Installing Windows on an SD card or USB stick

Discussion in 'VAIO / Sony' started by amln, Jun 19, 2013.

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  1. amln

    amln Newbie

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    Is it possible to install (and run) Windows on an SD card or a USB stick (USB3), and then use the inbuilt hard-drive for data storage only?

    I'm using a VAIO S15 and was thinking about a fast (50-100MByte/s) 64 or 128GB card or memory stick.
     
  2. kanuk

    kanuk Notebook Deity

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    External USB drives aren't built for constant I/O - they are too slow and unreliable. Also, it simply isn't possible with Windows, unless you have Win 8 Enterprise.

    It does work with many Linux/BSD versions, however (for example my home server runs NAS4Free off a USB drive) but again it's unreliable and risky. In my server's case I don't really care because I can just reinstall on a new drive if it dies, but that's a major hassle with Windows.

    Anyhow you would only gain what, 25 GB or so? Why not use the external drive for storage instead?
     
  3. amln

    amln Newbie

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    No, the idea would be to gain speed by placing Windows on a fast flash drive (SD card or USB). Some SD cards or USB sticks are capable of 100MByte/s.

    Then you have a brick hanging outside the notebook, connected only by a thin cable. But as I wrote, the purpose is not the extra space, but the increased speed.
     
  4. kanuk

    kanuk Notebook Deity

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    It would be slower than your internal drive. It might be theoretically capable of 100 MB/s but you will hardly ever see those speeds, and write performance is MUCH worse than read performance - probably more around 20 to 30 MB/s. Even a "slow" 5400 RPM HDD will run between 70 and 100+ MB/s consistently, all day long. You will never get that consistency from external flash. Furthermore it also lacks "real hard drive" features like wear leveling.

    TL;DR - don't do it. It's just a bad idea all around. It will be slower and much less reliable, assuming it were even possible with Windows 7 (it isn't).
     
  5. amln

    amln Newbie

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    Well, my 5400 RPM HDD seems to top out at 30-50MB/s. I've never seen it operating above 70MB/s. Besides, due to fragmentation and access times, it ends up being much slower. This is why flash memory, even with just 40-50MB/s but no access times, sounded like a good solution.

    Isn't there some SD card or USB stick with wear leveling around? Otherwise how do manufacturers ensure that this type of flash memory doesn't die prematurely?

    Another question: is there really no way to add an mSATA flash drive to the S15, while keeping the HDD and ODD?
     
  6. kanuk

    kanuk Notebook Deity

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    Why not just defrag your HDD?

    They don't care if it dies prematurely, it's just cheap disposable storage. They have just enough firmware to be functional. USB drives are more like a floppy disk than a true hard drive. They don't have hard drive features like TRIM or anything else.

    That's one of the main reasons why bootable USBs usually load everything into RAM rather than reading off the USB.

    No. You can either replace the stock HDD or ditch the ODD, and use a standard SATA SSD.

    I think the cheapest way to get what you want would be to buy the cheapest SSD you can find (doesn't have to be big if it's just for Windows) and replace the HDD with that, then replace the ODD with the HDD (you'll need a caddy but they aren't very expensive).

    The other (better, but more expensive) way would be to just ditch the HDD and buy a good-sized SSD. A 250 GB Samsung 840 is about $160.
     
  7. amln

    amln Newbie

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    I just did a Google search for "wear levelling SD card" and ended up with this:
    SanDisk Extreme Pro SDHC and SDXC UHS-I Memory Cards by SanDisk

    This SD card seems to do wear levelling and apparently there are also other models which do.

    Since this card is capable of 90MByte/s write speeds, would it be an option to install windows on it?
     
  8. kanuk

    kanuk Notebook Deity

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    Anyway... I'm done.
     
  9. amln

    amln Newbie

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    Do you mean that Sandisk is making false statements on their website, i.e. that the cards do not deliver 90MB/s as declared but only 20-30MB/s ?

    Here is what Sandisk claim on their site: "Delivers up to 90MB/s**write and 95MB/s read rate for extreme speed."

    The text behind the ** is: "Up to 95 MB/sec (633X) read speed. Write speed up to 90 MB/s (600X). Based on internal testing; performance may be lower depending upon host device. 1 megabyte (MB) = 1 million bytes. X = 150KB/sec."

    The SD slot on the Vaio supports UHS (SDR50), i.e. 50MB/s, so at least 50MB/s should be achievable.
     
  10. ngvuanh

    ngvuanh Notebook Deity

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    You can only boot from USB devices, not from MS or SD, so just forget about it.
    You just look at the speed but not many other factors prevent you from doing this.
    Even you have a fast SD, you can't just do this at all.
     
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