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A few days ago I went to boot my trusty Raspberry Pi model 3b (I know, it's a bit outdated) after quite a few months of not using it, and I was going to connect to it in a headless configuration, but I noticed that I couldn't connect. I had to get some other stuff done, so I only came back to it today to investigate. It booted like normal, and it went through all of the normal screens and processes of a boot. I thought that all is well, until I noticed that instead of showing me the Raspbian desktop, I got a blinking cursor. It is not a command line, and I can't type anything in. The green light is also fairly active, blinking every few seconds. Interestingly, while I was off writing this post, the green light has stopped blinking and the flashing cursor has disappeared. It seems similar to this post Rasberry Pi Black screen after boot wth blinking cursor.

If I can remember correctly, the last few times I was using it, I could not boot into it properly, but only VNC or SSH into the Pi.

I know that I could probably just format the card and flash Raspbian or NOOBS onto it. It is not necessary but it would be nice if there were any way that I can at least recover some of my old files.

Raspberry Pi 3b
Raspbian Jessie
8GB micro SD card

For any reading/writing to the micro SD card, I have a both a Windows and an Ubuntu machine.

Thanks in advance.


I will check back here often, and I will edit my post to include any required information


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  • On the blinking cursor try Ctrl + Alt + F1. Do you get a login prompt?
    – Ingo
    May 21 '20 at 20:20
  • @Ingo Sorry for taking so long to reply, yes I do get a login prompt.
    – sleipnir
    Nov 11 '20 at 20:36
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As noted in a comment you can get to the login prompt with Ctrl+Alt+F1. It indicates that only the GUI is not working. Just login and do what is to do to backup and copy your data from the old installation. As Milliways suggested in his answer, it isn't worth the effort to try to repair the installation with the outdated, unsupported and archived version Jessie.

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If you were running Jessie the SD Card has to be nearly 3 years old, possibly more than 4 years.

It is likely the SD Card has just worn out.

If you have a backup (if not why not?) you could try to restore, but Jessie is obsolete, and not worth the effort to recover.

I would suggest you do a fresh Raspbian installation on a NEW SD Card. It is likely you could recover your files from the old SD Card. This is simple with any Linux machine.

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