Are there FAST removable USB disks?


I’m teaching a few computer classes here at the local university. Some of my students have Linux on their laptops. Others have Windows 10 or Windows 11. For my future courses I’d like them all to have the same system, so I thought about using external disks.

I experimented a bit with installing Rocky Linux on an external USB stick, as well as the Slax live distribution. The tests are encouraging so far, but lack of speed is a problem.

I’m not very proficient with hardware and performance. Ideally I would need a USB stick with 16 GB or 32 GB. Can you recommend a brand/model that has fast read/write access ?

Also, I don’t really know if an SSD disk with a USB adapter would perform significantly better than a simple USB stick.

Any suggestions ?

I also used an external OS for testing, USB sticks were hardly usable because of the speed. I would always recommend an SSD with a USB hard drive case. This is also my current setup and the speed is good. The price difference between a cheap SSD + case and a usable USB stick is certainly not big, maybe even cheaper.

Alternatively, a hypervisor like virtualbox/qemu and linux as a guest system?
Depending on the situation, the setup can be sufficient and quick for learning purposes.

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Seems like the Kingston DataTraveler Max is the best value for top-end performance. Beyond that you’re looking at an external SSD. Anandtech uses them as their standard comparison drives when benchmarking other USB storage. I just ordered one in the course of looking this up, guess I’ll find out too :grin:

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I also tried with different usb sticks because they are cheap so they are the best product for student to use and learn. I prefer to use usb 3.0 supported usb because they provide best read write speed while comparing to other usb like usb 1.0 usb 1.1 usb 2.0 etc.

I think ssd is not a good solution in your case because you’r student going to plug this into usb 3.0 port so they are limited by usb 3.0 port speed so it’s good to use usb 3.0 supported usb stick, it will handy and cost effective solution in your case.

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Usually in my computer classes I use VirtualBox with a Rocky Linux guest system for all the courses. But the next course will be about Ansible. I have a test lab solution using KVM/libvirt and Vagrant to fire up five VMs (one controller and four targets) and I don’t want to debug Vagrant on Windows machines, so it’s Rocky Linux + KVM + Vagrant for everyone.

The USB speed depends mainly on the USB Interface you are using. USB-C for example is very fast, if you connect a NVMe SSD to such a port you probably wouldn’t notice much difference to an NVMe SSD connected directly to your PC’s M.2 socket. It will be similar to USB-3, as that is also pretty fast. Everything below USB-2 is unusable, but that is such an ancient standard you probably won’t run into those.

USB-2 is usually sufficient, but it will take longer to boot. Once the system has started, the performance will probably be fine, as most things have been loaded to RAM anyway. At least with live distro’s that’s the case, once the OS is up, it runs fast, no matter what USB standard you are using.

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