Qubes on an internal SSD

Is it better to install Qubes on an internal SSD or external for faster speed? Or should I just go with a usb or a hard disk ?


Internal SSD (NVMe) is the fastest option, then external PCIe 3-4 SSD (e.g. M.2 in case) connected via type-c to the port with PCIe support, then external SSD via USB 3 (as SATA), then external HDD via USB.

But disk speed is not that important for Qubes OS.
Fast CPU and memory amount should be much higher priority.

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It is definitely important, because you start/stop a lot of VMs and they all can write data simultaneously. It’s also mentioned in the docs:

High-speed solid-state drive strongly recommended

I don’t agree here. Everything needs SSD to work faster. GNU/Linux and Windows. I see no difference if you run Qubes OS or several VirtualBox VMs in GNU/Linux or even heavy native application. If you have slow disk - those will simply open/boot a longer, nothing else bad will happen.


  • If you lack RAM - you will have major issues of not working qubes and etc.
  • If your CPU is slow - you won’t be able to play video, not even 720p, because of video-rendering in Qubes OS.

=> So, disk speed does not matter if you are not in hurry, does it?

I think you have a point here.

Without enough RAM, or with a slow CPU, there are things that will not work at all.

With slow storage, things will work slowly, but they will at least work. That tells me that RAM and CPU are critical, while the storage is not. But that doesn’t mean the storage isn’t important.

(However: if you don’t have enough storage, regardless of its speed, you could run into other sorts of problems. Unless you have tons of data and can’t keep it offline on a NAS or something like that, 500GB should be enough, and that’s readily available as an SSD, and it’s easy to find a hard drive that has a lot more than that.)

I agree that to have enough storage is critical too for Qubes OS. I once was out of space on Qubes OS and my LVM pool collapsed (probably a bug in Qubes OS) causing data loss, so now I’m always keep extra space. But the speed is not that critical for me.

Yeah, I know your point concerns SSD vs spinning platter hard drives, not capacity. I just didn’t want to have some pedant come at for completely ignoring the capacity issue.

If you’re completely willing to tolerate a slower system, there’s no reason you shouldn’t use a spinning platter hard drive (and one good reason to prefer it: much larger capacity for the same money) though as with anything else, it should be backed up in case it fails. Speed is important (to most) but not absolutely critical.

I was running qubes off a thumb drive for a while and for a couple of days it wasn’t even a USB 3.0 thumbdrive. Not fast, not even remotely fast, but it was enough to convince me I wanted to use Qubes…but I’d have to buy new hardware for it (I was forced onto a thumb drive because Qubes couldn’t see my SATA drivers at all). Obviously I couldn’t have done this if speed were absolutely critical to the system functioning!