Win32 Disk Imager v/s Etcher – The Best Image Writing Tool?

Competition is always good and with a lot of image writing utilities out there, the hard part for users is to choose the best one for them. So, here we are to help you by comparing these two. Firstly, both Win32 Disk Imager and Etcher are open source software that is used to write image files and ZIP files on USB drives and SD cards.

Win32 Disk Imager was released in 2009 while Etcher in 2016. Developed by Balena, Etcher gained popularity because of a good interface and constant changes to make it as stable as possible. While on the other hand, Win32 Disk Imager was developed by multiple developers.

Here you can download Etcher!

Initially, the software was released with the motive to write Ubuntu files to USB or SD cards because Ubuntu was only available on CD drives at that time. The Ubuntu file type was changed and the software was no longer in use. Developers might have abandoned the project but they thought of developing it for generic image files and everyday use. The software went viral as an update was released with a lot of features. That being said, it’s time to move on to the next section where we will discuss the download/installation of the two.

Download/Installation

The download size of Etcher is around 125 MB while that of Win32 Disk Imager is just 12 MB. Users can easily download the softwares from the official website/source and can install the applications with a simple double click. The installation is not at all complicated and softwares will launch after performing quick installation steps. The next thing to compare is the interface as that’s the first thing any user sees.

Interface

The interface of Win32 Disk Imager looks 2000ish with multiple options that can be difficult to understand for amateurs. As for Etcher, you probably won’t find such a great interface in any software with just three easy to use buttons. Without watching any tutorial video, users can easily burn image files to USB drives using Etcher and that might not be the case with Win32 Disk Imager. Once you launch the software, you will notice the difference easily.

Process

The steps are pretty much the same in both to write an image file. Download the OS image file, insert the USB drive/SD card to the computer, run the application and select the ISO image file. Choose the USB drive and flash it. As easy it sounds, it is actually that easy with just 3 simple steps in Etcher. But when we talk about Win32 Disk Imager, you will see some more options which can actually confuse some users. There is a hash option, then read/write/verify option and a check-mark option as well. In Etcher, you will simply see three buttons. Upload the ISO, choose the USB drive and flash. The software will take care of everything.

Features

Well, as we have mentioned earlier, both the softwares are used for writing image files and ZIP files to USB drives/SD cards. Well, most of the image writing utilities can do that but what’s different with Win32 Disk Imager is that you can create backup files of SD cards. So, you see. A 2-in-1 utility. This can be done with the same process. You select the image file, choose your SD card and instead of clicking the “Write” button, you click the “Read” button.

That being said, Etcher has another great feature that it automatically validates the image file and checks for any issue that might be there in the ISO file. In Win32 Disk Imager, you have the option to click “Verify Only” and it will verify the checksum (file integrity) of the image file. So, it is manual in Win32 Disk Imager.

Flash Speed

The flash speed of Etcher will be comparatively higher than Win32 Disk Imager and you will see a difference of around 30-50% depending on the RAM, hard drive, and USB drive. There’s not much difference in the flash speed when you will be burning OS image files to your SD card as SD cards are slow in general.

Finally, the conclusion here is that both of the softwares are capable of burning image files to USB drives and SD cards. But Etcher can do it more quickly and efficiently along with a user-friendly interface that makes it a good choice for beginners. However, if you look at the additional features, Win32 Disk Imager offers a couple of extra things as well. 

Etcher is updated from time to time as users report bugs and suggest improvements. But that’s not the case with Win32 Disk Imager. The last update of Win32 Disk Imager was rolled out in 2018 and several issues have been reported since then but the developers haven’t released any update or patch. If you want to use the backup files feature of Win32 Disk Imager, then choose this utility. Although, if you just want to burn images files, Etcher is a smart choice!

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