Etcher vs Rufus? – A Detailed Comparison Study

Are you confused about which application to choose and trust for creating your bootable USB? I got you! Here is an insightful guide which compares two of the most famous competitors dominating the market. Etcher, and it’s well-known contender, Rufus, are currently ruling the sector of Bootable USB drive creators because of the accessibility, pleasant user interface and quick hassle free functioning, which means IT WORKS!

Both the tools have a large community base of active users since both of them offer an adaptable user interface(UI) and dominate the market because of how sufficient they are. Also, both the software might feel pretty similar on the superficial layer, but there are huge differences that they offer in respect to functioning, portability, UI, compatibility and many more. Let us step further and dissect every possible difference, similarity they have to offer and what should you ultimately choose to use.

Rufus– The software, while is only compatible to run on Windows as of now, offers a tough competitor to Etcher because it supports various image formats including Windows ISO files and Linux distros. Due to compact size of the application and extremely quick flashing, it is a favoured choice of many. The only drawback which makes it lose on big play is its compatibility issues, users can’t just get stuck to this and they ultimately have to hunt again to find a true cross-platform application.

This is where Etcher wins the play, it is extremely popular since it is the most cross platform application running on Windows, MAC, and Linux, with its superior functionality and usability. It is an easy-to-use, free and open source GUI software. Its primary function is to copy the image files of an OS to a micro SD card or to a USB drive. Etcher is developed by Balena which is licensed under Apache 2.0. It also supports flashing of live CD versions of Clonezilla, DRBL, GParted or Tux2live.

Now we will proceed ahead with the in-depth differences between both the applications and what one should prefer based on all the observations and technicalities that we will come up with during our analysis. I will be covering the following broad categories to mark the key difference and similarities between the two, and my preferred choice based on that particular aspect:

Make and Model:

Rufus  (The Reliable USB Formatting Utility, with Source) is a free tool that was created by Pete Batard which was primarily created to generate MS-DOS bootable USB flash drives. The first official release of Rufus was done in December 2011, with only MS-DOS support. There has been many versions since 2011, the latest one is 3.13 which is only 1.1MB in size. It is compatible to run on Windows 7 later versions.

BalenaEtcher is developed by Balena which is licensed under Apache 2.0. It was formerly called Etcher, but Resin.io changed its name to BalenaEtcher in 2018. Etcher’s community is always updating the application with stable releases. It can be used to run on all three OS- Windows, MAC and Linux.

Both the tools are open-source and are available in portable version too. Also, the source code of both is publicly available to use and modify for developing further applications.

Language Support:

Rufus offers a straight win by supporting 38 languages like English, Spanish, Arabic, Korean many more, while Etcher only supports the English language.

Technology:

While Rufus is developed using C language, Etcher is developed using Electron Framework which is basically an amalgamation of web technologies such as JS, HTML and CSS.

Compatibility:

This is such a big and considerable point to discuss since Rufus having such a huge community with positive feedback lacks in the compatibility across different Operating systems. Rufu uses its goodwill at a major share to gather the trust and usage.

Simply put, Rufus is not a cross-platform application and is only compatible with Windows, making it lack a lot of bonus points here.

Unlike Rufus, Etcher is a true cross-platform tool, it runs with ease across MAC, Windows or Linux platforms. Etcher being an electron technology based application will run smoothly on any type of Operating System available.

Ease of Installation:

Rufus can easily be installed by visiting https://rufus.ie and downloading the version that best suits you from the available ones.

Click on the button below to download rufus:

Etcher is available to download in AppImage form as well as it can be installed using the Command Line Method. While the CLI method is a bit complex and requires some technical knowledge(Internal linking of articles- how to download Etcher), the GUI method is as simple as downloading any other application.

Click on the official website link, i.e., www.balena.io and start downloading it, based on your system configuration, choose either the 32-bit AppImage or the 64-bit AppImage.

  • Visit the downloads folder in your system and extract the files. Open the newly extracted folder and run the AppImage of the software by double-clicking on it.

Functions and Features:

  1. Rufus is considered as the best choice among users solely due to its speed. By far, it offers the maximum speed among all its competitors. Etcher comes next in speed to Rufus.
  2. Rufus is also famous for the compact size of application it has, the latest version of Rufus is of 1.1 MB which in comparison to 124 MB of Etcher is widely appreciated.
  3. Coming to the user interface of both the applications, nothing is in comparison to the UI Etcher has to offer. Etcher is a self-explanatory tool which doesn’t overwhelm the user with any advanced or technical options. On the other hand, Rufus also offers a simple UI but it has some technical options to tick from before one can get started. A person with absolutely no background on technical terminologies like File System, Volume label, Partition scheme etc will surely be surfing the web to understand the interface properly.
  4. Both the tools have the added advantage of auto-detecting the USB drive, so that you don’t accidently flash up your hard drive.
  5. Etcher offers a tremendous option of validating the whole process, which simply indicates that the source image is identical to the destination image.
  6. The minimum requirements for Etcher to run successfully are 256 MB of RAM and just over 2 GB of disk space and for Rufus the minimum eligibility needed is to have Windows 7 or later, 32 or 64 bit doesn’t matter. So thereby deducting, Etcher can work with versions as old as Windows Vista and later of course.
  7. Etcher being a full-fledged tool supports all kinds of system images like ISO, DMG, IMG, etc. while Rufus supports a range of .iso files including various Linux distributions and Windows .iso files along with raw disk image files.
  8. Rufus can also be used to compute the MD5, SHA-1 and SHA-256 hashes of the currently selected image while Etcher can be used to compute the CRC32 Checksum.
  9. One sure shot benefit of using the technical interface of Rufus is that it supports formatting flash drives as FATFAT32NTFSexFATUDF or ReFS filesystems, while Etcher lacks this feature.
  10. Both the applications only look for external storage devices such as USB sticks and SD Cards, if nothing is plugged in, it shows you to connect a drive.
  11. Etcher can strongly be used to install the live CD versions of Clonezilla, DRBL, GParted or Tux2live, which is something Rufus has to work upon.
  12. To use Etcher, a USB flash drive must have a FAT partition already so that it can be used to make it a bootable device, for Rufus this is not a barrier.

Etcher & Rufus Working

Both the tools work on the principle called ‘Flashing the SD card, which lets the user install a different version of Operating System to a target system. Without using such a utility, this process is a bit more technical and intimidating for the newbies wherein the user would flash an SD card using a program called Terminal and a text command called DD.

Some common prerequisites to both the applications:

  • RUFUS/ETCHER application.
  • ISO file for creating Installation Media.
  • USB device with suitable capacity

Rufus and its working:

  • Rufus doesn’t require installation to be done, just running the.exe file will suffice the purpose.
  • To start using, plug in your USB device and run the application with Administrator rights.
  • Rufus will smartly detect the drive and will display the same. But if you have multiple devices running on the system, then go to “Devices” and choose the desired one from the drop-down menu.
  • The count from “0 device found” will automatically change in accordance to the devices you currently have mounted on your system.
  • This tool offers some technically advanced settings to choose and tick from before you proceed further, which makes it quite-a-task for non-technical people. The option ranges from partition schemes, cluster size to file system. But this if understood provides an additional advantage that is required by different hardware and OS iso files.
  • Now browse for the ISO image under “Boot Selection” that would be needed to create a bootable drive. Rufus 3.1 and above also provides options for Non-Bootable, FreeDOS and Disk or ISO images.
  • Just click on “Start” on the window that pops-up next. Click on “Ok” to confirm erasing the content and format the drive. A green progress bar will appear. After its completion, you will have your Boot device ready to use.

Etcher and its working: 

Etcher, is a one-click bootable USB media creator, can really achieve its goal with a simple drag & drop from your selected folder to BalenaEtcher.

  • It breaks the entire complicated process of flashing an OS image file into three straight-forward steps:

Select Image, Select Drive, and Flash Image.

  • Open Etcher and click Select image and locate the Ubuntu ISO file. Try locating it in the downloads folder.
  • Click Select drive and choose your USB stick.
  • Click Flash to start writing your ISO file to USB flash drive. Enter your password in the next screen that pops up.
  • Click on ‘Eject’ in order to remove this USB drive safely from the computer and complete the process.
  • And it’s that simple! Now you have an idea of how simply and non-technically Etcher works to make the UI and UX smooth.

Conclusion:

Etcher auto-updates itself to the latest version available. Rufus also has a built-in auto-update feature that downloads the most recent version on availability.

Based on all the above points of discussion, I can definitely conclude that Rufus is a power packed tiny USB bootable creator which surely stands out for its speed, its highly compact size, its additional functionalities like partition size, cluster size etc for the added benefit, which surely is creditable. But, unfortunately, Rufus lacks a very important feature which Etcher provides, the cross-platform nature of the tool. The fact that Rufus can only be used with Windows makes it lag behind Etcher.

Etcher has proved itself to be the standard to make bootable USB drives. It’s easy deployment, easy to understand interface makes it extraordinary. The user interface is so simple that even a newbie or a non-technical person can generate a bootable USB drive in a jiffy.

Rufus is known to have the maximum speed, but flashing in Etcher is also quite fast. Etcher is the most-straightforward application that I have come across recently, you select an .iso image, the USB drive and hit on Flash. That’s it. The user interface surely speaks volume but another feature very commendable is the “Image Validation” it offers, that makes sure that no data has been manipulated during the whole process.

To sum it all up, Etcher is definitely an app to go for.