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How to boot from Raspberry Pi4 USB 3.0 SSD. This is a lot easier than it looks, just read through one time to see. I am bypassing installing the OS on an SDCARD to purely update the eeprom, seems like a huge waste of time when it can just be flashed in seconds from a basically blank SDCARD.


For this you need, pi4, sdcard, ssd drive, connector for usb 3.0.
What I used:

First I am using Windows 10 for this, the steps are basically same for whatever OS.

Format your SDCARD to fat32, get bootloader and unzip the files to that drive.
bootloader here -> https://github.com/raspberrypi/rpi-eeprom/blob/master/releases.md
Under USB MSD Boot find latest, for this guide its this one https://github.com/raspberrypi/rpi-eeprom/files/4781199/rpi-boot-eeprom-recovery-2020-06-15-vl805-000137ad-BETA.zip

Unzip that to the root directory of the fresh formatted SDCARD.

Insert SDCARD into pi4, and wait a bit for the green light to flash, about 10-15 seconds, powered back on hooked to monitor and it just worked. That's the first part which now makes the PI4 able to boot from the blue USB 3.0 ports.

Now hook up your SSD Drive and SATA adapter to your PC.

Get Raspberry Pi Imager - https://www.raspberrypi.org/downloads/
Windows - https://downloads.raspberrypi.org/imager/imager.exe
macOS - https://downloads.raspberrypi.org/imager/imager.dmg
Ubuntu - https://downloads.raspberrypi.org/imager/imager_amd64.deb

Run this and select 32-bit and write.

To run Headless: Remove the drive and insert back in. Click into the drive and stick a blank ssh file in. For wifi you want to put a wpa_supplicant.conf file in there.


ctrl_interface=DIR=/var/run/wpa_supplicant GROUP=netdev


Looks like this when done.



With or without headless: The next step is to get the latest .elf and .dat files into the root directory of the SSD drive. So make sure after flashing the SSD to unplug and plug back in for Windows to see the new filesystem.

Click clone, then download zip. Double click that downloaded zip and go to the boot directory. Copy the .elf and .dat files to your SSD root directory. At the time of this guide that's 16 files you end up replacing.

Now put your SSD/SATA into the pi4 USB 3.0 (blue port) and boot up. The first part will show resizing the drive, the pi4 will then reboot again and go into the OS. The ssh file will allow us to SSH into the headless unit, wpa_supplicant.conf should allow wifi if you aren't using an ethernet cable.

Tips: I used a split side by side 4k monitor for this, don't do that as if the pi4 detects weird resolutions, it won't work right. 64-bit Raspberry Pi OS VNC server does not work at the moment, use 32-bit for now.

After installed run benchmarks. 

Nench - Overall Benchmarks


(wget -qO- wget.racing/nench.sh | bash; wget -qO- wget.racing/nench.sh | bash) 2>&1 | tee nench.log



Raspberry Pi Diagnostics - SD Card Speed Test

Click Pi (top left corner) -> Accessories -> Raspberry Pi Diagnostics -> Run Tests


After the test runs -> Show Log

Test : SD Card Speed Test
Run 1
Sequential write speed 319687 KB/sec (target 10000) - PASS
Random write speed 17964 IOPS (target 500) - PASS
Random read speed 13744 IOPS (target 1500) - PASS


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