Boot/load CF vs USB vs HDD

  • Hi all,

    Planning on doing a pfsense build and have most of the hardware ready, but the only thing i am unsure of is the way to handle the installation. I've been reading alot and get quite a bit of mixed reports.

    Ideally i'd like to stay away from a hard disk, and obviously a live cd. However the hardware requirements and others builds seem to stray away from using compact flash or usb as a hard drive? The read/write speed is the limiting factor? Do i really need it for my requirements? Recommended on the main page is 10gb HDD, but i see several builds with less.

    What sort of setup do you recommend for me and why? I'm confused.  ??? What about some drive like this?

    Only thing special i'd probably use is squid proxy and a antivirus.

    Network is ~10pc's + FreeNAS
    30up 10down on a good day
    1.8ghz Sempron
    Mobo with no sata.
    DDR1gb ram
    Lots of gigabit nics

    Thank you!

  • I don't know about squid cache to an SSD… never done it. When I use SSD I use the embedded image. If your goal is filtering I believe you can do no cache or RAM only cache.

    I have at home something like Kingston 8GB SSD, or maybe it's 16GB? It's whatever was cheapest/smallest at the time. I know at work I was ordering something like 32gb drive for embedded systems and before you know it 64gb is cheapest/smallest from our vendor.

  • Yeah Cache would be nice, but is it really needed to have 10gb+??? Can't i just pick up some pos ebay china brand 8gb ssd?

    Why can't i use CF or usb? Too slow?

  • Netgate Administrator

    The problem with using a CF card or USB flash drive is that they have a limited number of write cycles. If you run a squid cache or end up using any swap (which shouldn't be happening) you can burn through those cycles in short order and end up with a dead flash drive. Even the standard installation with no packages writes to the disk quite a bit.

    If you are booting from flash you should be using the NanoBSD images which do not write to disk except when you change the config. The read/write speed from flash is not important since pfSense runs almost entirely from RAM once it's booted.

    It is possible to run Squid on a Nano install but only with caching disabled. You can still use it with Squidguard as a content filter.

    @Joako. Those 8GB Kinston SSDs (at least the early ones) seem to be very unreliable. They may have fixed the firmware since but it'd be worth checking if you're still running any.

  • Okay that makes more sense. a 8gb would be enough for my needs though?

  • Netgate Administrator

    The actual pfSense install requires almost nothing. The size of drive required will be dependent on how much you want to cache. Also bare in mind that squid uses ram as it caches at approximately 10MB per 1GB. So if you had a 128GB SSD and used 100GB as a squid cache you won't have enough ram to do it.


  • lol, i really doubt i'll have that much cache. Plus i only have 1gb of ram for this machine. I have quite a few older IDE drives laying about i just really don't trust them long term.

    but at the same time, i want it to function at 100% and not have to worry about replacing something that craps out… Oh well guess i'll try it.

    Thanks for your help Steve.