I have my desktop which has windows 8.1 and I use it as my primary work station. I want to use Ubuntu 14.04 and I dont like to dual boot on my PC. I want to install ubuntu on external SSD and use it as my primary OS and I want to keep my windows 8.1 on my primary HDD in computer for gaming and other stuff. But My concern is I know ssd is faster but I think if i use it through USB port I might not be able to get the best out of my SSD. So what could be the other best option for that or its ok to keep using the SSD from usb3 port.

I know that we can use sata ports as external port. I can use one of those connectors to use directly the sata port but again, when I will boot it won't give me an option to boot from my external SATA SSD drive rather it will always boot from my primary HDD unless I enable dual boot which I really dont want.

  • a dedicated USB3 port can almost keep up with a regular hard disk; you would get no performance benefit going to SSD with USB. – fixer1234 Nov 2 '14 at 20:29
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    Are you sure that it does not give you an option when you boot with the drive connected to eSATA and press the boot selection key? Most eSATA equipped devices I have used (3 laptops, 1 desktop) offered that option. – Hennes Nov 2 '14 at 22:10
up vote 13 down vote accepted
I want to install ubuntu on external SSD and use it as my primary OS and I want to keep my windows 8.1 on my primary HDD in computer for gaming and other stuff.

Unplug your internal hard drive, plug the external ssd in, and install Ubuntu to it. In your UEFI change the boot order to boot from removable devices before hard drives. Now when the external ssd is connected your computer will boot Ubuntu, and when it isn't it will boot Windows.

if i use it through USB port I might not be able to get the best out of my SSD.

Whether your speeds are limited by the USB port will depend on 2 factors: what revision of USB the port is, and what the max read/write speeds of the SSD are. If you are using USB3.0 then you're looking at 5Gb/s (625 MB/s) for the USB interface, most common sata ssds are around 400-550 MB/s for read/write, so your performance wouldn't be cut-off.

It is possible to boot from a USB-device. It's quite normal and very handy for installing and trouble shooting, but I would NOT recommend that solution for a system drive. - External SATA is a much better solution. Even though USB seems just as fast (on paper), the buffering, "lack" of real-time and stability will slow it down.

External SATA acts exactly like internal SATA, - with an extra cable, - so my question would be: Why don't you just install it internally and make that dual boot? What's not to like? It works fine for me. You can chose OS on boot-up (press a key). You can set a default boot (if no key is pressed). And it is easy to restore, when you don't want to use it anymore.

Mount both drives internally. Existing Windows HDD as SATA_0 and the new SSD as SATA_1. - Ubuntu installation will guide you through the patitioning. Just read everything carefully.

Btw. SSD does wear! But it's a minor problem now, compared to the first SSD generations. You should avoid too many unnecessary write ops though, - like defragging (which doesn't optimize the SSD anyway). - SSD is a great choice for a Linux system drive. It really takes off ..

  • Yeah i planned to use ssd just for linux. I dont like dual boot because right now i am really comfortable to mess up things and loose data. Thats why I just wanted to keep them seperate. I thought I can put E sata cable and choose on boot the device of e sata and use it for while like this. is that possible ? – Yousaf Syed Nov 3 '14 at 15:49

If your BIOS supports different boot-devices, connect your SSD via eSATA and install the Ubuntu OS.

Consult your manual how to select the boot-device at startup

As far as I know, there's no way to get Windows to recognize a USB device as a boot device. Even if I'm mistaken, flash memory has a max number of read/write operations that it can perform before going bad. You will almost never hit that ceiling during normal operation of a USB device, but as a boot drive you'll hit it pretty quickly.

What you're looking for is called an eSATA port.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Serial_ATA#eSATA

One of the reasons that SSD's outperform flash memory so profoundly is the actual physical interface. USB 3.0, the fastest USB standard available today has a max throughput of 5.0Gb/s which is pretty good, but compared to SATA 3.0 and 3.2 which get up to 6Gb/s, and 16Gb/s respectively USB drives can't really compete.

An eSATA port allows you to do just what you're suggesting, connect an external SATA drive with a specialized shielded SATA cable and get the transfer speeds you're really looking for. Dual-booting is inevitable at this point, sorry.

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    Well, the part about SSD wear is FUD, sorry. Unless you’re deliberately trying to destroy your SSD, you will never reach its end of life. Today’s SSDs are also flash-based, by the way. – Daniel B Nov 2 '14 at 20:25
  • I have heard of people patching Windows so it can boot from a USB device. It's just a matter of switching around a couple of steps but I don't know the details. – Loren Pechtel Nov 2 '14 at 21:07
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    Having an SSD as an external will use no more of it's life than having it internal. I've found myself using up less than 2%/year despite heavy use. – Loren Pechtel Nov 2 '14 at 21:08
  • Really? I was always under the impression that SSD flash memory and USB drive flash memory were not the same. – Catatonic27 Nov 3 '14 at 19:03

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