I have no wish to hijack a thread, but perhaps in addition to USB sticks, this discussion could also address a solid state internal hard drive like the one found in some netbooks.
NASA learned in the sixties that moving parts wear out much faster than non-moving ones. Seems axiomatic that an SSD produces less long-term friction and therefore less destructive heat, two enemies of anything physical.
I enjoy both the speed and the quiet of an internal, solid state drive. Yes, storage is small (only 8gigs) and relatively more expensive per unit of storage, but with a 1terrabyte USB storage drive available for under U$100, an SSD keeps me in the habit of being lean and more selective in what I download, install or have open while working.
As for speed, I don't have any precise numbers to offer for comparison, but I can boot PCLOS Gnome, manually login, acquire a wifi signal and send an email in under a minute.
The main disadvantage of an SSD compared to an HDD is a shorter storage life, and usually when they go, they go entirely. Flashrot also shortens the shelflife of data. Multiple backups, physical and cloud, counteract this problem, which is another good habit an SSD obliges me to get into.