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Popeye70
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Joined: Thu Jan 18, 2018 2:35 pm

Very hot USB thumbdrives - can they damage the RPi?

Sat Sep 21, 2019 12:10 pm

Hi!

I am booting several of my RPi 3B and 3B+ from USB mini thumbdrives*, and this works very well. The speed increase compared to my micro SD cards are in the 2-3x range, and I don’t have to worry about the SD cards corrupting over time.

The only problem I see, is that the USB thumbdrives and the USB ports on the RPi run very hot. I always plug the thumbdrives into the top ports to keep the heat as far away from the curcuit board as I can, but still I fear that the heat may somehow damage the RPi itself. The ports get so hot that I can’t stand to put my finger on them for any length of time.

I have considered using USB extension cords to move the heat further away from the RPi, but that defeats the purpose of using as small thumbdrives drives as possible to get the RPis as «clean» and elegant as possible.

What do the experts say? Will the heat be something that I have to get rid of, in order to use the RPis without risk of damage?

* The Sandisk Ultra Fit 64GB and the Samsung Flash Drive FIT 64 GB

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rpdom
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Joined: Sun May 06, 2012 5:17 am
Location: Chelmsford, Essex, UK

Re: Very hot USB thumbdrives - can they damage the RPi?

Sat Sep 21, 2019 12:16 pm

On the Pi 3B+, the metalwork of all the sockets on the board are used to help cool the main chip, so they can get quite hot at times even with nothing plugged in to them. I wouldn't worry about it. They are well within specs for the system.

Kendek
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Joined: Thu Jul 25, 2019 4:39 pm
Location: Kaposvár, Hungary

Re: Very hot USB thumbdrives - can they damage the RPi?

Sat Sep 21, 2019 12:42 pm

Short USB extension cable maybe not elegant but may helps to prevent the devices from heating each other.

Image

deepo
Posts: 446
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Location: Denmark

Re: Very hot USB thumbdrives - can they damage the RPi?

Sat Sep 21, 2019 8:31 pm

If they get hot they draw a lot of power.
Are they drawing too much power for the RPi to handle in the long run?

/Mogens

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Popeye70
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Joined: Thu Jan 18, 2018 2:35 pm

Re: Very hot USB thumbdrives - can they damage the RPi?

Sat Sep 21, 2019 9:13 pm

deepo wrote:
Sat Sep 21, 2019 8:31 pm
If they get hot they draw a lot of power.
Are they drawing too much power for the RPi to handle in the long run?
I haven’t had any problems with the RPis and power supplies. I have used a combination of iPad chargers (2.4A), original RPi chargers (2.5A) and PoE splitters (2.4A). No problems whatsoever.

The thumbdrives get hot when connected to a PC as well, so I guess the drives are the root cause for the heat.
Last edited by Popeye70 on Sat Sep 21, 2019 9:15 pm, edited 1 time in total.

LTolledo
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Location: Anime Heartland

Re: Very hot USB thumbdrives - can they damage the RPi?

Sat Sep 21, 2019 9:14 pm

Had the same problem on my RPi1A+'s single USB port, with a 300Mbps WiFi dongle attached.

First I attached a heatsink on the USB casing ... to increase heat dissipation
also I thought it could be bad electrical connection between the contacts, so I tried cleaning the contact points (USB port and WiFi dongle) using electrical contact cleaner. Heat generation was reduced, but there still is.
Later I changed the USB WiFi dongle to a 150MBps version, heat generation went significantly down to the point that the heatsink is no longer required, thus removed it.

So it seemed that the 300MBps dongle is sucking more power than the 150MBps one, leading to heat generation.

for thumbdrives/pendrives/flashdrives (whatever you like to call those) heating up, it could be bad electrical contact that needs cleaning.
if despite the cleaning the drives wont cool down.... better get a new reputable one as those are even cheap nowadays.

Also I noticed some newly purchased "fake USB drives" do generate heat, when plugged to PC, RPi or other SBCs...

CAUTION: Do maintenance cleaning on the RPi when its not connected to any power source!
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