How do I enable Sentry Mode?

Sentry Mode is a security feature that arrived via an over-the-air software update back in early 2019, in response to a rash of break-ins on Model 3’s in Southern California (the little triangle window behind the passenger door does not trigger the alarm when broken, and people were smashing that to then fold the seat down to see if anything was worth stealing in the trunk). It expands on DashCam, which uses the same cameras as AutoPilot. All Model 3 and Model Y vehicles support Sentry Mode. All Model S and Model X cars built after 2017 as well as any that have been upgraded to MCU > 2 should be Sentry Mode capable. You will see the option in your car’s settings and in your smartphone application.

The other requirement for Sentry Mode is a USB storage device plugged in to the front USB ports (newer cars, as of 2021, actually have a USB port in the glove compartment, for added security). The drive needs to be formatted in either FAT32 or ext4, and must have a directory called “TeslaCam” at its root. Preparing a new USB storage device for Sentry use can be done within the car with recent software updates.

Once those are taken care of, you just enable Sentry Mode from your car or smartphone app. It may be a good idea to turn off Sentry Mode at home and maybe work, as even with recent software versions (including 2021.4.x) there may be a lot of false positive noise, as Sentry Mode reacts to any perceived nearby motion, including heavy rain. Another reason for periodically disabling Sentry Mode is to minimize the chances for writes to fail and the drive to become corrupted.

The larger the storage device the better, but 128G should be absolute minimum. Note that SSD drives do work, but that is not the best use for that technology as this will be heavily skewed towards writes and not reads. As such, SSD drives may fail sooner than expected in those environments (they should still last longer than you have the car and others have said they last longer than most USB thumb drives, but portions may fail sooner than expected). You also want one with fast write speeds; if the device is too slow, you will get a warning in the car and videos will be degraded if they work at all. One described as for “gaming” should be more than adequate.

How can I view my Sentry Mode videos?

As of Tesla software version 2020.12.5, you can view DashCam and Sentry Mode videos on the main screen in your Tesla. Tap on the Sentry icon when parked and choose the option to view.

With the 2021 Tesla Holiday update (version 11, 2021.44.25.4 or later), you can view DashCam and Sentry Mode videos from the quick launch area using the Dashcam application.

If you wish to export those videos or archive them off the car, you have two options. One is to just remove the Sentry USB storage device and copy the files to where you want, perhaps having two USB storage devices on hand to avoid having no active Sentry while you’re copying (while it is possible to have an adapter to copy to another device right in the car, this may take a while).

The other option can be fairly complicated. You could purchase a Roadie, which is basically a Raspberry Pi device with some software, or you could build your own Raspberry Pi device. The benefit here is the Raspberry Pi device is basically its own little computer with WiFi, so you can copy files off (as long as the USB port is powered) wirelessly. The Roadie device has its own iOS application that does this, although the app itself is limited in features. It is possible to configure the Raspberry Pi device along with other services on your local network to automatically copy files over, but that is fairly complicated and beyond the scope of an FAQ response. Please post a query to the Facebook group for more information, if wanted.

One iOS/macOS application that works very well for viewing Sentry Mode videos either from the USB storage device directly or copied elsewhere is Focus Dashcam Organizer.