have a professional, not consumer product. In my experiences, most NEW devices (consumer and pro) are all SDXC.

Mobotix has been using edge based for years with sd cards and we have done hundreds of projects where edge is working well.

Josh you are right, Mobotix has been doing edge recording de-centralized concept for years with little to no issues with 100% edge processing/SD Card storage.

To put it that SD card recordings is not reliable simply is not true. I have installed Mobotix cameras that have been up and operational for well over 3+ years with zero issues to SD cards.

To put it that SD card recordings is not reliable simply is not true. I have installed Mobotix cameras that have been up and operational for well over 3+ years with zero issues to SD cards.

However there was also a recent thread here about Axis cameras having problems with sub-par SD cards and edge recording.

I don't think SD-card based edge recording is fully considered to be a "solved" problem just yet.

Not sure if you can compare apples to apples here:

Axis file structure with known issues recording long term to SD cards are: ext4 and vFAT

Mobotix file structure with proven long term data storage to SD cards is: MxFFS

Maybe the file structure has something to do with longevity of SD cards......

SD card issues can be addressed by keeping recording to motion based or analytics driven. This keeps write cycles to a lower level and can extend life. Plus the cameras are designed for SD card i/o so dont over saturate the card with requests. Edge recording may be an issue, but when you combine it with Edge analytics and functionality it solves many issues. And yes, we have been Mobotix Fan Boys here since 2008 and have been very happy since.

Josh, interestingly the SanDisk 'stand up' time estimate (10,000 hrs) may be the most accurate when used with Mobotix.

What is the bitrate of a typical 1080p30 MxJPEG stream?

Panasonic 6-series cameras have dual SD card slots. They can be configured as JBOD for increased storage capacity, or for redundancy recording to both cards at the same time in case of failure.


I forgot to mention, the Panasonic cameras also tell you how many times they have overwritten the card - useful for determining the end of life. I believe their camera & recorder can indicate if the card is at its end of life and notify you.

Full disclosure: I work for Panasonic, and we make high end SD cards for security, professional video, and movie work.

A few years ago, I sent an email to one of our engineers asking "why are our SD card so expensive?" This is his reply...

Long answer,

A better question might be "why are the Happy Panda SD cards at the gift shop so mad cheap". The SD memory is not inherently stable especially as the cells have gotten so small to support large amounts of memory. The more read/writes the more bit errors. Panasonic has lots of intelligence to make sure the cells are being written to evenly because if you don't the same ones get written and erased time after time leading to corrupted files after just a few uses. If you don't manage the cells you kill them off quickly, and then get errors (cell management is expensive).
Also when you grow the silicon for this memory you get good ones and bad ones (just like CCD or CMOS imagers). These get tested for how many bad cells. The good ones are sold at a high price to folks like Panasonic and the rejects tend to get sold at a discount like spoiled fruit; and this makes it possible to make unreasonably cheap SD cards.
For your vacation and soccer game footage this is no problem you wont re-write very often and nobody gets fired or released from prison if a file gets lost.

As for Micro P2. It looks like an SD card but is a "Raid 5 SD card". If an SD card is a USB HDD , then P2 is a raid5 storage.

For my customers many require the reliability of P2 but all of them need at least the reliability of fully enabled SD cards (Like Panasonic).


Unfortunately I am not confident this new card will solve all of the edge recording problems. In my (1) project where I attempted edge storage (I learn lessons quickly) on Axis cams the failure of the SD card only happened once. Much more common was that the file system on the card was corrupted whenever a power outage occurred and the camera was recording (this was a custom portable PTZ surveillance system with iPad interface so I expected the power cord to be pulled pretty often). Sometimes we were able to recover the file system/video by using the Axis recovery tool built into the camera firmware but often we weren't and had to reformat the card in order to re-establish recording capability. Ultimately I had to train the customer to be very diligent about turning off video recording prior to powering down the system. Unless I get confirmation that the power outage issue is resolved, I will not use the SD cards again.

Since this article came out, anyone used these yet and have any feedback? Maybe I should have waited a couple more months to ask as the early adopter's cards would be nearing "expiration".

We have been using them with no issues Luis. In fact we have been using the same basic Sandisk model for years and they continue to chug along.

Thanks for the feedback, Ross. What do you attribute your longevity experiences too? Using better cards from the start, the quality of the cameras, configuration of recording, or little of each?

I think better cards from the start is the key factor. We use the absolute best Sandisk cards you can buy and they perform very well. I do think the AXIS cameras also help, but I am sure others would disagree. We only record on motion as well so I think that is much more stable than one recording 24/7. I would NEVER use any SD card in a camera recording 24/7.

Thanks, Ross. I wonder if camera manufacturers have looked much at mini-SATA, or maybe they did and determined it'd be just too expensive. But I'd think the mini-SATA drives would be more durable that the SD cards for the constant rewrites.

haha AXIS " it is totally the cards fault"

guess they are still in denial. main problem with AXIS and their SD card storage is the fact that their hardware is way under powered to record to SD cards and all the other stuff they want the camera to do or needs to do at the same time.

That and they want to use micro SD cards which have really bad failure rates for some reason.

I have been using SD cards in cameras as back up recording and as a service for 2 years now. some things I notice accross the 4 brands I have dealt with in this mode (AXIS, Panasonic, Samsung, and trendnet) is that they are being done in different formats and different ways . Samsung uses .avi files for some reason on the SD/NAS storage and as expected its fails more often than not, AXIS depending on the camera model and how much you are taxing the camera may or may not be successful in recording to SD cards. I have had Fantastic results with Panasonic cameras over all using SD cards. only negatives I have is that Panasonic is hell bent on selling hardware they dont have an edge storage retrieval tool nor do they record to 3rd party NAS/SAMBA shares. yet again they build a really awesome cloud/enterprise ready camera, but refuse to unlock the features on them because they want to sell more proprietary NVR's and software, plus they need to stop making "super resolution cameras and figure out how to make make cheaper cameras. A $900 6 series camera no matter how awesome is still a $900 1080p camera that you can only really use 100% of its features with a Panasonic NVR (minimum $1700). I have hope for the new 1 series but I expect to be disappointed by the price when they come out. Trendnet? well it was a free camera and they make really economical switches that hold really well did i mention it was free? the SD card function worked really well for a free camera.

SD card quality matters. if its not a class 10 card or better it is going to fail hard and fast period. SANDisk is good kingston isnt bad either, I use Gskill for mirco SD's, they are better than SANDisk but you pay a premium for them especially for the warranty.

right now you really have two markets you can appeal to with SD storage, the super cheap with a really good piece of easy to use software interface on a PC or enterprise/cloud with the cameras backing up their flash storage to servers at timed intervals for redundancy and with enterprise grade software interface to shuffle though all the millions if not billions of files to find what you need.

We have been using AXIS onto SD, same cards and multiple P1343 cameras, for over three years (maybe four now) with zero issues. In fact I think these cards started in other models and we transferred them to the P1343's. Full size SD cards though so maybe that does make the difference? We have had them reliably last well beyond the two years.

Now that we are buying the AXIS branded San disk SD cards we will see if they have the same life cycle. Don't get me wrong we still do a monthly audit to be sure the cards are functioning as they should because I expect them to fail any day now. We were thinking of putting them on an 18 month swap program, but they keep lasting and lasting

Again we have had zero issues with AXIS using SD cards, including those we use micro-SD, in for years. Basically since the second AXIS started offering it. Not sure if we have just been lucky or everyone else was unlucky! I am sure it varied by model so we must have picked the right models.

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