Meet Raspberry Pi Zero-Based Little Backup Box

Before my recent trip to Tokyo, I spent some time writing, debugging, and optimizing my Little Backup Box script that transforms a Raspberry Pi into a mobile backup device. A Raspberry Pi Model B 2 running the script served me well during my trip, but it wasn’t without its limitations. First and foremost, because of Model B 2’s power consumption, I had to use it with a power supply. This meant that the device wasn’t truly mobile, and I had to wait until I got back to my hotel room before I could back up RAW files and photos from my cameras. Although the entire setup wasn’t that big in size, it still wasn’t pocketable.

So as soon I returned home and got over the jetlag, I started devising ways to improve my original design. I was fortunate enough to get my hands on Raspberry Pi Zero by ordering it right after it was announced. But since then, it was idly sitting in a box, as I couldn’t come up with a good use for it. Going through my bookmarks, I stumbled upon a link to the Zero4U USB hub for Raspberry Pi Zero from UUGear, and I thought that this was exactly what I needed to turn my Raspberry Pi Zero into a miniature version of the original backup box. I promptly ordered Zero4U along with an acrylic case for the hub and a Raspberry Pi Zero sandwich. Once the components had arrived, it took me only a few minutes to assemble them and test the setup with a generic 2200mAh power bank. It worked like a charm, so I present to you the latest version of the backup device. Here are a few other peripherals the backup device is using:

  • Transcend USB card reader
  • BlickStick Nano (optional but handy for basic visual feedback)
  • SanDisk Ultra Fit 128GB USB drive (provides enough storage for backing up RAW files and photos on the move)
  • Edimax EW-7811Un Wi-Fi USB adapter

So here it is: a cheap, light, and pocketable backup box that does the job with a minimum of fuss. Better still, the accompanying installer script enables and configures the miniDLNA server on the backup box, so you can view backed up photos on any DLNA-capable device.

If you are interested in setting up and using a similar mobile backup device, the Linux Photography book by yours truly has all the info you need.

Tech writer covering Linux and open source software

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Posted in Hardware, Open Source, Photography, Software
2 comments on “Meet Raspberry Pi Zero-Based Little Backup Box
  1. I thought about assembling a backup (pics&raw) solution with the PI and external hard drives but I ran with some roadblock: [1] the amount of data from today’s cameras is staggering high, 10-15 GB of files in no time (I’m not a pro photographer). [2] PI’s USB 2.0 is very slow if you need to transfer from 30GB to 200 GB, it will takes days. [3] The power usage and uptime from external drives makes this solution a dumb child’s play. I love PI but without USB 3.0 is totally useless…

    • Dmitri Popov says:

      1) and 2) On a busy (photographically speaking) day, I produce 9-10GB worth of photos. It takes about 30-40 minutes to transfer this amount of data on Raspberry Pi Model B 2. I can live with that. YMMV, of course. 3) Using an external hard disk would defeat the purpose of having a small pocketable backup device. I use a SanDisk UltraFit 128GB, which works just fine.

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