Win32 Disk Imager, Image Writer For Windows

Martin Brinkmann
Nov 1, 2010
Updated • Jan 1, 2014
Software, Windows, Windows software

Win32 Disk Imager for Windows is a portable open source program to write disk image files with the file extension .img to removable media. Removable devices compatible with the software are for instance USB sticks and drives or SD cards.

The application has been initially designed to copy Ubuntu images to USB drives, but has quickly evolved from that to go beyond the initial design goal.

The program displays a simple interface on start up. First thing you need to do is select an image file in a supported format, img is the only one, that you want to write to disk. It is important that the file format is correct, as you will run into all kinds of issues otherwise.

In addition, make sure that the size of the disk image does not exceed the available disk space of the device you want to write it to. Since Win32 Disk Imager does not display those information to you, it is necessary to perform manual checks to make sure of that.

Next thing to do is pick the device that you want the image written to. All connected devices are listed in a small menu on the right of the image file that you have selected.

Please note that all data that exists on the device will be overwritten in the process. If there is still data on the device, make sure you backup it first before you continue with the write process.win32-disk-imager

Select the driver letter of the removable drive after selecting the .img file on the local hard drive. A click on the Write button writes the img file to the removable drive. If the img is bootable, it will create a bootable USB drive. That's handy for Linux distributions and tools that come with booting options.

Img is not a format that is as widely known as iso for instance. Most Linux distributions, including Ubuntu, are now offered as ISO files instead. And for those purposes, an ISO to USB software like UNetbootin serves the purpose just fine.

Still, I happen to come upon an .img file occasionally and a tool like Win32 Disk Imager comes in handy in those situations.


Tutorials & Tips

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  1. Anonymous said on July 11, 2018 at 8:39 pm

    I am trying to make a bootable USB with Kali Linux! I follow the book instructions exactly how it reads.. I go to download Win 32 Disk Imager, I have my .img and. iso file for Kali Linux.. I mount the USB then launch Win 32 but when I launch it to go find the .img file after I mount the USB it says Kali Linux Download. I click on the folder it says Image writer then breaks off into 2 more folders with nothing in them! What am I doing wrong? Any Ideas how to fix it?



    1. Martin Brinkmann said on July 11, 2018 at 9:39 pm

      I don’t know why it is not working for you but you could try this program if you have a Kali Linux ISO:

      Just select custom and pick the ISO.

  2. ad said on June 20, 2013 at 11:38 am

    I tried to write linaro 12.06 (a linux kernel) to boot on hackberry board. however, the keyboard doesn’t work at all (connected with USB). does anyone know how to fix this?

  3. GrueMaster said on October 16, 2012 at 12:24 am

    Rafael: This could be due to slight size differences in the different memory devices you have. I have been able to read/restore to the same device very successfully, but I haven’t had time or a lot of different devices to try what you describe.

    Christian: win32Disk Imager only writes what it reads, byte for byte. So if your image is for a partitioned 2G SD, it will only use 2G, even if the device is 4, 8,16, etc. It doesn’t have enough intelligence to magically resize your partitions and rewrite your filesystem to fill the device. Also, some img files contain multiple partitions (Ubuntu arm images for example).

  4. Christian Leicht Jørgensen said on September 15, 2012 at 6:16 pm

    How come when i install Rasbian on my 4GB SD card, i cant see a non-allocated drive, of 2gb?

    Doenst it use the whole sd?

  5. Rafael Gomez said on November 22, 2011 at 5:31 am

    Hello Martin,

    Good article. Thanks. I tried the win32diskimager to back up a bootable Linux SD (2GB) and to my BIG surprise when I tried to write it to another SD (2GB) it said “NOT SUFFICIENT DISK SPACE”. It blew me away. What do you think happened?



  6. mm said on June 2, 2011 at 7:15 am

    how to load a Virtualbox machine using a USB stick prepared with this software ?

  7. ReX said on November 1, 2010 at 7:08 pm

    It works with ISO images just fine, but you need to either change the extension to IMG or use *.iso at the file open dialog.

  8. Tejpad said on November 1, 2010 at 7:07 pm

    Thanks for the tip, but I actually never failed just changing file extension from img to .iso if necessary. ISO and IMG are mainly the same format, just some stupid old name fight from back then.

    1. Martin said on November 1, 2010 at 7:31 pm

      Did not know that, thanks for the tip.

      1. AndrewS said on May 9, 2013 at 5:10 am

        “ISO and IMG are mainly the same format”
        Err, no they’re not ;-)
        IMG files are normally just a ‘raw disk dump’ so could contain absolutely anything (and typically include the partition table, etc.) whereas ISO files specifically contain an ISO9660 filesystem, designed to be written straight to a CD/DVD.

        A lot of “image reading” programs are able to open and read IMG and ISO files in the same way, which is probably where the misunderstanding came from.

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