I've been trying to backup my RPi Model B but I'm having no luck whatsoever. Here's what my Macbook's terminal shows under "diskutil list":

/dev/disk2 (internal, physical):
#: TYPE                    NAME   SIZE       IDENTIFIER
0: FDisk_partition_scheme         *4.0 GB    disk2
1: Windows_FAT_16        RECOVERY 121.8 MB   disk2s1
2: Linux                          33.6 MB    disk2s3
3: Windows_FAT_32        BOOT     62.9 MB    disk2s5
4: Linux                          3.7 GB     disk2s6

This is what I've tried so far:

  • Using dd on the Pi itself (and copying to an external hdd). This is how I used to backup my Pi. When I've tried this lately over ssh the Pi becomes unresponse, I lose network connection and have to reboot the Pi.
  • Using dd on my Macbook running macOS Sierra. dd will create an image file of 47.2 mb and stops saying "Resource Busy" despite me running "diskutil umountDisk /dev/disk2" first. After a bit of trial and error, I've found when I run dd on each partition individually it works fine until I try the RECOVERY partition. This partition will give the "Resource Busy" error immediately.
  • I've tried making the image with Pi-Baker and Apple's Disk Utility. None of which work.

I've reached my wits end. Could the issues be related? The network becoming unreachable when running dd on the Pi? The RECOVERY partition not allowing dd on the mac?

Like I said I used to do this on my Pi all the time to create backups of my SD. My ultimate goal with this is to transfer my Pi to a larger SD card.

  • Using dd from a running system is a bad idea for the reasons explained in the second paragraph here. It should work in the same sense that hammering in a screw because you can't be bothered with (or don't have) a screwdriver will often work, but it may have less than ideal results with unfortunate consequences.
    – goldilocks
    Nov 11, 2016 at 14:58
  • Yeah, that makes sense. What are my options here then? My MacBook won't dd the disk because it says there is a "Resource Busy" on the recovery partition. Is it easy to copy over everything except the recovery partition? My understanding it's from NOOBS which I'm comfortable operating without.
    – sgilroy09
    Nov 11, 2016 at 15:17
  • Using dd on the card out of the pi is fine, but that's a strange problem. I'm not an OSX user, but dd is a very low level tool; it just copies raw blocks regardless of the content. You can copy a disk that contains no partitions, no formatting, random garbage with dd, so when it hangs it implies there is a hardware level issue. How old is the SD card/how much has it been used? You might want to ask about this on Ask Different. Unfortunately I don't think there is a universal way to verify the physical integrity of all SD cards.
    – goldilocks
    Nov 11, 2016 at 16:01
  • Yeah, good point. The card is probably 2-3 years old I think. Part of the reason I wanted to replace it. I noticed in the link you posted about using rsync. Would that allow me to install a fresh raspbian and put back all my configured packages and scripts?
    – sgilroy09
    Nov 11, 2016 at 17:04
  • No -- well, it could work if the old system was completely up to date, but in that case you might as well just use the old one. If it's because you want to switch to a plain Raspbian card instead of NOOBS, you could create the card, boot it once (because on first boot Raspbian does some stuff that affects the first partition), then you should be able to replace the second partition with your old Raspbian one if the kernel versions are the same (check with uname -r). If they aren't, that's easy enough to work around, though. The other issue would be partitions listed in /etc/fstab...
    – goldilocks
    Nov 11, 2016 at 17:12

1 Answer 1


dd will work on normal SD card on the Mac. I do this all the time.

See https://raspberrypi.stackexchange.com/a/29085/8697

I haven't tried this on NOOBS, but if the card is unmounted macOS shouldn't care what it contains.

NOTE macOS WILL NOT mount the NOOBS RECOVERY partition, as this conflict with the OS recovery partition.

  • The Recovery partition is definitely being mounted. I can see it on the left sidebar of finder and can unmount it with the "eject" button. Also, I use "diskutil umountDisk" which says it has unmounted the disk. Then when running dd it says the resource is busy
    – sgilroy09
    Nov 12, 2016 at 15:19

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