Dashcams have become very popular among drives in the last few years, to the point where some vehicle manufacturers include them as a standard feature. If you own a Tesla, you have probably noticed the “Sentry Mode” available in your model.

And while it can be an extremely convenient feature in case you get into an accident or otherwise need to prove something to the police or a court, it can also cause some unexpected problems if you’re not prepared. Mainly, there’s a risk of losing your footage if you’re not careful.

Why Do Your Dashcam Videos Get Lost on a Tesla?

Tesla’s dashcam is designed to only store a specific duration of footage – usually, the last hour. If you don’t interact with the camera controls manually, you might not get a recording of every important event that happens to you. For example, if you get into an accident, your Tesla will usually happily overwrite any footage captured during the event and replace it. Tesla offers the option to manually save a specific segment if you feel it’s important.

You may also suffer from a data loss incident. Tesla’s dashcam saves its videos to a USB flash drive if you have one plugged in. Dashcam data recovery boils down to simply recovering the drive itself in this case.

If you have a damaged dashcam, video file recovery can be trickier and may require a specialized service. That’s because you may not be able to physically connect to the device with regular tools and software. This is an expensive approach that also takes a lot of time.

It’s not ideal for cases where you urgently need to get your hands on your footage, for example after a crash that leads to a lawsuit. Some services may be able to prioritize your order in those circumstances, but you shouldn’t expect that by default and be prepared for a longer wait. 

Can You Recover Lost Videos from a Dashcam?

Tesla video recovery is simple if your videos were stored on a flash drive. Even if they were still in the dashcam’s main memory at the time of the incident, there’s still a chance of getting your hands on the footage. You will just have to use a more advanced approach.

If your problem is that the dashcam has automatically overwritten your footage, there’s probably a high likelihood that your dashcam video recovery will be successful. The most important point here is to be fast and ensure that the camera doesn’t get many chances to write to its memory and overwrite currently existing footage.

How to Recover Lost Dashcam Video Footage on a Tesla?

If you need to recover lost dashcam video footage on your Tesla, there are several approaches you can use. We generally recommend trying the simpler methods first, and only resorting to professional services if nothing else works. Keep in mind that some of these methods may not be available to you, depending on the current state of your USB drive.

Method 1 Use Data Recovery Software

Data recovery software like Disk Drill can make dashcam video recovery very easy. This includes cases where the storage has been physically damaged. While the method is not guaranteed to work every time, it’s still worth giving it a shot. Of all the programs available on the market, Disk Drill is perhaps the best dashcam corrupted file recovery software right now.

  1. Download and install Disk Drill
    Disk Drill
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  2. Connect the USB stick containing your footage to your computer
  3. Start Disk Drill
  4. Select the USB stick containing your footage and click Search for Datasearch for lost data disk drill
  5. After a while, you’ll see a preview of all files you can currently recover. If you see your footage in the list, select it.
  6. Click Recover and the recovery process will startrecover files with disk drill

Method 2 Run CHKDSK

CHKDSK is a Windows utility that can occasionally fix simple issues with USB sticks and other external drives.

  1. Connect the USB stick containing your footage to your computer
  2. Open Command Prompthow to start command promt
  3. Type in the following: chkdsk X: /F /X /R. Replace the first X with the actual drive letter of your USB stickCHKDSK command promt
  4. After a while, you’ll get a report of all errors that have been identified and fixedrun CHKDSK command

Method 3 Reinstall Drivers

Reinstalling the drivers of your USB stick can also fix certain issues from time to time.

  1. Connect the USB stick containing your footage to your computer
  2. Open Device Managerhow to start device manager
  3. Find the USB stick in the list of drivesdisk drives in device manager
  4. Right-click on the USB stick and select Uninstall deviceunistall device in device manager
  5. Disconnect and reconnect the USB stick to your computer
  6. Windows should now reinstall the necessary drivers

Method 4 Assign a New Drive Letter

Another simple fix you can try is to reassign the drive letter of the USB stick.

  1. Connect the USB stick containing your footage to a computer
  2. Open Disk Managementhow to start disk management
  3. Right-click on the USB stick in the list of drives and select Change Drive Letter and Paths…change drive letter and paths in disk management
  4. Click Change… in the window that pops uphow to change drive letter and paths in disk management
  5. Select a new letter on the next screen and click OKassing new drive letter in disk management

Method 5 Use a Data Recovery Service

If the above methods don’t work, your only option might be to use a professional data recovery service. These services aren’t cheap and may not be available in your region, but it’s worth a try to see if they can get your issue fixed. The process can take a while – in some cases, up to a few weeks – so be prepared to wait. If you need the footage urgently, for example if you’re going through a lawsuit, make sure to let the company know so they could potentially prioritize your order.

How to Protect Dashcam Video Recordings after a Car Accident

If you’ve been in a car accident with your Tesla, you should take some steps to minimize the chance of losing any data. First, save a manual recording of recent footage. Once that’s done, take out the USB stick and keep it safe. Replace it with another stick if you have one handy, so that your Tesla can continue recording.

If the drive has been physically damaged, try to keep it in a safe spot to prevent further damage. This will improve your chances of recovering data from it afterwards. USB sticks are not as sensitive as hard drives when it comes to shaking and other sudden moves, but they should still be treated carefully.


Accidentally deleted footage can be recovered with the right tools, provided you act quickly enough. This also applies to situations where data has been lost due to physical damage. It’s a good idea to familiarize yourself with the available tools in advance so that you’re not caught unprepared if you run into a situation that calls for data recovery. Make sure to know what professional services you can turn to in these cases as well.


Stefan Ionescu

A technology passionate, Stefan holds an MSc in geological engineering and currently serves clients as a freelance writer. Despite having a master's in geological engineering, Stefan's passion for writing and technology t...

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Approved by
Brett Johnson

This article has been approved by Brett Johnson, Data Recovery Engineer at ACE Data Recovery. Brett has a Bachelor's Degree in Computer Systems and Network, 12 years of experience.