Why you should always safely shut down your Pi

Posted on Jun 5, 2023

Safely shutting down a Raspberry Pi is important to prevent potential data corruption or damage to the operating system and the SD card or storage medium being used. Here are a few reasons why you should shut down a Raspberry Pi properly:

  • Data integrity: When a Raspberry Pi is actively running, it may have files open, applications running, or background processes in progress. Abruptly cutting off power by unplugging or switching off the device without shutting it down can cause data loss or corruption. Shutting down the Raspberry Pi allows the operating system to close all open files and processes, ensuring data integrity.
  • File system protection: The operating system running on the Raspberry Pi, such as Raspbian, typically uses a journaling file system like ext4. Journaling file systems keep track of changes being made to files and file systems, allowing for easier recovery in case of unexpected shutdowns or power losses. However, an unexpected shutdown can still lead to inconsistencies and errors in the file system. By shutting down the Raspberry Pi properly, the file system can be cleanly unmounted, reducing the risk of file system corruption.
  • SD card or storage medium longevity: Most Raspberry Pis use SD cards or other storage media to boot and store the operating system and data. Frequent unexpected power cuts can wear out the SD card or storage medium over time, leading to potential failures. Shutting down the Raspberry Pi properly reduces the strain on the storage medium, increasing its lifespan.

To safely shut down a Raspberry Pi, follow these steps:

  • Save your work: Finish any tasks or save any files you’re working on.
  • Find the power down dialog: Click the Raspberry symbol on the top-left corner of the screen to bring up the main menu. Click on “logout” at the buttom of the menu.
  • A menu will appear with options like “Shutdown” or “Reboot”. Click “Shutdown”
  • Wait for the shutdown process: The Raspberry Pi will now begin shutting down. It might take a moment, so be patient.
  • Turn off the power: Once the Raspberry Pi has finished shutting down, you can safely turn off the power supply, unplug the power adapter or remove the USB cable.

I did not want to do this every time I had to shut down the system. So I added a Petrockblock Powerblock, which allowed me to automate the shutdown process. Now, the Pi is safely shut down every time I flip the power switch on the main switchboard.