If you’ve ever turned a Raspberry Pi into a media centre or retro gaming station, you know how frustrating it can be when it crashes and corrupts your SD card. Here’s a little trick to making that a little less painful.
Photo by derkamener1984
The Raspberry Pi is a finicky little device. There was a period of time where my Raspberry Pi media centre had a lot of trouble — every once in a while, it would freeze or crash, requiring me to unplug it to get it going again, which would corrupt the SD card. While the problem was caused by a bad power supply, it took me a while to diagnose, and it was really annoying to have to set up the Pi from scratch every time this happened.
So, I came up with an idea: After installing XBMC and getting everything set up just the way I want it, I'd clone my SD card. That way, if and when it crashed next, I could just copy my all-set-up image back to the SD card, put it in the Pi, and be up and running again in minutes instead of hours. I highly recommend everyone do this to the SD card for their Pi, no matter what you're using it for. It'll make your life a lot easier.
Cloning the SD card is simple. Just follow these steps:
- Get everything set up just the way you want it on your Raspberry Pi, whatever you're using it for. Then shut down the Pi and remove the SD card. Insert the SD card into your computer.
- Start up Win32DiskImager, a program that you probably have from when you first set up your Pi. (If you're on OS X or Linux, you'll have to use the dd command as described here instead of these steps).
In the "Image File" box, enter the path of your soon-to-be image file. For example, I put mine in
- Under the "Device" box, select your SD card.
- Click the "Read" button to create the image file from your card.
- When it's done creating the image file, you can eject your SD card and put it back in your Raspberry Pi. Keep that IMG file in a safe place.
Now, if anything ever goes wrong with your Pi, you can restore your fully-set-up image using the reverse instructions:
- Insert the SD card back into your computer.
- Head to the start menu or screen and type "disk management." Open the disk management program and find your SD card in the list.
- Right-click and delete all the partitions on your SD card. When it's empty, right-click on it and format it (it doesn't matter what filesystem you format it to, your computer just needs to recognise it).
- Open Win32DiskImager again and browse for your image file. Select your device from the Device dropdown just as you did before.
- This time, click "Write" to write the image to the SD card.
- When it finishes, eject the SD card and re-insert it into your Raspberry Pi. When you boot it up, it should be in the exact same state it was in when you first cloned the SD card.
Once you've done this, setting up your Pi from scratch will be a whole lot simpler!