There’s no question that the little single-board computer known as the Raspberry Pi has made a staggering impact since the release of the first version – the Raspberry Pi 1 Model B – in 2012.
So many people in schools and developing countries around the world have effectively been introduced to the wonders of computer science through this marvellous microcomputer, with many of its most ardent fans coming from well beyond its initial target markets.
However, if there is one obvious downside to the Raspberry Pi, it’s that it’s an undeniably delicate little thing that can be highly susceptible to accidental damage. So, what do you need to do to ensure that your own Raspberry Pi remains in tip-top condition?
Consider investing in a protective case
Yes, I know you’re already sick of me telling you this, but it really is vital to appreciate just how vulnerable the Raspberry Pi is to all of those little knocks or other mishaps that could cause terminal damage.
In its ‘off the shelf’ form, the Raspberry Pi is a naked circuit board with nothing whatsoever to protect it. Nor can you depend on simply ‘getting by’ if it does sustain damage, as any bent or broken part will mean that it no longer works at all.
The logical answer to this problem is to invest in a protective case for your Pi, although this still raises the question of whether it’s best to opt for a ‘homemade’ case or one of the many dedicated Raspberry Pi cases now available on the market.
Should you make your own Raspberry Pi case?
It can certainly be fun to design and make your own case for your Raspberry Pi – just look at this guide on the Instructables site to how you can make one out of Lego, for example.
Alternatively, you might be lucky enough to find a container at home that is just the right size for a Raspberry Pi, although in most cases, it will probably be either a bit too small or a big too big. Many smaller cases, for example, have the problem of leaving the SD card sticking out, which means you will also need to acquire a separate SD card case.
As for the bigger containers that you might happen to come across at the back of one of your kitchen cupboards, there might be more than enough space for the SD card, but you might also have the problem of your Raspberry Pi being left rattling around inside. You might have to include some ‘padding’ to keep your Pi still in there, which is obviously far from ideal.
OK, so what about the various dedicated cases out there?
Good idea! I recently decided to log onto one of the best-known Raspberry Pi-related online stores – The Pi Hut – to browse their range of cases. I quickly discovered that there’s a very smart-looking official case for the Raspberry Pi 3, in a pleasing red and white design and providing a snug and secure fit for the Pi, while also leaving all of the primary ports – including the microSD – accessible.
This case was only priced at £6 at the time of my visit, and with its five-star reviews and optional clip-on lid for further protection if needed, it ticks a lot of boxes for a great Raspberry Pi case for such a low price. It’s also available in black and grey, and there’s a smaller version for the Raspberry Pi Zero as well.
What else do you need to know about caring for your Pi?
Caring properly for your Raspberry Pi isn’t just about the physical protection side of things – in today’s Internet of Things (IoT) world, it’s also advisable to be alert to the risk of hacking attacks when you use your Pi with connected devices or home automation projects.
It’s therefore well worth consulting a guide such as this one at Hackster on how you can make your Pi as secure as possible against the likes of man in the middle and spoofing attacks. You can even set up a firewall for your Pi, together with an intrusion detection system that lets you know if someone still somehow manages to penetrate your Pi’s defences.
With all of the above said, however, it’s worth emphasising that a Linux-based computer like the Raspberry Pi isn’t really vulnerable to virus attacks in the way that a Windows PC is. This is due to various factors, including – but not necessarily limited to – the wide range of Raspberry Pi software permutations that makes it harder for attackers to define a particular target, as well as the generally tech-savvy nature of Raspberry Pi users compared to Windows ones.
In summary, then, when you want to protect your Raspberry Pi against all of the problems that could realistically befall it, it’ll be physical protection to which you need to pay the most attention. Feel free to share your own advice below on how to best care for a Raspberry Pi and keep it working like clockwork for a long time to come!