Win32 Disk Imager : Create and Restore Bootable Disk Images to USB Keys and SD Cards

A disk image is a byte by byte true copy of the contents of a disk and therefore it can be used to create an exact replica of the original media. Most of us are familiar with the ISO disk images which are typically disk images of optical media like CDs or DVDs. But what about bootable USB key images? More and more people are now using USB keys in place of the older and slower CDs. Many linux distributions like Ubuntu are now offered in a bootable USB key. Fortunately, there is an open-source program called Win32 Disk Imager that lets you create disk images from USB keys or memory cards and restore them later.

Win32 Disk Imager is for USB keys and memory cards, what ImgBurn is for the CDs and DVDs. It is able to create bootable disk images from USB keys so that you can restore an exact copy of the original USB key. You can download it from its launchpad website. The download is available as a standalone program and you can just extract the binary files from the downloaded ZIP archive and run the Win32DiskImager.exe.

Win32 Disk Imager

The user interface of the program is very easy to use. Just browse for the IMG file which is a disk image file to the USB key that either you have created previously or you have downloaded from the internet. Insert the USB key or memory card into your computer. Then choose the appropriate disk drive from the drop down list box. Finally click on the Write button to start the writing the selected image to the USB key or Read button to start the creating the image from the selected USB key.

During this process of disk image creation or writing it back to a USB key, the progress bar shows both the progress and the disk writing rate of your memory card. An MD5 hash is also generated for the image file being created by Win32 Disk Imager if you have selected the MD5 Hash checkbox. This MD5 hash is useful when distributing your disk images and lets users check if the disk images has been altered by someone. You can also use our Hash It hashing tool to generate MD5 and SHA1 hashes for any file you want.

You can download Win32 Disk Imager from : https://launchpad.net/win32-image-writer.

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