Little Backup Box Update and FAQ

I’ve been traveling quite a bit lately. And to fight the battery anxiety syndrome, I’ve bought an Anker PowerCore 20100 mAh power bank. This relatively compact and light pack features two USB charging ports capable of delivering up to 2.4 mAh.

Now that I have plenty of power when I’m on the move, I no longer need to rely on Raspberry Pi Zero to run the Little Backup Box script. So I upgraded my mobile photo backup box to Raspberry Pi 3.

For a case, I opted for Short Crust Plus. This is not the most practical case, but it does look good, and it accommodates a Blinkt! LED board. At the moment, the latter is there purely for aestetical reasons: a Python script makes the LED change colors, which looks pretty good and is a bit mesmerizing.


It’s not all about looks, though. I also tweaked the Little Backup Box script to add the ability to update Wi-Fi settings via a custom wpa_supplicant.conf file. When Little Backup Box detects the file in the root of the backup storage device, the script copies it, and enables the new configuration.

Two Frequently Asked Questions Answered

Now onto something different. By far, the most frequently asked question about Little Backup Box is whether it can be used with a USB hard disk. By default, Raspberry Pi 3 doesn’t provide enough power to drive an external hard disk or even an SSD. You can connect the hard disk to the Raspberry Pi via a powered USB hub, but that would make the entire setup somewhat unwieldy. An alternative solution that I’ve tested and can recommend, is to use a WD Pi Drive cable. As you can see, it’s still not the most elegant solution, but it’s better than having a powered USB hub. In short, I do not recommend using Little Backup Box with an external hard disk, but if you really have to do it, use the Pi Drive cable.


Little Backup Box is a rather unsophisticated script, so it only works when a backup storage device and a card reader are correctly recognized and mounted in the specified locations. The script expects to find the storage device at /dev/sda1 and mounts it in /media/storage. Similarly, the card reader is expected to be found at /dev/sdb1 and mounted in /media/storage. If these conditions are not met, the script won’t work properly.

So if you have problems running Little Backup Box, the first thing you need to do is to check whether the card reader and the storage device are detected and mounted correctly. To do this, connect both devices to the Raspberry Pi and run the sudo lsblk command. The output should look something like this:

pi@raspberrypi:~ $ sudo lsblk
sdb           8:16   1  29.7G  0 disk
└─sdb1        8:17   1  29.7G  0 part /media/card
sda           8:0    1 115.7G  0 disk
└─sda1        8:1    1 115.7G  0 part /media/storage
mmcblk0     179:0    0  14.5G  0 disk
├─mmcblk0p2 179:2    0  14.4G  0 part /
└─mmcblk0p1 179:1    0    63M  0 part /boot

The important part here is the names (sdb1 and sda2) and mount points (/media/card and /media/storage). If the names are different, you need to adjust the values of the STORAGE_DEV and CARD_DEV variables in the script. For your convenience, the latest version of the script runs the sudo lsblk command automatically and saves the output in the /root/pi/lsblk.log file. You can view this file by running the sudo cat /root/lsblk.log command on the Raspberry Pi.

Little Backup Box YouTube Video

Finally, I recently stumbled upon a YouTube video that provides a quick introduction to Little Backup Box and explains how to set up your own photo backup device. If you are new to Little Backup Box, this is a good place to start.


Tech writer covering Linux and open source software

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Posted in Hardware, Open Source, Photography, Software

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