This article is about how to backup the SD Card of a Raspberry Pi.

Requirements

SD Card Reader

To Backup your SD Card, you need a SD Card Reader. Many Notebooks and some PCs have a build in SD Card reader. If you do not have one, I recommend to get a small USB-Card Reader. I use this one:

LogiLink Cardreader USB 2.0 Stick via Amazon*

Be patient: The delivery time is not “next day”.

Win32DiskImager

You will need to copy the content of the SD Card to your PC. To do this, you will need to install the program “Win32DiskImager”. It is free and easy to use. If you don’t have it right now, you can download it here: https://sourceforge.net/projects/win32diskimager/.

Click on the big green “Download” button:

After 5 seconds the download will start automatically. After download, please install the software.

Putty

To connect to the Raspberry via console using SSH, we need a SSH client. The most popular client is Putty. If you don’t have it, you can download it here: https://www.putty.org/
Click on “here” in the “Download PuTTY”-Area.

After this, download the MSI installer in the “Package files” section that fits to your system. After the download run the setup and install Putty.

 

Backup SD Card

  1. Shut down the Raspberry. To do so, connect to the Raspberry via SSH and execute the following command:
    sudo shutdown -h now

    The Raspberry will shut down now.

  2. When the Raspberry is down, remove the Power Cable and after that the SD Card.
  3. Put the SD Card into your SD Card reader on your PC/Laptop.
  4. Start the program Win32DiskImager

  5. In the “Image File”-Field select or enter the path where you want to save your image file (1). In the Device field select one of the Partitions of the SD Card (2). After that click on “Read” (3).

  6. A copy of the SD Card will now be written to your disk. This takes a while. The copy will be the same size as your SD card. In my case: 32GB. If you just want to use it as a backup but not expect to access it, you can compress it using a zip-archive. To do so, right click the file, select “Send to…” and select “Compressed (zipped) folder”. The zip process takes a while and depends on your CPU. You can continue with the next steps while the compress process is running.

  7. Windows will now create a zip-file that contains the backuped image. You can delete the original one file after the zip file was created. In my case the file size was reduced from 32GB to 5GB.
  8. Now you have a backup of your SD Card. Remove the SD Card from your Card reader, attach it back to the Raspberry and power it up. Everything should be like before on your Raspberry.

Restore a Backup

Sometimes something went wrong and you need to recover a backup made before. To recover the backup, follow these steps:

    1. Unplug the power of your Raspberry (no need to shutdown before).
    2. Remove the SD Card from the Raspberry and connect it to the SD Card reader connected to your PC/Laptop.
    3. Start Win32 Disk Imager
    4. Select the Backup file you created before (1). If it is zipped, you need to unzip it first. At “Device” select a drive that is located on your SD Card (2). An finally click on “Write” (3).
    5. After some minutes, your backup is written to your SD Card and you can attach it to your Raspberry and power it up. Now the Raspberry should start the statusof the backup you made before.

Remarks:
Product links marked with * are affiliate links. That means I get some percent of the money you will spend when you are using this links. I’m not trying to influence you. In most cases there are also other sellers for the products where I don’t get money for. I am not trying to influence you to spend more money than you need. If you are using this links, you don’t have to pay anything extra. It is the same price as if you enter the shop on your own.