A dash cam or dashboard camera is an onboard camera used to record the view through a vehicle’s windshield.
Although they all do a good job of recording everything that’s happening in front of you, they come in different shapes and sizes and some may have extra features that you will find useful.
One such feature is a loop recording option. So, what is loop recording on a dash cam and why is it useful to have?
Dash Cam Memory
Dash cams make use of memory cards to store the video footage they capture. These cards all have a capacity, which means they can only store a limited amount of data. The amount of data that a memory card can store is usually expressed in hours of video. This can often be a problem for users who travel longer journeys. For example, if your journey is six hours long and your card can only hold up to five hours of video, you will have a one-hour long unrecorded part of your journey.
However, it is very rare that a driver needs to record the whole six-hour long journey. This may be the case with trucking schools, where a truck driving instructor may need to record up to a ten-hour long drive that takes place from when the student enters the truck until the engine is turned off.
For the most part, regular drivers only need a part of their trip recorded, or to be more specific, the part when the accident happened. This is where loop recording comes in handy.
What Is Loop Recording?
Simply put, loop recording is a feature that allows your dash cam to replace old files with new files or, in other words, to replace old video footage with new footage. When you are driving, the camera will keep recording even after your memory is full. This is done by deleting the oldest video and starting a new one. So, with loop recording, you always have the latest footage regardless of your memory card’s capacity.
Some cameras also have a write-protect feature that helps you preserve some videos and prevent them from being deleted. When you want to watch these videos, you can simply connect the memory card to your computer.
How Does Loop Recording Work?
Dash cams split their footage into smaller, more manageable files that take up less memory. These files are usually between 10 and 25 minutes long, and the transition between these videos is seamless. Depending on your memory card capacity, you will be able to store more or less of these videos.
So, let’s imagine you have a camera that splits its recordings into 15-minute long clips. This means that you’ll have four 15-minute clips saved as separate files after an hour. With loop recording, the camera will automatically delete the first or oldest 15-minute clip as soon as it needs more memory.
The length of these videos can usually be adjusted manually. So, if the setting is “10 minutes”, your camera will record everything in 10-minute clips, and the oldest 10-minute video will be deleted every time the camera needs space for a new one.
Why Do You Need Loop Recording?
Depending on your reason for wanting a dash cam, you may benefit from the loop recording feature. If you’re planning to use it for evidential and insurance purposes, then a camera with loop recording is an ideal choice. If anything happens during your ride, you’ll know that it has been recorded. If nothing happens, loop recording saves you the hassle of transferring and deleting old files.
However, if you need a dash cam to record a longer trip or you’re planning to save your files, then you don’t want to go for a camera with loop recording. Either that or you can turn off the loop recording feature. Just make sure to bring along some spare memory cards if your trip is very long. You may also want to bring a laptop to store the recordings.
The Best of Both Worlds
As previously implied, most if not all modern dash cams that have a loop recording option allow you to turn the feature on or off, so you can switch between long-term and short-term recording at will. This is usually done in camera settings, but with some cameras you have to download a firmware file that updates the camera to the mode you want.
Loop recording is a very useful feature that helps you make sure that you have whatever happened on the road on record. It’s perfect for drivers who are looking to use a dash cam for evidential purposes. However, if you want to record longer journeys, you’re better off with a camera that either doesn’t have this feature or one that allows you to switch it on or off.