How to Expand an SD Card Using a Raspberry Pi

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Raspberry pi is one of the most popular single-board computers due to its simplicity and low cost. Its features receive much appreciation from hobbyists and DIY’ers, who put this computer system to use in several projects.

The Raspberry pi, like other computer systems, requires sufficient storage for it to work effectively. It relies mostly on an SD card to boost its storage, with many opting for 8GB or 16GB cards. However, the memory card may not have sufficient space for the Raspberry pi to run at times. This situation calls for measures on how to expand SD card Raspberry pi.

The Purpose of an SD Card on Raspberry Pi

The SD card is the best option for many who use the Raspberry pi. The computer has the slot for the SD card, which is one reason many prefer it. The Raspberry computer’s latest models have a USB slot, which you can connect to a secondary storage media such as a hard disk or flash drive.

The SD card is cheaper and easy to handle due to its small size. However, you should be careful with it as you may easily lose it courtesy of its small build.

With a decent storage space of above 16GB, your computer works effectively where you can handle large files, download and install large programs and update your software. Its processing speed also improves.

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What Does It Mean to Expand SD Card?

Expanding your SD card is the process of expanding the file system partition to create more storage. The file system partition is the logical division of your secondary storage media, and the Raspberry Pi’s operating system treats it as a separate unit.

Here is how to expand your SD card when using the Raspberry pi.

Expanding SD Card on Raspberry Pi

Before you begin, you should have the latest version of Raspbian OS installed, which is Raspberry Pi’s operating system.

Step 1: Use the Desktop Menu

On the desktop, go to the menu and click on preferences then Raspberry Pi configuration. On the first tab, the first option you will come across is expand the filesystem. Click on this option and wait for a moment to see a confirmation box and click ok.

There will be a notice telling you that new space will not be available until you reboot your system. Restart your Raspberry Pi to boost your storage space.

Step 2: Using A Command Prompt

Optionally, you can perform the task using a command prompt. Key in this command:

sudo raspi-config

There will be a resulting menu, where you should click on the expand filesystem option. When you confirm the choice and wait, you will receive a notification that the root partition has been resized.

Reboot your Raspberry Pi, and you will notice that the filesystem expanded to fill the partition, giving you more space on your SD card.

Step 3: Expanding Root Partition

Here is another simple process to follow to create more space on your root partition, where you launch Raspberry Pi’s configuration screen in the terminal window by keying in the prompt: sudo raspi-config.

Check on the bottom option to confirm that you have the latest operating system version, clicking on update. Then launch the second option, expand_rootfs.

Click on finish. Then accept the request to restart your device. You now have an expanded memory on your SD card to run several functions on your Raspberry Pi.

Other Ways to Expand the Storage Capacity of Your Device

Aside from expanding the SD card, here are other ways to improve storage on your computer system.

Using A Larger Capacity SD Card

One way to expand your storage is by use of a larger capacity SD card. It is the right option if you have been using the smaller-sized cards like in the 4-8GB range. You can go for 16-64GB, where you benefit from maximum space. However, you may still encounter the partitioning issues due to system files occupation.

In this case, you will also need to expand the SD card on Raspberry Pi.

Connect USB Storage

You can also connect USB storage, more so if you are using Raspberry Pi 3. A USB connection ensures that you never run out of space when working on your projects, giving you an edge in expanding your space.

You should keep in mind that the USB ports on Raspberry Pi have a 2.0 limit. You may use USB 3.0 connections, but the speed will remain at 2.0. Among the storage options you may use include a flash disk, a hard disk drive, or a memory card in a USB adapter.

Go for Lightweight Operating Systems

Another option to look at is a lightweight operating system, which will take less of you partitioned space. You can opt for Distro and other lightweight choices that are compatible with Raspberry Pi.

The Raspbian OS lite is one of the solutions you can go for and is very lightweight compared to the main Raspbian OS. While the latter may have a capacity of around 4GB, the former will come at around 1.2GB.

Other platforms include DietPi, PiCore, and Arch Linux. When using lightweight operating systems, you need to know that speed and functionality will reduce significantly. Hence, it is a suitable move if you do not have heavy-duty operations.

Final Word

The Raspberry Pi is one of the most reliable computers you may come across, where you benefit from its user-friendliness, versatility, and low price. To function to its best, it needs sufficient storage, something you achieve by connecting it to an external storage media such as an SD card or USB storage.

In case of partition issues, where the system files take much of your SD card storage, you can expand it on your system, following the steps highlighted in this article. Always have the latest version of the Raspbian OS, and the SD card or any storage media should be formatted before use.

You can go for other options such as a lightweight option to Raspbian OS, such as Raspbian OS lite, though you might lose an edge in functionality.

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