Good morning,

I have been cloning Raspberry Pi's SD Cards for a "write heavy" software that I have programmed. This leads to the SD Card being unable to write, making it "readonly".

What I mean in the above sentence is that the SD Card with the Raspbian (NOOBS) system image still works, it can make read operations, I can actually log into the raspberry pi with my account and do things like surf the web, ping some IP and other things. When I say that the card is unable to "write to persistent memory", I mean that whatever is written or created gets automatically deleted each time the Raspberry is rebooted or shutdown.

As an example:

1) I boot the Raspberry, works correctly and I can use it with default login pi

2) I surf the internet

3) I need to write something in a txt file, so I create the file:

touch newfile.txt

which is on the desktop, I know I created it because if I "ls -la" it's right there, I can open it, I can write things with nano and I can CTRL+X save it.

4) If I re-open the file, the contents are still there.

5) I reboot the Raspberry and everything I have created inside the Raspberry a moment ago is now erased from it, probably because it lived on the memory (RAM) and not in the persistent memory (SD). Also, this applies not only to new files or folders but also to all the modifications I make to old files, those modifications are never actually saved and only persist as long as the raspberry pi is turned on, so I guess they really live on the RAM.

6) The SD Card is probably unable to write anymore, also I am unable to ssh pi@my-pi-ip-address but I can ping it, which happens when the write cycles of the SD Card are finished.

Since I can still copy / interact with the SD Card, I have made a clone image of it and I would like to know:

1) Is cloning the SD Card image safe?

2) Considering that the SD Card is now unable to write to persistent memory, but only to read from it, will the new SD Card be readonly?

3) If I clone an SD Card with, say, 1000 writes left, to a new SD Card that I just took out of the box, will I get just 1000 writes or all the possible writes from the new card?

4) What is the safest way to clone an image and retain all the writes from the new card while still having a backup of the SD Card image installed?

Thanks a lot.

  • Welcome, but you need to clarify what you mean by "This leads to the SD Card being unable to write" and "the SD Card is now unable to write to persistent memory", because taken literally most of this simply does not make sense.
    – goldilocks
    Commented Mar 6, 2017 at 8:39
  • Sorry, I'll rewrite the question, although I might miss some specific words that could help explain the problem better. Commented Mar 6, 2017 at 8:42
  • That first sentence in particular needs some serious explication. If you want help from other people, you need to detail exactly what you did. I think what you have here is your conception of the consequences, which is very likely wrong. For example, don't refer to "interacting" with the SD card. That's at best a vague abstraction. You are doing something concrete that can be explained in detail.
    – goldilocks
    Commented Mar 6, 2017 at 8:45
  • I edited the question with a usage example. Thanks for the tips mate! Commented Mar 6, 2017 at 8:51
  • The problem now is that the basis of your question involves a mysterious non-reproducible issue (that you are writing files to the card, and after properly rebooting, they are mysteriously gone). By analogy, say purple and orange smoke comes out of my car's headlights whenever I turn on the radio in 3rd gear. If I ask a group of mechanics online if the car is safe to drive, what can they possibly say? Yes? No? Maybe? In this case, I'd say just throw out that card and start with another one.
    – goldilocks
    Commented Mar 6, 2017 at 8:59

1 Answer 1


This has been experienced by several users as seen on this thread. It seems to indicate the SD Card is no longer working as it should, time for a new one. :(

As for cloning, it is safe, I've configured and installed apps as needed on one Pi and when ready cloned several times to get a bunch of Pis ready for a school and they all work every time. I use the same brand and size of SD Card for each batch and have not had any issues.

  • I use a program called Win32DiskImager on windows for cloning PI's. It is amazing. Once you have everything as you like it on the PI, Clone it. Now, you will always have everything (All the programs you installed, files, etc) in the event your SD card is damaged... :)
    – ThN
    Commented May 30, 2018 at 14:02

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