So recently my dog chewed up my Mini SD card to bits destroying everything on it (didn't back up at all). I just ordered another micro SD card from amazon with the same make and model and I was wondering how I would use that as my new SD card with an OS installed.

I checked another post saying you can't use USB to install an OS without an SD card inserted because it needs to boot through the SD card first.

Added note: I still have my SD adapter and I have several USB sticks I can use to install a new OS if possible

2 Answers 2


I assume that you are talking about Raspbian (Desktop) on a Pi?

The easiest way to (re)install this is to use a disk imaging tool with a Raspbian image. The Raspberry Pi site has plenty of detail.


If you want the default Raspbian Desktop, download that image.

The format of the images is '.img' but they usually come wrapped up in a .gz or .zip file - 7-Zip can be used to extract this file BEFORE selecting it in the imaging tool.

Other tools are available but I prefer to use the one that Raspberry Pi recommends on my PC - Win32DiskImager. It is very easy to read and write images from SD Cards.


I'm not 100% sure what your comment about USB refers to but the RPi is hardwired to boot from SD Card - more specifically thats where it looks for the Firmware for, amongst other things, its Graphics Card. You cant boot from USB, it just doesn't work that way.


Yes, as far as I'm aware you'll need to install something onto an SD card (whether OS, diagnostic tools, etc.) in order to run it on a Pi - I don't believe you can load anything from a USB.

EDIT As noted by Alan in an earlier comment, if you have a Pi 3 you can boot from USB.

This guide gives a pretty detailed overview of how to install a RPi OS on an SD card. Essentially, download the OS image (NOOBS, Raspbian, OpenELEC, Retropie, whatever you prefer), get the relevant image writing tool for your PC's operating system, write the image to the SD card, insert it into the Pi and voila! you'll be up and running again.

  • Thanks a ton for the info. I can't mark as best answer for 6 minutes but when I can I will haha
    – user63337
    Commented Mar 8, 2017 at 2:07
  • Ha ha, no problem - glad I could help! And perhaps someone else more knowledgeable than me might even confirm a way to run an OS from a USB, giving you more time to play around with things while you wait for the SD card to arrive :) Commented Mar 8, 2017 at 2:12

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