Tags: ,

We present here a method for making a light backup and restoring a Raspberry Pi. Creating a backup, an image of your Raspberry Pi, is essential in the event of SD card corruption or power failure. On Raspberry Pi and other single-board computers, the SD card often fails. You therefore need to make a backup in the form of an image or iso file, so that you can upload this image to a new SD card and recover your configuration.

The problem is that saving an image includes the entire memory of the SD card. So you can end up with several files of 32, 64 or 128Gb.


  • Raspberry Pi
  • Two SD cards
  • Internet connection

OS backup method

There’s no other method quite like it. The method I suggest consists of several steps, but will allow you to have a light backup of the Raspberry Pi and be able to update your projects easily.

The method consists of the following points

  • Recover OS information
  • Recover hardware info (optional)
  • Recover configuration files
  • Recover installed packages
  • Recover installed Python packages

The list is by no means complete, but with it you can get close to an exact copy of what you had before.

Cleaning your system

sudo apt-get  --purge -y autoremove 

You can also delete any software you’ve never used.

Create a backup folder

It can take any form you like. The important thing is that it is clear so that you can find your way around.

  • RPiBckp
    • version
    • projects
    • config

Recover OS information

Depending on your project, it’s important to know the OS version, as compatibility issues may arise depending on the packages used.

cat /etc/os-release
cat /etc/os-release > /home/pi/RPiBckp/version/os-version.txt

Another important piece of information is the kernel version and hardware configuration.

uname -a > /home/pi/RPiBckp/version/sys-version.txt
ls -l /lib/modules

N.B.: uname -r gives you the specific Kernel version. You can find the installation file in the firmware list

Recover installed packages

For a list of installed packages, enter the command

dpkg --get-selections

If you want the list of packages with the version number

apt list --installed

N.B.: for all these commands you can use grep to filter your search.

It’s important to note that there are a number of packages installed automatically and others that you install according to your needs.

The list of automatically and manually installed packages can be obtained with the respective commands

apt-mark showauto # paquets automatique
apt-mark showmanual # paquets manuel

For my part, I keep a file with all installed packages to keep track of all versions.

apt list --installed > /home/pi/RPiBckp/version/apt-list-installed.txt

a file with manually installed packages

apt list --installed | grep -v automatic > /home/pi/RPiBckp/version/apt-list-manual.txt

and I create the file with just the names to launch the package installation

apt-mark showmanual > /home/pi/RPiBckp/version/packages.txt

I can then install the right versions individually if they don’t suit me.

Recover installed Python packages

python3 -m pip freeze
python3 -m pip freeze > /home/pi/RPiBckp/version/requirements.txt

Recover configuration files

Some configuration files can be interesting to retrieve, in particular the wifi configuration.

sudo nano /etc/wpa_supplicant/wpa_supplicant.conf
cp /etc/wpa_supplicant/wpa_supplicant.conf /home/pi/RPiBckp/versión/wpa_supplicant.conf

Creating a Git repository

It might be a good idea to create a git repository for each of your projects, either for configuring a Raspberry Pi, or for a set of Python scripts. A git repository is ideal for keeping your projects up to date, particularly in terms of package and OS versions.

Once you’ve recovered all your interest files, it’s time to restore your project.

Installing a Raspbian version

You can use the Raspberry Pi Imager software

or download the desired image from the site http://downloads.raspberrypi.org/raspbian/images/

N.B.: OS versions that are too old may not be compatible with new hardware and may cause security problems.

Installing a Kernel version

You can check the Kernel version installed with the command

ls -l /lib/modules

To install a specific version of Raspberry Pi firmware, you can find the list of firmware versions by version number.

You can then copy the Git hash corresponding to the desired version (e.g. 5.10.63: 64132d67d3e083076661628203a02d27bf13203c).

And install it using the command:

sudo rpi-update <git_hash>

For example:

sudo rpi-update 2ef601a50b68eebeeb4dc3c6c525855961891be6

Warning: be careful which version you install. The Kernel version should only be modified by experienced people who have a compatibility problem that cannot be solved in any other way.

Copy your backup folder

On a fresh installation of Raspbian, you can copy your backup folder and

Install the required packages

It is possible to install a set of APT packages from a text file containing the list of files to be installed

xargs -a packages.txt sudo apt-get install -y

You can do the same to install Python packages.

python3 -m pip install -r requirements.txt

Copy configuration files

For the wifi configuration file or any other file, you can use the copy or move command in superuser mode (sudo).

sudo cp wpa_supplicant.conf /etc/wpa_supplicant/


This method doesn’t produce a perfect copy of your project, but it does allow you to reproduce and maintain your project with very little memory space, which can be a huge advantage. You’ll end up with a set of configuration files that will enable you to quickly restore a corrupted SD card.

If you have any ideas for important files to back up or other methods of restoring an SD card, please feel free to leave a comment.


How useful was this post?

Click on a star to rate it!

Average rating 0 / 5. Vote count: 0

No votes so far! Be the first to rate this post.

As you found this post useful...

Follow us on social media!

We are sorry that this post was not useful for you!

Let us improve this post!

Tell us how we can improve this post?