Easily backup and restore your USB/flash drives with USB Image Tool

USB/flash drives often times contain very important information which if lost and/or corrupted could devastate the owner of the drive. Bar the physical drive getting stolen, we all know the best way to cushion the blow of a technology catastrophe is to make sure you have backups of your data. So use USB Image Tool to do just that:

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USB Image Tool is a handy portable software which allows you to make image backups of almost anything that plugs into your computer via USB and uses “flash” memory to store data, including but not limited to USB/flash drives, cameras, and cell phones.

USB Image Tool works in a simple way: you simply plug in your USB device and it is will be detected by USB Image Tool. The device will then show up on the left as you see in the above screenshot. You simply click on the device, click “Backup”, select where to save the backup .IMG file, and let USB Image Tool do its thing. When you want to restore you just select the device, hit “Restore”, select the backup .IMG file you want to restore from, and let USB Image Tool do its thing.

Other useful features include “Favorites” and the ability to create MD5 hash of your backup. “Favorites” is where you have the ability to add “favorite backups”:

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This “Favorites” feature is potentially useful in the sense that you could backup your device when it has different types of files on there and do selective restore whenever the need arises. For example, lets say your USB drive has the photos you took while on a trip to the beach. You backup up the USB and name the image backup something like “Beach photos” and add it to favorites. Then for another trip you have photos of when you went to Europe on the USB drive. You also backup the drive with the photos on there and name the image backup “Europe photos” and add it to favorites. Now whenever you want to show someone the beach photos you simply restore the “Beach photos” backup and when you want to show someone the Europe photos you simply restore the “Europe photos” backup. Pretty handy if you ask me.

The ability to create a MD5 hash of your backup image can be turned on via “Options” (use Marxio File Checksum Verifier whenever you want to verify the hash):

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Now while USB Image Tool is very light on computer resources, only using 2-4% CPU and ~12 MB while backing up my USB, and fairly fast, took less than 2 minutes to backup a 2 GB USB drive, I was disappointed to see the image backup files are not compressed at all (even though the developer’s website lists compression as one of the features). Rather the image backup file was the full size of my USB drive. However this is not really a deal breaker for me considering how useful this program can be but I really would like to see a compression feature added.

You can download USB Image Tool from the following link:

***USB Image Tool works on Windows XP/Vista officially but I tested it on Windows 7 and it works fine. Also you need .NET Framework v2 (unless you plan on using the command line version).

Click here to download USB Image Tool

[via gHacks]

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18 comments

  1. Vegan

    Your article contains an error!

    I was also disappointed because the Images were not compressed. Because the developer writes a lot about zlib-compression, I kept on digging:

    To activate compression THE IMAGE HAS TO BE SAVED AS A .IMZ-file in the “Save as”-dialog!

    If you do that, there is no need to use external tools like 7-zip afterwards. The .imz compression is fairly efficient, the result is not much bigger than a manually created .7z-file.

    Another hint: You may greatly increase compression efficiency by zeroing the unused space on the flash drive before imaging. Otherwise the “empty” sectors of the USB drive may still contain the raw data of deleted files. Obviously, those compress a lot worse than sectors filled with zeroes. So I recommend doing a “sdelete -z -p 1 f::” previous to the backup. (The sysinternal tools “sdelete” can be found on the Microsoft-Website. “f” should be replaced with the correct drive letter. Notice the two colons, they are important!)
    By filling the unused space with zeroes the result shrinked to 801MB as opposed to 3787MB without using sdelete.

  2. Ashraf
    Author/Mr. Boss

    @Kev93: Thanks for clarifying U3 for me; I don’t know much about it so you helped.

    As for restoring to another drive: I was thinking along the lines of how when you do an image backup of a hard drive some software will not allow you to restore to a bigger/smaller sized hard drive. Even if you can’t restore to a bigger or smaller USB w/ this, getting the same sized USB to restore your back should not be too difficult.

  3. Ashraf
    Author/Mr. Boss

    @MikeR: Hello Plato =P.

    @giovanni: Just use your normal antivirus/antimalware >.>’.

    @Child Genius: There are always multiple ways of doing things =); BTW I would suggest 7zip over WinRar if push comes to shove.

    @Atpugkp: Good question. Honestly I don’t know if you can restore an image to a drive that it was not originally created from. Do you mind trying it out for us? I would do it but I only have one flash drive. If you do plan on doing it I suggest you make backups of both your drives before you do anything in case something goes wrong.

  4. giovanni

    Hey Ashraf,

    we all know that to protect our PC from an infected USB flash drive we must first vaccine or block the AUTORUN.INF file, that is normally located in the root directory of removable media, using specific (preferably FREE) tools such as USB PANDA VACCINE or even better the freeware AUTORUN EATER (by best choice)….right??

    But what if your USB/flash drive you want to BACKUP is infected by one or more viruses and /or (hidden) trojans?

    How to clean a USB Flash Drive Virus infected by some viruses before backing up its drives with USB IMAGE TOOL???

    And how to protect a USB Drive from viruses when attached to an infected computer???

    Can you please tell me the best (free) tools of your knowledge capable to solve these issues??

  5. Ozzie

    What a really interesting find, Ashraf. I keep a lot of stuff on my flash discs (probably not the smartest thing to do, I imagine) and never actually thought about backing them up. I’m definitely going to give this a go. Thanks muchly for letting us know about it!

  6. MikeR

    Very much a Little & Large situation: I don’t use any of my USB drives for long-term storage because the darn things are so tiny, they’re too easly lost.

    But unlike many others, I don’t own large hard drives, either.

    Good luck to Locutus and others enjoying 1Tb ownership, and paranoia it may be on my part, but even in this techno age I’m mindful of a saying dating back over 300 years to a time when eggs were expensive, and a single basket all too easily dropped.