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Booting from an external SSD in Linux?


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#1 paul88ks

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Posted 15 September 2015 - 09:21 PM

Is there any reason why I can't boot from an external laptop SSD like I do with my laptop HHD in Linux? Something technical I should know? And What do you guys think about the Hybrid SSHD's for laptops which I have seen advertised?



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#2 yu gnomi

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Posted 15 September 2015 - 09:34 PM

I am not knowledgeable about laptops, but an external SSD connected via USB would be limited by the USB controller and cable and would never perform as well as if it were internal and connected by SATA or M2.



#3 NickAu

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Posted 15 September 2015 - 10:54 PM

I agree an external SSD connected via USB is a waste of time.

 

The SSD should boot provided the OS and boot loader are installed correctly and the bios is set correctly.



#4 paul88ks

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Posted 15 September 2015 - 11:29 PM

That's kind of what i thought,but wanted to make sure- does anyone know about Hybrid SSHDs- part SSD and part HHD? They are considerably cheaper and I wondered if they are worth the effort?



#5 cat1092

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Posted 16 September 2015 - 01:34 AM

That's kind of what i thought,but wanted to make sure- does anyone know about Hybrid SSHDs- part SSD and part HHD? They are considerably cheaper and I wondered if they are worth the effort?

 

Depends, and that's still a looming question, with SATA-3 SSD's dropping like a rock, I'll likely grab a 500GiB Samsung 850 Pro during the holiday season, probably after the Black Friday sales, but before Christmas. 

 

SSHD's arrived too late, maybe if these had popped up on the scene when or right after the 1st gen SSD's did, during the very early Windows 7 years, sales would have been great & we'd have a better idea of their worth. As it stands, the reviews are quite mixed & the models may be over-hyped, I personally know of three people that has these, and few has reported 'most used' apps loading up to 5x faster, though most all agreed boot is a little faster. Some of these drives aren't even running at 7200 rpm, or weren't, which defeated the purpose of the Flash module (early units had only 4GiB of Flash, 8GiB is common today). Yet think about that for just a minute, how much can one expect from only an 8GiB Flash module built into the unit? Maybe a momentary 20% power boost at best. 

 

My personal opinion.......save just a little longer & get a reliable brand SSD on promo, you have to trust me on this one, you won't be let down if ran internally. Externally, while some uses these as such, it may be OK for a cheap unit which doesn't have the best of speeds anyway, but a top brand that's just a little more, a waste of a good drive. Plus one doesn't get the benefits of TRIM & Garbage Collection (GC). It takes idle time for both to do their job, as well as leave a minimum of 5% of the SSD's space at the far end unformatted for the controllers to have room to do their job, in addition to avoiding filling partitions beyond the 70% mark tops, though 60-65% is better. Running in USB Mode will kill SSD's speeds in short order, irreversibly. No amount of TRIM or GC will later restore peak performance after running through USB for a few months to a year or longer. 

 

And today isn't like 2009, when TRIM & GC shipped with Windows 7, beginning with Ubuntu 14.04/Linux Mint 17, there is support for both, and this includes other distros built on Ubuntu 14.04 LTS & above. With a PC, it's good every few months, depending on usage, to disconnect the SATA data cable to the SSD (as well as any HDD's that may boot) & let it sit at the BIOS screen for several hours or overnight. This forces an extended GC which really cleans up the connected SSD(s) good. Notebook users can get a partial benefit of the same by booting into the BIOS (or UEFI firmware) screen & leaving it, the longer the better. With some models, it may be good for it to be sitting on a notebook cooler. If one has both a PC & notebook, then it's best to remove from the notebook (if practical & easy to access) & use the option as that of a PC, plugging only a SATA power cable in. This is the better of the two options, no data activity whatsoever. GC will kick in at full force to tidy up the SSD. 

 

All SSD's need some idle time to stay in peak condition & for TRIM to kick in, and with Linux, this is more possible than on a Windows system, which always keeps processes going, though TRIM works a bit different on Windows than Linux. Also avoid unnecessary writes, rather download large files like Linux ISO's to a internal or external HDD when possible. Be sure that modes such as Hibernation are disabled, as this isn't good to the SSD's longevity if used often, rather use Sleep (or Suspend in Linux terms). Avoid exaggerated benchmarking, it's not necessary to do this 2-3x weekly, maybe once a month to determine if the drive needs an overnight idle as described above, as well as out of the box to ensure the SSD isn't defective (chances of receiving a bad HDD are higher). Still, one should reach close or better than the advertised speeds of the drive out of the box, preferably with OS's freshly installed, a cloned drive will require adjustments both on Linux & Windows OS's, depending on brand & will certainly need an extended GC as soon as practical. Being that everything is done at much higher speeds on SSD's, a fresh install & updating everything will take much less time than with a HDD. This also ensures that certain features are enabled that pertains to SSD's only, most notably, the enabling of TRIM, a few smaller details also. 

 

To sum it up, running externally may seem to be a cool thing to do, though it's best to do this with an extra HDD laying around, better yet one in a 3.5" powered enclosure of aluminum construction (plastic models causes HDD's to overheat, though plastic end caps are OK) or a powered 2.5/3.5" docking station. Watch the heat with docking stations, some gets hotter than others, a small desktop fan can help keep one a lot cooler if just 10-12 inches away. 

 

Good Luck & always remember, even if on a SATA-2 MB, the speeds will be much faster than USB 3.0 can deliver & if USB 2.0, even greater. An SSD (or SSHD) is a wasted investment running externally. 

 

Cat


Edited by cat1092, 16 September 2015 - 01:51 AM.

Performing full disc images weekly and keeping important data off of the 'C' drive as generated can be the best defence against Malware/Ransomware attacks, as well as a wide range of other issues. 


#6 NickAu

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Posted 16 September 2015 - 01:40 AM

SSD's are not as delicate as people think, Company's like Samsung do not give a 5 year warranty for nothing. 

I treat my SSD's like HDD, I even put VM on SSD.

 

Grueling endurance test blows away SSD durability fears ...

 

Modern SSDs can last a lifetime - BetaNews

 

SSD Endurance Test - Live Testing Samsung EVO, SanDisk ...

Edited by NickAu, 16 September 2015 - 01:43 AM.


#7 cat1092

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Posted 16 September 2015 - 04:43 AM



 

SSD's are not as delicate as people think, Company's like Samsung do not give a 5 year warranty for nothing. 

I treat my SSD's like HDD, I even put VM on SSD.

 

Grueling endurance test blows away SSD durability fears ...

 

Modern SSDs can last a lifetime - BetaNews

 

SSD Endurance Test - Live Testing Samsung EVO, SanDisk ...

 

 

Actually Samsung now gives a 10 year warranty on their 850 Pro series, that's my next to be SSD purchase, have never had a 500GiB one & I'm sure it'll be the fastest that I've ever owned. And I'm sure pricing will dip to below $200, even if just a 24-48 hour promo. Yet I better watch out, or they'll all be gone within two hours. :P

 

One model that I recommend to avoid are any leftover Samsung 840 EVO 250/500GiB models, have had many read errors with this SSD & the issue was so widespread that Samsung had to release a patch for it, though it wasn't a firmware update. Rather a software based utility that's supposed to 'restore' read performance (my 120GiB of the same model runs perfect). Being that it was purchased in 2014 with a 3 year warranty (the latest EVO line is now backed by 5 years), have over a year & a half to wear it down before RMA'ing it. The reason why I know that something's not right, is that Linux Mint 17.1 won't even install to the drive anymore as a dual boot with Windows 7, on the last successful attempt it initially did, but right in the midst of the first long update, the OS crashed & I seen the fine words, in regards to 'read error'. Further attempts at reinstall were no good, the OS wouldn't install. Imaged the three Windows 7 partitions, secure erased the SSD & no better. 

 

All of us regulars here knows that Linux installs fine on Logical partitions, there were 3 Primaries, so that's not the reason. It's the SSD & I was one of the unlucky ones who got a bad unit. While this can happen to anyone, Samsung dodged hundreds of thousands of their very own loyal consumers for months over this issue & finally 7-8 months after the initial reports (& many RMA's) came pouring in, the corporation released a software based solution for a hardware issue, w/out saying one way or the other what exactly the issue was. I suspect cheap NAND chips, as this was Samsung's first attempt to deliver a value based SSD to gain a huge chunk of market share in a short time span (they rose from ashes to the Top provider inside of 3 years). 

 

http://www.storagenewsletter.com/rubriques/market-reportsresearch/small-growth-in-1q15-for-ssd-market/

 

Intel also has announced they're planning on gaining ground and has confirmed why Samsung went to 3-D Vertical technology, by the announcement of manufacturing SSD's based on the same, it's more reliable over the long haul. 

 

http://wccftech.com/intel-aims-surpass-samsung-ssd-market-2016/

 

Nick is right in that these drives typically lasts a long time, yet there's a hidden catch in those 5 & 10 year warranties, the allowed amount of data written to these may be reached before the warranty expires anyway. Though it's likely to be more than the majority of consumers will ever use, that data limit is still there. What the limit is varies upon make/model & size of SSD. Larger SSD's has more surface area, so that would make wear & tear less of an issue than say a 120GiB sized SSD, which will likely still outlive a HDD by years. 

 

The main issue with running via USB, is speed, limited by the controller on the MB, of which there are many brands. Lenovo has some mighty fast USB 3.0 ports in their latest Yoga line, while early USB 3.0 adopters will see less speed. Just like with SATA-3, none are going to reach their advertised limit, and USB 3.1 is yet to be seen by most, which will soon replace it as the gold standard, though chances are, USB 3.1 will push SSD's far faster than 3.0 has & users could see great speed out of the standard. Speaking of this, we should note that Mb/sec & MB/sec are two different standards & worlds apart in raw speed. Backup speeds are normally viewed as Mb/sec when there's a view of the current speed to watch, which varies across the duration of the backup image. 

 

Yet what now is & will continue to be, a USB attached drive cannot TRIM itself, neither does GC run, so over time, even if these doesn't die, they'll slow at a faster rate than an internal model, which are normally tuned to keep the SSD optimized for the fastest speeds possible. There are also some models that ships as external devices just as backup drives, these are available on the Newegg site, as well as others, just overpriced. One can pick out their own top of the line SATA-3 SSD & enclosure for less & use the difference to install 16GB of extra RAM in their computer, as DDR3 RAM pricing is falling fast, below $80 for many sets. Or any other upgrade, if nothing else, finally just pocket the difference. Keeping in mind that pre-assembled portable SSD's are like backup drives, one is likely not getting a Samsung 850 Pro in one of those, at best a 840 Pro, likely a lesser rated brand than that. 

 


 

 

I treat my SSD's like HDD, I even put VM on SSD.

 

Good thing for that 5 year warranty, consumer based drives aren't built to enterprise standards that can run a workstation & up to 4 VM's at once, these are normally PCIe type SSD's & even used ones (basically cleaned up & secure erased) can still fetch well above $2,000 & have seen these break the $3,000 mark, depending on model, size & age/usage. While one may can play a bit, it's best to keep VM's on platters if running daily. In fact, that's why I needed a larger SATA-3 HDD, running out of VM space. All of my VM's runs faster from that HDD than a native install does & dang near SSD speeds, and the WEI on most are higher than off the shelf computers in the mid price range. XP Media Center & Windows 10 Pro fires up & shuts down (on a Linux Mint host via VMware Player) & everything in between than a native install, close to that of being on a SSD itself. So I don't see the reason why to punish my SSD's by placing VM's on them, the storage WEI of Windows 7 & 10 still broke the 5.9 rating on a HDD by a whopping 6.9, rarely heard of on a HDD. Technically, it's not supposed to be possible, yet I suspect the SSD's I/O cache is playing a role, as well as the 4 lent CPU cores & 8GB of RAM, the latter received the max score allowed for Windows 7. 

 

Screenshot-10-1.png

 

I've never installed a virtual machine to a SSD, these are always on a HDD partition (Windows) or my /home partition with Linux Mint, which also uses half of a 1TiB HDD. Don't believe I really need to. 

 

EDIT: This snapshot was days prior to the GTX 960 that's in my PC was released, so there's no telling what the final score would have been with it, though it couldn't surpass the 6.9 mark. Unfortunately, don't have that VM installed any longer, so can't compare it from then & now. Still, that beats out most any $500 off the shelf PC, regardless of brand. 

 

Cat


Edited by cat1092, 16 September 2015 - 04:51 AM.

Performing full disc images weekly and keeping important data off of the 'C' drive as generated can be the best defence against Malware/Ransomware attacks, as well as a wide range of other issues. 


#8 NickAu

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Posted 16 September 2015 - 04:49 AM

 

Actually Samsung now gives a 10 year warranty on their 850 Pro series

See my point about people thinking they are delicate? If Samsung guarantees them for 10 years that means that they expect at least 90 % of them to last longer than the 10 years warranty period.


Edited by NickAu, 16 September 2015 - 04:50 AM.


#9 cat1092

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Posted 16 September 2015 - 05:18 AM

Most everything Samsung lays their hands on becomes liquid gold in short time. 

 

Yet their notebooks were loaded with firmware issues, they tried to compete with Apple & didn't come close, even with very pricey notebooks like one that was gifted to me. And once that bottom cover is popped off, it can be seen way. One ram stick is soldered into place, as is the CPU, and not just a cold solder, removal of either would break something. Plus there's no solid mount for the HDD that I replaced with a SSD, the fitting was the same, but it hung by a clear butterscotch colored cable & the wires inside could be seen. 

 

No wonder they didn't make it. A $1,200-1,700 notebook should hold a minimum of 16GB of RAM, and that silly SanDisk iSSD that acts as a cache for the HDD is useless, combined with the fact that Samsung chose one of the slowest HDD's on the market for it. When something along the lines of a WD Caviar Black should have been installed, or a 250GB SSD (the iSSD slows these, so disabled it). Unfortunately at 8GiB, it's useless to perform a basic Linux install on & unbootable anyway. Samsung had a chance to capture this market too & blew it away. 

 

Yet I'll be the first to admit, having a 10 year warranty on their flagship SSD is impressive. Samsung just rushed that 840 EVO line, but I don't feel they'll be losing many customers over it, because it was considered a value SSD, not a premium one. So I guess one gets what we pay for, but this 250GiB 840 EVO I have will be RMA'd. I'm just waiting to see if a real firmware update (not likely to happen) will fix the read issue. Linux Mint should install on that SSD, it was previously on it for about 7-8 months. 

 

Cat


Performing full disc images weekly and keeping important data off of the 'C' drive as generated can be the best defence against Malware/Ransomware attacks, as well as a wide range of other issues. 


#10 DeimosChaos

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Posted 16 September 2015 - 09:49 AM

Check out this article. They literally pushed a few SSD drives to their death, just in the name of seeing how long they would last. I don't think I could ever write enough data to an SSD to kill it in my liftime. They wrote a ton of data to those SSD drives before they died. I'll be picking up a 1TB msata SSD for my laptop in the near future, they are priced at $350 on Amazon currently.

 

Oh and Paul, as others have stated, its probably not worth it to boot from an external SSD. It will be limited to the USB speed anyway. If you have USB 3.0 it would be a boost, but still probably not as fast as the SSD hooked up internally to the SATA slot.


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#11 paul88ks

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Posted 16 September 2015 - 07:30 PM

Once again,I think I know where to come for sound,professional advise for all my computing needs. I guess i have the "I want Santa Claus to come NOW" mentality,but,I will exercise restraint until Black Friday to purchase the one Terabyte drive i SO desperately want. 

 I am currently looking at this modelhttp://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E16820148950

 

What do you guys think? Also,I am great fan of Samsung products,seeing that most of the electronics in my home are made by Samsung,including my phone,I may fork over the extra bucks for a Samsung SSD. I will just have to want and see what kind of money I have at that time! Thanks for all the info! - Paul



#12 yu gnomi

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Posted 16 September 2015 - 07:54 PM

does your laptop have an M2 slot? If so, you should consider sticking an M2 SSD in there, they perform better than SATA connected drives. They aren't cheap though http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E16820147426&cm_re=M2_SSD-_-20-147-426-_-Product



#13 jonuk76

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Posted 16 September 2015 - 08:38 PM

I set up a system for someone booting Windows 8.1 off an external SSD (USB 3.0) on a Macbook Pro.  It was not my recommendation, but he was insistent and didn't mind spending the money on an external SSD (a Samsung 850 Evo and a USB 3.0 UASB enclosure) and trying it out, so that's what I did.

 

Apart from it not being a supported Bootcamp setup on a Mac, and therefore it needed a fair bit of research to get working, the only other issue he's run into is that TRIM is not supported over USB-SATA bridge controllers.  That is the case in Windows and Mac OSX.  You can't use TRIM at all, and in fact the Windows Samsung SSD utility doesn't even acknowledge the presence of a Samsung SSD (something to do with the bridge controller I suspect).  I couldn't say for Linux TBH.  I think it may actually be a hardware issue, but am not sure.  Anyway, this will possibly shorten the life of the drive.  Some seem to put more importance on it than others, I'm not an expert on that.

 

While USB 3.0 may not have the ultimate performance of a SATA 3 connection, what I can say with 100% certainty is that an OS booting from a USB SSD is many times faster and more responsive than an OS booted off a USB 2.5" HDD.


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#14 cat1092

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Posted 17 September 2015 - 01:20 AM

Nearly every modern SSD article that I've read places TRIM (commands sent by the OS to a SSD on a SATA connection) as a must have for any SSD, and if the OS can't accomplish that, it may be best to stick with one of the other plans, a hybrid SSHD rather than close to $400 SSD. At least if that NAND Flash portion burns out, the HDD will still run fine. 

 

No, SSD's aren't fragile & meant to be used, at the same time these must be setup right for best performance/longevity, and that's not going to happen via USB. It would be better to use the current HDD as the external & install the SSD internally. If connected by USB, sure it'll run, it's just that with no TRIM or GC, performance will go downhill & be noticed after a short time in use. Plus these drives stores a lot of data in regards to usage patterns if sent in for warranty service, the ones who performs the diagnostics will see that no TRIM/GC has taken place & may or may not honor the warranty, at their discretion. 

 

I don't have the cash for 1TiB sized SSD at this time, yet am shooting for a 500GiB Samsung 850 Pro come the holiday season, and it'll be installed as intended, internally. Being that Samsung's own software can't 'see' the SSD via USB is bad news, it can't be optimized for peak performance. 

 

If the issue is the lack of a SATA port, there are PCIe add-on cards that'll allow one to add a SATA-3 connection, there was one that I got for less than $20 when on promo a few months back, with mostly positive reviews. The SSD can be tucked nearly anywhere, using Velcro strips if needed. It also comes with a low profile bracket in the package, as well as two SATA cables. Some who are limited to SATA-2 connections may by able to step up to SATA-3 with this card, in my case it wasn't possible, because I have 1st gen PCIe ports on both of the older computers I had this in & left it in the one w/out 'true' SATA ports, more of a glorified IDE, because I could install XP w/out slipstreaming drivers. Plus the Intel SSD Toolbox wouldn't 'see' the SSD connected to those nVidia SATA ports (Dell Optiplex 740 DT edition). One with PCIe 2.0 (2nd gen) will gain better benefit than I did. 

 

http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E16816124045

 

As noted in the reviews, it also worked for me running Windows 10, so Linux should be no problem. 

 

EDIT: To add a product of Samsung's here, note that on their USB SSD's, the usual 5 year warranty has been reduced to 3 years, so there must be good reason why they'd shave 2 years off the warranty that their lowest priced internal SSD's has, 5 years for the EVO line. Note that all OEM's doesn't carry a 5 year warranty, I know first hand that Crucial has only three, and my first ever SSD, a 128GiB m4, is still kicking strong, so is the 180GiB Intel 330, both were purchased in early 2012. 

 

Here's the 1TiB version with the 3 year warranty. 

 

http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=20-147-378

 

Cat


Edited by cat1092, 17 September 2015 - 01:32 AM.

Performing full disc images weekly and keeping important data off of the 'C' drive as generated can be the best defence against Malware/Ransomware attacks, as well as a wide range of other issues. 


#15 paul88ks

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Posted 17 September 2015 - 09:29 PM

 

it's just that with no TRIM or GC,

 

What is Trim and GC?






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