How to Create a Copy of an Existing Bootable SD Card

by Bill Quarles

That bootable SD card you're using is very convenient: it's great to be able to quickly swap it for a different card with a different configuration or operating system. That convenience comes at a price. If the card gets lost or damaged, the time you've spent customizing it goes to waste. Your operating system and applications, your carefully customized working environment and even your irreplaceable pictures would be gone. Avoid the risk by duplicating your SD card.

Win32 Disk Imager

1

Download the free Win32 Disk Imager program (full link in Resources). The program does not need to be installed; you can extract it from the zip to anywhere on your hard drive.

2

Insert your original SD card into your computer's card reader. Wait for Windows to notify you that the card has been inserted, and then launch Win32 Disk Imager.

3

Your SD card should already be selected in the "Device" drop-down list at the upper right, but if not, choose it. Enter a file name in "Image File." This will be used to store a temporary copy of the SD card on your hard drive. Click "Read."

4

Remove the SD card when the copy completes and exit Win32 Disk Imager. If you do not exit, the program may fail to recognize the new SD card.

5

Insert the new, blank SD card into your computer's card reader and wait for Windows to recognize it, then re-launch Win32 Disk Imager.

6

If your SD card is not already selected in the "Device" drop-down list, choose it. Use the Folder button to locate and select the temporary copy. Click "Write."

Roadkil's DiskImage

1

Download and install Roadkil's free DiskImage (full link in Resources) utility if Win32 Disk Imager doesn't work for you.

2

Insert your original SD card into your computer's card reader. Wait for Windows to notify you that the card has been inserted, and then launch Roadkil's DiskImage.

3

Click "Store Image." Choose your SD card from the "Read Image" drop-down list and enter a file name in "Target File." This will be used to store a temporary copy of the SD card on your hard drive. Click "Start."

4

Remove the SD card when the copy is finished.

5

Insert the new, blank SD card into your computer's card reader and wait for Windows to recognize it.

6

Click "Write Image." Choose your SD card from the "Write Image to" drop-down list. If the temporary copy is not already listed in "Source File", use "Browse" to select it. Click "Start."

HDD Raw Copy Tool

1

Download and install the free HDD Raw Copy Tool (full link in Resources) if neither of the others works with your computer.

2

Insert your original SD card into your computer's card reader. Wait for Windows to notify you that the card has been inserted, and then launch HDDRawCopy.

3

Select your SD card from the list of drives. Note that the drive letter is not shown. Use the size of the drive shown in the CAPACITY column to help you choose the correct drive. Click "Continue."

4

Double-click the line that begins with the word "FILE." A standard File Selection dialog will appear. Choose a convenient location and enter a file name to store a temporary copy of the SD card on your hard drive. Click "Save" to close the dialog, and then click "Continue". Click "START."

5

Remove the SD card when the copy completes and exit HDD Raw Copy Tool. If you do not exit, the program may fail to recognize the new SD card.

6

Insert the new, blank SD card into your computer's card reader and wait for Windows to recognize it, then re-launch HDDRawCopy.

7

Double-click the line that begins with the word "FILE." Use the File Selection dialog to locate and choose the temporary copy you created in Step 3, then click "Continue." Select your SD card from the list of drives as in Step 2 and click "Continue." Click "START."

Tips

  • Windows may give you an error message when you try to write the copy. If this happens, don't run the program normally. Instead, right-click it and choose "Run as administrator".
  • If you store the temporary copy in a safe place, you can use it again if both the original and back up cards are lost or damaged.
  • If you can't find a new SD card the same size as the original, you can safely use a larger card.

Warnings

  • The drive you select when writing the temporary copy from your hard drive will be completely erased. Do not select the hard drive as the destination.
  • The new SD card must be at least the same size as the original. Even if the original card is not full, making a backup on a smaller card can result in a loss of data.
  • Writing your temporary copy to the new SD card completely erases what was on the card.

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About the Author

Bill Quarles began writing on software development, software testing and financial software in 1995. Since 1999, he has given special attention to smart phone applications and cell phones. Quarles earned a Master's in library and information science from the University of Texas. Quarles' first venture into commercial software in 1992 was a game which sold exactly one copy. His success rate has improved since then.

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