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[SOLVED] SLC-based USB for unRAID??

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I'm thinking about building my own unRAID NAS but first up I need a good reliable SLC-based USB flash drive that people know will work with unRAID Plus.

 

 

It's my first time her on this Forum so had a hard time searching for that exact thing, don't find really any who use SLC based sticks...

I'm aiming for something that works with unRAID Plus because I then can have 3-4 drives + a cache drive.

 

 

 

 

I have found out some Buffalo drives use SLC, the Type S and Type R drives, also PQI makes a few.

What about a SLC based CF card in a USB adapter, would that work?

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Many would argue that the speed of the USB stick does not matter.  unRAID only accesses it a lot when booting up (and then it's mostly just reading one large file), and booting should only take about a minute.  The rest of the time unRAID runs with its working files held in RAM.  Unless you are debugging a great deal, an unRAID server will generally only be rebooted after maintenance or after a power failure.  Apart from booting the unRAID system itself, the USB stick is then mainly used to store the system settings, as well as details of any add-ons that you may have installed.  So I would just go for a good brand that others have already recommended.  I use Lexar Firefly sticks for my servers.  And there's no need for anything large.  1 or 2GB is many times bigger than you need.

 

 

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The easy part would have been if there was a sticky post what drives people are using...

Here I sit hunting answers from a bunch of different threads omg it takes time...

 

 

I want to use it in a Super Micro X7SPA-HF-D525 so I can't have the biggest bulkiest USB key. Firefly seems like a good option, just hard to find it here in DK.

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I don't know if you can get this drive, but the thing is absolutely tiny.  It doesn't stick out more than 5mm past the USB connector itself.

 

SanDisk Cruzer Fit

 

Model number is SDCZ33-008G-A11 in case the link above doesn't work for you.  They also have 4G and 16G models, but at least for me, the 4G and 8G were almost identical prices.

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This morning I ordered the Sony USM4GLX because it's one of the fastest USB drives in a slim form factor I can find.

I know it was said that speed makes no difference, but it might do in the future with upcoming releases (also if I decide to turn it into a MS Server instead I can use it for ReadyBoost).

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This morning I ordered the Sony USM4GLX because it's one of the fastest USB drives in a slim form factor I can find.

I know it was said that speed makes no difference, but it might do in the future with upcoming releases (also if I decide to turn it into a MS Server instead I can use it for ReadyBoost).

 

I'm going to go out on a limb here, a very thick strong nearly unbreakable limb, and say that even in future releases UnRaid will NOT utilize the flash drive during operation such that speed of the flashdrive will matter to UnRaid operational performance.

 

Why? you ask ... simple ... reliability!!!  Constant writes will kill the drive too quickly.  As for reads, there is simply no good reason to constantly read from the flash if you can copy it to memory instead and have much faster access; just like is done now.

 

No ... you are asking the wrong question.  What you shoudl be asking is, "What is the MOST RELIABLE BULLET PROOF WILL OUTLIVE THE UNIVERSE flash drive I can buy?"

 

Because that is the single most important metric for an UnRaid flash drive now, and for a very long time.  If UnRaid ever gets to the point of needing heavy read/write from non-volitile storage it will be best done via CF card or simply dedicating a SATA channel to an OS drive.  Though better yet would be to allow the drive to be partitioned into OS + Cache.

 

As for repurposing the USB Drive at a later date like for MS Server ... flash drives are cheap enough that it should not be as much a concern as reliability, even the slowest thumb drive now is fast enough for readyboost, and finally, readyboost is mostly pointless if you actually put enough dram memory into the system.

 

That said, run with what you got, but for others reading this, don't worry about usb flash speed, worry about reliability.

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I'm going to go out on a limb here, a very thick strong nearly unbreakable limb, and say that even in future releases UnRaid will NOT utilize the flash drive during operation such that speed of the flashdrive will matter to UnRaid operational performance.

 

Why? you ask ... simple ... reliability!!!  Constant writes will kill the drive too quickly.  As for reads, there is simply no good reason to constantly read from the flash if you can copy it to memory instead and have much faster access; just like is done now.

 

No ... you are asking the wrong question.  What you shoudl be asking is, "What is the MOST RELIABLE BULLET PROOF WILL OUTLIVE THE UNIVERSE flash drive I can buy?"

 

 

I learned a lot from you just now - but it gives me a new question wich I'm pretty confident about you can answer:

 

 

That means unRAID only reads from the USB and caches the whole OS in the system RAM?

Because of that a faster drive only means faster boot times and nothing else, am I correct or will you clear it up?

 

 

 

 

In your opinion, what would the most bullet proof and able to outlive the universe flash drive that works with unRAID Plus be (just curious :))?

 

 

 

The part about MS, I stopped using Windows in the early beginning of Vista (because it was extremely b*d!), thats when I converted to Mac wich I have used ever since the past 5 years.

So the last MS OS I am very familiar with is actually XP, wich we still use at my workplace - so I have never really used ReadyBoost (just saw it this morning when I bought the USB, that it was very much recommended for RB because of it's speed).

 

 

Enough said, focus on the text in blue and the few questions above - looking forward to a deeper understanding of unRAID  8)

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That means unRAID only reads from the USB and caches the whole OS in the system RAM?

Because of that a faster drive only means faster boot times and nothing else, am I correct or will you clear it up?

 

Correct.  In fact after months of uptime, and no configuration edits, the flash drive should register no read/write events at all.  If there is a process that does cause flash read/writes then it is likely an add-on, and a very poorly constructed one at that.  Because I am not one of the UnRaid Illuminati I will caveat the above with: If there is a native UnRaid process that does cause flash drive read/write events then they are few and far between (read: single digits over loooong periods of time) such that I have not even noticed them and I look at my UnRaid status nearly daily.

 

In your opinion, what would the most bullet proof and able to outlive the universe flash drive that works with unRAID Plus be (just curious  )

 

I actually don't have an answer there, I admit I didn't really worry to much about it myself when I first started looking into UnRaid after trying FreeNAS ... in fact I made a good number of sub-optimal choices when it came to hardware.  So far I have not lived to regret them :o 

 

That said, I think most well known flash drives will be fine.  My only point was that if you are searching for one that is "the best" at something that "something" should be reliabilty and not speed.  So look for items where there aren't a bunch of reviews bitching about how people lost their data/photos/doctoral thesis when their drive took a dump on them. 

 

Also related to that is the idea that with flash chips, ignoring multi-channel flash drive implementations, the faster they are, the less durable they are.  You wanna go Chuck Norris on the topic ... find yourself an SLC based thumb drive.  Probably overkill but SLC is more reliable than MLC and iirc also faster ... but guess what else it is ... I'll give you a hint, it starts with an "e" and ends with "xpensive" :)

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Also related to that is the idea that with flash chips, ignoring multi-channel flash drive implementations, the faster they are, the less durable they are.  You wanna go Chuck Norris on the topic ... find yourself an SLC based thumb drive.  Probably overkill but SLC is more reliable than MLC and iirc also faster ... but guess what else it is ... I'll give you a hint, it starts with an "e" and ends with "xpensive" :)

 

 

Actually because of this I'm now more interested in going Chuck Norris on the subject and changed the thread to a SLC based discussion :)

 

 

I have found out some Buffalo drives use SLC, the Type S and Type R drives, also PQI makes a few. Would they work with unRAID Plus?What about a SLC based CF card in a USB adapter, would that work?

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Seems like Corsair used to have some SLC based sticks as well, but no longer as Samsung who provided the chips shifted to make MLC :(

 

 

Transcend seems to one of the only companies who still use SLC and are not terrible over priced. I have to contact their costumer support to see if it checks out (just asked Kingston costumer support if they had any SLC based flash drives)

 

 

Answer from Kingston:

 

 

Thank you for your email and interest in Kingston Technology. Regarding your request, please note that our all our Flash Drives (including the DTU30G2/16GB) use MLC. Unfortunately we do not manufacture specific USB Flash drives using SLC.

 

 

 

 

Answer from Transcend:

 

 

Many of our high speed series now applies SLC dies, please refer to our website for the details.

So I did and found out the JetFlash 2A, JetFlash 110, JetFlash 130, JetFlash 150, JetFlash 160, JetFlash 168, JetFlash 180, 186 and now 170 all use SLC.

Only problem is, only the 170 is on the marked now - rest is discontinued a long long time ago - and the 170 is extremely hard to find for sale!

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I think you are certainly going to have a hard time finding any anymore, and if you did they will be $$$.  The SSD market has likely soaked up SLC production and driven them out of the range of consumer thumbdrives.

 

Seriously, I only sorta mentioned the "chuck norris" option tongue in cheek because while true, it is overkill.  Remember, unraid makes like no writes to the drive.  Writes are what kill flash (ignoring manufacturing failures which impact SLC and MLC alike).  There is no good reason why a quality flash drive, like the one you got, shouldn't last for a very long time if treated well.  If you're that worried, get a second one, get two licenscs, and keep the second one up-to-date with the first one and inside a fire box.  Then hope a fire doesn't take out the unraid boxen >;-)

 

Of course just because I can't resist feeding someone's OCD need to validate that if something is worth doing it is worth over doing ... I'm pretty sure IronKey uses SLC still >:-) http://www.imation.com/en-US/Mobile-Security/Mobile-Security-Products/Secure-Mobile-Data-encrypted-USB-drives/Imation-Personal-S200-Flash-Drive-Powered-by-IronKey/#Formats-tab .. be sure to look at the S200 series and not the D200 series.  Just from the wording "High Security and Cost-Effective Memory" vs. "Highly reliable memory meets daily use and long-term storage needs" tells me the D200 might use MLC.

 

PS you do know that if your flash drive dies, your data is still safe and your unraid recoverable right?

 

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...if something is worth doing it is worth over doing ... I'm pretty sure IronKey uses SLC still >:-) http://www.imation.com/en-US/Mobile-Security/Mobile-Security-Products/Secure-Mobile-Data-encrypted-USB-drives/Imation-Personal-S200-Flash-Drive-Powered-by-IronKey/#Formats-tab .. be sure to look at the S200 series and not the D200 series.  Just from the wording "High Security and Cost-Effective Memory" vs. "Highly reliable memory meets daily use and long-term storage needs" tells me the D200 might use MLC.

 

PS you do know that if your flash drive dies, your data is still safe and your unraid recoverable right?

 

 

Yes, that's the whole idea behind my new NAS build :D ...I want it to live "forever" (or at least minimum 3-5 years when the separate components warranties have run out).

 

 

Yep, the S200 use SLC, I confirmed it from their own support site. They look absolute AWESOME! Would they work with unRAID? ??? ?

EDIT: When I look in the manual I see there is a read-only mode were the key is unlocked, that sounds to me like it performs like a normal USB key but only for reading = perfect for unRAID, am I right or wrong?

 

I am reeeeally tempted to buy a IronKey Basic S200 by Imation 2 GB key, but if it ends up being not able to register with unRAID then it's a real waste of money :(

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A new item is in play: HP 2GB USB Flash Media Drive Key Kit

Found it after I made yet another search for SLC memory sticks and came up with this that linked me to that.

 

 

The HP Drive Key is a small USB removable storage device that is a great alternative to the floppy drive. It is a bootable solution that offers high capacity. The HP Drive Key is a great solution for storing files and transferring them between computers. Simply plug the device into any open USB port and the HP Drive Key will show up as an external drive. Files located on the system hard drive can be moved to the device for storage or transfer to another computer, the same way you might use a floppy diskette drive.

 

 

 

 

It's a little cheaper than the IronKey, less paranoid and much more server minded as it was originally made for HPs own ProLiant line of servers.

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I appreciate your verve, but I really think you're going a bit overboard on this.  Your sony should be just fine.

 

"read only" mode would likely not be a good thing because sometimes it does need to write, like during shutdown for the logs or when making config changes prior.  Also, not sure you could actually manage the ironkey within UnRaid.  I think it needs client software to manage things like entering the pin as well as setting it r/o or r/w and I doubt there is a version that will run inside unraid.

 

Seriously, if you've got the money for an IRonKey, buy two average flash drives and two licences, and keep the server configuration synced with the main key for quick recovery of your unraid server from a dead flashdrive.

 

I would not spend the money on that HP drive.  Chances are it is an overpriced branded version of something else very average.  Pretty much all flash drives are bootable with the right format and motherboard settings.

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I appreciate your verve, but I really think you're going a bit overboard on this.  Your sony should be just fine.

...

I would not spend the money on that HP drive.  Chances are it is an overpriced branded version of something else very average.

 

 

I am hoping the guys at Amazon wan't to cancel my order as it is not even send yet, after I found out the difference I am pretty determent I want a SLC drive - maybe not the most reasonable according to price but might be a good idea in the long run (as in 100.000 read/write cycles time).

It will be placed in a USB port inside my unRAID NAS, so not something I can easily get to and change out if it dies.

 

 

I know HP have their consumer USB drives made by PNY but I can't seem to find any info about who made them this little 2GB drive.

It also comes in a newer variant that just looks different (can't really see the specs should have changed) and now also a 4GB version of the same newer type that is absolutely expensive!

 

 

This thing will cost me with postage close to $100, thats like 6 of the Sony drives, but it will last 10 times as long so in the end I will actually have saved money :D

(trying to convince my self it's a good idea - at least just to show others if it works with unRAID)

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It's interesting in that unRAID is mostly read from the flash key, yet they go bad often enough to be concern here on the forums.

 

Keep in mind every start/stop operation of the unRAID array is a read/write. The super.dat file has a field that has a date in it that is updated every time the array is started or stopped.

When you update shares or any settings those are writes.

 

However a mostly configured server is mostly reads. At that point, unless you are doing allot of addons. The flash key is idle.

 

I think one of the biggest protections of a flash going bad is just to get as large of one that you can afford.

unRAID uses a very small percentage of the drive, yet any reallocated or sectors marked bad will need a new sector to replace it.  having a mostly free flash drive allows the drive's life to be extended for unRAID usage.

 

I use a card reader and a 2GB card.

They last about 2-3 years. But I'm a heavy user of the flash with addons, tests, edits. etc. etc. 

 

No matter how fast your flash drive states it is, it's also based on the bios, how the drive is accessed and formatted.

So a super fast flash drive will get a max of 30MB/s on a USB port.. but if it's formatted as a floppy or something, it could be really slow accessing it.

 

My recommendation would be to refrain from overspending on a SLC based flash key.

Spend on a card reader based flash key (The kingston mobile lite is popular) and on a good sized SD card.

 

If you must must must have the fastest boot up times, you can do some adjustments and boot from a hard drive, the cache drive or an SSD as your cache.. then when unRAID finishes booting, it will mount the USB flash key on /boot anyway.

 

For me, I actually do a PXEboot over the network.

It's lightning fast.. but it requires another server configured as a PXE/TFTP server.

 

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I appreciate your verve, but I really think you're going a bit overboard on this.  Your sony should be just fine.

...

I would not spend the money on that HP drive.  Chances are it is an overpriced branded version of something else very average.

 

 

I am hoping the guys at Amazon wan't to cancel my order as it is not even send yet, after I found out the difference I am pretty determent I want a SLC drive - maybe not the most reasonable according to price but might be a good idea in the long run (as in 100.000 read/write cycles time).

It will be placed in a USB port inside my unRAID NAS, so not something I can easily get to and change out if it dies.

 

 

I know HP have their consumer USB drives made by PNY but I can't seem to find any info about who made them this little 2GB drive.

It also comes in a newer variant that just looks different (can't really see the specs should have changed) and now also a 4GB version of the same newer type that is absolutely expensive!

 

 

This thing will cost me with postage close to $100, thats like 6 of the Sony drives, but it will last 10 times as long so in the end I will actually have saved money :D

(trying to convince my self it's a good idea - at least just to show others if it works with unRAID)

 

$100? I dunno if it's that good of an idea. The only good part of it is that it will be inside your server and it will last without having to open it up... I.E. unless your drives are inside the server and servicing them requires opening the server.

If your drives are not easily removable from the front, then it doesn't matter how long your flash drive lasts. Because a hard drive failure would cause you to open the nas.

 

I'm cheap. I would spend on a good solution here and use intelligence in booting and backup to speed things up.

hard drives die, flash drives die. sometimes a sudden power down will ruin the format of a flash drive.. so you'll be opening it up anyway.

 

As far as lasting 10 times as long and saving you money... Most of the times, these SD cards get cheaper and cheaper.

 

If space is the concern, then go with what fits.  However, I'm not sure the Return on Investment is all that high on a $100 flash key.

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My recommendation would be to refrain from overspending on a SLC based flash key.

Spend on a card reader based flash key (The kingston mobile lite is popular) and on a good sized SD card.

 

I will look into that option too :)

 

 

The part about booting from another server I didn't really understand, but anyway I only have space for one server so I will not bother... But it sounds sweet that it's lightning fast! Im just hoping my NAS will boot as fast or faster than my main Mac, 28 seconds to desktop.

 

 

I just got answer from IronKey/Imation:

 

Thank you for contacting Imation Mobile Security Group Technical Support.

IronKey devices are not bootable.

The Vendor ID for S100, S200, and D200 devices is: 1953

PIDs for S200/D200:

Basic: 0201

Personal: 0202

Enterprise: 0203

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Also, FWIW, if you were doing vmware ESXi on the flash key, I would consider the SLC based flash key.

For unRAID, It's overkill. unless you plan to go to vmware ESXi in the future.

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Also, FWIW, if you were doing vmware ESXi on the flash key, I would consider the SLC based flash key.

For unRAID, It's overkill. unless you plan to go to vmware ESXi in the future.

 

 

Maybe I will, actually HP have made their key especially for virtual server use on their ProLiant line (not sure what they mean but it points in direction of being really good for ESXi).

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If speed is your goal. See if your NAS can support a 2.5" SSD. Partition it manually setting one partition (partition 4) for FAT32 boot. Put syslinux on it.  Copy your flash key contents there.  Set syslinux to boot it. do not make this labeled as BOOT.  Keep that on your flash key. Set your bios to boot from the SSD.

 

Your SSD can read from 70MB/s to possibly 250MB/s.  Nothing else you do will be faster then that.

If you choose to go with a magnetic cache drive, you can do the same thing and boot up to 140MB/s.

 

If you need a larger cache drive and want to use a 2.5" magnetic drive to boot from, consider the Seagate Momentus XT hybrid drives with the embedded 4-8GB cache SLC SSD.

 

Remember USB 2.0 maxes out around 30MB/s.

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Also, FWIW, if you were doing vmware ESXi on the flash key, I would consider the SLC based flash key.

For unRAID, It's overkill. unless you plan to go to vmware ESXi in the future.

 

 

Maybe I will, actually HP have made their key especially for virtual server use on their ProLiant line (not sure what they mean but it points in direction of being really good for ESXi).

 

I read that, which is why I suggested considering future goals.

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If speed is your goal. See if your NAS can support a 2.5" SSD. Partition it manually setting one partition (partition 4) for FAT32 boot. Put syslinux on it.  Copy your flash key contents there.  Set syslinux to boot it. do not make this labeled as BOOT.  Keep that on your flash key. Set your bios to boot from the SSD.

 

Your SSD can read from 70MB/s to possibly 250MB/s.  Nothing else you do will be faster then that.

If you choose to go with a magnetic cache drive, you can do the same thing and boot up to 140MB/s.

 

If you need a larger cache drive and want to use a 2.5" magnetic drive to boot from, consider the Seagate Momentus XT hybrid drives with the embedded 4-8GB cache SLC SSD.

 

Remember USB 2.0 maxes out around 30MB/s.

 

 

That info was really valuable!

I have considered a SSD maybe later, but not in the beginning due to the whole thing already is quite expensive (seems like a not so valid point in a thread were we discuss USB drives costing $100 and up but still, I'm not made of gold).

 

 

By the way, how do you use a flash card to boot unRAID from?

I mean, do flash cards also have UUID/GUID so I can use it with unRAID Plus?

 

I am now considering maybe the new Kingston MobileLite G3 USB 3.0 reader, not that my MB will have USB3 but maybe I buy a new one in the future that have.

In that the SanDisk Extreme Pro SDHC seems to be the fastest I can find with 95MB/s read and 90MB/s write!

 

 

Would in a 8GB configuration cost me around $70 here in DK.

I just send SanDisk an email to hear if it's MLC or SLC based - so now all I need to know is the text in blue :)

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SanDisk didn't seem to understand the question so my guess is they don't have any SLC SD cards... I tried to ask them again so let's see what the answer is.

 

 

In the meantime I have searched a lot a lot a lot to find a few SD cards that use SLC.

There are a few professional grade SD cards from Transcend (not all in the link is SLC but they mention in the tech specs if they are), apparently there is a Toshiba card (model number SD-T16GJ(BL4)) wich I can only find mentioned as SLC on eBay and Amazon (and other retailers) but not any official Toshiba documents (I doubt it is SLC as Toshiba is the worlds biggest MLC provider) and last, there is a small company called Integral Memory[/size] who used to make their Endurance cards that use SLC.

 

 

 

I think I have found the answer my self to the text in blue in the post above.

It is the SD cardreader that have a GUID, and that's why it is working for unRAID! (correct me if Im wrong)

I asked Kingston if the MobileLite G3 also have, but am still waiting for their answer.

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You are correct about the GUID.  Not all readers have them, but a few do, and the forums ahve the answers generally as to which do.  In fact IIRC LimeTech himself mentions somewhere in the LimeTech pages which reader(s) are known to work and a few that do not.

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