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A different type of SSD
Old 12-18-2018, 08:18 PM   #1
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A different type of SSD

Today I saw an add for a SanDisk 256GB flash drive for $40 which got me thinking. Why couldn’t I use one of those to replace my boot drive. I have an SSD drive on my system now, but it’s getting full and I was thinking about upgrading it. It’s a 128GB drive.

I was thinking I could clone my internal drive over to this flash drive and then go into the bios and force the system to boot from the flash drive. It might not be as fast as my current internal SSD, but it would be twice as big which would extend the life of this machine (currently 6 years old) at least a few more years for $40 and a little time at the computer. I don’t have anything but programs on the internal SSD (no data) and the machine also has a 2TB HD for data.

Swapping out the internal drive would cost more and be a bit difficult. I had the machine built for me. It is very small and the internal components are hard to get to. It’s a fanless PC which is basically a heat sink and messing with the internals can cause problems. So I’d like to stay out of it.

So for you PC pros, would this work? I don’t see why it wouldn’t and from a 3.0 USB port, it should be a pretty quick boot and quick program loader.

Alternatively, I was thinking to just put it in the computer (plug it in a USB port) and just load any new programs to that drive instead of my HD.
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Old 12-18-2018, 09:23 PM   #2
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If your BIOS can boot from USB, yes, it should work. I don't recall what the USB3.0 data transfer rate is - it's high, but maybe not as high as SATA (you probably have your boot SSD in a SATA3 port currently).

I'm lucky - I used to work for an SSD manufacturer so I have a 1TB SATA3 SSD in my laptop which is nice and snappy. I use it for Windows, programs, and data. Works fine and is easier than splitting duties between a boot drive and a data drive.
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Old 12-18-2018, 09:45 PM   #3
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I assume you could use a USB flash drive as a boot drive, assuming your OS supports it. Of course, it will probably run a lot slower than a dedicated SSD drive with a SATA interface.

The only issue I can think of would be reliability. Flash memory can only be written to so many times before it wears out. SSD's compensate by incorporating wear leveling in their design. Basically they distribute the writes so the same sectors don't get hammered over and over again.

I don't think your average USB flash drive includes wear leveling, at least the old ones didn't. I would think a typical flash drive would wear out quickly with the frequent writes on a boot drive. I could be wrong though.
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Old 12-18-2018, 10:10 PM   #4
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I second the thought about reliability.
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Old 12-18-2018, 10:19 PM   #5
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Originally Posted by mountainsoft View Post
I assume you could use a USB flash drive as a boot drive, assuming your OS supports it. Of course, it will probably run a lot slower than a dedicated SSD drive with a SATA interface.

The only issue I can think of would be reliability. Flash memory can only be written to so many times before it wears out. SSD's compensate by incorporating wear leveling in their design. Basically they distribute the writes so the same sectors don't get hammered over and over again.

I don't think your average USB flash drive includes wear leveling, at least the old ones didn't. I would think a typical flash drive would wear out quickly with the frequent writes on a boot drive. I could be wrong though.
I checked and the USB3.0 transfer rate is slightly higher than the SATA 3 transfer rate. Although that is the maximum rate supported by the protocol; I think most actual flash drives and SSDs don't max out on the throughput.

Good point about reliability, and I think you're right - the wear leveling in an SSD is going to be better than a USB thumb drive. They do make external SSDs in a USB enclosure which would have the same wear leveling as a traditional SSD (they're the same SSD inside), but I'm not sure if that's what the OP was referring to. Physically the USB-enclosure-style SSD's are bigger than a regular thumb drive by quite a bit.
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Old 12-18-2018, 11:09 PM   #6
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Since SSDs have come down in price so much you could get a 1 T one for $120 or a 500 Gbs one for around $55.

Replacing the one you have should be pretty easy once you clone it as you are not looking for extra space to locate the new one.

This is why I always (to date) get a good sized desktop case, so I can add more things to it if needed.
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Old 12-19-2018, 06:21 AM   #7
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Internal SSD's have become so cheap, I wouldnt go the route you were thinking. Ive seen internal SSD's go for $50 for 250gb. Even on a bad day they can be had for $60.
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Old 12-19-2018, 06:26 AM   #8
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Yes you can, but it would be a lot slower. Limited by the USBx.xx speeds. This is how most image backup systems work. See Macrium Reflect, it boots from CD to restore images.

I would clean up your internal SSD and move stuff to the USB SSD.
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Old 12-19-2018, 07:30 AM   #9
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This should be a better solution for you, if you can access the HDD.



https://www.newegg.com/Product/Produ...m-_-20-331-049
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Old 12-19-2018, 08:14 AM   #10
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Originally Posted by Jerry1 View Post
Today I saw an add for a SanDisk 256GB flash drive for $40 which got me thinking. Why couldnít I use one of those to replace my boot drive. I have an SSD drive on my system now, but itís getting full and I was thinking about upgrading it. Itís a 128GB drive.

Swapping out the internal drive would cost more and be a bit difficult. I had the machine built for me. It is very small and the internal components are hard to get to. Itís a fanless PC which is basically a heat sink and messing with the internals can cause problems. So Iíd like to stay out of it.
If you really don't want to open your PC you could pick up an external SSD drive, something like this Samsung 256GB model:

https://www.amazon.com/Samsung-T5-Po...2FK/ref=sr_1_5

If it was me, I would probably spend another $15 and get the 500GB model. Of course, you'll need an available USB 3.0 port on your computer. The older USB 2.0 ports will be quite slow for a boot drive.

Or, you could buy an SSD and put it in an external enclosure yourself, something like this:

https://www.amazon.com/Samsung-250GB...51P/ref=sr_1_1

I suspect the speed of the USB port will be the limiting factor, so you won't really be utilizing the speed advantage of an SSD. You might as well get a standard external USB hard drive, something like this 1TB WD:

https://www.amazon.com/dp/B01LQQHI8I...ter_B07L93CTLY

Much more storage at the same price. Maybe you could move your programs and data off to the external drive, then keep using the internal SSD as your boot drive.

Still, replacing an internal drive is a very easy job to do. Take the case off the PC and have a look, it's probably not as hard as you think. Then you could get an SSD like this one, though again I would spring a few more dollars and get the 500GB version.

https://www.amazon.com/Samsung-250GB...MK8/ref=sr_1_1

I'm assuming you back up your drives regularly?
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Old 12-19-2018, 08:20 AM   #11
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I use a 1tb Samsung T3 to backup my data. The T5 is the latest version and faster. These are not cheap drives but are fast and reliable. I will eventually go to 2tb when prices come down.
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Old 12-19-2018, 08:31 AM   #12
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Thanks for the replies. Not sure I’ll do anything, but the possibility of doubling the space for $40 intrigued me. Plus. The form factor was so small. I could just plug it in an open port and be good.

https://shop.sandisk.com/store?Actio...ords&utm_term=

The reliability issue is one I did not know about. Thanks. Though, it really wouldn’t matter since I would just put programs on the disk that could always be reinstalled.

I think I’ll just open it up and see how tight it is to get the drive out. I had it open once and it’s a little scary. There are heat sink pipes all over the place but maybe they thought ahead and left the drive and the memory accessible.
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Old 12-19-2018, 08:46 AM   #13
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I'd leave it booting off of the internal and just move the big stuff to the new USB. I use SpaceMonger (>10 year old version...I have no idea if it's still around, and if so, still free /still good), but what I learned when. I first used it was that it's 95/5 thing (super Pareto).
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Old 12-19-2018, 09:13 AM   #14
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I don't think a flash drive is designed for the throughput. I have seen Microcenter SSDs for $30, 256GB and 120GB for $20. These would give much better performance.
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Old 12-19-2018, 09:25 AM   #15
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I don't think a flash drive is designed for the throughput. I have seen Microcenter SSDs for $30, 256GB and 120GB for $20. These would give much better performance.
Do you think a modern SSD drive would make a good backup drive? Or should I stick to the kind that spin?

FWIW, I currently have an iMac and use Apple's Time Machine as well as Super Duper to back it up.
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Old 12-19-2018, 09:53 AM   #16
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Do you think a modern SSD drive would make a good backup drive? Or should I stick to the kind that spin?

FWIW, I currently have an iMac and use Apple's Time Machine as well as Super Duper to back it up.
For a long term backup an magnetic spinning drive should be more reliable. I have had data on a HD last 25 years.
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Old 12-19-2018, 10:06 AM   #17
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Moutainsoft,
Thanks for the link.
https://www.amazon.com/Samsung-250GB...MK8/ref=sr_1_1

I’d been keeping an eye out but must have missed this. For $52, I’ll take the advice and the risk (hopefully minimal) and swap out the internal SSD. This doubles the space and I believe that it will be more than enough. The machine is 6 years old, but still works very well for my needs. By the time I fill it up, it will probably be time to upgrade whether I need it or not.

Thanks for the comments.
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Old 12-19-2018, 11:21 AM   #18
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Microsoft has a page to get a Windows 10 iso...

https://www.microsoft.com/en-us/soft...d/windows10ISO

It should auto activate when you install it.
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Old 12-21-2018, 02:51 PM   #19
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Well, the new drive came today and I cloned it and installed it. No problems. Had to learn a little bit about partitions so that I could get the full benefit of the extra space in the new drive, but once I got that handled, I swapped it out and was all set. Thanks! This should make it easier for me to get a few more years out of the computer without having to jump though any hurdles like uninstalling programs from the old SSD. All for a little over $50. Not bad.
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Old 12-21-2018, 03:21 PM   #20
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Well, the new drive came today and I cloned it and installed it. No problems. Had to learn a little bit about partitions so that I could get the full benefit of the extra space in the new drive, but once I got that handled, I swapped it out and was all set.
Awesome! Was it easier to replace the drive than you had imagined? You said it was tight inside the case.

Ironically, after this discussion with you I realized my one remaining 1TB hard drive is almost full. It is four years old and relatively slow (150MB/s read and 100MB/s write according to Crystal Disk Mark), compared to a second 1TB SSD drive in my computer that gets 497MB/s read and 475MB/s write times. So, I ordered a new 2TB SSD to replace it. It is supposed to be delivered today, but I don't know if I'll get the chance to install it till next week. It should give me a bit more room and better performance.

https://www.amazon.com/Samsung-Inch-...5RW/ref=sr_1_1

By the way, I clocked my external USB hard drive with Crystal Disk Mark that I use for backups and only get 88MB/s read and 84MB/s write with that drive. I don't know if that's due to the USB interface or the external drive itself, but it gives you an idea of the performance hit you would have had trying to use an external drive as a boot drive. Mine is just for backups so the slow performance doesn't matter to me.
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