External Storage For Raspberry Pi 4

I've been playing around with the pi 4 a lot recently, and am now running Manjaro ARM. I am very surprised at the stability of this distro on this little machine. It is great for web browsing, SSHing into my other Pis and machines. With the pi 4 currently overclocked as high as possible, it's running phenomenally. I was able to download torrents at over 9.5 MiB/S (on my 5GHz Wifi), directly to a 32GB Sandisk 3.0 flash drive. Much faster than the Wifi card on my HP laptop from 2016. I moved that flash drive to my pi 3 to transfer the folder, and plugged in a 500GB HDD in a Sabrent enclosure only to find it causes the system to hang. I thought it may be that the flash drive was formatted as exFAT, and the hard drive ext4. No change after formatting the drive to exFAT. I am aware that these cheap enclosures sold on Amazon are not too friendly with the pi4, especially while on 5GHz wifi. A few questions-

I wasn't able to find a guide to setting up Manjaro to boot from the SD card and run the OS from a USB drive after booting. Would it be the same set up as Raspbian? I know it's possible because I've seen people mentioning it here on the Manjaro forums.

Would I see similar results running the US on an external SSD, with a high quality, high speed USB 3.0 flash drive? Does anyone have any suggestions for drives (budget friendly, please) that play nice with the pi 4? I don't need a ton of storage. 128GB seems like it would be enough, just until I can transfer data to my OMV NAS.

I'd like to run out today to Best Buy or place an order on Amazon for an SSD or high quality flash drive to run the OS from.


I have set up Manjaro ARM xfce on a Raspberry Pi 4, using a 500GB WD Blue SSD.

I set it up using the same method as described for Raspbian on their forum, basically copying the filesystem to the SSD and pointing to the SSD in the cmdline.txt file in the /boot folder on the SD.

The main issue is related to compatibility of some of the SATA-USB 3 adapters used. Some work extremely slowly or not at all. The solution is to use the "quirks" parameter in the cmdline.txt file. This issue is fully described at:

The article includes a list of various adapters. Note that the problem is related to the adapter, not the SSD itself.

By the way, was the 500GB HDD that caused your system to hang externally powered? If not, it's possible that it took too much power from the USB port.

I think it's drawing too much power. The system hangs completely during some functions, and runs smooth during others. If I am torrenting directly to the disk more than 1 file, it hangs completely. If I am not writing anything to the disk, the system can read from it just fine. I need to figure out which adapter will work best with the pi for an ssd. thanks.

Have a Crucial MX 500 coming from Amazon in the morning. With a known working adapter from that post above. Will post an update.

Installed latest KDE Plasma on my Rpi4, with 240Gb Biostar SSD and it works like a charm.. Atm the best option for any Rpi4 user.. No match.. OC to 2000Mhz for cpu and 700Mhz for gpu, everything is so snappy and fast...if you wanna try, just use James Chambers guide (just google it) for installing Ubuntu on SSD.. It's even easier then for Raspbian...Manjaro Rocks!

Did you keep the boot on the SD card or are you booting off the SSD also?

Raspberry Pi 4 is not able to boot off SSD. It needs the SD to boot from.

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You need to keep boot on SD card, cos Pi 4 doesn't have native boot from SSD yet.. But when SSD starts to kick in.. It's drastically faster..and in my opinion, Manjaro is way better then Raspbian..

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Ok yeah that's what I thought. Surprised you got 2000 and 700 out of the Pi4. I'm at 1900 and left the GPU alone because I thought it was broken in the latest kernel. Enabling 4Kp60 is supposed to boost the GPU too.

On Manjaro i got 2000Mhz/700Mhz, on Raspbian 2000Mhz/750Mhz..with over_voltage=5 and gpu_mem=256..on Manjaro Biostar SSD 240 Gb and on Rasbian Patriot SSD 240gb

Nice. I just moved my rootfs over to my USB ssd. Is the SSD still supposed to show up as removable media?

No, just boot partition of SSD..root partition is in use if u installed it properly and it can't be removed

I followed the Tom's hardware. Mounted the SSD, rsync'd the root over, changed cmdline.txt and rebooted. I'm running on the SSD as the SD card's root is not mounted, but I didn't make any changes to /etc/fstab yet.



  • Download the KDE or XFCE image of Manjaro ARM for Rpi4 and write it to your SD card
  • Burn the image with BalenaEtcher and after that navigate to the /boot drive on your SD card and open cmdline.txt
  • Change the part of the line that says root=/dev/mmcblk0p2 to root=/dev/sda2
  • Now format your SSD to Fat32 and burn the same image again to your SSD
  • Plug in both the SSD and Micro SD and boot up the Pi
    It's that easy...u don't need to change anything else

I already had an existing system but I think I figured it out. I used e2label to change the label from ROOT to nothing on mmcblk0p2 and to ROOT on /dev/sda1. Then I added it to /etc/fstab. Now shows up as "ROOT" in KDE Plasma correctly. I suppose I can remove the root partition from the SDcard now.

The same procedure u can use for Ubuntu, but for Raspbian is a little bit complicated..here is the link
https://jamesachambers.com/raspberry-pi-4-usb-boot-config-guide-for-ssd-flash-drives/ ...since SD is bottleneck in performance of RPi4, with SSD my Pi is like a rocket with Manjaro..

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Yeah I was following that one as well. I just didn't use UUID's. I used root=/dev/sda1 and the labels in /etc/fstab. Speed is crazy fast now for sure.

You didn't have to use quirks from the James Chambers guide? Your hardware just worked without any additional changes?

That's awesome. Makes you wonder why the RPi Foundation can't build the firmware correctly to be able to boot straight from the SSD.

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No..i din't use quirks..i use Transcend 2.5” SSD/HDD Enclosure USB 3.1 metal case..with Biostar 240Gb SSD..no additional changes..i'm wondering too with ppl from RPiFound waiting so long to implement USB boot..makes no sense, but untill they do, Chambers guide will do the job..

Nope no quirks needed. Here's my setup:

mSATA SSD USB 3.0 Adapter

Dogfish mSATA 256GB

1 - fdisk to create a single linux partition on the SATA drive

2 - Changed /boot/cmdline.txt to reference root=/dev/sda1.

3 - Reboot

4 - Used e2label to remove the ROOT label from the old SDcard partition and added ROOT to the new partition on /dev/sda1

5 - Edited /etc/fstab to add LABEL=ROOT / ext4 defaults,noatime 0 0.

6 - Rebooted

All set!! Only thing I could still do is remove the partition from the sd card if I wanted to. Might even set up a nightl rsync to copy the SSD back to the SDcard as a back up but probably not worth it.


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