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RaspberryPi 102 - Creating an Image from the Memory Card (Windows)

posted Oct 7, 2015, 5:59 PM by Joshua S   [ updated Nov 10, 2015, 7:31 AM ]

This post focuses on creating an image from the RaspberryPi memory card using Linux.  We'll do this using the Win32 Disk Imager utility.  Specifically, this tutorial will explore completing this task using Windows 7.

This is useful in creating image backups of the RaspberryPi.  Restoration is simple from this type of backup -- simply write the image to a new memory card and everything is exactly reset to what it looked like when the image was taken.  Be aware that different vendors and different models of memory cards result in slightly different sizes.  If the new card is a different size than the old one the image may not have room to successfully write.  Typically, I will image shortly after configuring a card or building a template image, and only then expand the file-system.  Following file-system expansion, other backup options are leveraged in the event restoration is later needed.

With any of the Dabbles on this site, if you have questions, suggestions, or thoughts, please feel free to send me an eMail (I'm still working to figure out how to enable comments on Google Sites -- suggestions would be appreciated)!

Supply List:
  • SDHC Card or MicroSD Card  A digital memory card, initially designed for media (think a camera) but which will serve as the hard drive for the RaspberryPi.  The older RaspberryPi models leveraged the SDHC form factor while the newer versions leverage the MicroSD form factor.
  • RaspberryPi  The actual RaspberryPi hardware this will all be built around.  
  • Raspbian  The Debian Linux based Operating System (OS) designed for the RaspberryPi.  Download the latest version from the website.  Note, other OS's are also on this page, including a version of Fedora and a port of XBMC, but my projects all work with the Raspbian distro.
  • Win32 Disk Imager  A Free Open Source Software (FOSS) utility to write of image (.IMG) files to various flash card media (SD, MicroSD, etc.).  Download the software from the website.

  • I know I said this guide was going to be comprehensive and not skip any steps, so what better way to start this off than by skipping steps.  I am not writing out instructions for the following (and illustrating from XKCD):
    • Buying a MicroSD Card
    • Buying a RaspberryPi 
    • Downloading & Extracting Raspbian
    • Downloading & Extracting Win32 Disk Imager
  • Insert the memory card into your computer's reader (or adapter if you do not have a reader built in).  
  • Power off the RaspberryPi and pull out the MicroSD card.  Insert it into your computer's card reader and run Win32 Disk Imager.  Create a new image file you name as your template and select the "Read" button.
  • Remove the freshly read card from your computer's reader.
  • Mission accomplished!  You created the image and now have a backup if you need one!