I would like to run a headless machine to perform some basic automation and statistical generation (e.g. generating netstats, uploading to pvoutput.org), as well as any other trivial batch jobs that may spring up.

As the RaspPi has been designed primarily as a learning device, is it still a good candidate for 100% up-time? I'm not sure if the unit's classroom-friendly design lends itself to such operational parameters (i.e. 'childproof' design = more robust; is the device built to run for the length of a school lesson etc).

For the purposes of this question, I am assuming the RaspPi is housed in a case and located in a 'safe' operating environment (i.e. indoors).


21 Oct 2012: There is a useful related thread here re: SD card life: How can I extend the life of my SD card?

  • 17
    I've been running mine as a webserver for nearly seven weeks with no reboots, so the hardware is capable of running stable. How long it will last is another matter, I suppose.
    – ropable
    Commented Oct 8, 2012 at 23:56
  • 4
    I got an uptime of 20 days, before i shutdown to replace the power source.
    – user5858
    Commented Feb 5, 2013 at 8:18
  • 3
    @SimonMandy what exactly was your power source, and what function did the Pi perform?
    – MDMoore313
    Commented Apr 23, 2013 at 13:28
  • 11
    We have deployed hundreds of Pi's for the last 2+ years for digital signage purposes. They mostly run 24/7, with regular (unscheduled) power cuts though. We had about 5 units returning dead, not quite sure why they broke down, could well be because of external damaging factors. Overall it's a very stable platform. Granted, our units don't write that often to SD.
    – EDP
    Commented Nov 11, 2015 at 6:36
  • 3
    Been running the 3 for a couple of months now, one information radiator and another as combined BT, Airplay and Squeezebox wireless speaker :-(missing google cast)-: No issues so far, as with the 2 it appears that as long the power is stable the board is solid.
    – Roy
    Commented Sep 6, 2016 at 8:22

23 Answers 23


Yes, absolutely.

  • Draws very little power
  • Can be used for a number of server tasks that imply continuous uptime, eg. DHCP server
  • Few people seem to have had issues through running them this way (and the passage of time is now definitely at a point where this is worth noting)

Historically, there were a few negatives I could think of, I'll leave them here for reference:

  • SD card has limited lifespan
  • You could potentially find stability issues with some drivers
  • Limited resources mean if there is a memory leak somewhere, or a process that suddenly eats lots of RAM, it won't be long before performance drops and / or a reboot is required.

All of these points are now (June 2018) somewhat moot, though. A decent SD card in practice these days won't have a problem unless it's under very heavy use, almost all the early stability issues with drivers have been ironed out, and 1GB of RAM is heaps more than the original (original boards had 256MB, and up to half of that was eaten by the GPU.)

I still wouldn't use it as a device that needed to be up 24/7 for some form of critical operation, but then again that's the same with any consumer grade PC.

  • 65
    If you use the SD card just to boot it up, and the run from another media like an HDD you eliminate the SD card problem almost completely. Commented Jul 27, 2012 at 18:09
  • 9
    @Reonarudo Yes, this is true but by doing that you sacrifice other aspects - the system will likely be noisier and draw more power for instance, as well as being more expensive in hardware. May or may not matter to each use case, but I agree it's worth noting there's other options to be had.
    – berry120
    Commented Jul 28, 2012 at 23:56
  • 43
    SD wear is probably a greatly exaggerated issue in this kind of use. People have no problem writing gigabytes of data to a card weekly for years on end in a camera, for example. The question also hints that data is sent to a network service, which means there may be no need for volatile storage other than RAM and the whole card could spend its normal life read-only. Keeping a backup and replacing the card with a fresh one every n years is also cheap.
    – XTL
    Commented Aug 15, 2012 at 8:00
  • 7
    Typical server software is also routinely run 24/7 all around the world and unless you create memory/storage leaks yourself, they practically never happen.
    – XTL
    Commented Aug 15, 2012 at 8:04
  • 6
    @XTL I agree - though on cheaper SD cards that don't spread the writes properly they generally will die relatively quickly (in cameras or anywhere else!) I don't think the disadvantages outweigh the advantages at all (at least for the majority of the time), just wanted to put them there to provide a balanced viewpoint.
    – berry120
    Commented Sep 4, 2012 at 9:40

I'm finding that the Pi makes a very good microserver, as long as you understand its limitations. While flash memory in theory has a limited life, in practice you'll get several years out of it. I've been running a similar ARM-based board as a home server for over three years with / and /home on an SD card, and it hasn't complained.

The biggest issue I have with the Pi is the power supply. Running off a phone charger, it doesn't have the capacity to ride through minor power glitches. I've found it reboots at the slightest flicker. Sure, it comes back up quickly, but you'll either have to address this with a better regulated power supply, or design your tasks that they can restart from where they were interrupted on reboot.

Update, 2013-12-23: The card on the the ARM-based board home server may have finally crapped out after the 24+ hour blackout we had here due to an ice storm. This is a single anecdotal report, and should be taken as-is.

  • 12
    The power glitches might be less of a problem if you plug it in a UPS. That's my solution for network switch and router running on a similar board.
    – elomage
    Commented Oct 3, 2012 at 14:10
  • 3
    Yes, mine has been running off a UPS since about the day after I wrote that comment, and has uptimes to match ...
    – scruss
    Commented Oct 4, 2012 at 2:10
  • 1
    Just to clarify (to make sure I'm reading it correctly), by "uptimes to match" you mean uptimes of months, yes?
    – jefflunt
    Commented Jan 22, 2013 at 15:28
  • 2
    Nope, it's fine if it has a stable grid connection. With the crappy overhead wiring we have in Toronto, that's a problem that only a UPS can solve. My Raspberry Pi draws about 850 mA; 1.2 A is a bit heavy.
    – scruss
    Commented Feb 1, 2013 at 12:52
  • 3
    For a Pi, a battery pack that is commonly used to give your phone some extra juice acts as a perfect UPS for your Pi, and it can run on it for hours. Commented Apr 20, 2014 at 14:21

I have been running mine for about 3 months non-stop as a web server for www.sm0vpo.com where there are about 10,000 electronic PDF files and about 250 electronic projects that i have fully documented with PCB poil patters in ZIP and GIF form.

I have about 3,000,000 hits per year so my little RPi will have seen about 700,000 hits as well as experiencig both heavy and light traffic.

I have the RPi running "barefoot" (no keyboard, monitor or mouse) with no external USB connections. The only connections are SD-card (SanDisk EXTREME 8GB @33Mb/s). I reasoned that the keyboard, mouse and memory stick could burn as much as the RPi itself.

The RPi has never once crashed, is slightly warm and I consider it to be 100% reliable. An MS Windoze-XP machine running the same traffic had to be restarted about every second month on average, with a lower traffic density. The RPI is also faster than the 2.66GHz HP computer but I believe this to be a function of the different operating system (my RPi is running LINUX - debian).

If you want more information I can send you pictures, but at the moment and as a newbie, I cannot access net logs in the lighthttpd server. If you have any command sequences I can enter into my SSH terminal then you are more than welcome to share all information (and softare) I have.

FYI - My RPi is hidden behind an IP-Cop (LINUX) hardware-dedicated firewall, but I hope one day to change that ATX card for a dedicated RPi server/firewall. I am only missing one component - time.

  • 5
    "barefoot" ... headless maybe?
    – iDug
    Commented Sep 9, 2015 at 20:22
  • 2
    "barefoot" ... commando maybe?
    – EDP
    Commented Nov 11, 2015 at 6:31
  • 6
    How is it going after three more years? (posted 3/2013, now it's 4/2016) Since you are exercising storage and IO, was there ever a failure since your original post?
    – uhoh
    Commented May 3, 2016 at 6:06
  • 2
    @Harry Is your machine still "kicking"? Commented Jul 30, 2016 at 12:56
  • @Harry, your site is still up - is it still running on the RPi?!
    – Colin
    Commented May 12, 2023 at 6:46

Since most computers are not suited for 24/7 operations due to their moving parts the RPi shouldn't have any problems.

If a machine fails it's most of the time due to a hard drive failing or some fans failing as those are prone to wear.

The only thing that can experience wear like that on a RPi is the SD Card so you might want your setup to get as much of the write operations into RAM or onto another device that can handle writes a little bit longer. Something like an usb attached server grade hard drive that's designed to operate 24/7.

  • 15
    not suited for 24/7 operations due to their moving parts - You mean hard disk(fan failure is not a show stopper!)- the only moving part in a PC- You can run a HDD for 5 years without turning it off and it will beg for another 5 years! Computers can run 24/7 no problem- That is what they are designed for. Servers are made to run at 100% CPU in hot conditions-if needed. That is why servers are more expensive. SD cards are not moving and they are worse than HDD's - So your answer is rubbish. Cant believe you got upvotes. -1 from me (misleading and non-factual answer) Server grade hard drive???
    – Piotr Kula
    Commented Oct 2, 2012 at 13:56
  • 3
    i'd like to see that desktop machine without a running fan going on while you're using it. True most of the newer machines will just freeze down and crash as the cpu themal sensor kicks in, but some older machines actually just went smokey once this happens. So thats a show stopper for sure. And an consumer HDD is not necessarily suited for 24/7 operation as well (e.g. green series from western digital) while some are (e.g. the new red series)
    – bardiir
    Commented Oct 5, 2012 at 8:28
  • I have a NAS with two Seagate consumer drives which is on 24/7 as well as my laptop which is also on 24/7. My two PCs at work are also on 24/7. Computers do not need to rest, it is a myth. Disk drives do gradually wear out and some fail prematurely as with all manufacturing some are better than others (i.e. everything is made to a tolerance and not identical). That is all there is to say really.
    – user8758
    Commented Oct 18, 2013 at 7:14

For my own experience, I have had my RaspPi running since June 24/7 logging data from my solar system and haven't had any problems. Im using a DC-DC converter for power via the 12V solar system and fitted a cooling fan on the box but it hasn't got hot enough to turn on yet.

I am not writing to the SD card so that will hopefully not be a point of failure, it is only uploading to a remote server every 60 seconds.

The board seems to run very cool and uses very little power.

  • 11
    That was 4 months of continuous operation 24/7, and (smartly) without writing to the SD card. Now it's been almost 4 years since you originally posted this answer, did it run considerably longer after your posting? (I want to ask "which solar system are you living in" but sometimes humor backfires)
    – uhoh
    Commented May 3, 2016 at 6:03
  • 3
    @BrianDorey Look up en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Solar_System :) I think we all share the same solar system. I got a chuckle after reading that. Commented May 4, 2017 at 10:59
  • According to spaceplace.nasa.gov/other-solar-systems/en there is just one called "our solar system". Not sure why it's not "The Solar System" then. Commented Mar 5, 2018 at 2:58

I was also eager to know more about the 24/7 capabilities of the Raspberry Pi. Therefore, I installed the app "stress" (sudo apt-get install stress), which is capable of loading the CPU for the full 100% all the time.
The best thing about "stress" is that it gives priority to other running processes, it only "fills" the gap till the CPU is loaded for the full 100%.

I ran the test a while ago for 275 (!!!) days, without any issues. No reboots, no crashes, no overheating, no... nothing (I didn't tweak the Raspberry Pi, I used it as-is, so no overclocking and so on...).

Based upon what I've experienced, I'm quite sure the Raspberry Pi is more than robust enough to survive 24/7 situations for a very, very long time. I'm even considering to use it for my home automation system...

  • 1
    Great 1st-hand info, thanks for sharing! What happened day 276? :)
    – Beeblebrox
    Commented Mar 22, 2014 at 0:36
  • 4
    It blew apart... :P Nope, seriousely, we had an electricity cut-of (due to maintenance on the electicity net) and because of this, I had to interrupt my test. But rest assured, it's still up and running! :-)
    – GeertVc
    Commented Mar 23, 2014 at 9:03
  • Either way, awesome. :)
    – Beeblebrox
    Commented Mar 23, 2014 at 22:58

If you want your SD card to last for longer I have got two pieces of advice for you:

  • Make sure you don't have too many write cycles, ie. turn off logging, don't run a Bitcoin node, etc.
  • Buy a good brand (ocz/kingston/a-data and other popular ones are fine, just not chinese no-names)

When I did not follow those two mentioned above my memory cards on headless Debian machines died within weeks

  • Various SD card techniques are also mentioned here.
    – Jivings
    Commented Oct 20, 2012 at 18:49

I can only offer a view based on my experience. I use 2 raspberry pi's as mini servers and never turn them off. My first Pi is now well over 4 months old and has probably been 'off' for less than a few hours during all that time. I use it pretty heavily as an iPlayer download and podcast host, which does a reasonable amount of reads and writes of the SD card.

It sits behind my tv in the cardboard box it came in (with a couple of holes cut for the cables), never gets warm and seems to work continuously.

I have had to rebuild it twice, once because I wanted to move from Squeeze to Raspbian and once because I buggered up the OS messing about.


Just to chime in with a datapoint:

I've used my raspberry as a datalogger for my solarpanels. It was writing to a logfile on the SDcard every minute. I've now had a hard failure of the SD card for the second time. Each time the card lasted about a month. The cards were both Kingston SDC4/4GB cards. So SDcard wear is real!

  • Oh wow, this is exactly what I hope to use my Pi for! I might have to look at saving the log files somewhere else (dropbox maybe?). I hope to use sma-bluetooth but haven't had any luck so far with bluetooth dongles. Thanks for the update.
    – Beeblebrox
    Commented Dec 24, 2012 at 8:59
  • I've been shuffling around a few GB of data daily for the past several months now. Are you sure your overclock/power supply didn't screw anything up? (Sandisk ultra 16GB Class 10 microSDHC)
    – Aloha
    Commented Nov 18, 2015 at 11:39

A few things to consider when designing your project:

  • Depending on your usage of the RaspberryPi spiking it's SoC to near 100% usage can make it quite hot, and I recommend adding a heatsink, as I have done, with perhaps a little 5volt fan to keep things a little cool (I've gotten my heatsink from a old Security DVR)
  • SD Card performance and wear, I know this has been touched on already but I would highly recommend not cheaping out on this part of the setup. E.g. going with a high class card for fast read & write speeds and longer period of time before it will become necessary to replace the card; this of course also increases your RaspberryPi's speed and could be useful if you plan to do a lot with data. More details Here ;D
  • Another point to note would be power consumption and supply. As you probably know quite well the RaspberryPi should be operated at 5v and at least 700mAs, and you this another area where cheaping out can lead to some unpleasant results... So perhaps going with a rather strictly regulated 5v power supply (to prevent brownouts which could cause your Pi to restart) delivering about 1 amp.
  • My fourth point is that you should also make sure you have a sturdy place to secure the Pi away from anything that might cause damage ;) (they are quite hard to get a hold of haha)

Hope that helps mate!


I've found that with my headless unit, the ethernet tends to drop out after a few weeks and needs a reboot. I've found it useful to either

  • Schedule a cron job to soft-reboot every night when nothing important is happening, or
  • Use an outlet timer to do a hard reboot (pull power for 1 minute, then re-power)

Hokey but it works, and probably covers a lot of unanticipated problems

  • 1
    I should note that especially if you are doing any writes to the SD card, you should make sure to do a soft-reboot since it's possible for a hard reboot to corrupt the filesystem when done during a write (happened to me once)
    – Carl
    Commented Feb 27, 2013 at 17:14
  • Android OS does a soft reboot once a week in the middle of the night as well. So maybe not so hokey if big manufacturers are doing it. I agree it shouldn't need it. Commented May 11, 2016 at 16:22

Yes, I would say it is very suitable. Just be aware of any flash memory wear issues (much over-hyped in my experience) and power from a simple DC UPS something like this http://www.ebay.co.uk/itm/PicoUPS-120-DC-micro-UPS-Car-PC-battery-backup-system-/400207898153


My RaspberryPi Model-B uptime on Raspbian with Samba (external powered usb drive attached, configuration howto details here), some basics perl scripts running on apache, rtorrent and sometimes omxplayer is:

11:19:49 up 10 days,  2:30,  2 users,  load average: 0,21, 0,21, 0,12

It's only ten days because there was a blackout in my neighborhood. I don't start the Raspian desktop (startx) because tty is fine for my purposes. I really stress it one time, when I try to run php on apache as a test (avoid php here). I use a Samsung Galaxy power adapter and everything is fine, I bought it this summer and it barely heat the plastic transparent case I use to protect it from dust.


I have had a RaspberryPi running continuously for just over 2 weeks. It runs very cool. By way of a contrast I have a Dreamplug sitting next to it. The heat sink was a times too hot to touch. It was running the same programs but has over heated and died this weekend.


... and on a totally different note, my RPi will shortly be running from a 6v (plus 5v regulator) motorcycle battery charged by a solar panel and wind turbine.

The reliability of other machines is limited by the higher powers they eat. 3W (24/7) for the RPi is easy to generate. Yet another reason for choosing the RPi for a reliable solution.

A 40-Watt solar panel in 10% use (typical European climate) and a 50-Watt turbine will deliver 200% of the RPi's requirenents. 50A/H of storage will keep the RPi going for about 4 days (rain and no wind :-).


  • 1
    Did you get it up - and what was the results in practice?
    – SlySven
    Commented Nov 30, 2015 at 2:23

I have a SD card based Beagle board that has been running for over a year. It does require an occasional restart and have copies of the SD card in case of failure (Not needed as yet) The application is read only which may have aided its longevity


As concern over long-term SD card reliability is frequently mentioned (and is a valid concern, especially for low-quality SD cards), there is another approach: initramfs (or initrd).

This requires a little more dirty work, but essentially you need to rebuild a kernel with your own initramfs (or separately build an initrd). The initramfs would include everything you need to run your application. As the Raspberry Pi 2 has 1GB RAM, there is ample space for most applications that do some "basic automation and statistical generation". Of course, if you need some larger application, like X or Mathematica, all bets are off (but 1GB can still handle a lot of stuff).

Of course, the SD card is still used - but it would only be used at boot time. In fact, Linux would never need to use it at all, only the bootloader.

If you want to keep the initramfs very small, a common approach is to use a GNU replacement, like busybox.

There is lots of info on both initramfs/busybox out there, and it is not Raspberry Pi specific.

  • First, you've skipped some critical steps WRT using an initramfs in the manner you imply -- that's not the primary purpose of such, and just using one with the kernel will not accomplish having a persistent userspace in RAM. Referring to it as if this were the primary purpose will only confuse other people into believing it is true (the real primary purpose, and the only one that will actually be served unless you take additional steps, is suggested by the "init" prefix).
    – goldilocks
    Commented Oct 4, 2015 at 15:26
  • Second, the benefits of doing so are a bit bogus since modern OS's, including linux, use all free RAM for a page cache. Once it boots and the key system bits have been used, they'll be in that cache and not accessed repeatedly from the card anyway. This is more flexible and dynamic than loading a static lump ramfs. Of course, if you don't leave enough free RAM the benefits are reduced, but if you need that much in the first place, a complete root ramfs won't be feasible either.
    – goldilocks
    Commented Oct 4, 2015 at 15:26
  • I have to disagree with that - it CAN be used, and is OFTEN used, in embedded systems for exactly that purpose - as the final rootfs used while Linux is running. And this is the exactly the purpose the original question alluded to - running 24/7 reliably for ""basic automation and statistical generation". It is irrelevant that that wasn't the initramfs's iniital purpose.
    – Brian
    Commented Oct 4, 2015 at 17:32
  • It's most useful in embedded systems that don't have any storage beyond RAM and (EEP)ROM, or some other read-only scenario with a purpose. On the pi, unless you have some reason beyond just running 24/7, it is a pointless tying of limbs behind the back. A possibility worth pointing out, but also worth pointing out why it's not a good suggestion for the OP's scenario. And you are leading people down a garden path by not explaining what initramfs is actually about, because again, just creating one and enabling it does not accomplish what you imply it does.
    – goldilocks
    Commented Oct 4, 2015 at 18:09
  • 1
    If that was the real answer to this question, I don't think there would have been so much discussion here. In particular, the SD card failures were mentioned in a number of the answers, both as warnings and anecdotally. My answer was simply in response to the original question, and those concerns, and I think that it is accurate, valid and hopefully useful to the original poster, if not someone else. Although, its likely it's not that useful to the original poster, as it's from 2012. :-)
    – Brian
    Commented Oct 5, 2015 at 0:46

I have 5 pi's that have been running 24/7 for controlling and monitoring my hardwired smart home (i.e. no WiFi or Bluetooth) for a very long time. They only boot from the SD card and don't write to it. Everything is in memory. Power is supplied by a separate "critical" power feed supply which has a set of 2 295 AMP 12v Telco quality batteries connected in series to provide 24v and then another set in parallel to the first set to provide 590 AMPS @ 24v. That feeds into a online UPS that filter the power, does the battery management and feeds 120v out to the "critical" components of the home. Critical being 60+ led lights, the 5 pi's and my influx / Grafana server (old laptop).

Calculation wise at the current typical AMP draw, if the house looses power my PI's and lights and monitoring will keep running for 3 weeks. Some day I'll add solar panels and more batteries to the house as well.

So what has been my uptime so far (April 30/2022):

14:21:15 up 970 days, 21:07, 1 user, load average: 0.02, 0.03, 0.00

Yes the Pi Model 3 has been solid!

  • "up 970 days" Nice one.
    – goldilocks
    Commented Apr 30, 2022 at 15:52

Redundancy is cheap

I didn't find this mentioned elsewhere, but as with anything you're expecting to run 24/7, critical or not, you should have backups. The affordability of the Pi would allow you have a spare standing by, or a networked slave receiving regular backups.


How you all are running Raspberry Pi continously for 24x7?. When i did , i faced multiple issues such as when running python application script, it gets hanged and needs to be restarted. Application details-A python script running to collect the energy meter via Modbus and sent to AWS cloud.


I have been using a Pi as a radius server for years. There is nothing special about this one. It is out of the box, in a good case with a usb power supply on a ups.

root@raspberrypi:~# uptime

20:02:41 up 800 days, 6:22, 1 user, load average: 0.06, 0.04, 0.05

I keep a mirror in case of failure. It processes hundreds of transactions daily.


Not exactly headless but a number of us run Raspberry Pi's as media servers for months on end without powering down. Any issues I experienced were due to power outages and most it recovers from just fine.

  • Yes. You can run it headles all day. I do it. Just make sure you have a good cooling fan. Commented Nov 1, 2021 at 19:39

I have a pi recording ignition sounds of industrial equipment that we can't monitor otherwise.

It has been running for 4 months non stop and I have had no problems with it.

If your concern is a reboot for power outage or anything else, write a script in the bootloader to automatically start playing the video. That way if there is a break in the power, the pi will automatically start playing the video as soon as it boots.

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