This project allows a photographer to back up their memory cards to another storage medium using a Raspberry Pi, and a USB hub.
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This project allows a photographer to back up their memory cards to another storage medium using a Raspberry Pi, and a USB hub. This is a very travel friendly option to guard against data loss in the case of a failed SD Card or a stolen camera. Since the power requirements are very meager, it can even be powered off of a power bank. It's also quite inexpensive, compact & lightweight compared to the few highly-specialized devices that do the same thing. The only drawback is speed -- 100 GB takes around 4 hours. The intended usage is to run the backup at the end of each day.

The backupX system is about the size of a pack of cards

The copy process uses rsync, and will only copy new files since the last backup. When the copy process is finished, the unit will shutdown. The script will read the label of the source storage and create a folder with the label as the name on the backup drive, so if you are backing up from multiple sources to a single backup the files will go into their respective folders so long as the drive labels of your source drives are unique. If you are backing up from multiple sources, just power cycle the Pi to start a new copy session.

An LED + a resistor can be added to the GPIO pin 13 and a ground pin for a visual indication of activity; solid: waiting for USB devices, flashing: copying. To simplify adding it to the board and minimize space, an Adafruit LED sequin combines both into a single chip. Without the addition of this LED, you have to go off of the Pi's green power LED to know when the backup has completed, and the Pi has shut off.

This project has been tested with Raspberry Pi Zero+ and Raspbian with Desktop & Recommended Software. The Vilros Raspberry Pi Kit comes with everything you need including the hub. My preferred backup target is a 256 GB USB stick and a USB SD card reader with the SD card from the camera is the source.


  • Install Raspbian Full to a new SD Card (Noobs may work, it is untested)
  • Boot the Raspberry Pi and go through the guided setup, the only important thing is to set up wifi
  • Open Terminal (command line) and enter the following commands:
cd ~
git clone
cd backupX
sudo ./enable-service

When complete, the Pi will reboot, when it comes back up, go back into the backupX directory and type sudo ./service-status to see if the service is running properly. Look for Active: active (running) on the 3rd line.

Plug your source and backup drives into the USB hub and verify that the Pi can mount them. If you get an error mounting a specific filesystem, you can likely install a package to mount it. Please raise an issue if you encounter this.


  • Your backup medium must have a label of backupX for it to be recognized as the target
  • Boot the Pi and plug the source and backup storage into the USB hub. The program will wait for both to be plugged in before starting the copy process
  • When the copy process is finished, the Pi will shut down
  • If the backup is interrupted, just power cycle the Pi to continue the copy process


  • Using your main computer, place a test file on your source, make sure your backup has a label of backupX and is freshly formatted
  • Power up the Pi, with only the USB hub connected, and plug in the source & backup to the USB hub
  • Wait until the Pi powers off
  • On your main computer, verify that the files are on the backup drive