I plan to install openSUSE on my computer. But my internal hard drive space seems not enough. I am considering install linux on a USB 3.0 portable hard drive. Are there any disadvantages to install it on external hard drive compareing to internal hard drive?

Will it be slower or more unstable or something else?

closed as primarily opinion-based by Rui F Ribeiro, maulinglawns, Michael Homer, Romeo Ninov, Archemar Jan 15 '18 at 10:33

Many good questions generate some degree of opinion based on expert experience, but answers to this question will tend to be almost entirely based on opinions, rather than facts, references, or specific expertise. If this question can be reworded to fit the rules in the help center, please edit the question.

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    @roaima In reality the answer to the question cannot be a hard one because the OP is not giving us hard data. I left an answer. – Rui F Ribeiro Jan 15 '18 at 9:15

The proper answer, is well, it depends.

If you are talking about an equipment that has a prober PCI bus, and a SATA/SSD disk, USB will be the bottleneck for an external disk and far slower. Possibly also more unstable too; I would try to live with the internal device and use the external disk for storage. Actually for such scenario, I would prefer an external disk shared by my AP/a NAS that I would mount via a remote drive than connecting a drive via USB.

If we are talking about an iOT device with an SD card, like a raspberry, that has not a SATA interface connected to the SoC, by all means use an external pen or hard disk. SD cards are known for being slow and unreliable.

In any case, the USB interface does not lend itself well to high volume sustained speeds, and thus video processing or other I/O very intensive operations are not advised on external USB disks over a long period of time.

Anecdotally, I have an iOT ARM device with an external SSD disk over SATA. The A21 ARM has support for a SATA interface in the SoC.

  • Since "high volume sustained speeds are not advised on external USB disks over a long period of time." Does I normally use a external HDD(not a SD card) just like the internal one shorten my HDD life? – Chao Song Jan 15 '18 at 10:12
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    It my only shorten the HDD life if a mechanical HDD due to movement/vibrations, not by the actual use per se. – Rui F Ribeiro Jan 15 '18 at 11:34

It depends on the read/write speed of the USB device you are intending to install the linux OS. If you have more I/O speeds in that disk than internal hard drive the linux installation will perform better.

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    Drprnding on the equipment, USB can be the bottleneck. – Rui F Ribeiro Jan 15 '18 at 8:11

You may be able to avoid the worst of the stability/speed penalties by installing / on your resident drive and /home on an external drive.

I had to work like this due to an SSD issue for a while and it was quite reasonable provided you are not doing regular heavy duty i/o, like video processing.

From a practical point of view the biggest disadvantage of working long term off of external media is the possibility of disturbing the connector which will likely lead to a crash...... again, the voice of experience running / from an SD card with less than perfect contacts.

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