Cloning SD card or USB memory stick contents

Author: Vlad Brown

Data recovery specialist, guest author, journalist.

Updated on 02/20/2020

Sometimes the need to create a full clone of a USB flash drive or memory card may arise. Especially in case if there are any programs, Android or iOS user data, password storing services or other useful software on a bootable flash drive.

A successful solution of this problem can be found in additional software for creating an exact copy of a flash drive or memory card.

The best software for cloning is the following:

  1. ImageUSB
  2. USB Image Tool
  3. AOMEI Partition Assistant

Cloning a card and copying its files: what is the difference?

There is a key distinction between simply copying the contents of a flash drive and creating its complete clone. If you select files using the keyboard shortcut "Ctrl + C" and transfer them to a hard disk drive or memory card using "Ctrl + V", their checksums will differ which will significantly affect the level of programs operation and the amount of memory used.

This happens due to the fact that flash drives use their own way of marking up file systems and memory partitions. Only special software allowing to completely clone data takes this fact into account. 

ImageUSB

The portable utility helps to create an exact copy of the content of your USB stick. Licensed version of this software is distributed for free. You can download ImageUSB via the link from the official website. So far the app has been installed by more than 100,000 users.

The utility main distinctive feature is that its developers have provided the capability to write data onto several flash drives simultaneously. The number of flash drives is limited only by the number of the USB ports you have. And this capability can save you a significant amount of time.

In order to create a clone of your flash drive or memory card, follow these simple instructions:

  1. Download ImageUSB to any folder on your hard drive and unpack the archive;
  2. Run the executable file ImageUSB.exe. The utility window should appear;
  3. During the first step, select one of the removable USB devices connected to your PC (all the devices are displayed in a list);
  4. During the second step go through all available settings and operations related to a media storage drive: creating a new image of a flash drive or memory card or writing an image onto a storage device. There are also available such features as erasing all the data from a drive and its formatting (converting to another file system); The action you need to select is Create image from USB drive.
  5. Select or specify the path of the directory where you want to store the clone of the selected media storage drive;
  6. Confirm the launch of the process by clicking Create.
  7. Wait until the program creates an exact copy of your USB stick or memory card on the drive. This process may take up to several minutes, especially if there is a lot of data stored there.

The utility works on both 32-bit and 64-bit versions of Windows OS. Even an inexperienced user will easily understand how to use the program.

USB Image Tool

This free utility called USB Image Tool allows you to create and manage clone images of USB storage drives. You can download it from the developer's website via the link. So far more than 400,000 users have downloaded the app.

The utility doesn't require an installation. Simply unpack the downloaded archive and run the executable file USB-image-tool.exe. Then stick to the following algorithm:

  1. After launching the utility the program window will be displayed. In its left part you can find a list with all the USB drives connected to your PC. Select a device by clicking on it;
  2. Click on Backup in the window lower right corner;
  3. Specify the directory on your hard disk where you want to upload a clone of a flash drive or memory card. After entering the path, choose Save in the system dialog;
  4. Wait for the image to be created. The progress is displayed in the window lower left part (Saving image).
  5. In order to transfer the clone of a storage drive onto another flash drive, you have to perform the following:
    1. In the list of the USB devices connected to your PC select the one you want to transfer the clone onto and click Restore;
    2. Specify a previously created clone and open it. Wait until the process is completed. Done!

USB Image Tool is an incredibly easy to use utility. Its rich in details interface turns the software into a self-explanatory one.

The program runs on Windows XP, 7.10 and other OS. Which is a significant advantage when compared to other more demanding utilities such as AOMEI Partition Assistant (described below).

AOMEI Partition Assistant Standard Edition

Very efficient tool AOMEI Partition Assistant allows to manage the memory of USB drives and computer hard drives. For instance, it's quite handy to use this software for creating a clone of data preserving its structure and checksum. 

If you want to download AOMEI, follow this link to the official website and click on Download freeware.

Then stick to the following instructions:

  1. Install and launch AOMEI Partition Assistant;
  2. In the upper-left corner of the opened window find Wizard> All Tools and click Disk Clone Wizard;
  3. From the two offered options choose Clone Disk Quickly. The Sector-by-Sector Clone operation is unsuitable for cloning a flash drive or memory card;
  4. A list with all removable media storage drives connected to your computer will be displayed in the Select Source Disk window. Select the one you want to clone. Click it once and then choose Next;
  5. In Select Destination Disk specify the directory you want to turn into a clone of the previously selected storage drive. Click it once again and confirm your choice;
  6. And then confirm your action by clicking Finish. But this isn't the end of the process: it's essential that your actions come into effect;
  7. In the upper-left corner of the utility main window you can click on Apply;
  8. When the process is finished choose OK. Cloning can take quite a long time, but in the specified directory you will find a full clone of the selected drive.

AOMEI is a paid utility: its full version with no restriction of features costs $48 and the cross-platform version – $179. However, you can also install the demo version of the program which should be more than enough for creating a flash drive clone.

The only issue of the demo version with the action you need is its unstable operation on Windows OS older than version 10. The developers haven't come up with a solution to this problem yet. The remaining option is to purchase the utility paid versions or choose other software for cloning. 

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