Backing up the flash memory on your iSpot to your PC

In case of future corruption of the flash memory chip on your iSpot (especially if you are ‘hacking’ your device), it’s a good idea to make a backup of the contents.  Hopefully, having this backup will make it possible to recover from ‘bricking’/etc in the future.

There are 10 ‘partitions’ on the flash memory chip in the iSpot (at least on my device).  You can get a list of the partitions by dumping the contents of the file “/proc/mtd”:

# cat /proc/mtd
dev:    size   erasesize  name
mtd0: 00040000 00020000 "RedBoot"
mtd1: 00020000 00020000 "param"
mtd2: 00120000 00020000 "linux"
mtd3: 00600000 00020000 "rootfs"
mtd4: 00100000 00020000 "system"
mtd5: 00120000 00020000 "linux_2"
mtd6: 00600000 00020000 "rootfs_2"
mtd7: 00020000 00020000 "ver_1"
mtd8: 00020000 00020000 "ver_2"
mtd9: 0001f000 00020000 "FIS directory"
mtd10: 00001000 00020000 "RedBoot config"

Each of the partitions has a pair of corresponding “device files” in “/dev” (one ‘character’ device, one ‘block’ device). For example, for “mtd0” you’ll find “/dev/mtd0” and “/dev/mtdblock0” files.

NOTE: Actually, “mtd10” doesn’t seem to have these device files by default. If you’d like to be able to access “mtd10” like other partitions, then type the following commands to create them:

mknod /dev/mtd10 c 90 20
mknod /dev/mtdblock10 b 31 10

To ‘back up’ a partition, use the “dd” command to dump the contents of the ‘character’ device file (“/dev/mtd0”, for example):

dd if=/dev/mtd0 of=/tmp/mtd0_backup.bin

Be careful about the “if=” (input file) and “of=” (output file) arguments – don’t mix them up!

Execute the “dd” command on each of the 10 partitions in order to have a complete backup.

The above example leaves the backup binary file in “/tmp”.  I’ve found that backing up to “/var/wwwroot” instead makes it easy to get the files off of the iSpot (and on to your PC).  “/var/wwwroot” points to the root of the iSpot’s web server, so you can download the backup file by downloading from your PC.

Don’t forget to remove the mtd backup files from “/var/wwwroot” once you’ve grabbed it using your PC!

In order to make things easier/less prone to error, I’ve written a little script to backup all of the partitions to files in “/var/wwwroot/mtd_backup”. Once you run the script, you can then browse to “”, then right-click on each link and “Save Target As…” to save each file.

Here’s a link to an, and here’s the contents of the script:

#! /bin/sh

mkdir -p $DESTDIR
echo "<HTML><body>" > $DESTDIR/index.html
echo "<br>Right-click and 'Save Target As...' on all of the following:<br>" >> $DESTDIR/index.html

let x=0
while [[ $x -le 10 ]]
    if [[ -c /dev/mtd$x ]]; then
        echo "--- Backing up mtd$x ---"
        dd if=/dev/mtd$x of=$DESTDIR/mtd$x.bin
        if [[ $? -ne 0 ]]; then
            echo "=== ERROR backing up mtd$x! Check free space in $DESTDIR! ==="
            exit 1
        echo "<br><br><A HREF=\"mtd$x.bin\">mtd$x.bin</A>" >> $DESTDIR/index.html
    let x=$x+1

echo "</body></html>" >> $DESTDIR/index.html
echo "=== Backup to $DESTDIR complete:"
ls -l $DESTDIR/mtd*.bin

The script creates a backup directory (“/var/wwwroot/mtd_backup”), backs-up all of the “/dev/mtd#” device files, and in the process creates an “index.html” file in “/var/wwwroot/mtd_backup” (makes it easier to download the files from your PC).

Don’t forget to remove the mtd backup files from “/var/wwwroot/mtd_backup” once you’ve grabbed them using your PC!

A future article will give some tips on recovering a device by making use of these backup files.


Disclaimer: information on this site is for educational purposes only, and intended to help iSpot owners experiment with their own devices. I do not condone any hacking for illegal purposes, such as stealing service, etc.

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1 Response to Backing up the flash memory on your iSpot to your PC

  1. Pingback: A closer look at flash memory partitions (with some insight on the firmware update process) | Hacking the iSpot

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