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How do you backup your RPi SD card?

DrGary

New member
I bought a new SD Card, created my Raspian OS, and set up my Voron 2.4. After configuring, modifying, and tuning it for a while, I realized that I have better back up the RPi SD card and confirm that the backup was valid. But I ran into a problem: the SD card I used is 128G and I haven't found a backup and compression process that works for it. Previously, I didn't compress the backups: With an 8G or 16G card, they're small enough to keep a few on my hard drive. But now I'm not finding a method that works, whether compressed or not.

How do you back up your RPi OS SD card?

I'm on a Mac, so have used methods involving `dd` for copying and `gzip` for compression. To create a new SD Card, in the past I've used use the `Raspberry Pi Imager`. But now, while creating the backup with `dd` appears to work, creating the new copy always fails in `Raspberry Pi Imager` with an unilluminating "Write failed", even after trying several new SD cards.

How do you make a new SD card with a copy of the original SD card?

Using `dd` and `gzip` is pretty technical. I'm surprised that I didn't find a simpler application or script to do backups and copies easily. That's another reason I'm asking here...

I imagine backing up large SD cards will become more of an issue going forward. It seems like 8G or 16G SD cards are plenty for a Voron printer. But they're becoming harder to find as SD cards evolve to larger sizes.
 

shiftingtech

Moderator
Staff member
Voron Owner
Personally, I don't think it's worth actually backing up the whole card in a lot of cases. For most printers, the only real customizations are a handful of config files. Back those up, and just install a fresh MainsailOS/FluiddPi/whatever image if your sdcard fails
 

Corunir

Moderator
Voron Owner
I host my own gitlab instance and keep configs for all my printers in their own repo. I don’t see the need to backup the whole SD card, when only a fraction of that space is actually useful (configs). Same thing goes for slicer profiles, it is a lot easier to keep them in sync across multiple computers.
 

DrGary

New member
Thanks, @garrettwp, for that recommendation. I set it up and it looks like it will be a go-to solution going forward for quick, backups to the cloud (specifically, GitHub).

Advantages of backing up to GitHub:
  • Fast
  • One-click
  • Can operate on live machine. No need to shut down to freeze the OS during backups.
  • No need to shut down the machine and remove the SD card.
Disadvantages:
  • May be complex for people not familiar with Git repositories and commands.
  • Incomplete: It only backs up the main printer configs in `~/klipper_config`, `~/mainsail`, etc.
  • For restores, requires setting up the machine and main software independent of the backed-up configs.
  • Incomplete: For example, I have to remember to re-set-up the G-Code Shell Command extension for Klipper before the script will work again.
  • Restoring requires knowing how to use git to reinstall the backed-up repo.

Still, I'm thinking it would still be great to have a clone card backup. That would allow simply copying the complete back up to a new SD card, inserting it into the machine and rebooting to instantly return to your backed-up state. So I'll look into @GadgetAngel's suggestion of `rpi-clone`. You run that from the live printer RPI? So I just need an SD card reader with a USB cable. Sounds simple enough.
 
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