Pi 4b or keep Pi 3B+ Pros and cons

Hello looking for some suggestions. I had a Pi 3b running until the SD card crashed on me a couple of times. I was in the process of getting a Pi 4b so I waited around.

Since I’ve done a bit more research. Common for SDs to go bad just from regular use. The Pi 3B+ has boot from USB but seems with limitations, no USB boot for pi 4 yet. Seems the most stable way to set it up even if USB boot is available, is to continue to boot from the SD card, but boot onto the USB media instead. This way all the writing and re writing is being done on the SSD not the SD.

I got the 4 GB Pi 4, and now I think it would be overkill, almost like a waste of money to run my hassio there. I haven’t been able to find anything I could do with my HomeAssistant setup on a PI4 that I couldn’t on a Pi 3. Am I correct here, running only Hassio on a Pi 4 with 1GB vs Pi 4 with 4GB or Pi 3 B, it all would be pretty much the same?

So then I was thinking what other things I could run on the Pi 4 along side Hassio. ZoneMinder wouldn’t work too well, as it seems to max out around 4 cams when running on a Pi 4. Was thinking running a NAS and mostly use it to store images captured by another machine running zone minder. What other useful tools could I run along side Hassio on a Pi 4?

I was going to set up the old pi 3b on my girlfriends house, then use her old laptop to run zoneminder, but I just realized that unlike my setup, at her house she won’t be using any of the pi3 pins, which means I should run zoneminder and homeassistant on her old laptop and skip pi3b at her house all together.

So my other option could be, to set up hassio as a stand alone on my pi3b using a USB to SSD adaptor, then use the pi 4 as a desktop or something else.

Any advice and or suggestions would be appreciated!

Having 2G or 4G and a slightly faster cpu for 10/20 bucks extra in the same form factor sounds like a good deal; not sure what the alternatives are.

What I noticed was that with history, pi3b took a long time to initialize new state objects to use on the history page, because of python, and it just made home assistant useless. The 100k states I had logged in history, took around 40s on my pi3b to deserialize, and that takes only around 5 seconds on my 10 year old amd turion cpu. I don’t know how long it would take on a pi4b; I’m hoping it’d be faster.

I’m using pi3b+ and a 64GB “Samsung pro endurance” micro SD card - after the first Samsung evo plus died on me.

I used to have 3 day history, hourly incremental snapshots backed up to Google drive (300mb/snapshot), influxdb and pihole - which made the card die.

To make things work on the new card on pi3b:

  • I basically disabled history by reducing it to a single lightbulb; I’m still using influxdb with grafana - it’s so much more efficient
  • I changed to daily snapshots; if my hardware dies it’ll take longer than a day to replace, and I don’t fiddle with HA often - no point in having it hourly
  • I disabled pihole logging; it was a big source of i/o, even if only a couple of devices were using it

Now, I’m still waiting on grafana to render some pages once in a while, and there’s still some zram being used with 1gb I have on my pi, but it’s kind of tolerable. I don’t think it’s worth the upgrade, 60 bucks and I’m stuck with an old pi, but if I had a choice to get a pi4 at the start, I’d do it.

Btw, the snapshot restore feature (I’m using with Google drive add-on) is great!

Thank you for your reply. As many things in life Home Assistant is simple and a bit confusing at the same time. Hass.io is what I was running on my Pi 3B, which seems to be an off spring of Home Assistant, basically a different way to run HA on a Pi without having to install another operating system to run the HA.

Seems my end goal would be to run Hass.io on my PI 4 if it is already available. Then also run Pihole which I would definitely find useful, and the NAS for my 480 GB SSD attached to the pi 4. Will look into influxdb and grafana to see if it is something I would actually use.

It seems I could run a regular rasbian setup on my pi4 then run HA on that, but truth be told I would probably never use the rasbian part of it. Running Hass.io, pihole and a NAS off of my Pi 4 would be enough for me to feel good about my under $140 investment.

Finally thank you for the tip regarding snapshot restore feature with the Google drive add on. Will definitely look into that since I do plan to do much more with my HA setup now, and having to start from scratch if the SD or the SDD crash would be a pain.

I use a Pi4 with USB to SSD and it feels a lot faster than an SD card.

Running Raspbian and HA, things like config check is very quick, usually less than 10 seconds.

I’d go for the Pi4.

I would as well. USB boot will eventually come I am sure.

Yep I currently have to have a 1GB SD card in order to boot Raspbian from the SSD. It was a bit of a pain to set up but now it’s up and running the extra speed is worth it.

Looking forward to proper USB boot once the EEPROM update arrived.

thanks for the feedback. I am no expert by any means, but I did read a post that claims pi 3 b does have USB boot option, but that it is very limited, that it makes more sense to boot from SD onto SDD, that way you only have to write/re write on the SD when a boot info is changed.

I don’t mind having an SD and an SDD, heck I didn’t mind having just an SD alone, but seems because of how things “work”, if you only use SD card it will eventually kill the SD card…

From what I understand so far, the difference between running hass.io on a pi 3 alone is very similar as running a hass.io alone on a pi 4 with 4 GB. (I mean in my case, that I am using hass.io for a single house with less than 20 devices/switches). Now running a NAS is way different between pi 3 and pi 4, mostly because pi 4 has USB 3 which is way faster than USB 2.0 available on the pi 3.

Remember part of my posts are for personal enrichment/ knowledge the other part is to gather ammo to justify my purchases to the girlfriend :slight_smile:

How is it limited and what more do you want it to do?

The other option to consider if you want to use the Pi4, is to get a high endurance SD card similar to this ( https://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B07P3D6Y5B/ref=ppx_yo_dt_b_asin_title_o04_s00?ie=UTF8&psc=1 ) These should last longer than typical cards, and once the option to boot from USB comes out, you can make the move.

Honestly I don’t know what the post creator meant by “very limited” for USB boot via Pi 3. I do have a bit of background in computer science and IT, but never learned about the “boot” systems.

According to the post I read, it seems the most stable way to set up a Pi, is to boot from SD card onto the Operating System on the SDD.

Honestly I never understood why Pi use SD cards to run (except for keeping everything very small). I took a quick glance at the link you shared. Seems a 256 GB high endurance would set me back about $45 USD. I just got a 480 GB Kingson SSD for about the same price. By no means am I an expert, but I would assume read/write speeds on the SSD are faster and would last longer than a high endurance SD card.

I live in Mexico, and I’ve already had my house broken into twice. Where I plan to keep the Pi4 and the SSD would be very hard for a regular thief to find. So they might be able to get away with my main computer (the one running zone minder) but ideally zone minder will send all data to the SSD so still would have access to it.

I am also looking into Motion, which I understand is similar to Zone Minder. My Pi 4 is connected to a UPS (no break), so might even put in a couple of cameras tied directly to the pi/motion so even if power is turned off to my house the pi with motion and the 2 cameras will continue to work.

Now if someone could help me understand, why do so many people insist on straight USB boot vs boot from SD but run everything on SSD? What would be the benefit of running a high endurance SD card until USB boot is available vs booting from SD onto an SSD even if USB boot is available?

MotionEye is great however if you get cameras with decent resolution the RPi (3 or 4) will struggle, if not fall over completely.

For HA, a 256Gb would be way overkill. I’ve never used more than 32GB cards before, but I needed 64 on another project and just bought two. The high endurance SD card requires zero effort to make work and will get you on a Pi4 today. Down the road you can move the data volume(s) over to an SSD and if needed, just keep the boot sector on the SD card.

You are right in that an SSD has wear leveling and better endurance and would be a better/more reliable option than a USB stick.

The other recommendation is to put your Pi (or whatever you run HA on) a UPS. Less than graceful power loss can corrupt a system faster than as using a SD card.

Thanks for the input sparkydave. Yes I was aware of that issue a bit. From what I read zone minder would work on a Pi 4, but once you get to about 4 cameras it struggles. My goal is to run my “real” cams via zone minder on a “real” computer that I leave on all the time, but have it push the data onto the SSD connected to the pi 4 via a HAS. Then run two ESP 8266 Cams (SVGA I think) via MotionEye.

It is easy to turn off my electricity before breaking into my house, but the UPS I have should run the Pi 4, the 8266 cams, and a few LEDs for a good hour before battery goes out. About 85% of the valuables a thief could take are in my room so even with no power I should be able to get video (not HD) of who went into my room, and ideally the HD footage of the person that turned off my power to begin with should be captured on the SSD attached to the SD.

Yes dap, I agree 256 for HA alone would be way over kill. I do want to run a HAS (think that is what they are called, basically an HD I can store data via the net). I haven’t done much research yet as how to make it all work. For example not sure if I would have to create different partitions on the drive, like a 20GB partition for Hass.io and the rest for network storage, or if I can run hassio and network storage on the same partition.

My Pi 3 ran little over a year with a UPS, however at one point my UPS went dead but not sure if it was before or after my Pi 3 SD card crash. I do plan to run the pi 4 and the SSD with a UPS

I think you mean ‘NAS’. In that case you might want to look at installing HassIO via Docker onto a Synology NAS. The Synology NAS’s are really good and quite powerful. If you run one on a UPS and hide it away somewhere it would suit your requirements very well, plus no need to worry about SD cards or USB booting.

Fake News. USB boot on Pi3 works perfectly well.

Thanks again for input sparkydave. I did a quick google search on Synology NAS, and it seems it is tied up to hardware. Based on this link https://www.pcmag.com/roundup/294930/the-best-nas-network-attached-storage-devices it seems the cheapest one runs about $166.

I have a brand new Pi 4 and a good (think it is Evo) 128 GB card, and a few good smaller SD cards. By Friday I should have my new 480 GB Kingston SSD and the USB 3.0 to SATA adapter. The main purpose of the hardware is to run Hass.io or HA installed via docker or similar. I am not looking to squeeze the most use out of the hardware, and seems Hass.io, a NAS and Pihole should be able to run at the same time without much issue. Might install influxdb and graf later on.

At the moment I do have a bad UPS (works fine for a few days, then it starts to beep, turn it off for a few days plug it back in, and it seems to work for a few days again) that I plan to replace in the near future.

One of the main reasons I am tied to a Pi for my HA is because I do use the on board pins to read sensors and control some relays. Originally I was going to use the old Pi 3 B on my GFs house but then I realized I won’t be using the pins on her house, so I can just run zoneminder and HA on an old laptop of hers and call it a day. I assume there would be something else I could purchase for a Synology setup to have access to pins, but that just tarts getting bigger and more expensive.

I am on the “thinking” stage at the moment, so any input is very appreciated. For example I don’t even know if I can run hass.io, pihole and NAS without having to use a docker (which I am not sure exatly what it is, nor have I ever played with docker).

The Synology NAS lets you install docker simply by clicking a single button in the GUI. Then just install as per the generic linux docs.

Instead of using RPi pins for I/O, have a look at ESPhome. ESP8266’s (like NodeMCU or Wemos D1 mini) are super cheap and work perfectly with HA.

Again, thank you for your great suggestions which I am sure will be useful to other users that are getting started.

I am a bit familiar with 8266s, in fact I am using about 6 ESP 8266s to control my lights and fans, and plan to purchase many 8266 cams because they are so damn cheap, but those require a working network to work. For my regular lights it is ok if network goes down, but the things I want to hook up directly to the Pi’s pins I want to be able to continue running properly even if my home network is down, which is why I have a UPS set up as well.

The Synology option seems like a very good one. Priced at $166 is not much more than what I’ve already put in to get the Pi 4 working. People say “Pi 4b with 4GB” is only about $55 (or is it $65), but once you add the power adapter, the case and the SD card we end up getting closer to $100, and if you add a USB SSD like I plan to do, we end up closer to $160. Without doing much research something tells me Synology as a NAS would work much better than a pi 4 with an SSD set up as a NAS, but the Syology is bigger in size and to use pins I would have to buy additional hardware and be dependent on more variables (wifi working, etc) for my system to work properly.

I do appreciate your input, and I have learned a lot thanks to it. My GFs old laptop is OLD, so down the road I might consider Synology as an option when it comes time to upgrade that for her. Last year she wasn’t happy with the Alexa Echos I got for her and her daughter and all the smart switches I put in her house. A year later she appreciates it, and now that she gets to see my set up at my own house (cameras, sensors, email alerts, etc) she now appreciates it much more and wants me to continue building on her set up. At the moment she doesn’t even have HA, everything at her house runs straight from Alexa.