A continuous loop recording dash cam records video by overwriting older video with new footage. This allows the camera to keep recording even if the installed SD memory card is full, helping to ensure that the device never misses a minute of your drive. Loop recording is standard on most modern dash cams, but you may be able to adjust this setting, depending on the device. There are a few reasons why continuous loop recording may not function as expected, including if too many videos on the SD card have been locked to prevent them from being overwritten.
How Does Dash Cam Loop Recording Work?
When you first begin using your dash cam, video will be recorded up to the capacity of the installed memory card. Some dash cams, but not all, will include a memory card so you don't have to purchase one. Keep in mind that different dash cams have different maximum file capacities for the largest memory card they will accept. Once the memory card has reached its recording limit, dash cam loop recording works by overwriting the oldest files with new video. If you plan to take a long drive and are concerned about losing footage from parts of your road trip, you'll want to make sure that you have a high capacity SD card and that you're immediately locking the video clips you want to save. Dash cams typically save video files in increments from 1 to 5 minutes, and you may be able to adjust the length of the clip time in your camera's settings.
Most dash cams record video to an SD card (more commonly a Micro SD card), a type of removeable memory for portable devices. SD cards can be read by any compatible card reader; many laptop computers have card readers, for example, which makes viewing and saving dash cam recordings on your computer simply a matter of removing the SD card from the camera and putting into the laptop card reader. The memory capacity of your SD card will depend on which type of card used in your dash cam, but sizes between 8 GB to 64 GB are common. A Wi-Fi or Bluetooth® enabled dash cam with cloud video management and storage will also allow you to view, save, and delete videos without the need to remove the SD card.
Why Is Loop Recording Not Working on My Dash Cam?
The most common causes for loop recording to not work correctly on a dash cam include the following:
- A device setting is preventing continuous recording. The exact setting can vary by device, but you may need to turn on loop recording or adjust the length of the video clips.
- The SD card is full of "locked" videos. In the event of a crash or similar incident, the G-sensor in your dash cam can be set to automatically lock the video clip being recorded, making sure that it's available as evidence if needed. You can also manually lock videos if you want to save them and export them off your device. If too many video clips are locked, there will not be enough space on the SD card to record new footage, preventing loop recording from working properly.
- The SD card is not installed correctly or is not formatted for use in the camera, which may prevent any video from being recorded.
How Many Hours Can a Dash Cam Record?
The number of hours that a dash cam can record depends on the size of the SD memory card, the video resolution you’re recording at, how many views you’re recording (some dash cams allow 2 or even 3 views to be captured simultaneously) and how many video files you have saved or locked on the device. When using loop recording, a dash cam will record continuously, as long as the camera has power and is turned on. The number of saved hours of video that a dash cam can record will vary by device and recording quality, among other factors, but here are some general estimates for different capacity SD cards recording at 1080P resolution with a single view:
- 8 GB – 55 minutes
- 16 GB – 110 minutes (1.8 hours)
- 32 GB – 220 minutes (3.6 hours)
Dash cams usually record videos in clips of a few minutes long. Having individual clips rather than one long recording allows you more flexibility in saving specific videos, exporting them directly from the SD card or via WiFi or Bluetooth®, or deleting them if they aren't needed. If video was saved as one long recording, you would need to manually edit the file if you only wanted to keep a portion of the video.
How Can I Make Sure Video Is Not Erased?
The best way to prevent important videos from being overwritten or erased is to first lock the relevant clips on your dash cam and then export those files, removing them from the SD card. If the video clips are locked on your camera, the loop recording should not overwrite them; however, they will take up space on the memory card, limiting how much new video can be recorded. In the case of an accident or other incident that you've captured on your dash cam, making a copy of the video and saving it in an easily accessible location may be critical to preserving important evidence.
If your dash cam can connect to Wi-Fi or Bluetooth® it should be easy to save a copy of the video clips to the cloud and/or your computer or smartphone. Otherwise, remove the SD card from your dash cam and use a compatible SD card reader to export the files. Having multiple copies of the video not only allows you to free up space on your camera's memory card, it also means that you have a back-up copy of the recording should your camera be damaged or destroyed.