Update VMs on SSDs

This post is an update to my previous posts on using Virtual Machines (VMs). Here are some links to those articles:

In part 2 I included a section on where to store VMs. I mentioned that I was using a USB 3.0 spinning drive to store my VMs. At the time I thought it was a cost-effective solution. I have since changed my mind.

Ed Dickens is the one who changed my mind. There’s a group of us LabVIEW guys who get together for coffee occasionally. One day Ed was there and I was complaining about how expensive portable SSDs were. He said “Don’t bother buying a portable one. Just grab an enclosure and buy a cheap 2.5 internal SSD. It’s totally worth it!” He had an enclosure that was pretty slick. It was tool-less – just slide the drive in. It also had a built in cable.

So I found one similar to what Ed suggested on Amazon for about $15. It is tool-less and has a builtin USB-C cable that supports USB 3.1 Gen 2 (10GBPs) See above picture. I also bought a 1 TB crucial SSD for $125. So for ~$150 I got a blazing fast portable drive for my VMs. The speed boost is incredible. It is most notable on bootup and when loading or building LabVIEW and Teststand projects. The speed difference is easily worth the $150.

NVME?

I saw a few NVME drive enclosures. Obviously NVME drives are much lighter and faster than 2.5″ SATA 3 SSDs. However, 2 things made me reconsider. First and most obviously, the price difference in the drives is astronomical. The enclosures are also 4 times as much. Also, NVME drives connected to a motherboard use 4 PCIe lanes, but most enclosures I saw, the specs said they only used 2 lanes. That has to affect the end speed.

That’s why I opted for a SATA enclosure. Who knows? Maybe in a few months or years I will be proclaiming the wonders of NVME drives as super-fast economical portable storage. They are pretty awesome for desktops and laptops. I’m just not sure they are practical or economical yet as portable drives for running VMs.

Other Uses

Another reason to justify buying the enclosure/SSD combo is that I do work a fair amount with PXI chassises which use 2.5 drives. If I need to pull a drive and do something with it (whipe it, format it, clone it, etc) now I have an enclosure with me.

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