Advice on External Storage for running Entware/Swap File

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El Mariachi

Occasional Visitor
Hi Guys,

I keep burning through USB sticks and/or running into issues where the R/W speeds are subpar on the sticks causing scripts and the router to lockup. Is an external SSD such as this fine? Does it have a memory cache controller unlike those crappy USB sticks?


Thanks
 

Guido Medina

Occasional Visitor
To answer your original question then yes, that should be faster than a standard USB drive, but here are some interesting alternatives as well.
Since M2 USB adapters are kind of cheap that's what I went for, just make sure that you pick the right one because, M2 adapters for SSD don't work for NVMe(s) and vice-versa.

This is similar to what I have on my RT-AC86U running Diversion and Skynet using 2GB swap:
And here is the SSD alternative:
Might sound like a waste but if in the future you decide not to use any router external storage then at least you have a extremely portable USB backup.
 
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Jeffrey Young

Senior Member
Depending on the SSD drive you choose (if you go this way), you may have to provide a better power supply for the Router. At least for my AC86U, the 1.75A 19V stock charger was insufficient. On bootup, the SSD drive would not mount. Yet, it would mount fine if I plugged it in after the router booted and settled. The error being reported in the syslog is tied to insufficient power.

I swapped the supply out for a 2.5A 20V supply and the now the SSD mounts OK on bootup. Interesting enough, I have not had a case of the famous boot hang on the AC86U since either (touch wood - it's only been a couple of weeks, but during my 384.18 to 386.1 clean upgrade, not one hang in what must have been 20 reboots). A powered hub is another option.
 

bbunge

Part of the Furniture
I am running an old PNY USB 2 stick. It is on its third router, has been formatted numerous times and keeps on going. Maybe you should go to USB 2 and not worry about speed
 

Guido Medina

Occasional Visitor
Depending on the SSD drive you choose (if you go this way), you may have to provide a better power supply for the Router. At least for my AC86U, the 1.75A 19V stock charger was insufficient. On bootup, the SSD drive would not mount. Yet, it would mount fine if I plugged it in after the router booted and settled. The error being reported in the syslog is tied to insufficient power.
Then I guess the NVMe adapter + NVMe is not as power hungry? I have never had any issues with my RT-AC86U when booting being unable to mount the external drive, I have been running that NVMe drive in that router for a year now, many reboots, also; I'm in Europe so not sure if power wise that makes a difference.
 

pirx73

Senior Member
I got mad and just connected external used 2.5" SSD in the box.
 

heysoundude

Very Senior Member
I bought a 1.5TB 5400rpm usb3 seagate portable expansion drive when it went on sale a couple years ago for <$100 iirc. it is formatted with a small partition for entware/diversion/swap and the rest split between an smb media drive and a network file repo for users - works nicely for this home (latter 2 partitions don't see much use by the less techie users, but they appreciate me when I "wave the wand")
 

pirx73

Senior Member
I just checked out of curiosity - cheapest external SSD 128GB is arround 30€, most likely you can find even cheaper deals. Of course using SSD just for entware and swaps is a bit crazy, i also use it for media server purposes.
 

eibgrad

Very Senior Member
Seems whenever I've run into problems using USB flash drives w/ the router (which isn't often), it's always w/ the newer ones. But if I stick w/ older ones, like a Kingston DataTraveler from years ago, they seem to be much less problematic. That's why I've never gotten rid of them, even though the storage might be limited (512MB-4GB). That should be plenty for entware, some transient files, etc. IMO, you should NOT be using the router's USB capabilities as a true NAS.
 

netware5

Very Senior Member
Seems whenever I've run into problems using USB flash drives w/ the router (which isn't often), it's always w/ the newer ones. But if I stick w/ older ones, like a Kingston DataTraveler from years ago, they seem to be much less problematic. That's why I've never gotten rid of them, even though the storage might be limited (512MB-4GB). That should be plenty for entware, some transient files, etc. IMO, you should NOT be using the router's USB capabilities as a true NAS.
My old RT-N66U even used an internal MicroSD card ... :) I really loved it! The MicroSD card served for about 6 years without any single failure. Now since November 2019 with RT-AX88U I am using SanDisk Cruzer Fit USB stick also without any single failure. Using Entware, ntpMerlin, spdMerlin, Unbound, scMerlin and nsrum.

So I really don't know if its worth to use an SSD even with "log-intensive" add-ons like Diversion or Skynet. Regarding NAS features - I strongly believe that our precious routers should not be used as real NAS-es, especially for media files.
 

Guido Medina

Occasional Visitor
Regarding NAS features - I strongly believe that our precious routers should not be used as real NAS-es, especially for media files.
I agree here, the only reason I got a NVMe was because it was easy for me, I have my OCD with performance so I just spent extra to be certain nothing would hinder it, money wise it wasn't a problem for me.
 

El Mariachi

Occasional Visitor
Seems whenever I've run into problems using USB flash drives w/ the router (which isn't often), it's always w/ the newer ones. But if I stick w/ older ones, like a Kingston DataTraveler from years ago, they seem to be much less problematic. That's why I've never gotten rid of them, even though the storage might be limited (512MB-4GB). That should be plenty for entware, some transient files, etc. IMO, you should NOT be using the router's USB capabilities as a true NAS.
This has been my experience. Had an old one which lasted years. Since then, each new one hasn't performed well.

May seem crazy to go to an SSD but when you start doing the math of how many USB sticks you go through over the lifetime of the router it kinda adds up
 

Diamond67

Senior Member
SanDisk Cruzer Fit USB stick
Does it run hot?

Normally these tiny usb sticks run pretty hot. I have two Sandisk Ultra Fit 64 GB sticks (although they are not connected to my router) and these newer USB 3.1 Ultra Fits are actually a bit too small to handle and they seem to start thermally throttle very quickly. Especially the writing speeds slow down remarkably when the device gets hot.
 

netware5

Very Senior Member
Does it run hot?

Normally these tiny usb sticks run pretty hot. I have two Sandisk Ultra Fit 64 GB sticks (although they are not connected to my router) and these newer USB 3.1 Ultra Fits are actually a bit too small to handle and they seem to start thermally throttle very quickly. Especially the writing speeds slow down remarkably when the device gets hot.
Frankly speaking I didn't check until I have read your post :) The stick is "warm" not "hot". But there is no so intensive read/write operations normally. When I have more time I will investigate in details.
 

JaimeZX

Senior Member
After going through several USB sticks I'm now happily running everything off of a 128GB Kingston SSD.
 

bbunge

Part of the Furniture
I suspect but have no proof that some of the issues with thumb drives is with swap files. Linux distros seem to have moved from swap partitions to swap files in recent years. Being a bit old school I format the USB drive I use on a router with a swap partition and an EXTx partition and that seems to serve me better than a swap file. Do not have drive corruption with a swap partition.
 

Jeffrey Young

Senior Member
I suspect but have no proof that some of the issues with thumb drives is with swap files. Linux distros seem to have moved from swap partitions to swap files in recent years. Being a bit old school I format the USB drive I use on a router with a swap partition and an EXTx partition and that seems to serve me better than a swap file. Do not have drive corruption with a swap partition.

I have never thought of using a partition on the Router. Do you use the fstab config file or swapon?
 

El Mariachi

Occasional Visitor
Does it run hot?

Normally these tiny usb sticks run pretty hot. I have two Sandisk Ultra Fit 64 GB sticks (although they are not connected to my router) and these newer USB 3.1 Ultra Fits are actually a bit too small to handle and they seem to start thermally throttle very quickly. Especially the writing speeds slow down remarkably when the device gets hot.
Gets warm but in no way hot (like an 87U).

My earlier USB sticks worked fine but more modern ones dont seem to live or very long.

@JaimeZX Thats where i'm at now in my thinking.
 

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