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I am making a server that will have files on one 250 GB SATA hard drive that will be copied to the other 250 GB SATA hard drive (RAID).

When I install my operating system (lubuntu or slackware) I can either install my OS on a USB flash drive or get another little SATA hard drive. I don't want to partition anything because I really don't want the OS to be copied with RAID (for easy swapping in case I want to change something).

What it comes down to is whether it would be better to have the OS run off of a flash drive (cheap but probably failure prone) or a SATA hard drive (expensive but quicker and more reliable)?

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closed as not constructive by Ƭᴇcʜιᴇ007, Breakthrough, TFM, Dave M, Scott Mar 31 '13 at 18:52

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When you say "hard drive", do you refer to SSDs or actual HDDs? –  Dennis Mar 31 '13 at 15:00
    
@Dennis HDDs. SSDs are waaaay out of my price range :) –  Blue Ice Mar 31 '13 at 15:40
    
Well, in that case, the premise that the hard drive that will be faster isn't necessarily true. A Sandisk Extreme 32 GB costs more or less the same as a 250 GB HDD (on Amazon), but it's faster than any HDD, provided that you have an USB 3.0 port. –  Dennis Mar 31 '13 at 19:29

2 Answers 2

up vote 2 down vote accepted

It depends on the context. USBs are much more prone to damage, but that's likely not going to be an issue in this scenario. Because USBs are so cheap you could avoid the potential issue of it failing by just having multiple USBs and using secondaries as regular backups.

I'd recommend going with USB, just because it's cheaper.

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There are a lot of flash "cards" that with a reader they can be many times faster than your usual flash "stick". I often avoid flash sticks because of the speed issue. A good reader and actual fast (vrses classed wrong) card can be lots faster than most sticks I have tested. 1 good reader and 2 good cards with cloned data would fix the speed issue some, and do the backup thing like sebastion is saying. Course if you buy some clone junk flash off e-bay all bets are off. –  Psycogeek Mar 31 '13 at 14:56

You're comparing apples and oranges here. Chances are, with a setup designed for USB drives - say using unetbootin and a persistant drive image, you can reduce writes enough that it should work for quite a while. Its going to have a lifetime that's likely in years and not decades, and should work alright in many cases. Quite a few systems actually are designed specifically to boot and run off cheap flash media.

A hard drive has quite a few other advantages - its faster (which is good), has more space in many cases (and may be cheaper for a given amount of space).

Both types of devices follow a bell curve, and could fail at any given time, and unless you need 5 nines reliability and will lose money if it fails, reliability shouldn't be a huge concern. Linux dosen't need that much space either.

In this situation, I don't see any massive advantage in reliability for one option over the other. For a file server, I'd prefer USB for the OS, simply cause that would free up sata ports for the hard drives.

Backing up your OS partition routinely (I favour remastersys these days) would be a better solution for reliability's sake than hoping that your drives are on the right side of the bell curve

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