How to easily write an ISO to USB, burn an IMG to USB, create backups, duplicate or clone a USB flash drive and more. Win32 Disk Imager is a free disk imaging and cloning tool used to write raw disk images to a USB drive from Windows. As you might have guessed, this tool can also create a backup disk image of a flash drive. You can then use the backup image to clone a new USB drive or restore the original drive.
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What is Win32 Disk Imager?
This Open Source application allows users to create, write, and read disk image files to and from removable storage devices, such as USB drives and SD cards. It is primarily designed for Windows operating systems, hence the "Win32" in its name. Win32 Disk Imager might be used for tasks such as creating backup images of SD cards used in Raspberry Pi projects or flashing operating system images onto bootable USB drives.
Key features include:
- Backup Disk Imaging (USB to IMG): Create a complete copy of a storage device, including all its partitions and data, and save it as a disk image file (.img).
- Writing Disk Images (USB Cloning): It can be used as a USB cloner tool, allowing you to write a previously backed up disk image file back to another storage device, effectively replicating the contents of the source image onto the destination device. This is handy for creating bootable USB drives or restoring a drive from a backup image.
- Built in Verifier (Hash Checker): Also included is a built in hash checker which helps to ensure your files aren't corrupted.
- Compatibility: It is compatible with a wide range of removable storage devices, such as external USB hard drives, flash drives, SD cards, microSD cards, and more.
How does Win32 Disk Imager work?
Much like Etcher, this tool works to direct copy data from .IMG or .ISO files to a removable device. Functioning like a dd raw write command by overwriting the entire disk with raw data from the source file. As a result, any existing content on the drive is overwritten. Some consider this method destructive because the entire disk, including the boot record and partition table data, becomes overwritten. In some cases the device might even appear unwritable. However, this is almost always only temporary.
If you need to, you can easily restore a USB flash drive to its original state after using this type of tool.
This tool works great for making clones of hard disk images, CD-ROM ISO files, or even exported virtual hard drives. When using this software, you should be aware that the new disk capacity is set to the source file filesystem size. However, in some cases this can be fixed by extending or growing the filesystem into the unallocated space.
How to Burn ISO to Bootable USB
You can use the Win32 Disk Imager to Burn an ISO to USB. And if you use a bootable hybrid image, the resulting cloned drive will also be made bootable. To burn ISO to Bootable USB:
- Step 1.) Click the folder icon, then browse to and select your .img or .iso file.
Note: From the file explorer browser window during step one, use the dropdown in the lower right hand corner and (choose *.* to show your ISO files).
- Step 2.) Select your removable device from the device dropdown.
- Step 3.) Click the Write button to write the ISO Image to your USB drive.
There you have it. That's all there is to creating bootable USB from an ISO file!
How to Backup USB flash drive | Clone USB Drive
When you Backup USB flash drive, the resulting .img file of the device can later be used to restore or write the original contents back onto the device. Alternately, you could also use the backed up image to create a clone on another drive. Here's how you can use Win32 Disk Imager as a USB duplicator:
To begin, Start Win32 Disk Imager (Run as Administrator), then:
- Type a path as well as a filename to use for your backup image.
- Then select the drive you want to backup.
- Finally, click the Read button to backup your entire USB drive to the Image file.
That is really all there is to creating a copy of your USB as an IMG file. You can write this saved image back to USB drive just as you would burn an ISO to USB.
To conclude; With the help of the Win32 disk imaging tool, you are able to create backup images of your data or an entirely bootable USB drive. You can also use it to burn or write ISO or IMG files to USB. In addition, you might opt to use it as a USB cloner to create copies of or duplicate a USB drive.