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How can I set up a USB HDD to extend the life of my SD Card and maximize the performance of my Raspberry Pi?

Related: How can I extend the life of my SD card?

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If you're going to have a HDD that's always attached to the Pi, then you can mount the sections of your filesystem that incur the largest number of read/writes directly from it.

These directories are probably the culprits:

/home/
/var/
/tmp/

You are able to mount partitions on your external hard drive to these directories automatically at boot. Let's say your HDD is /dev/sdb, and it has four partitions. You can append your /etc/fstab to look something like this:

/dev/sdb1       /var        ext4   defaults    0  1
/dev/sdb2       /home       ext4   defaults    0  1
/dev/sdb3       /tmp        ext4   defaults    0  1
/dev/sdb4       none        swap   sw          0  0 

I've also included a swap partition. Though you might want to research how effective swap can be over USB. I really wouldn't expect much from it.

More information about swap in this question: How to set up swap space?

  • Would you add a swap partition/file to the HDD (assuming it was not an SSD) and if so how? – Steve Robillard Jun 18 '12 at 22:15
  • I probably wouldn't bother with swap. It's not going to be very quick over USB. But by all means try it out. I'll edit my answer. – Jivings Jun 18 '12 at 22:17
  • 1
    I wonder if the pi will continue to boot when the USB HDD is disconnected? – faulty Jun 11 '13 at 12:29

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