Running Node Red on Pi via USB stick

Has anyone been running node red on a USB stick instead of a sd card? Does it really give better life or performance? Trying to decide which way to go for a long term install.

You will get much better performance with an SSD drive and appropriate USB3 adapter than either an SD card or USB flash drive.
The difference with a USB flash drive will be much less noticeable.

As for the life of the drive, my experimental USB setup died after about a month. Not Node-red's fault, it was down to /var/log being part of the root filesystem.
I've never had a microSD card go read-only or die. Lost plenty under the sofa of course.

There are things you can do to extend the life of your system drive. You should be able to find advice on the Raspberry Pi forums.

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Agree, a USB pen-drive is the worst option. Most will be cheap without wear levelling (as indeed most cheap and some expensive SD-Cards also don't have). They are also constrained by the USB interface speeds.

An SSD will be the fastest certainly and the most robust, especially on a Pi4 with its much higher bus speed.

A decent SD-Card with wear levelling and oversized (e.g. 32Gb), should last for at least 5 years with no special treatment. I think my last one lasted nearer 10 (a Samsung EVO) on a Pi3 running lots of services. Oddly enough nearly as long as one of the WD RED NAS drives in my Synology NAS.

Do you mean the pi (or whatever) is booting from USB stick or that node-red is installed on a stick or that your flows are on a stick?

In my envisioned scenario the entire Pi would run from either a USB stick or the SD card. So either no SD card installed or no USB stick installed. I did ask on a Pi forum about this and I got a lot of theoretical mumbo jumbo, transfer speeds, life expectancy, yadda yadda. Nobody there either runs or ran a Pi on either one in a "production" environment. They setup the Pi run for a few days or weeks then take it apart to try something else. I need a real world set it up and forget it judgement as I want to put this in a system that I would hope would run for a long long time with no over sight. It's not life critical but it would be nice to be able to set and forget. It's a temp sensor/alarm with a few other bits and pieces like door monitor etc. Looking for an actual experience running one or the other.

Follow @TotallyInformation's advice then. I have several pis that have been running for years on SD cards.

I need a real world set it up and forget it judgement as I want to put this in a system that I would hope would run for a long long time with no over sight

I expect this is mumbo jumbo but unless you have at least two devices monitoring each other's status you can almost guarantee that eventually, when the alarm should go off, the device will fail to notify you because it's dead.

If it has to run for a long long time use the overlay filesystem to make the drive read-only

Not at all.

Yes, the law of either Mr S0d or Mr Murphy depending on your inclination.

Just like good government, you need someone/thing to check the checker.

just a suggestion here, since I also like to have the peace of mind that my various Pi's are up and running.

I use a free account from to monitor my Pi's
On each machine I have a node red flow that periodically sends a http request to healthchecks. If they do not get a request within a specified time, then they will send me an alert via email and or telegram. Likewise, if or when the pi comes back online, I get a similar message.

PS. Also I'd like to add to what others have said. I've been running several Pi's for the last 4-5 years on SD cards and they have been rock solid. These are machines doing quite a lot of work, with 12 docker containers doing things like video capture, OpenVPN, pihole, home automation etc. I've only encountered one SD failure and I think that was due to someone pulling the power without a graceful shutdown. ( I always use Samsung cards )

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