Raspberry Pi 4 USB Boot Config Guide for SSD / Flash Drives

Raspberry Pi 4 with Samsung 950 Pro NVME SSD
Raspberry Pi 4 with Samsung 950 Pro NVME SSD

The Raspberry Pi 4 is finally here and has a lot of exciting changes. One very major downside is that it doesn’t support true USB booting yet out of the box (like the 3 series did). The Raspberry Pi foundation states that it is being worked on and will be added back with a future update. No timeline has been given yet for that to happen but they state it’s one of their top priorities.

Most of my projects heavily depend on having good performing storage so sitting and waiting was not an acceptable solution. In this guide I’ll show you a workaround to use USB devices as your rootfs device and use a Micro SD card as bootloader only which gives us full SSD performance after boot! To see exactly how much of a performance difference this makes (spoiler: it’s gigantic) check out the Raspberry Pi Storage Benchmarks.

I highly recommend doing this on a completely new install. If you try to upgrade your old ones and something goes wrong there’s a good chance you might lose data. We will be modifying the boot partition, resizing partitions, etc. so don’t use a drive with any data on it unless you are positive you have all of the steps down!

Compatible USB Adapters

The Raspberry Pi 4 is proving to be picky about what SATA, M.2, etc. adapters will work in the USB 3.0 port. The USB 3.0 ports are the ones in the middle that are blue inside. The black ones are USB 2.0 and won’t give you the faster speeds the new Pi offers.

It’s very likely that some of these will be fixed via software and firmware updates and the Raspberry Pi Foundation has several open known issues related to USB 3. Until that happens though I will maintain a list here of known working ones and known problematic ones. It’s still very early in the release of the Pi 4 so we still have a lot to learn about which adapters work / don’t work. If you have working and nonworking adapters leave a comment and I’ll add it in this list.

If the adapters worked before on older Pis then one thing you can try is putting them in the black USB 2.0 ports. Obviously this is stupid because we all want the Pi 4 performance gains but if you end up needing to buy a new adapter this will give you a workaround until a replacement arrives!

Find USB adapter chipset

There are certain chipsets used in adapters that are known to be working/not working.

pi@raspberrypi:~ $ lsusb
Bus 003 Device 001: ID 1d6b:0002 Linux Foundation 2.0 root hub
Bus 002 Device 002: ID 174c:55aa ASMedia Technology Inc. Name: ASM1051E SATA 6Gb/s bridge, ASM1053E SATA 6Gb/s bridge, ASM1153 SATA 3Gb/s bridge, ASM1153E SATA 6Gb/s bridge
Bus 002 Device 001: ID 1d6b:0003 Linux Foundation 3.0 root hub
Bus 001 Device 002: ID 2109:3431 VIA Labs, Inc. Hub
Bus 001 Device 001: ID 1d6b:0002 Linux Foundation 2.0 root hub

This is a lsusb dump of all my connected USB devices. I have bolded the line with the USB bridge device. We can see that the chipset is ASM1153E

Known Good Chipsets

  • ASMedia ASM115X (StarTech 2.5″ SATA, UGREEN USB Enclosure, several others)

Known Working Adapters

StarTech 2.5″ SATA to USB 3.1 Adapter2.5″ SATA to USB 3.0Verified working in comments (thanks Fredrick)
StarTech 2.5″ SATA to USB 3.0 Adapter2.5″ SATA to USB 3.1Verified working great by myself and others on Pi 4
Orico Transparent 2.5″ SATA to USB 3.0 Enclosure2.5″ SATA to USB 3.1Confirmed working by Ashjas in comments
ELUTENG 2.5″ SATA to USB 3.0 Adapter2.5″ SATA to USB 3.0The ELUTENG is one of the known working 2.5″ SATA to USB 3.0 adapters for the Pi 4
CSL 2.5″ SATA to USB 3.0 Adapter2.5″ SATA to USB 3.0The CSL SL adapter is confirmed to be working by Krikitt in the comments. Available in Europe. Not available in US.
Shinestar NVME to USB 3.0 AdapterM.2 NVME to USB 3.0This is the adapter I’m using in the picture at the top of the article. It is for NVME M.2 drives only (need different one for M.2 SATA).
QNINE M.2 SATA to USB 3.0 EnclosureM.2 SATA to USB 3.0I used this enclosure to benchmark M.2 SATA Lite-On and SanDisk drives — working great in 3.0 ports.
UGREEN M.2 NVMe SSD Enclosure, USB C 3.1 Gen 2M.2 NVME to USB-C 3.1Confirmed working in comments by Chad D.
UGreen M.2 SATA to USB 3.1 EnclosureUGreen M.2 SATA to USB 3.1 EnclosureReported as working well in the comments by John H. Reinhardt with a ASM1051E chipset
Tanbin mSATA to USB AdaptermSATA to USB 3.0I used this mSATA to USB adapter for my Crucial M550 benchmark — working in 3.0 ports.
Generic mSATA to USB 3.0 Adapter (fe2008)mSATA to USB 3.1Confirmed working in comments by Nico
Canakit Raspberry Pi 4 Power Supply (USB-C)USB-C Power SupplyCanakit has been making very reliable power supplies for several Pi generations now

Known Problematic Adapters (VERY COMMON)

Fix (some) USB Adapter Problems Using Quirks

Some of the very common adapters on the naughty list above (such as the Sabrent) can be made to work by using USB quirks to disable UAS mode on the drive. This lowers performance, but it’s still much faster than a SD card and your adapter won’t go to waste.

To find out the quirks we need to find the device ID string for your adapter and then add an entry to cmdline.txt telling the kernel to apply them on boot.

Find Your Adapter

To apply the quirks we first need to get the adapter id. We will use the sudo lsusb command:

$ sudo lsusb
 Bus 003 Device 001: ID 1d6b:0002 Linux Foundation 2.0 root hub
 Bus 002 Device 002: ID 174c:55aa ASMedia Technology Inc. Name: ASM1051E SATA 6Gb/s bridge, ASM1053E SATA 6Gb/s bridge, ASM1153 SATA 3Gb/s bridge, ASM1153E SATA 6Gb/s bridge
 Bus 002 Device 001: ID 1d6b:0003 Linux Foundation 3.0 root hub
 Bus 001 Device 002: ID 2109:3431 VIA Labs, Inc. Hub
 Bus 001 Device 001: ID 1d6b:0002 Linux Foundation 2.0 root hub

On line 2 we can see my ASM1051E SATA 6Gb/s bridge adapter (it’s the known working StarTech.com 2.5″ SATA to USB adapter). You will see something very similar to mine when you run the command and it shouldn’t be too hard to figure out which device it is. If you need more information add a -v switch to make the command sudo lsusb -v. This can sometimes add some additional details to make it easier to figure out which one is your adapter.

If you’re still not sure, we have another command that between the two that can narrow things down. Type / paste the following:

sudo dmesg | grep usb

 [    0.828535] usb usb3: New USB device found, idVendor=1d6b, idProduct=0002, bcdDevice= 4.19
 [    0.828568] usb usb3: New USB device strings: Mfr=3, Product=2, SerialNumber=1
 [    0.828597] usb usb3: Product: DWC OTG Controller
 [    0.828620] usb usb3: Manufacturer: Linux 4.19.75-v7l+ dwc_otg_hcd
 [    0.828644] usb usb3: SerialNumber: fe980000.usb
 [    0.830051] usbcore: registered new interface driver uas
 [    0.830182] usbcore: registered new interface driver usb-storage
 [    0.836488] usbcore: registered new interface driver usbhid
 [    0.836511] usbhid: USB HID core driver
 [    0.971598] usb 1-1: new high-speed USB device number 2 using xhci_hcd
 [    1.154217] usb 1-1: New USB device found, idVendor=2109, idProduct=3431, bcdDevice= 4.20
 [    1.154254] usb 1-1: New USB device strings: Mfr=0, Product=1, SerialNumber=0
 [    1.154281] usb 1-1: Product: USB2.0 Hub
 [    1.301989] usb 2-1: new SuperSpeed Gen 1 USB device number 2 using xhci_hcd
 [    1.332965] usb 2-1: New USB device found, idVendor=174c, idProduct=55aa, bcdDevice= 1.00
 [    1.332999] usb 2-1: New USB device strings: Mfr=2, Product=3, SerialNumber=1
 [    1.333026] usb 2-1: Product: ASM105x
 [    1.333048] usb 2-1: Manufacturer: ASMT
 [    1.333071] usb 2-1: SerialNumber: 123456789B79F

This is the dmesg log showing the hardware detection as hardware is activated on the Pi. If your log is really long you can generate fresh entries by just unplugging a device and plugging it back in and running the command again. Here we can clearly see that the ASM105x is what our StarTech adapter is being detected as.

Now we can go back to our first lsusb command and we want the 8 characters from the ID field that comes right after the Device:

Bus 002 Device 002: ID 174c:55aa ASMedia Technology Inc. Name: ASM1051E SATA 6Gb/s bridge

Our adapter’s ID is: 174c:55aa

Applying Quirks

To apply the quirks to our USB adapter we are going to edit /boot/cmdline.txt. Type:

sudo nano /boot/cmdline.txt

We are going to add the following entry into the very front of cmdline.txt:

usb-storage.quirks=XXXX:XXXX:u

In place of the X’s above you will put in your adapter’s ID that we got before. With the example commands I gave above mine would look like this: usb-storage.quirks=174c:55aa:u. After this my cmdline.txt looks like this (everything should be one continuous line, no line breaks!):

usb-storage.quirks=174c:55aa:u console=serial0,115200 console=tty1 root=PARTUUID=d34db33f-02 rootfstype=ext4 elevator=deadline fsck.repair=yes rootwait

Now reboot the Pi. If the Pi fails to boot you can plug the SD card into the computer and go to /boot/cmdline.txt and undo the change we did so you can boot back in with your SD card.

Verifying Quirks

Once you have rebooted after changing cmdline.txt we can verify the quirks have been applied by doing another dmesg | grep usb command:

sudo dmesg | grep usb
 [    1.332924] usb 2-1: New USB device found, idVendor=174c, idProduct=55aa, bcdDevice= 1.00
 [    1.332957] usb 2-1: New USB device strings: Mfr=2, Product=3, SerialNumber=1
 [    1.332983] usb 2-1: Product: ASM105x
 [    1.333006] usb 2-1: Manufacturer: ASMT
 [    1.333028] usb 2-1: SerialNumber: 123456789B79F
 [    1.335967] usb 2-1: UAS is blacklisted for this device, using usb-storage instead
 [    1.336071] usb 2-1: UAS is blacklisted for this device, using usb-storage instead
 [    1.336103] usb-storage 2-1:1.0: USB Mass Storage device detected
 [    1.336479] usb-storage 2-1:1.0: Quirks match for vid 174c pid 55aa: c00000
 [    1.336611] scsi host0: usb-storage 2-1:1.0

This time we can see in dmesg that UAS was blacklisted for the device and it has loaded with the usb-storage driver instead. This driver tends to be more compatible with the “problematic adapters” but the performance is usually significantly lower. It’s definitely worth a try though as some adapters do better with the quirks performance-wise. The only way to know for sure is to run a benchmark (see storage benchmark section near the end).

USB Boot Instructions

There are a lot of steps to follow to set everything up properly. If you make a mistake the first time don’t spend too much time trying to correct it or figure out what you did wrong. It’s usually faster to burn the images again and reconfigure again rather than try to figure out which step you might have made a typo on. It’s much easier the second time!

Prepare SD Card

Download the latest Raspbian release from https://www.raspberrypi.org/downloads/raspbian/. Both Lite or Desktop versions will work. Win32DiskImager (Windows) or balenaEtcher (Linux, Mac OS X, Windows) are highly recommended to burn the images.

Note: Don’t attempt to use raw dd commands to write the images. Too many silly things can go wrong that are checked for/fixed by the recommended programs. Do yourself a big favor and use one of the recommends to avoid spending a ton of time troubleshooting basic imaging problems!

Preparing SSD

We are going to burn a second identical copy of Raspbian to the SSD. This ensures everything the Pi needs to boot is there so we can use the SD card as a bootloader but our actual system will be on our nice fast SSD drive.

Note: Make sure you create the empty file named “ssh” on the boot partition of both drives if you are headless or don’t have a mouse/keyboard attached so you can ssh in on the first boot.

First Boot (SD card only, SSD unplugged)

Insert your freshly imaged SD card into the Pi and connect the power. Sign into the Pi for the first time.

Don’t do an apt-get upgrade/dist-upgrade or any additional configuration yet. Just stick with the instructions until we have finished configuration (especially since if something goes wrong you may have to start over and any other setup you did will be lost).

Once the Pi has finished booting and you have signed in for the first time plug in your SSD to your Pi’s USB 3.0 ports. The USB 3.0 ports are the ones that have the blue plastic inside instead of the black plastic (the black ones are USB 2.0 ports).

Change PARTUUID

We need to change the PARTUUID of our SSD’s partitions so the Pi doesn’t get confused about what device to boot from. Right now the partitions on both the SD card and the SSD are an exact match and we need them to be different so we can tell the Pi to boot specifically from our SSD’s partition.

We are going to use fdisk to change the SSD’s PARTUUID to the hexadecimal d34db33f to make our SSD easy to identify. Use the following:

$ sudo fdisk /dev/sda

 Welcome to fdisk (util-linux 2.33.1).
 Changes will remain in memory only, until you decide to write them.
 Be careful before using the write command.
 Command (m for help): p
 Disk /dev/sda: 238.5 GiB, 256060514304 bytes, 500118192 sectors
 Disk model: ASM105x
 Units: sectors of 1 * 512 = 512 bytes
 Sector size (logical/physical): 512 bytes / 512 bytes
 I/O size (minimum/optimal): 512 bytes / 512 bytes
 Disklabel type: dos
 Disk identifier: 0x6c586e13
 Device     Boot  Start       End   Sectors   Size Id Type
 /dev/sda1         8192    532479    524288   256M  c W95 FAT32 (LBA)
 /dev/sda2       532480 500118191 499585712 238.2G 83 Linux
 Command (m for help): x
 Expert command (m for help): i
 Enter the new disk identifier: 0xd34db33f
 Disk identifier changed from 0x6c586e13 to 0xd34db33f.
 Expert command (m for help): r
 Command (m for help): w
 The partition table has been altered.
 Syncing disks.

That’s it. Let’s verify our change using blkid:

$ sudo blkid

/dev/mmcblk0p1: LABEL_FATBOOT="boot" LABEL="boot" UUID="5203-DB74" TYPE="vfat" PARTUUID="6c586e13-01"
/dev/mmcblk0p2: LABEL="rootfs" UUID="2ab3f8e1-7dc6-43f5-b0db-dd5759d51d4e" TYPE="ext4" PARTUUID="6c586e13-02"
/dev/sda1: LABEL_FATBOOT="boot" LABEL="boot" UUID="5203-DB74" TYPE="vfat" PARTUUID="d34db33f-01"
/dev/sda2: LABEL="rootfs" UUID="2ab3f8e1-7dc6-43f5-b0db-dd5759d51d4e" TYPE="ext4" PARTUUID="d34db33f-02"

Your /dev/mmcblk0 and /dev/sda devices should now be different from each other. The SD card’s ID is 6c586e13 and the SSD’s PARTUUID is now

Update /boot/cmdline.txt

We are going to change cmdline.txt to point to the SSD for booting instead of the SD card. First make a backup of your existing cmdline.txt file with the following command:

sudo cp /boot/cmdline.txt /boot/cmdline.txt.bak

We’ve now created a backup you can restore if something goes wrong. If you need to restore your backup plug the SD card into a computer/device and replace cmdline.txt with cmdline.txt.bak that we made above. Now your Pi should boot normally again.

Open up /boot/cmdline.txt using nano or your favorite text editor:

sudo nano /boot/cmdline.txt

The existing file will look like this:

console=serial0,115200 console=tty1 root=PARTUUID=6c586e13-02 rootfstype=ext4 elevator=deadline fsck.repair=yes rootwait quiet init=/usr/lib/raspi-config/init_resize.sh

We are going to change the root=PARTUUID section to point to our new d34db33f PARTUUID like the following:

console=serial0,115200 console=tty1 root=PARTUUID=d34db33f-02 rootfstype=ext4 elevator=deadline fsck.repair=yes rootwait quiet init=/usr/lib/raspi-config/init_resize.sh

Make the change and double check the line is what it should be,then press Ctrl+X to save our changes.

Note: cmdline.txt should be one long solid line with no breaks — don’t add any line breaks or the system won’t boot and you’ll need to restore the backup we made earlier!

Test SSD

We are now ready to test booting from the SSD. Restart your Pi by issuing a

sudo reboot

The first boot with your SSD can be slow due to running fsck on the drive. If you have a really large SSD it can take surprisingly long to check all that space. Once the check completes it will mark the drive clean and skip the disk check from now on. It can take over a minute or two sometimes for really big drives so give it at least that much time before assuming it didn’t work.

After signing in we can verify that the SSD is being used like this:

$ findmnt -n -o SOURCE /

 /dev/sda2

Verify that partition has switched over as shown below to /dev/sda2 (SSD) instead of /dev/mmcblk0p2 (SD card).

Update /etc/fstab

We are now ready to edit the /etc/fstab file to point to our updated drive. To edit the file type:

sudo nano /etc/fstab

Your current file will look like this:

$ cat /etc/fstab
proc            /proc           proc    defaults          0       0
PARTUUID=6c586e13-01  /boot           vfat    defaults          0       2
PARTUUID=6c586e13-02  /               ext4    defaults,noatime  0       1
sudo nano /etc/fstab

Your current file will look similar to this (PARTUUID varies based on your Raspbian image version):

cat /etc/fstab
proc            /proc           proc    defaults          0       0
PARTUUID=6c586e13-01  /boot           vfat    defaults          0       2
PARTUUID=6c586e13-02  /               ext4    defaults,noatime  0       1

We want to change the root ( / ) partition (PARTUUID ending with -02) to load our SSD’s PARTUUID instead of the SD card. Replace the 2nd partition’s PARTUUID field on the last line in the file with the d34db33f label we applied earlier with fdisk. After making the change my /etc/fstab file looks like this:

proc            /proc           proc    defaults          0       0
PARTUUID=6c586e13-01  /boot           vfat    defaults          0       2
PARTUUID=d34db33f-02  /               ext4    defaults,noatime  0       1

Press Ctrl+X to tell nano to save our changes. Now type sudo reboot to restart the Pi.

Note: We want to leave the first partition (https://origin.jamesachambers.com/boot) on the SD card. If you change this to the SSD then apt will update your SSD instead of the SD card so they won’t be used during boot! Remember that we are using the SD card as a bootloader and that is why the firmware updates (such as start.elf, etc) should go there instead of the SSD’s boot partition (which is never used).

Resizing Filesystem

By default the partition on the SSD / Flash drive will only be 1.8G. The Pi expands this automatically on micro SD drives but we will need to do it ourselves for a SSD / Flash drive. To do this we need to expand the partition and then resize the file system.

First let’s open fdisk and print the partitions:

pi@raspberrypi:~ $ sudo fdisk /dev/sda
 Welcome to fdisk (util-linux 2.33.1).
 Changes will remain in memory only, until you decide to write them.
 Be careful before using the write command.
 Command (m for help): p
 Disk /dev/sda: 238.5 GiB, 256060514304 bytes, 500118192 sectors
 Disk model: ASM105x
 Units: sectors of 1 * 512 = 512 bytes
 Sector size (logical/physical): 512 bytes / 512 bytes
 I/O size (minimum/optimal): 512 bytes / 512 bytes
 Disklabel type: dos
 Disk identifier: 0xd34db33f
 Device     Boot  Start     End Sectors  Size Id Type
 /dev/sda1         8192  532479  524288  256M  c W95 FAT32 (LBA)
 /dev/sda2       532480 4390911 3858432  1.9G 83 Linux

There is the line we need. Our start value for /dev/sda2 (rootfs) is 532480. Next we need to remove and recreate the partition as a larger size.

If you make any mistakes during this command just close fdisk by pressing q. The changes won’t be written to disk. If you mess up any of the commands the drive will no longer boot and you’ll have to start over again so be careful!

Command (m for help): d
 Partition number (1,2, default 2): 2
 Partition 2 has been deleted.
 Command (m for help): n
 Partition type
    p   primary (1 primary, 0 extended, 3 free)
    e   extended (container for logical partitions)
 Select (default p): p
 Partition number (2-4, default 2): 2
 First sector (2048-500118191, default 2048): 532480
 Last sector, +/-sectors or +/-size{K,M,G,T,P} (532480-500118191, default 500118191): 500118191 
 Created a new partition 2 of type 'Linux' and of size 238.2 GiB.
 Partition #2 contains a ext4 signature.
 Do you want to remove the signature? [Y]es/[N]o: N
 Command (m for help): w
 The partition table has been altered.
 Syncing disks.

If everything went well then type “w” and press enter. Otherwise press “q” to quit and try again. Once you enter “w” the changes will be permanently written to disk!

Now reboot the system. Type “df -h” to view the current disk:

pi@raspberrypi:~ $ df -h
 Filesystem      Size  Used Avail Use% Mounted on
 /dev/root       1.8G  1.3G  415M  76% /
 devtmpfs        1.8G     0  1.8G   0% /dev
 tmpfs           2.0G     0  2.0G   0% /dev/shm
 tmpfs           2.0G  8.5M  1.9G   1% /run
 tmpfs           5.0M  4.0K  5.0M   1% /run/lock
 tmpfs           2.0G     0  2.0G   0% /sys/fs/cgroup
 /dev/mmcblk0p1  253M   52M  201M  21% /boot
 tmpfs           391M     0  391M   0% /run/user/1000

We can see our disk is still 1.8G even after resizing the partition. That’s because we still have one more step! We need to resize the filesystem to fill our new partition space. For this we will use “sudo resize2fs /dev/sda2”:

sudo resize2fs /dev/sda2
 resize2fs 1.44.5 (15-Dec-2018)
 Filesystem at /dev/sda2 is mounted on /; on-line resizing required
 old_desc_blocks = 1, new_desc_blocks = 15
 The filesystem on /dev/sda2 is now 62448214 (4k) blocks long.

Now let’s check df -h again:

pi@raspberrypi:~ $ df -h
 Filesystem      Size  Used Avail Use% Mounted on
 /dev/root       235G  1.3G  224G   1% /
 devtmpfs        1.8G     0  1.8G   0% /dev
 tmpfs           2.0G     0  2.0G   0% /dev/shm
 tmpfs           2.0G  8.5M  1.9G   1% /run
 tmpfs           5.0M  4.0K  5.0M   1% /run/lock
 tmpfs           2.0G     0  2.0G   0% /sys/fs/cgroup
 /dev/mmcblk0p1  253M   52M  201M  21% /boot
 tmpfs           391M     0  391M   0% /run/user/1000

And that’s it! You will now be using all of your space on your drive.

Update Pi using apt

Now that we’ve updated fstab it is safe (and highly recommended) to update your Pi’s software. Type “sudo apt-get update && sudo apt-get dist-upgrade” to update the system and firmware.

Your system will now be running completely from your USB drive! To verify this, run the command “findmnt -n -o SOURCE” / to ensure your root partition has switched over as shown below to /dev/sda2 instead of /dev/mmcblk0p2.

Verify SSD Performance

You can make sure everything is running correctly (and as fast as it should be) by running my quick storage benchmark. You can run the benchmark with the following one-liner:

sudo curl https://raw.githubusercontent.com/TheRemote/PiBenchmarks/master/Storage.sh | sudo bash

This will give you a score you can compare to the other Raspberry Pi Storage Benchmark results and make sure that you are getting an equivalent speed to your peers with the same device!

Conclusion

The Samsung 950 Pro NVME drive in the featured picture scored a 9189 on the Raspberry Pi Storage Benchmark. The previous all-time record score on a Pi 3B+ was 3561. The performance gains are very real and very dramatic.

For me getting this performance is well worth having to waste a micro SD card just to be a bootloader. I am largely after the USB 3.0 bus and gigabit ethernet performance improvements and using this method I am able to achieve the performance I was after without waiting an indeterminate amount of time for the feature to be added back in!

Although there are ongoing compatibility issues and we lack the super easy native USB booting support we had before I’m more than willing to go through the growing pains to finally get rid that ancient USB 2.0 bus! Just make sure if you are planning to build a system you plan your adapters and parts accordingly.

652 thoughts on “Raspberry Pi 4 USB Boot Config Guide for SSD / Flash Drives”

  1. Avatar for Aaron

    I went with the Samsung 970 EVO Plus NVMe M.2 with the Shinestar NVMe to USB 3.0 Adapter, and I’ve been successfully getting all the way through the process until running the update/upgrade on Debian and the firmware, where it then goes into “EXT4-fs error (device sda2), etc.” loops. To troubleshoot, I started the process from scratch all over again a total of 3x, getting the same result each time. I was using the official Pi PoE hat and thought perhaps it wasn’t providing enough power to the SSD, so I got out the Pi 4 power adapter and plugged it up; the result being, I was able to get further into the update/upgrade process; however, the same error loops would then startup not long after. I then removed the PoE hat so that the Pi is only running on its native power adapter; with those results being much-improved in the progress of the update/upgrade process, but it STILL goes into those cussed errors before successfully completing. At this point, I’m at a loss as to what to do to troubleshoot and fix the problem, so any input from James or the community is greatly coveted.

  2. Avatar for Steve

    Your tutorial uses a 2.5″ SATA drive with a 2.5″ SATA to USB 3.0 drive converter as an example.
    I have a usb 3.0 eternal drive
    WD 500GB My Passport Go SSD Cobalt Portable External Storage, USB 3.0 – WDBMCG5000ABT-WESN
    Would this drive work using your tutorial? Would I need a converter of some kind with this external drive?

  3. Avatar for Adam

    Thank you for this! I tried it on a THU 128GB portable SSD with a USB 3.0 Type C connector into a Raspberry Pi 4 B rev 1.2 with 4GB ram and overclocked to 2gHz.

    Read at 300.76 MB/s
    Wrote at 225MB/s
    Overall score was 9645.

  4. Avatar for valdragas

    Hello,

    I have installed raspbian on the ssd and modified the boot of the ssd but it does not start the system, how can I get the id of the adapter if it does not start the system?

    Cheers

  5. Avatar for Matei

    Thanks for the great post! I’ve been trying with the Orico USB-C enclosure without any success until I added quirks to cmdline.txt, it didn’t boot without it. Thanks again!

  6. Avatar for Frits Huikeshoven
    Frits Huikeshoven

    I did ad ssh to the sd and the ssd,
    but could not use it when i switched to the ssd, so i had to conect a screen and key-board
    to sudo raspi-config to enable ssh

    but creat help this is

  7. Avatar for Sebbi

    Heya James,

    you really made a great guide here.

    I managed to get a score of 8434 with a “Digitus DA-71111” housing based on the ASM1153E and with a Crucial MX500 SSD with 250GB. (My SD-card was at 830 points.)

    Also i tested something that might be interessting for people that only have smaller SD-cards.
    I’m not sure if other people tested it, but i may have some interessting update concerning the PARTUUID. I only used a Raspbian Buster lite on my SD and the full Raspbian Buster on my SSD. This way the PARTUUIDs were already different from each other. So I only changed the cmdline.txt to matach the PARTUUID of my SSD and it worked.
    As a side-note: When i tried changing the PARTUUID of my SSD into the “d34db33f”, then it gave me an error of something similar to “locked root”.

    Thanks alot James.

    Best regards, Sebbi

  8. Avatar for Matt

    This is great stuff! My score improved from ~1000 with an SD card to 8000+ with a portable SSD. Thanks so much James!

  9. Avatar for mooblie

    Many thanks! Works fine on a Pi4B 4GB RAM rev1.2, with a Reviva brand 120GB SSD in a USB3 to SATA 3Gbps case (model KO01042) (ASM1153 device)

    Using your Benchmark tester, I am now getting
    read = 296 MBps
    write = 267 MBps
    Score (whatever that is!) = 8048

    Well pleased!

  10. Avatar for Bruce

    Any suggestions on the best way to backup the system with this split configuration and restore?

    This is a great tutorial – my pi4 is way faster/responsive with an m.2 transcend 128GB ssd!

    Thanks!

  11. Avatar for Mike

    Great instructions – thanks! I have a spare 256GB SSD in a black plastic ‘Orico 2.5″ Hard Drive enclosure’ model 2189U3. It is USB3 and shows as 0080:a001 when checked. For future reference, it DOES need the quirks fix to be applied or it will NOT boot. Hope this helps others with a similar issue.

    1. Avatar for stizn

      There are two types of this ORICO 2.5 Case:

      Yours has the Micro-B connector cable. -> Needs qirks
      The second one has a USB-C cable -> works without qirks

      I have both of them, and tried them.

  12. Avatar for Teak

    Was able to successfully follow these instructions using Ubuntu 20.04 in place of Raspbian, with only minor adjustments.

    For anyone looking to do the same:
    cmdline.txt file is actually at /boot/firmware/cmdline.txt
    cmdline.txt looks quite different, but all you have to change is ‘root=LABEL=’ to ‘root=PARTUUID=’
    In fstab Ubuntu again uses ‘LABEL=’, you can just change it to ‘PARTUUID=’ for both entries, and update the PARTUUID for the SD card as well using (using blkid to find it). The two entries also seem to be in the opposite order, though this didn’t seem to cause any issue.
    I skipped the disk resizing section as it seems like it does not apply in Ubuntu.

    I also did not have to do anything special to get my external disk working, using a Sandisk Extreme PRO USB 3.1, 128 GB, scored in at 3416.

    Thanks for the great article!

    1. Avatar for Kurt

      I was really hoping to find this answer here! Thanks for posting! I tried the method you mentioned, but using ‘findmnt -n -o SOURCE /’ still shows /dev/mncblk0p2 as the mount after editing cmdline.txt and then rebooting. Do you need to edit fstab as well before it takes effect? And sorry if this is naive, but, did you change the PARTUUID to d34db33f and then use that number when you edited cmdline.txt? So the line would be ‘root=d34db33f’, instead of ‘root=writeable’?

      1. Avatar for Mike

        Kurt,
        I had the same results as you and I also tried after making the changes to the fstab file with the same result. Interested to see the response. Thanks everyone for posting

    2. Avatar for Pete W

      I found that for Ubuntu 20.04 server, cmdline.txt and fstab use labels, which preferentially find the USB volume when they exist in both SD and USB devices.
      As @Teak says, it automatically resizes as well, so overall its much simpler:
      – Flash the SD card and USB drive with ubuntu
      – Boot with both disk plugged in
      – Log in via SSH (its enabled by default)
      – To move /boot/firmware back to SD, run ‘sudo fatlabel /dev/sda1 system-usb’ then reboot

    3. Avatar for Teak

      Sorry I guess I didn’t make it very clear. I changed all ‘LABEL’ to ‘PARTUUID’ so that I could use the UUID from the article. Never even tried setting it up with labels instead, may work just as well.

      Also in fstab you need to make sure you use the correct ‘-01’ and ‘-02’ suffix for the partitions.

      I still followed the whole guide, step by step, only figuring out changes where needed.

  13. Avatar for O.B.

    Guide worked well quirks and all the only problem was with doing it headless. SSH didn’t enable when ssd ran for the first even with the SSH file on the on the drive, however the fix was to let the ssd finish its install and shutdown the pi and pull the sd and loading the SSH file back on the sd and reboot. SSH was then acticated on boot and for good measure ran rasip-config (from the ssd ) to make sure it would be enabled on the ssd for future boots. Thanks for the guide.

    1. Avatar for hrak

      Thanks for the pointer on recreating the /boot/ssh file on the SD card. I was working headless too and this was exactly what i ran into 🙂

  14. Avatar for david nordin

    Thank you James, the guide you put forth here is very good and I have used it many times. I have use it with HDD’s with no problems, with a few different SSD’s and usb bridges, one thing I have found with all my SSD installs is that the wifi seem to have connectivity problems depending on the physical location of the SSD. I am wondering if you have seen any relationship with connectivity and SSD’s? The simple test I used to confirm the connectivity problem was SSD related was to pinging the raspberry’s IP address with the /t option and move the SSD orientation. Replying ranged from a few ms to no connectivity. Any info you have on mitigating this would be helpful because i love the speed of the SSD install.

    1. Avatar for Anonymous

      I’m wondering if you’re referring to wifi problems on the 5GHz bandwidth whilst the USB3 ports are in use?

      I’ve seen on some DD_WRT routers where it warns users that they may experience connectivity problems if they use the USB3 ports on the routers. Perhaps this might also be a problem on the Pi’s?

  15. Avatar for Steve

    Thank you so much James. My goal with this was to put Home Assistant onto an SSD so it ran faster and didn’t kill my SD card. I started off using an old 240G ADATA SSD I had lying around and it didn’t work. I ordered a new Inland Professional SSD and the StarTech 2.5″ SATA to USB 3.0 Adapter and it worked!

    I did have trouble sshing into the pi after booting from the SSD, for some reason it did not recognize the ssh file in the boot partition. My workaround was to manually edit the rc.local file with Paragon’s ext4FS software using this guide: https://superuser.com/questions/1279354/how-to-get-ssh-access-to-headless-raspbian-stretch-lite-official-way-seems-not/1279491#1279491

    Hope that helps someone down the road!

    1. Avatar for Jeff

      This needs to be added to the main tutorial as I wasted 2 hours trouble shooting ssh. I mounted the SSD onto the rpi and edited the file so easy.

  16. Avatar for Antonio

    WoW!!!!
    Just followed the guidelines and it works perfectly!!!! My configuration is
    – RPi4 model 2 Rev1.2 4G memory
    – X825 expansion board
    – kingston A400S 120G

    score is 7879!!!!! (vs 278 with cheap 16G SD card I was using till now)…. perfect!

    thanks James!

    1. Avatar for Ma Tru

      could you tell me where to find the X825 expansion board
      im looking for exact the same solution (even same SSD !!!)

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