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So I thought I'd ask this here and see if anyone has experience with this sort of thing. I've tried Googling this question and gotten very conflicting responses on this. From what it seems, I have 3 options for booting my Raspberry Pi 4: (1) An SD card, (2) bootloader on SD, root/ on a USB stick, and (3) bootloader on SD, root/ on an SSD connected through a SATA to USB adapter (or an external SSD).

This Raspberry Pi is being used for a number of what I think to be lightweight tasks:
1) hosting an informational website for my TI-Trek project
2) hosting the python game server for my TI-Trek project
3) hosting a web frontend for my TI-Trek game server to edit config files, avatars, etc. (1 & 3 are apache)
4) hosting a git server for the python server and the calc program
5) periodic backup and maintenance tasks

So my question here is: for my needs, what medium should I use for running the OS on? The one consistency I've seen from what I've looked up is that USB thumb drives are the slowest R/W speed of the three. From there, I've read that the microSD cards and the SSD are the two best, but what concerns me is the failure rate on the SD cards. Some sources say that the SD cards are prone to failures when you've got an OS booting into them and with the card's slot in close proximity to the heat emission from the CPU. Yet other sources say that you can expect a few years of use, so I'm confused as to which is accurate. It does seem fairly consistent that the SSD option might be faster and a bit more reliable long-term.

Anyone here have experience with this and can lend some thoughts?
I have a Raspberry Pi 3 that I've been using for a couple of years as a server with low traffic, and it's using an 8GB micro SD card (~2.5Gb used). It works well enough, but I would opt for a small SD card to boot, but have the root file system on USB or the external SSD or HDD. The Pi 4 has USB 3.0 ports, so it'll be able to access the external drive as quickly as it needs.
SD cards are slow and relatively unreliable but making a Pi boot from USB seems to be an irreversible configuration change, so I'd go with "boot from SD, run system from USB storage" to avoid needing to do anything funny at boot and get good performance/reliability.
Support for booting from USB will be added in later drops of the Raspberry Pi 4 bootloaders. Just to let you know!
MateoConLechuga wrote:
Support for booting from USB will be added in later drops of the Raspberry Pi 4 bootloaders. Just to let you know!

I'm aware. It's on their to do list, just they have a few other things higher on the list.
My current plan (after talking with some ppl) is to use a 128 GB SD card for both boot/ and root/ until the card fails (swap in a flash drive if needed or if it would be faster) or the needs of the server exceed what the card can provide, meanwhile saving up for a USB 3.0-compatible SSD. By that time, hopefully USB boot support will be added, and I can just boot into the SSD for the longer term. I do have a bit of a budget and an SSD is a bit beyond what I can afford to spend at the moment.
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