How To Create A Raspberry Pi SD Card Image - Raspians (2023)

Making a backup image of your Raspberry Pi SD card can be very useful. After all, your data and system OS are on this tiny and fragile piece of plastic, which isn’t very safe.

Contents hide

1 Why You Should Consider Creating A Raspberry Pi SD Card Image

2 How To Create Raspberry Pi SD Card Image

2.1 Windows

2.2 Linux

2.3 MacOS

Even if you don’t plan on ever using your backup, it’s always a good idea to have one in case something happens to your original SD card.

Luckily, creating a Raspberry Pi SD card image copy is really simple and only takes a few minutes.

In this guide, we’ll show you the step-by-step process of how to create a Raspberry Pi SD card image on major platforms like Windows, Linux, and macOS.

So, let’s get started!

How To Create A Raspberry Pi SD Card Image - Raspians (1)

Why You Should Consider Creating A Raspberry Pi SD Card Image

How To Create A Raspberry Pi SD Car...

How To Create A Raspberry Pi SD Card Image

Before we get into the process of creating a Raspberry Pi SD card image copy, it’s important to understand why you should even bother doing this in the first place.

  • For starters, a Raspberry Pi SD card image backup is an exact copy of your current SD card. This means that if something happens to your SD card like it gets corrupted or damaged, you can simply restore the image and be back up and running in no time.
  • Another reason to create a backup image is if you plan on making major changes to your Raspberry Pi system (see also ‘Backup your Raspberry Pi: How To Save And Restore Files‘). This way, if something goes wrong, you can always revert back to a previous version by restoring the image.
  • Lastly, having a backup image can be useful if you want to clone your current Raspberry Pi setup. For example, if you want to create an identical system but with a larger SD card, you can use the image backup to do this quickly and effortlessly.

Now that we’ve gone over some of the reasons why you should create a Raspberry Pi SD card image, let’s get into the actual process.

How To Create Raspberry Pi SD Card Image

The first thing you need to know is that the process of creating a Raspberry Pi SD card image is different for every OS.

So, make sure to follow the set of instructions for the system you’re going to be using to make an image of Raspberry Pi’s SD card.


Because Windows is the most popular operating system out there, let’s start with this OS first.

The process for creating a Raspberry Pi SD card image on Windows is actually pretty simple.

  1. To get started, all you need is a free program called Win32DiskImager which you can download for free from SourceForge.
  1. Once you’ve downloaded and installed the program, launch it and insert your SD card into your computer (you might need a USB adapter if your computer doesn’t have an in-built SD card slot).Make sure you’ve formatted your new Raspberry Pi SD card first.
  1. Then, find the drive partition which corresponds to your SD card and take note of the partition letter (you’ll need this later in step 5).
  1. Now, open Win32DiskImager and choose a name and the location for your image. Just make sure you have free space on your disk where you’re going to create the backup.
  1. Next, choose the device/drive partition you want to create a backup image of.
  1. Click on “Read” to initiate the copying process. This process can take anywhere between a few minutes to a couple of hours depending on the amount of data you’re backing up.
  1. Wait till the process is finished and voila! You’re done creating a Raspberry Pi SD card image on Windows.

The video below is a great walkthrough on how to do this:


If you’re running a Linux-based operating system, the process is a little more complicated. However, it’s still pretty straightforward and only requires a few commands.

First, open up a terminal window and find out which device your SD card is (see also ‘How To Format A Raspberry Pi SD Card‘). To do this, type in the following command:

  • sudo fdisk -l

This will list all of the drives and partitions on your computer. Look for the entry that corresponds to your SD card.

On Linux, if you’re using a USB adapter, this could be something like “/dec/sdX.” But if your PC already has an in-built SD card reader it might be named something like “/dev/mmcblkX.”

Now after finding out the device name for your SD card, we can get started on creating the image.

To do this, type in the following command in the terminal, replacing X with your device name:

  • sudo dd bs=4M if=/dev/sdX of=/home/Myimage.img

Just don’t forget to replace the destination (of for output file) and device name (if for input file) while typing in the command.

This process might take a while to complete depending on the size of your SD card. But once it’s done, you’ll have an image file on your desktop that you can use to restore your Raspberry Pi SD card.


If you’re using a Mac, the process is similar to Linux as it’s based on Unix. However, there’s a slightly different command that you need to use.

Instead of using the “sudo fdisk-I” command that we used in the Linux terminal, here, we will need to use “diskutil list” because fdisk doesn’t work in the same way in macOS.

Other than that, the rest of the process is the same as mentioned above in the Linux part, so be sure to follow the same steps if you’re using a Macbook to create Raspberry Pi SD card images.

How To Create A Raspberry Pi SD Card Image - Raspians (2)

Final Thoughts

As you can see, the process of creating an image of your Raspberry Pi SD card is pretty simple no matter which operating system you’re using.

Just be sure to use the correct commands or programs for your OS and you’ll be able to create an image file without any issues.

And make sure to keep the backup in a safe location like an external hard drive or keep multiple copies so you always have it ready to restore your Raspberry Pi SD card anytime you want.

So if something goes wrong or you just want to start from scratch, you can easily do so without having to go through the hassle of setting up everything all over again!

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Erik D

As a tech enthusiast from a young age, it was inevitable that I'd find my way to the humble, yet brilliant Raspberry Pi. With this site - I aim to build out a knowledge base that will give you everything you need for your own Raspberry Pi journey!

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How do I format a SD card for Raspbian? ›

Part 4. Format SD Card on Raspberry Pi
  1. Install the Raspberry Pi imager to your device. ...
  2. Once installed, open it and on the "Select OS Option", choose "Erase (Format as FAT32)".
  3. Click on "Choose SD Card" and select the SD card you wish to format.
  4. Click on Write and wait for the process to complete.

How do I create a disk image of my SD card? ›

How do I create a disk image from SDHC or Compact Flash cards?
  1. Insert the SDHC or CF card into a USB card reader and connect the reader to the computer. ...
  2. Open Applications > Utilities > Disk Utility.
  3. In the left window pane, select the memory card.
  4. Select New Image from the top tool bar.

How do I make my Raspberry Pi SD card read only? ›

You'll find this setting in the Raspberry Pi Configuration tool. From the Raspberry menu at the top-left… Go to the “Performance” tab and you'll see an option “Overlay File System.” Click the “Configure…” button. Select “Overlay: Enabled” and “Boot Partition: Read-only.”

How do I create an SD card file? ›

  1. Open the Java class file in which you want to create the SD card file path. This may be an Android Activity or other class in your app project. ...
  2. Create a file variable. Inside the "if" statement block, declare a file variable as follows: ...
  3. Get the external storage directory. ...
  4. Create a file using the path.

How do I reimage my micro SD card? ›

To Format a microSD/SD Card on a Windows Computer
  1. Connect your device to the computer with a USB cable. ...
  2. If using Windows 10, click This PC.
  3. Locate the drive representing the SD card. ...
  4. Without Card Inserted. ...
  5. Select Format.
  6. Verify File System is FAT or FAT32. ...
  7. Change Allocation unit size to Default allocation size.

Should I format SD card as FAT32 or exFAT? ›

Which format should I format my memory card to? FAT32 has better compatibility. If you are not sure whether your device supports exFAT, we recommend formatting the memory card to FAT32.

What is the best format for Raspberry Pi SD card? ›

The SD card formats supported by the Raspberry Pi bootloader are FAT16 and FAT32 only. So, it is quite obvious that using the SD cards with higher capacities(SDXC) won't work. In order to make SDXC cards compatible with Raspberry Pi, you will require to format the card into FAT32.

What is the best way to format a SD card? ›

Method 1. Format SD Card Use Windows Explorer
  1. Connect the SD card to your computer with the SD card reader.
  2. Go to "This PC" and open Windows Explorer, right-click your SD card, and then choose "Format".
  3. Specify the file system and set a new label to your SD card. Click "Start" and "OK" to confirm the formatting.
Nov 30, 2022

How do I create an IMG file? ›

Create . IMG Image File
  1. Open your Web browser and navigate to the website (link in Resources). ...
  2. Launch ImgBurn to display the main menu screen. ...
  3. Click the “Folder” icon beneath the Source drop-down list box to open a new file browser window.

How do I make a full disk image? ›

Create a disk image from a folder or connected device
  1. In the Disk Utility app on your Mac, choose File > New Image, then choose Image from Folder.
  2. Select the folder or connected device in the dialog that appears, then click Open.
  3. Enter a filename for the disk image, add tags if necessary, then choose where to save it.

How do I create a virtual disk image? ›

Creating a VHD
  1. On the Action menu, select Create VHD.
  2. In the Create and Attach Virtual Hard Disk dialog box, specify both the location on the physical computer where you want the VHD file to be stored, and the size of the VHD.
  3. In Virtual hard disk format, select Dynamically expanding or Fixed size, and then click OK.
Jul 23, 2021

How do I copy a Raspberry Pi SD card to my computer? ›

Clone Raspberry Pi SD Card Efficiently and Safely - EaseUS Partition Master
  1. Clone external storage device (SD/USB/external hard drive) Click "Clone" tab. ...
  2. Keep all changes. Check the source disk layout (you can edit the disk by clicking "Autofit the disk", "Clone as the source").
Dec 27, 2022

How do I clone a Raspberry Pi SD card in Windows? ›

How to Clone Raspberry Pi SD Card to Larger Card in Windows 10
  1. Launch the software, go to Clone tab and click Disk Clone. ...
  2. Select the Raspberry Pi SD card as the source disk and click Next. ...
  3. Customize the cloning as you need, then click Start Clone and wait for the process to complete.
Dec 5, 2022

How to make an image of SD card Linux? ›

Linux Instructions
  1. Insert the SD card in your PC using a USB or built-in card reader. Now open a Terminal window, and enter the command sudo fdisk -l . ...
  2. Try to find out the device name of your SD card. ...
  3. Use the dd command to write the image to your hard disk.
Oct 27, 2016


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