I'm using a mac and I'm making a virtual machine (MineOS) with VirtualBox. If I were to run the virtual machine (and it's resources, including the virtual hard disk) from the usb drive, would it wear out very quickly from read/writes?

I'm not sure how much read/writing it will receive but I wouldn't want to run it off the USB for a day and find out the next morning that it's totally dead.

  • 1
    Do you have to run it from the stick? Aug 13 '11 at 19:46
  • No, but I want to use my computer with the USB stick like a "seperate computer"; the ram disk and world would be on there and I could take it with me.
    – alexyorke
    Aug 13 '11 at 19:52
  • I don't know much about MineOS, but with a regular server it is extremely trivial to copy the world and server to/from a USB stick whenever you need to move it. Aug 13 '11 at 19:53

While it's true that heavy use reduces the lifespan of a flash drive, most people rather underestimate how long they last. If you're considering using a flash drive for I/O-intensive tasks, I highly recommend Jeroen Kessel's description of the problem. He's specifically addressing defragmentation, but the second paragraph in particular applies to any kind of disk-heavy operation.

In particular, he says:

In order to wear out a cheap 10,000 cycle flash memory disk in ten years, you would have to write to EVERY BLOCK in the device about 2.7 times per day, every single day.

Minecraft's I/O usage went down dramatically in 1.3 (due to the switch to region files), but is still fairly high due to its frequent saving of chunks. Assuming a disk-wide average of 27 writes per block per day due to very heavy Minecraft play (due to wear leveling, that's about 108 gigabytes of written data for a 4GB drive), even an el-cheapo drive would last at least a year!

  • Clearly, I shouldn't try answering questions after midnight. How many times do I need to say "due to" in a single answer!? ^.^
    – Ben Blank
    Aug 14 '11 at 18:16

My personal recommendation: Do not do this!

I know from experience that a Minecraft server is reading and writing continously (albeit lessened if you turn off autosave). If you accidentally pulled the USB stick out while it was running, you could corrupt your world too.

I anticipate that if you try this, you will wear out the stick very fast (depending on the size and quality of the stick).

  • If I used a ram disk, would that lessen the effects?
    – alexyorke
    Aug 13 '11 at 19:51
  • @Alexy13 Based on what little I know of RAM disks (treating RAM as a disk drive), I don't see how that would help. Aug 13 '11 at 19:55
  • @Alexy13 — Using a RAM disk would reduce the amount of wear on the disk at the expense of additional RAM usage and increased risk of data loss if something goes wrong.
    – Ben Blank
    Aug 14 '11 at 4:54
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    @Alexy13 As a compromise, you could run MineOS from your harddisk and setup a cron job for a daily or hourly backup to USB - I mean inside the virtual machine which would then have direct access to your flash drive. Maybe also modify the server starting script to put a final backup on the stick after quitting
    – Zommuter
    Aug 14 '11 at 8:11

Depending on quality and "age" of your flash drive it should live at least few weeks, probably - months.

If you are confident in hardware stabitily and have enough RAM you may want to run whole server in RAM (it is possible in linux), writing to stick only once in, say, 15 minutes. This would greatly increase its lifetime.

  • How do you propose that he limit the writing to the stick? Aug 14 '11 at 0:17

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