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SD card suitable for boot drive?

#1

I know SD cards are not generally intended for this purpose, but some laptop BIOS’s support booting from them. Are there any SD cards on the market with sufficient endurance and decent enough random I/O to serve this purpose?

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#2

I have done it in the past and not had problems. It’s generally not a good idea but just as a boot drive you are not going to put much wear on the card, you just end up with more ways to uh… lose your boot drive…

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#3

@sycpuppy Well what I was thinking of doing was using it to dual boot a Windows or OS X laptop with Linux and really using it on a daily basis. It doesn’t sound like that’s what you were doing. Is there any SD card suitable for use as a boot disk that’s used daily?

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#4

Is the internal disk of that device so small?
As a middleground, i’d personally throw Linux on the internal drive and mount the SD Card as /home. This should reduce wear through swapping and such.

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#5

When I was doing that I was using Puppy Linux as my main OS on the SD card because at the time all I had working on that system was a floppy drive and the card reader. But I only used it like that for about 4 months and that was on a 2GB class 4 SD card.

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#6

@domsch1988 Consider something like a Macbook Air with a 64GB or 128GB boot drive…

@sycpuppy Well that certainly qualifies as using it as your main drive, but for only a few months. Certainly worth noting. Do you know if your system was using the SD card for swap?

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#7

No, didn’t use the card for swap. That would have worn the card out. More like I kept the install and what I was doing to use minimal RAM so I didn’t have a swap problem.

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#8

My personal experience with SD-Cards hasn’t been to great really. I’ve had some Samsungs that lastet a bit over two years of “normal” use in my phone. Other than that, most failed rather fast.
I’ve also not found any that are fast enough to not bottleneck most PC’s nowadays. Heck, most will bottleneck my Raspi 3B+.

I’d say, go with a reputable Brand, i personally like Samsung, and do regular backups. Maybe make a small partition on the SSD/HDD for important Data. But expect the SD-Card to fail. There is no way around that.

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#9

@domsch1988 That’s a good point actually. Don’t Raspberry Pi’s boot off SD cards, and use them for swap, etc.?

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#10

Yes they do, yes they are slow, and yes they will wear out depending on usecase.
For OS usage it’s mostly fine. But i recently made two PI Zeros into humidity sensors with wanting to safe historical Data into a InfluxDB. Running the DB on the Pi would have been to much for the SD Card. Also, most Pi’s aren’t used as Dektops. They are configured once and do a single job, mostly nothing write dependend. Thats why running owncloud or such on a Pi is slow and saving the data to SD isn’t recommended.

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#11

I use sd cards as installation media and live media for some forensic distros
but using them as a drive is touch and go and will shorten the life of them.
you are better off using an external drive for your os drive.
you will undoubtedly have a drop in performance speed but will have a far more reliable system
as @domsch1988 and @sycpuppy said Pi’s are more an automation computer as are arduinos and will run a set program quite well but the PI is capable of running some OS’s and functioning as a limited pc.
great for experimenting but if you wish power computing use a machine made for it!

dont get me wrong here PI’s, beaglebones, and arduino’s are excellent little devices and will teach you a lot about automated function and interactive code.
this is an entirely different kettle of fish compared to standard usage of computers.
people who are not exposed to the difference can find it difficult to comprehend
those in the field of robotics know exactly what I’m saying.

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