An internal USB adapter could save your Unraid boot drive

Using a small and cheap adapter that no longer you can place the Unraid USB boot drive inside a case! It will thank you.

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Love it or hate it, with Unraid you have no other choice than to boot the operating system of a USB drive. This can be frustrating because most cases, logically, have their USB ports somewhere on the outside. That’s an issue if you frequently walk by the tower because a USB drive sticking out might just accidentally be snapped off, braking both it and the port. Using a small and cheap adapter that no longer has to be the case! Your Unraid USB boot drive will thank you.

If you have ever built a computer, and I’m assuming you have because you are currently on a website about Unraid, you will know that a case’s USB ports are connected to a header on the motherboard. Depending on the port’s generation this header will either be a bunch of Dupont pins for USB 2.0 and 3.0 ports, or a socket in the case of USB 3.1 and newer. The USB port itself doesn’t necessarily need to be on the outside of the case, it can also be placed internally using a shorter cable or an adapter. As the Unraid boot drive hardly ever needs to be replaced, an internal placement makes much more sense.

My personal choice was an adapter that plugs in directly to the motherboard, without any wires. When using one of these, you do have to consider its size, as it might block other pins on the motherboard. If that is a worry to you, there are also angled adapters available. I went for the adapter to spare me from having to manage yet another cable. It doesn’t look nice, but my system doesn’t have a window and is hidden away in the corner of a room, so that wasn’t an issue for me.

The other option is to install an adapter with a cable. These come in various shapes and sizes and allow you to hide the Unraid USB boot drive anywhere in the case, for example in the cable management area most cases have today.

USB 3.X or USB 2.0?

You might be asking yourself whether you should be using a USB 3.X or USB 2.0 header for Unraid’s USB boot drive. The reality is that it doesn’t actually matter. Fast USB speeds might allow Unraid to boot ever so slightly faster, but as the operating system is loaded in to the RAM during boot, the USB drive’s speed won’t have an influence on Unraid’s speed in everyday use.

You might even purposefully use a USB 2.0 header because you might want to add other peripherals further down the line. Something like the Coral USB Accelerator, which adds an Edge TPU coprocessor to your system, can make good use of USB 3.0 speeds.

About Liam Alexander Colman

I first heard of Unraid through the same medium as many of us did: The Linus Tech Tips channel on YouTube. At the time, I was running TrueNAS (or FreeNAS as it was called back then) on my DIY NAS built using a dual-core Intel Pentium G4400 at its heart. I was convinced, I had chosen the better operating system. After all, it was free and open-source and had a large community behind it. One day, after once again facing the need to buy another three hard drives, I seriously started researching Unraid and its features. I bit the bullet and gave it a go, transferring my data on to external hard drives that I later shucked and added to the Unraid array. Since that day, I have not looked back once, and I am now an enthusiastic and experienced user of Unraid. You can find out more about Unraid Guides right here.

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