When comparing a full install of a USB flash drive versus simply creating a live USB, is there a significant amount of wear on the USB flash drive when using a full install? When reading around I was informed that having a full install would cause the system to use your USB drive too heavily and wear it out in terms of how many times it can be written and read from. Is this true?
Yes, USB drives have a limited number of times they can be written and this is usually very high if used normally, but if you use it as normal hard disk it becomes a bit low. Look for example this test: How Long Does a Flash Drive Last? Maybe it will help you understand better.
I have been following this question for several years and have never heard of anyone bricking a decent flash drive running Ubuntu from it.
A decent flash drive is good for a minimum 10000 writes and uses wear leveling, at 10 MB/s this works out to:
16 GB x 10000 / 10MB/s = 111 forty hour work weeks.
This figures writing to the device forty hours per week. Typically Ubuntu only writes to disk a small portion of the time.