• 0 Vote(s) - 0 Average
  • 1
  • 2
  • 3
  • 4
  • 5
Install OpenELEC to USB (for ALL models of Raspberry Pi)
What are the benefits of installing to USB rather than SD?
Installing to an SD card will result in a painfully slow XBMC setup, you can speed this up by enabling overclocking but you must be very careful as SD cards really aren't designed for running operating systems on and too high an overclock (or the wrong power supply) can easily corrupt your card. A corrupt card cannot be fixed and it will have to be thrown away.

What Do I need?
SD Card: You'll need a basic SD card, really doesn't matter what it is - just get the cheapest one you can find. You'll see a lot of instructions out there recommending a class 10 card, if using an SD card install then yes this is recommended but for a USB install it's really not necessary. The SD card just contains a handful of files that are ONLY used for a few seconds on the initial boot. Once booted up the SD card is not used again and the USB stick does all the work so really the cheapest SD card you can find is all you need (min. 256mb). Some VERY OLD cards aren't compatible with the r-pi, it's rare to find a card that won't work but I've found two very old ones that didn't work which were pulled out of old cameras.

Option 1 - USB Stick: You'll need a USB stick or a large external USB HDD. If using a USB stick you should use a USB3.0 stick and not a USB2.0 (using a USB.2.0 will work but it will be painfully slow, possibly even slower than SD card). I used to recommend the Jetflash 700 sticks but newer models are terrible and are liable to corruption, I have since used Verbatim Store 'n' Go V3 sticks but apparently newer models are suffering from the same problem as the Jetflash Sad. Do some homework on what sticks people are using these days as manufacturers do seem to change the components used so what was good a few months ago may not necessarily be good now, there are also a LOT of fake sticks out there so it's well worth paying a little more from a respected outlet rather than an ebay seller. I have been stung lots of times with dodgy cards from ebay sellers (and even some more respected outlets) but at least with a proper outlet you can send it back for a refund.

Option 2 - USB External HDD: If you have a spare HDD lying around this is a great option, a mechanical HDD runs nice and fast and is very reliable as they're designed specifically for operating systems to be run on them. You could buy an external USB HDD or if you have an old SATA/IDE HDD you can buy a USB HDD Caddy which allows you to plug in your HDD and it turns it into an external USB HDD - these can be purchased for a very reasonable price (if you look around probably under �15 for a good one).

Step 1: Download the OpenELEC files

Download the latest release from here (v1 units) or here (v2 units). These are special builds uploaded by us designed for using this install method, the builds are exactly the same as the official ones from the OpenELEC site but we've just changed a few bits in the command lines so we can use this easier install method.
Once you have the download extract the contents.

Step 2: Download MiniTool Partition Wizard

Download the latest version of MiniTool Partition Wizard from here, once downloaded install the program.

Step 3: Preparing SD Card
Insert your SD card and run MT Partition Wizard. You should be presented with a window showing all your storage, in the screenshot you can see my SD Card is the bottom one that's been highlighted. I know it's that one as it's a 4GB card and I previously had Raspbmc installed on it which is why it has 2 partitions on the one card.

[Image: qrglr9.jpg]

Step 4: Delete All Partitions on SD Card

IT IS VERY IMPORTANT YOU CHOOSE THE CORRECT DRIVE, YOU CAN EASILY FORMAT YOUR SYSTEM IF YOU CHOOSE THE WRONG ONE!!! Now right click on the picture of the HDD (we know it's the SD card but the image is actually of a HDD, it just represents the fact that it's a storage device). Select "Delete All Partitions".

[Image: nq6zv9.jpg]

Step 5: Create New Partition

You should now have a big grey bar of unallocated space, right click on this section and choose "CREATE".

[Image: zlw4s9.jpg]

Once you click on create you need to use the following options (and do them in the following order):
1) File System: FAT32
2) Create As: Primary

[Image: 21k9hf5.jpg]

Step 6: Setup the USB HDD/Flash

You can use any USB drive, this could be a little flash drive (thumb stick) or a large external USB HDD (this could be a SATA/IDE HDD put in a USB HDD caddy, this actually works very well).

Follow the same directions as in step 4 but make sure you choose your USB flash drive (you still need to do step 4 with your SD card, you cannot use ONLY a USB drive without an SD card). Once that is done you need to create a new partition and this is VERY IMPORTANT...

Using Flash Drive
Once you click on create you need to use the following options (and do them in the following order):
1) File System: EXT4
2) Create As: Primary

Using a large external HDD
If using a large HDD you will want to create two partitions on it, one for your XBMC setup and the other for all your media. This is optional and you could make just one partition but that would mean if you ever have problems with your XBMC partition you'll have to format the whole HDD and lose your media - that's far from ideal so we'll do two partitions!

Create a partition for the XBMC system files, I would recommend a minimum of 10GB which would allow for plenty of metadata to be stored on the device but if you have a very large HDD then you may as well just play it safe and go for a 20GB partition - this will last years before needing any tidyng up and will also allow you to cache large HD video files to the HDD when streaming.

1) File System: EXT4
2) Create As: Primary

Create a partition for your media, This will be the remaining space left on the device - you can create this in any file structure you want so depending on whether your a Mac, linux or Windows user you can select whichever you prefer. I'm a Windows user so I'll be using NTFS
1) File System: NTFS
2) Create As: Primary
3) Partition Label: MEDIA  You can call this whatever you like, so long as it's not STORAGE or SYSTEM as they are already used

Step 7: Copy files to SD Card

Extract the files you downloaded in step 1 and copy the SD card files to the root of the SD card, these files should be directly in the root directory, they shouldn't be in a sub-folder. By default there is no overclocking set so you're still going to find this a very slow XBMC setup until you change that. You can either manually edit the config.txt file and set your own overclock settings or if you want to void your warranty there is a config.txt file pre-configured for a turbo setup (the one I use) - you can find this in a a sub-folder on the SD card. If you want to use this just copy it over to the root of your SD card and overwrite the existing config.txt file. WARNING: As I use force_turbo setting on my units this does void your r-pi warranty but thousands of users have used this and as yet nobody has broken their pi but of course the risk is yours to take!

When using turbo overclock you MUST use a good quality power supply, do not use phone chargers. You need a power supply that outputs at a steady 5v and I'd recommend a minimum of 1.2A - the majority of chargers claim to output at 5v but in reality it fluctuates and this will cause random reboots and other weird errors, at worse it can corrupt your SD/USB. Always use a recommended outlet such as modmypi. If you're planning on using the USB slot from your TV to power the r-pi think again - it's highly unlikely it's up to the job and although it may work it will most likely cause random reboots etc.

Rest of the pictures for step 6 onwards coming soon, in the meantime you can watch the video guide below which explains the whole procedure.

I am new to Rspi and XBMC, but fairly computer competent. I have my Pi ready for overclocking I have watched a couple of TotalXBMC videos on how to and bought an 8 gb usb stick as suggested. I need a little clarification on loading openElec onto the usb drive, what version of openElec do I download  and install ie the stable ver 4.0.6 or the legecy version ? in the video it doesn't show this, I suppose it assumes the obvious.
some advice please
Hi Brian, welcome to TotalXBMC Smile

I've not created files for the latest v.4.0.6 yet so the easiest thing to do is use the latest USB version I've done (v.4.0.3). Do not overclock just yet as you'll want to upgrade and you shouldn't do that whilst overclocked or you could corrupt the install...

Now go to openelec settings in XBMC and there should be an option to update to the latest version, do that and once it's finished you can then take out the SD card, stick it in your PC and overclock it. Reboot the pi and you're all set.
thanks for the info, on the OpenElec site there are 3 Rspi builds two ver 4.0.6 and one legacy ver 3.2.4 which one do I use one is a tar file the other is a GZ file. I use a windows 7 pc.
Ive recently moved to  a 16GB usb on my pi
Q. OpenElec did an auto update a few days ago - does this wipe out the overclocking I did previously
I also use 16GB sticks and sd combos. My sd cards are over clocked, they  auto updated from 4.0.5 to 4.0.6 and the over clock is still there.
[Image: nansig_bromerzz.png]
How to upload a log file:

I am not understanding this clearly, I have watched the "openElec to usb video. In this the open screen shot graphic shows two files in an open windows screen, one is openElec to usb, the other is partition wizard.
    My Question were do I get these two files from? At the moment I have a Rsb Pi loaded with OpenElec on a NOOB sd card, I have bought a new usb stick as per video advice and I'm ready to make my Pi an overclocked fast unit.
When I first bought my Pi it came with an 8GB SD card pre loaded with XBMC. After reading about over clocking and using the USB I bought a new blank 8GB SD card and a 8GB USB (which I later changed to 16GB)

As mentioned in the video download and install Partition Wizard on a PC (I use a Mac and had to borrow PC). This is free software.

Depending on your set up you may also need to buy the little converter that enables you to plug your SD card into a USB port on the PC.

Follow Lee’s video instructions to delete and setup partitions and naming of the USB stick.

Where to get the file you need to extract to the SD card - paste this in your browser:


Wait for the web page to load and when you see SKIP AD top right, click on that and you’ll see the file to download

Again, follow and complete the instructions in the video. Then follow the over clocking video 8)
Thanks scooby, 
  I have got both files suggested sitting on my pc. Referring back to the  video "installing OpenElec to USB"  as this title suggests I am assuming that the usb drive is used instead of a SD card to store all openElec files and is used to operate the Pi, if not what purpose does the usb stick serve ?. I already have a NOOB SD card containing  openElec  installed in my Pi , it does not seem right to wipe it during the partitioning procedure and then installing like files on it.
I agree - I wouldn't wipe the NOOBs SD. I'm no expert, however when I bought my Pi it came pre loaded with XBMC. I was given the option of buying NOOBS, but chose the other. Later when I read about using the USB and overclocking, I put the original SD card with XBMC pre loaded aside and bought a fresh SD card and then loaded the files mentioned in Lee's video. (At the risk of being corrected!!) I assume the SD card holds all the files for what we might call the operating system and the USB is for storage of all your specific settings, video lists, playlists, favourites, add ons etc.

Once you change the overclocking parameters on the SD card (Im not sure where I read this but I took some advice and used the settings one level below Turbo) another consideration worth implementing is to create an advancedsettings.xml file. This also gets written to the SD card and the particular settings deal with the video cache. Worthwhile doing because the settings will use the spare capacity on the USB as the temporary cache and will improve buffering. Real easy to do and you can read more about it here:


Possibly Related Threads...
Thread Author Replies Views Last Post
  help in install apps ferrari 3 214 07-09-2017, 09:28 AM
Last Post: whufclee
  Install Kodi On Windows whufclee 16 19,044 04-15-2017, 04:46 PM
Last Post: bromerzz
  brand new samsung smart tv how do i install kodi on it need step by step ? harley08 5 90,571 04-27-2016, 10:02 AM
Last Post: wheelboy
  Unofficial OpenElec Official Kodi 16 Jarvis. Nemsis72 1 1,217 02-26-2016, 05:01 PM
Last Post: whufclee
  Install Kodi on Android gandelf 19 11,561 02-24-2016, 01:55 PM
Last Post: whufclee
  updating kodi on nuc with openelec Gnowmad 7 1,586 11-23-2015, 07:10 PM
Last Post: whufclee
  [R-Pi] Offical OpenElec Stable 5.0.5 For Rasp2 W/Custom setup and more Add-ons Nuttypro69 11 2,696 06-23-2015, 12:39 PM
Last Post: Silvi0
  [R-Pi] Offical OpenElec Stable 5.0.5 W/Custom setup and more Add-ons Nuttypro69 36 9,550 06-22-2015, 07:22 PM
Last Post: whufclee
  OpenELEC Stable - Generic x86_64 Version:4.2.1 Nuttypro69 7 2,617 06-22-2015, 04:56 PM
Last Post: acemargte75
  Flash an OpenElec image to SD card using pi-Baker on MacOSX bromerzz 0 1,178 02-05-2015, 04:00 PM
Last Post: bromerzz

Forum Jump:

Users browsing this thread: 1 Guest(s)