How to backup/clone Raspberry Pi SD card on Windows?

This post presents methods to clone & backup Raspberry Pi SD card, helping you protect data against data loss. Think about you’ve spent hours working on your Raspberry Pi, but suddenly the SD card in your Raspberry dies? Does that sound horrible? It is necessary to create a backup for your SD card in case of any unexpected errors.

What is a Raspberry Pi?

A Raspberry Pi is a credit card-sized computer, which is originally designed for education. This small computer is single-board, low cost, high-performance and the main advantage is the size which is not bigger than your palm. The goal of the creator was to provide a low-cost device that can be used to improve programming skills and hardware understanding at the pre-university level.

Thanks to its feature, Raspberry Pi is quickly preferred by programmers, computer geeks, electronics enthusiasts, tinkerers, etc. throughout the globe. Raspberry Pi is a caseless device and slower than a modern PC, however, it is still a complete Linux device and able to offer all expected abilities. For the moment, the latest version is Raspberry Pi 3 which sells at the price of 35 USD, and the release date of Raspberry Pi 4 has been announced.

About Raspberry Pi SD card

The SD card plays an important role in Raspberry Pi, as it is responsible for providing initial storage for operating system and files. When Raspberry Pi is connected to a power supply, bootloader from operating system will be firstly executed, and then more codes from SD card will be loaded in order to boot Raspberry Pi. Thus If there is not a SD card, system cannot boot.

The officially recommended minimum capacity of Raspberry Pi SD card is 8GB, and the physical size of SD card differs depending on the version of Raspberry Pi you are using. The original Raspberry Pi Model A and Raspberry Pi Model B require full-size SD cards. The newer Raspberry Pi Model A+, Raspberry Pi Model B+, Raspberry Pi 2 Model B, Raspberry Pi Zero, and Raspberry Pi 3 Model B require micro SD cards.

Free Raspberry Pi SD card backup/clone software

SD card backup software can help you create a full backup for SD card, USB flash drive, external HDD, hard drive, SSD and virtual disk. It provides multiple solutions to backup SD card, for example, you can back up the SD card to an image file, clone SD card to a new card byte by byte, image the SD card, etc. You can choose proper method to backup Raspberry Pi SD card based on actual requirements.

PartitionGuru is free backup software running under Windows, and it supports multiple file system formats such as NTFS, exFAT, FAT32, Ext2, Ext3, Ext4, etc. In this guide, we use this program to backup & clone SD card.

How to backup Raspberry Pi SD card to an image file?

Backing up Raspberry Pi SD card here means creating a backup into an image files from which you can restore data to any SD card. Check the steps below to backup SD card to an image file on Windows 10/8/7/XP.

Step 1: Connect the SD to your PC via a card reader and then launch PartitionGuru.

Step 2: Select the SD card you want to backup and click Disk -> Clone Partition to Image File.

Step 3: Set a location to save backup image file and click Start button. Then wait for the backup process to complete.

How to clone Raspberry Pi SD card on Windows?

The SD card is the “hard drive” of your Raspberry Pi, as it runs the operating system for the device. Of course, you may install many different operating systems on it. How many SD cards are installed on your Raspberry Pi? Have you ever tried cloning SD card, micro SD card or miniSD card? Cloning SD card is a way of backing up data in case of SD card corruption.

The following part will show you how to clone Raspberry Pi SD card on Windows computers. You can use this method to clone SD cards with any file systems like NTFS, FAT32, exFAT, ext2, ext3 or ext4.

Note: the process requires the capacity of target SD card shouldn’t be smaller than the source SD card.

Step 1: Launch PartitionGuru from your computer. Insert source SD card and target SD card to the computer and then you can see them in the software.

Step 2: Click Tools from menu and select “Clone Disk” item. In this case, the “Copy Sectors” also works on the issue.

Step 3: Select source disk. Here you should select the source SD card for which you want to create a cloned memory card, then click OK button.

Step 4: Select target SD card and click OK. Please make sure files on target SD card have been backed up, for after cloning the target SD card will contain same information as the source.

Step 5: Select backup mode and click “Start” button. PartitionGuru provides three backup modes: Copy all sectors, Copy all valid sectors according to the layout of the file system and Copy all files.

  • Copy all sectors: this clone method is the slowest of the three, as it clones source device sector by sector to the target without check if sectors contains valid data. Thus many invalid file might be copied, but the target device will be a total copy of the source. You can even perform data recovery from both devices.
  • Copy all valid sectors according to the layout of the file system: this cloning method is the fastest of the three. It clones data without changing the layout of data structure.
  • Copy all files: this method is also very fast. PartitionGuru analyzes file system and data structure on source device and copies all data to corresponding partitions on target disk. file system will be reorganized on target disk and file fragments are filtered during cloning process.

Step 6: Wait for the cloning process to complete and then close the software.

Summary

This post presents methods to clone & back up Raspberry SD card on Windows computer. You can choose either solution to create backup for your SD card or other storage devices to protect them against data loss issue. If you feel this guide useful, please share it on your social network to help more people.