I’ve been using some cheap flash drives for things like installing OSs and the like, but now I’ve picked up a Dell Wyse 3040 system to play with which only has 8gb of storage. So I’m installing the OS onto a flash drive permanently (don’t worry, just for messing with, nothing of value will be lost if/when the drive craps out).

However, the performance of my cheap flash drive is terrible and installing packages & transferring files is so slow. My question is: Would getting a better drive make a meaningful difference here? If so, anyone have some recommendations of drives they like that are fast?

  • BombOmOm
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    2 months ago

    For running an OS off a USB drive, I would recommend getting a USB to M.2 enclosure and putting an M.2 drive in it. This will give you better performance than any flash drive out there. The memory they put into normal flash drives is just slow slow slow for the use case of an OS.

    M.2 Enclosure

    M.2 Drive to go in it


    Now, the only negative there is that is kinda expensive. If you really want to stick to a normal USB drive, maybe try this one out. But I would really like to stress that running an OS off a normal USB drive is going to be slow.

    • @[email protected]
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      2 months ago

      You likely won’t notice much of a difference between SATA and NVMe when using the drive via USB, and many people have spare SATA SSDs, so I’d just grab a USB to 2.5" SATA cable: https://a.co/d/dQ5QXR1. You don’t need an enclosure because the drive itself is already an enclosure.

      • @rjc
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        52 months ago

        Don’t pay almost $20 for just a cable, pay $3 for this. it’s an enclosure you can put your 2.5in sata drive in to connect it with usb3. I have several, work like a charm https://a.co/d/8Z2VPso

        • @[email protected]
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          62 months ago

          Up to you… $20 isn’t much and StarTech is a trusted brand, so it was worth it for me. I don’t trust the cheap generic brands on Amazon as much.

          • @rjc
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            52 months ago

            Fair point. I rolled the dice and have been happy with this one, but you’re right on both accounts. StarTech is a trusted brand and $20 is pretty affordable.

        • @[email protected]
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          22 months ago

          I have bought 2 sata to USB adapters…they look identical ( other than expensive one has slightly heavier cord ) one for $4 one for $20. The $4 one has the blue USB 3 look to it, but it doesn’t transfer as fast as the real USB 3 cord that cost $20.

        • rentar42
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          22 months ago

          USB SATA controllers are also very hit-and-miss. There’s plenty of really, really bad ones out there. Either missing features, slow, getting hot or all of the above. If you found one that works well, good for you, but I’d avoid most noname brands, unless I had specific knowledge about the product or the very least the chipset they use.

    • @[email protected]
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      22 months ago

      I have an external drive like this. I just dd’d the entire contents of my system drive, since the external is larger. Boots on other EFI systems with no other changes, and I get ~700mb/sec actual.

    • @[email protected]
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      2 months ago

      Wow, I never considered using an M2 as an external. So obvious - I’ve used SSD externals for years.

      Brilliant!

    • @spez_
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      21 month ago

      Use a USB 3. Speed means nothing for open media vault

    • @nopersonalspaceOP
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      22 months ago

      Yeah, I have one of those and it’s great but I need very little storage for this system (64g max) so I didn’t feel like it made sense in this case.

      • @Cort
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        42 months ago

        You could go with a 2.5in SSD in a USB enclosure. I think OP was just suggesting this as the highest performance option.

        • @[email protected]
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          2 months ago

          You won’t see much of a difference between SATA and NVMe (if at all) as the maximum speed for SATA (6Gbps) is higher than the maximum speed for USB 3.0 and USB 3.1 Gen1 (5Gbps).

          • @Cort
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            32 months ago

            Not disagreeing, because you’re right that the differences you’d see are minimal, but did want to add that latency & random I/o is better on most nvme than most SATA SSD. And that would be somewhat beneficial for an OS drive in my opinion. But the difference would probably not be noticeable, as you said.

    • @Ep1cFac3pa1m
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      22 months ago

      The M.2 enclosure I have gets extremely hot during periods of extended use like installing an OS or transferring large amounts of data. Not sure if it’s a problem with other enclosures, but it’s something to consider.

      • lemmyvore
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        32 months ago

        Check the chipset maker. If it’s JMicro that’s the problem, they suck. Look for something with Realtek or Asmedia chipset.

        • @Ep1cFac3pa1m
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          22 months ago

          You mean the SSD chipset, or the does the enclosure have a chipset, too?

        • @[email protected]
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          22 months ago

          That may also be a problem, but these external enclosures need heat management. It can be passive, but they definitely need to handle heat, whatever the chipmaker for the actual drive.

  • K4mpfie
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    82 months ago

    As a general purpose USB (which not only works great for daily use as a thumb drive but also works with no issues as Linux Live or persistent USB) I can recommend the Sandisk Ultra line. I had them everywhere from 16GB to 128GB. They never let me down. The housing might look like it’s made from flimsy plastic but it’s surprising sturdy.

    A second drive I’m currently preparing for use as a persistent Linux drive is the Samsung portable SSD T7. It’s nice and sturdy and the USB C to USB C interface allows me to easily run it on my Laptop without using up any of my precious USB A ports.

    • @nopersonalspaceOP
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      32 months ago

      Yeah seems like sandisk ultra is the way to go. Do you know, is there any disadvantage to using the “Ultra Fit” line of smaller drives that sit much more flush to the case? Those look nice, but IDK if there are performance issues with the smaller package

      • K4mpfie
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        22 months ago

        No I haven’t tested them yet. However something I do notice is that people tend to forget the small drives much more often. Simply because of the form factor.

      • @[email protected]
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        22 months ago

        I think the ultra fit uses some other piece of flash, I’d just recommend the plain Ultra or the Luxe. They pretty much have the same chip inside iirc

  • @hperrin
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    62 months ago

    Yes, getting a better flash drive will get you better performance. Make sure you get a good USB 3 drive, and plug it into a USB 3 port. I’ve always had good experiences with SanDisk drives. Avoid the off brand drives. They’re often really bad or even fake.

  • @[email protected]
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    2 months ago

    There are some fancy ones with SSD-features like wear leveling, though i don’t know which.

    But why not a NVME USB enclosure?

    Thumbdrive as main disk does work, but once i trashed a SD-card-as-home with compiling something, i gave up on the idea.

  • @[email protected]
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    42 months ago

    Do you have a spare SATA SSD? This is my go-to USB cable for connecting SATA SSDs via USB: https://a.co/d/dQ5QXR1. Works well on Raspberry Pi and it’d work well on a thin client too.

    Note that the Wyse systems don’t have much CPU power as they’re designed to be used as thin clients (where nothing runs on the system other than remote desktop connecting to a server somewhere). That’s why they have so little space - they were never designed to run a full OS.

  • @[email protected]B
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    1 month ago

    Acronyms, initialisms, abbreviations, contractions, and other phrases which expand to something larger, that I’ve seen in this thread:

    Fewer Letters More Letters
    NVMe Non-Volatile Memory Express interface for mass storage
    SATA Serial AT Attachment interface for mass storage
    SSD Solid State Drive mass storage

    3 acronyms in this thread; the most compressed thread commented on today has 10 acronyms.

    [Thread #670 for this sub, first seen 9th Apr 2024, 19:25] [FAQ] [Full list] [Contact] [Source code]

  • @TCB13
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    2 months ago

    You can always grab a USB 3.0 disk case + NVME drive or 2.5 SSD, those will give you better performance for sure. Don’t buy pre-made drives, they’re usually slower than just getting a case and picking a desktop drive.

  • @Peffse
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    12 months ago

    I’m curious, the current flash drive you are using… does it allow paging files? I would figure flash media would be marked portable to the OS and not allow page files to be used.

  • WasPentalive
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    12 months ago

    I wonder if you can replace the storage element with something bigger. It might be a data drive or an M.2 drive. You could replace either with a bigger device.

    • @nopersonalspaceOP
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      12 months ago

      Yeah, sadly it does have a M.2 slot but it’s not SATA or NVMe, but instead SDIO. Someone out there has actually made an adapter that lets you put an sd card into that slot, which is super cool. But probably no better that a flash drive realistically, and much more expensive (you have to get the adapter manufactured)

      • WasPentalive
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        12 months ago

        Well, at least it has a USB3 slot - you could put a NVME drive in a USB3 external case and boot that way.

  • @Paragone
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    12 months ago

    SanDisk usb-keys work.

    You really want to use the thing for read-only, though, if you can:

    the writes it takes to kill some portion of a filesystem, vs the writes you get before corrupting things, on a USB driver, don’t line-up.

    Use NVMe as your 1st-choice for storage ( future purchases, obviously ), the fastest you can get, and be stunned by how much faster the same motherboard is, with superfast OS storage…


    I’d stick /home, not /usr, on the USB.