I need to read and write various flash card images. The way i always did this in linux was with dd, and that did the trick. What is a good windows equivalent?

Simply put, i need to be able to read an entire card into a file and vice versa. I tried WinDD, but that seems to operate on partitions rather than entire devices, but i need to be able to dump the entire disk/card and its partition table regardless of its content.

Using Windows 7 64bit, with the card reader on a USB3 port.

10 Answers 10


Try Win32DiskImager , it can write images to disks.

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    It's hosted on SourceForge, which has a history of including malware in distributions, against the project owners' wishes. Source: notepad-plus-plus.org/news/notepad-plus-plus-leaves-sf.html – Scott Stevens Apr 8 '16 at 10:33
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    @AnthonyLozano I downloaded win32diskimager from sourceforge, it doesn't have any malware and it's widely used and even recommended for things like the Raspberry Pi to write disk images to. There is a fork on github but you have to compile it yourself github.com/bizplay/win32-disk-imager – Logern Oct 18 '16 at 0:12
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    I have started using Chocolatey for all of my utilities. Think apt-get for Windows using NuGet's framework. There is a win32diskimager package on there that installs with no issues. Portable one, as well. chocolatey.org – Mike Loux May 23 '17 at 18:24
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    This doesn't work for devices without partition letters assigned to them, thus it's useless for devices with unrecognized partitions or no partitions at all. Not an equivalent to dd. – Xerz Apr 14 '18 at 18:14
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    It doesnt make a dd compatible image file, in fact it tries to understand the disk layout and produces a zip file with each partition it recognises in a separate file. And in my case it had issues restoring the files back to partitions again – user230910 Oct 16 '18 at 22:28

Just use dd for WIndows ... it works perfectly even though it is quite an old project.

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  • Seems to have an issue under windows 10. Anyone having issues with .6 beta 3? – TravisWhidden Nov 12 '15 at 19:14
  • @TravisWhidden what kind of issues? I've experienced some "unable to write" errors, but unsure if that's the same problem. – Scott Stevens Apr 8 '16 at 10:34
  • It doesn't work for me on my Win7 machine – Aaron Jan 19 '17 at 16:51
  • This seems to work, but it seems slooooow ... – user230910 Oct 16 '18 at 22:29
  • Thank you, worked great for me. – Jesbus Aug 30 '19 at 13:06

Rufus works as expected. Choose 'DD Image' for 'Create bootable disk using'.

The source is published on GitHub: https://github.com/pbatard/rufus.

balenaEtcher is another Windows compatible tool for writing writing images to USB drives. It's also fast, and is easier to use than Rufus.

My experience: Win32DiskImager did not detect u-SD through a USB-3 reader; dd for Windows, MinGW compiled dd, Unix Utils dd, and Linux dd VIA VirtualBox VM USB3 pass-through were all unacceptably slow; I have yet to find a Windows command line equivalent that can beat the 50MB/s write speeds I'm seeing with Rufus.

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  • My vote for Rufus as well. None of the other proposed answers worked for me on Windows 10 Pro v1703. Okay... lets be honest... I didn't try the Python solution. – Doug Wilson Jul 21 '17 at 19:42
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    It is really good for preloading images on USB sticks, but it does not do half of what dd can do, so it's not really "equivalent" – Rolf Mar 27 '18 at 21:29
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    This is not valid as it only allows to write images on disks, not to read those disks. – Xerz Apr 14 '18 at 18:15
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    Rufus produced a disk with different checksum from the image, for me. – fuzzyTew Dec 24 '18 at 23:53
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    It's rare to see a useful application today that is only 1mb in size. What a great tool! – Gareth Davidson Mar 5 '19 at 20:55

surprised nobody mentioned GNU core utils for Windows, I've been using them for years. they're 32-bit binaries but apparently, except for less, they still work under Windows 7 64-bits.

example usage:

C:\Windows\Temp>dd if="\\.\s:" of=sdrive.dat bs=4096
25599+0 records in
25599+0 records out
104853504 bytes (105 MB) copied, 30.3147 seconds, -56145186608800624000000000000
000000000000000000000000000000000 MB/s

C:\Windows\Temp>dd if="\\.\physicaldrive0" of=mbr.dat bs=512 count=1
1+0 records in
1+0 records out
512 bytes (512 B) copied, 0.0210012 seconds, -891479495977528 kB/s

the reported times are a bit odd but otherwise it seems to work well.

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    Does it copy correctly content over 4 gibibytes? Last time I checked (long ago) it was compiled against Microsoft's runtime where off_t is a long, hence offsets are limited to 31 or 32 bits... which is a big deception when using dd. – AntoineL Sep 15 '18 at 14:40
  • I never tried, sorry. – jcomeau_ictx Sep 18 '18 at 4:38
  • Git for Windows comes (at time of writing) with dd version 8.30, compiled in 2018. It seems to work fine with /dev/sdX names, at least from Git Bash running as Administrator. It probably lost any 32-bit limitations some time ago. – mwfearnley Oct 1 '19 at 12:29

First I also tried Win32DiskImager, which I thought is doing only partition copy based on its display (no, it can backup an entire SD card), so I continued searching.

My current favourite is HDDRawCopy. It copies to/from file an entire disk image, but not partitions separately. It creates dd compatible or compressed images on the fly - not as efficient as 7zip (does not reach ZIP performance even) but you don't need to touch the image again.

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    HDD Raw Copy was able to detect a blank SCSI drive that "dd for windows" could not. It allowed me to duplicate an HFS disk from Windows! Thanks! – HackSlash Feb 16 '18 at 23:53
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    Note that for some reason HDD RAW COPY has a limit of 50MB/s – Gizmo Jul 6 '18 at 11:11

I was just trying to verify a drive was wiped, so all I cared about was reading, but this python script could be modified to do anything like this if you don't trust those executables like I didn't. Open Windows Partition Manager to get what the drive number of drive you care about is, and just change that 2 to that number. You can then write that out, or if you did wb instead of rb you could write. Good luck

import sys

f = open('\\\\.\\PhysicalDrive2','rb')
a = f.read(1)
i = 1

kb = 1024
mb = kb*1024

while a == b'\x00':
    if i % mb == 0:
        sys.stdout.write('\r{} MB scanned'.format(i/mb))
    a = f.read(1)

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    Just for the record, I think it would be many times faster to do more than one byte at a time. And there is no error condition, the script relies on non-null bytes occurring early on and you catching that it printed "done" early on. – Luc Apr 29 '17 at 18:44
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    How do you know what drive to target? – HackSlash Feb 16 '18 at 23:56
  • Python is the wrong tool a tight loop like that. You'd be better off creating a 256k buffer of all zeroes and comparing it to 256k pulled from the disk in one go. Plus having some exception handling. – Gareth Davidson Mar 5 '19 at 21:04

For a true equivalent of dd on Windows, don't look for half-baked alternatives — just install the real GNU dd. The best way to do this is probably Cygwin, a pretty complete distribution of GNU and other FOSS tools. Think of it as installing "Linux" (or rather, a (GNU)Linux distribution) on top of Windows, without any emulation layers or a limited black box like the Windows Subsystem for Linux. It's as native as it gets.

In order to use it, you'll need to:

  1. Install a basic Cygwin environment. Do so as instructed on the website, just leave the defaults if you only need dd — but you can also have some fun and get a hint on what it has to offer.
  2. Open the Cygwin terminal as administrator, then check which device/partition you want to work on with cat /proc/partitions.
  3. Use dd as you would on any (GNU)Linux.
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  • you can even use cygwin from the DOS command prompt... (i use all the time for cat/grep/tail/... ) and even in the DOS/Windows console "ls -la /proc" works fine... one of my favorits... – ZEE Apr 17 '18 at 21:23

wow all those responses and DISM has been around for how long? pretty sure it was built into windows 7 from the get go.

DISM /capture-image /image-file:d:\backup.wim /capturedir:c:\ /name:simpleback

there are alot of settings you can tweak. after you capture - deploy to new storage media using the dism tools also.

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After trying some of the tools recommended here, I ended up using balena Etcher on Windows 10. (Rufus gave me a result with an incorrect checksum. HDDRawCopy gave me a write error.)

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rawcopy from http://www.ltr-data.se/opencode.html/. rawcopy -h shows manual.

If you need /dev/zero and /dev/random, there is "Zero and Random device driver" from the same site.

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