Backing up your Raspberry Pi to a computer using an SD Card Reader

If, like me, you want to try out new software or install the latest operating system version directly, it makes a lot of sense to back up the SD card of your Raspberry Pi regularly so that the system can be restored quickly in case of an emergency.

By the way: The regular backup of the most important files is unaffected by this.

To back up our Raspberry Pi’s SD Card on Windows I recommend utilizing the imaging tool that is called win32diskimager.

Win32diskimager is a useful tool that can read and write images to USB Sticks or SD/CF Cards.

Shutdown

You should shutdown you system with the command sudo shutdown -h now to ensure that the system is stopped properly. It will do the following steps to ensure the operating system shutdowns gracefully.

  1. It will send SIGTERM to all the running processes, so they can save and exit gracefully.
  2. After an interval, it sends SIGKILL, so that any remaining processes will be halted.
  3. Lastly, it will unmount all the file systems.
  4. The screen will now show System Halted.
  5. You can now remove the power cord with minimal risk to your Raspberry Pi and the operating system.

Backing up your Raspberry Pi SD Card on Windows

  1. Start win32diskimager
  2. Define Image File like MyPiBacku.img
  3. Select Device (choose the device which includes the boot files, if you have different partitions)
  4. Click on Read (this step can take some time)

That’s it. The restore process is - you guessed it - just the other way around