3 Reasons Why Your Raspberry Pi Doesn’t Work Properly

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raspberry pi problems I’ve been living with the Raspberry Pi for several months now, and have found this astonishing little computer to be even more amazing than expected. Despite its diminutive dimensions, the Raspberry Pi is as fruity and satisfying as its name suggests.

You’ve probably seen the various Raspberry Pi articles on MakeUseOf explaining how to turn the Pi into a media centre, (remembering to choose the right equipment) or you might have had a look at our recent Raspberry Pi user guide.

However, there are users out there who have had less than successful experiences with the Raspberry Pi. There might well be varying reasons for this, but it’s safe to say that one of the main causes of dissatisfaction is an impression that the little computer that can, well, can’t…

What’s Wrong With My Raspberry Pi?

Let’s get to the nub of the issue. The only thing wrong with your Raspberry Pi is you. Unless you have been extremely unlucky and been sent a dud, the issues you’re experiencing are more than likely due to power supply, problems with the SD card or incorrect cabling.

I’ve come across all of these problems myself, and while it is tempting to make shortcuts on a cheap computer it really isn’t wise if you’re expecting good results.

The following common issues can be resolved very easily by simply reseating, replacing or starting over. It might seem surprising that they can cause such problems, but given the size of the Raspberry Pi and its requirement for peripherals, it really shouldn’t be unexpected.

Avoiding a Corrupted SD Card

Arguably the most common problem for anyone using a Raspberry Pi is the effect of a corrupted SD card. Now, this shouldn’t be an issue if you have used an SD card that is designed to be written to regularly, but older SD Cards can become corrupted quite easily, leading to the operating system being unable to boot.

raspberry pi problems

For a Raspberry Pi, you should be using a high-rated SDHC card, at least 2 GB. The Raspberry Pi uses the storage much like a high-end tablet PC or ultrabook (such as the MacBook Air) uses an SSD, and the SDHC format is particularly resilient.

However, regardless of which SD card format you choose, there are others way in which you can easily end up with corrupted data. The first is to remove the SD card while the Raspberry Pi is running. As with USB storage devices on a Windows PC, this should only be done if the storage device can be safely removed – when the Raspberry Pi is switched off.

Similarly, switching off the Raspberry Pi in the incorrect manner often corrupts the operating system. To shutdown safely you should open a command line and enter the following command:

sudo shutdown -h now

Alternatively, use the shutdown option from the desktop GUI.

Rely Only On The Mains Power

The fact that the Raspberry Pi uses a USB mains adaptor for power can lead you into a false sense of security when it comes to sending power to the device.

raspberry pi issues

After all, USB ports can be found on PCs and some desktop monitors, so why not use one of these connectors to power the mini-computer?

Unfortunately it isn’t as simple as that. While the Raspberry Pi might receive enough power from a USB 2.0 port to boot up and run, running processor-intensive tasks or powering a keyboard, mouse, USB storage or USB network connection will probably prove too much. If the Pi shuts down straight after booting, you can be sure that the computer has insufficient power.

As a result, you should only power your Raspberry Pi using a suitable mains power adaptor.

Check Your Cables!

Keeping an eye on your cabling is important with the Raspberry Pi, particularly if you are using one of the many custom cases that are available. Manufacturing problems with cases and cables alike can lead to incorrect seating of power, Ethernet and HDMI cables, and these can all lead to problems.

raspberry pi problems

Similarly, be aware that various adapters that are cheaply available from eBay and other online retailers can lead to issues. HDMI to VGA adapters  for instance, might claim to be usable but faults can easily arise, putting both your Raspberry Pi and your monitor or HDTV at risk.

Also be aware that USB cables designed for charging smartphones may not be suitable for powering the Raspberry Pi, even if a mains adapter is connected.

Conclusion: Make Sure Everything Is Connected and Setup Correctly!

If you’re using a Raspberry Pi, you should be certain that as with a typical desktop computer, everything is connected correctly. Before booting for the first time, even, you should confirm that you have the necessary cables, peripherals and storage media to hand.

Being aware of how to correctly shutdown the Raspberry Pi is absolutely crucial, and can save a lot of time re-imaging your SD card in the event of data corruption.

For more information about setting up the Raspberry Pi and its many uses, see our Unofficial Raspberry Pi Manual.

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Comments (17)
  • Otto

    Oh I misunderstood you. Erm I’ve tried a different home, a different extension cord, no extension cord, but I got all the same problems.

  • Otto

    Nah I’ve got an adapter that all other Pi users that live around here (can’t get the official adapter here) and ditto for the cable. Still replaced the cable, then the adapter, then another cable, then another cable, then the Pi and now it works sorta.
    I think it’s a specific brand of SD card that’s (even though it’s on the supported list) just doesn’t get read properly every single time.
    Pi is so nitpicky when it comes to power supply and SD cards…

    I appreciate the help, but I’ve went through all the usual tips like checking power, checking sd and that didn’t solve it after 20 hours of messing with it. Now it’s almost reliable though and that’s as good as it’s gonna get.

  • Otto

    Yea I’ve replaced the SD card with a new supported (identical) one, they don’t sell official adapters in the Netherlands so I had to go with the next best thing. A velleman adapter that is popular amongst dutch Pi users. I also switched out the cable 4 times (while the second cable I got works for all other local Pi users) and replaced the adapter because the store told me it must be defective considering the problems.
    At the end I replaced the Pi because it was faulty. The SD card reader was put on at an angle and it didn’t read the cards properly.
    The current Pi isn’t the most reliable one on the planet either, but usually it boots 88% of the time. So it’s good enough

    Thanks for the info :)

    • Christian Cawley

      Any chance the problem could be with your power source, rather than the cable/adaptor? Perhaps an intermittent issue with an extension cable or wall socket?

  • Otto

    Hi. I got my Pi some days ago and I’m having a lot of trouble.

    I checked my power supply (5V 3.1A) my SD card (supported integral 16gb class 10) and reinstalled the image at least 5 times now on more then 1 card but it keeps booting inconsistently. It boots maybe 60% out of times and the other times it has trouble reading data, but when it boots it works fine and I can write to SD card.
    So I’m looking for all info I can find and I find this topic and you state

    “Manufacturing problems with cases and cables alike can lead to incorrect seating of power, Ethernet and HDMI cables, and these can all lead to problems.”

    What do you mean with seating of power?
    Can my HDMI cable and Network cable have anything to do with my problems?
    Any help would be greatly appreciated, in the official forums I havn’t gotten a reply to my very extensive problem report yet and there doesn’t seem to be another topic on ány forum about the exact problems I’m having.

    Otto

    • Christian Cawley

      “seating of power… cable” is what is implied here, specifically how well it is connected, if the connector is a good fit, etc.

      Is the power supply an approved Rpi adaptor? Also, have you checked the cards for problems?

  • mick

    i would gladly donate if i knew which one is my problem

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Affiliate Disclamer

This review may contain affiliate links, which pays us a small compensation if you do decide to make a purchase based on our recommendation. Our judgement is in no way biased, and our recommendations are always based on the merits of the items.

For more details, please read our disclosure.