A white security camera sitting between a candle cup and a potted cactus.

Choosing the Right Memory Card for Your Security Camera

Security cameras. They’re static, rotating; hanging off the ceiling, sitting on a shelf; hidden, visible; indoors, outdoors. Whether in your home or place of business, security cameras are a part of the world we live in. No matter where or how they are used, they see and capture things we’d rather not see but are thankful for, nonetheless.

Within these security cameras, the memory card is the vital piece of tech that allows us to see what the camera saw and recorded. We are, after all, capturing video that could prove necessary and useful at some point. So, it’s important to make sure images are clean and clear.

A security camera with a microSD card loose in the card slot

So, how do we assure ourselves that we are purchasing a memory card that suits our needs and provides quality images? We do our homework and check out a few critical features such as the capacity, speed, and durability of the cards that interest us. After that, choose a brand we trust.

Capacity

As they say, read the owner’s manual. It probably has some nuggets of information regarding the manufacturer’s recommendations for your particular model.

Next, how will the camera be used? Will it record continuously or only after motion detection? Continuous use requires a high-capacity/high-endurance card; on-motion, not so much.

Then consider the camera’s resolution. High-resolution videos (1080p or 4k) require more storage space.

Suffice it to say; however the card is being used, practical choices range from 32GB to 512GB.

The rear side of a white security camera with a microSD card being inserted by fingers

Speed

While the speed rate of a memory card is based on its read/write speed, with security cameras, you really only care about the write speed, which is the rate at which the card writes (records) data to its memory. Too slow a speed could lead the video to skip or become sluggish, either of which defeats the reason for having the camera.

Most security cameras are designed for microSD size cards. For that reason, we will limit the card speed conversation solely to them. The latest microSD cards offer higher storage allowing longer video recordings (perfect for continuous-use security cameras). When shooting Full HD or 4K UHD you don’t want to worry about slow speeds and dropped frames. Look for cards with minimum write speeds of 70MB/s and support UHS-I Video Speed Class (V30).

Durability

It stands to reason that cameras that are continuously recording need a memory card that can stand up to the 24/7 usage. Likewise, cameras stationed outdoors in the elements need memory cards that can withstand temperature extremes, wet environments, and high winds.

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