Create ISO Image of USB Flash Drive

Discussion in 'backup, imaging & disk mgmt' started by TraumaDoc, Jun 22, 2011.

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  1. TraumaDoc

    TraumaDoc Registered Member

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    I want to create an ISO image of my USB Flash drive (DataTraveler G3) but having issues. I can't find a program that will make a simple ISO image (preferably in .iso format) just as making a CD/DVD image ISO. I have tried a dozen programs including, WinISO, WinImage, UltraISO, and more. Nothing really wants to touch the USB Flash but only CD/DVD.

    Sure, I can use ImageForWindows I have installed, etc., but prefer to just use a straight up disk tool like UltraISO.

    I tried a couple tools that made .img and .img images, but the resultant image was not usable/mountable/viewable in all the other programs that use those formats. An example is that I used the USB Image Tool and it created ima/img and could not be read with other tools.

    Also, when I created the img/ima images and tried to "convert" with all the other tools, it also fails, saying that the source image is invalid.

    I have also tried AnyToISO but it's a bit hinky as well on the img/ima I created in other programs - saying that it can't find the valid ISO signature and that I reached some 5 GB limit and can't continue.

    This happens regardless of file format/structure on the USB.

    So, can someone recommend a solid way to make a simple .iso ISO image of my USB Flash Drive?
     
  2. Brian K

    Brian K Imaging Specialist

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    TraumaDoc,

    I just made an ISO of a USB flash drive but the ISO just contains files and folders and I suspect you want more.

    I backup my bootable USB flash drives with IFW. It's easy to restore the image to the same or another USB flash drive. Also the image can be restored to an internal HD creating a bootable partition.
     
  3. TraumaDoc

    TraumaDoc Registered Member

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    Hi Brian

    No, I don't want anything special. I just want to create an ISO image for backup purposes. I use a 16 GB Kingston DataTraveler USB Flash drive/stick and use it for work. But, I need to use the flash for some other purposes right now, so just want to have a quick method of backup and restore rather than going into Windows Explorer and selecting the folders to copy, etc.

    I just want to make an .iso ISO image of the disk for backup - nothing special. It's not even a bootable setup. Just folders and files is all I want.

    But, as I said, every tool I tried won't do the darn job on the thing.

    I'm NOT EVEN CLOSE to a newbie and maybe I'm too tired or just not thinking clearly, but I can't get it done, haha. I just prefer to use a simple tool like UltraISO for universal use rather than a custom tool like Image For Windows, which I do have and use. I want to be sure I can do a universal backup/restore on any machine with my simple tools like UltraISO rather than install custom stuff.

    Suggestions?
     
  4. Brian K

    Brian K Imaging Specialist

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    TraumaDoc,

    With UltraISO

    Actions
    Add directory
    choose the USB drive letter , OK
    everything should be added
    File, Save as

    Is that OK for you?
     
  5. TraumaDoc

    TraumaDoc Registered Member

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    Well, that is one way to simply backup the files. But, I am hoping for a "make ISO" ability - so I don't have to select folders and so on. Just say make ISO of that drive. Just trying to simplify it, so I don't accidentally miss any folders or files.

    But, of course, your suggestion is the most basic and old way of course and I have done that and it works fine in the overall picture I guess hehe.

    I'm just surprised it's so difficult to get these programs to simply make an image of the USB disk as to file content - at this point, it should be as simple as saying to make an ISO of a DVD/CD.

    It's also important to me to want to be able to make an .iso ISO image in the event I want to create an image of that USB if I happen to image it with a bootable image. For example, now it contains my backup work files (documents, etc.) but I am backing it up so I can use the USB Flash to image another machine. I'll image the USB with Sickie's to wipe a home machine, then image the USB again with Windows 7 install and reinstall Windows to one of my machines. I'd also like to be able to create an ISO of the USB when it is bootable (such as the two states listed above) - then I'll reimage it again with my work documents and be back at the beginning.

    Sure, Image For Windows, cloning tools will do the trick, but I really want something simple, small, and easy like UltraISO, but just can't get the whole thing to work as simple as "create image" or something of the USB.

    Either way, thanks!
     
    Last edited: Jun 23, 2011
  6. TraumaDoc

    TraumaDoc Registered Member

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    Interestingly, I just restored my original work image (documents, etc.) and still have AnyToISO installed. If you go to Windows Explorer and right click on the USB drive as a root folder, you have the option to create an image of the disk. It seems to have worked.

    Previously, I opened the program and tried creating an image by selecting the drive, but it gave me an error before. I don't know why it did, I don't know why right clicking in Explorer didn't give an error.

    Either way, it seems to be working the way it "should" and has created a working ISO image. I'll try it again with a bootable original source USB drive and see if it copies all the necessary boot sectors, info, etc.

    However, I'd still love input from other folks about creating USB Flash Disk images in ISO (.iso) format with standard tools like UltraISO, ISOBuster, etc.
     
  7. Tadoussac

    Tadoussac Registered Member

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    For a few years, I have used "USB Image Tool" for imaging my USB Flash Drives. The only limitation vs. the original poster's request - this software doesn't create an .iso file, it uses a different file format for the image.

    http://www.alexpage.de/usb-image-tool/

    The product has never failed to backup or restore my images, and it even allows you the option to include the boot-sector (for example, if you created a bootable USB Key).
     
  8. TraumaDoc

    TraumaDoc Registered Member

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    Yes, just as I said !

    It creates only ima/img and the resultant image file IS NOT valid in any other program. It may use a common extension, but I tried to open the img created in USBImageTool in 8 other programs and each time it said the format was invalid.

    Thus, hardly universal
     
  9. majoMo

    majoMo Registered Member

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  10. Tadoussac

    Tadoussac Registered Member

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    2 thoughts:

    (1) Take the *.img file created by USB Image Tool, and re-name it to *.iso. It would be interesting to know if any of the 8 programs you tested will successfully open the resulting file.

    (2) If you find another solution that backs up a USB Key (particularly one with a boot-sector) directly to .iso and reliably restores it, please share this knowledge with the rest of us.

    Thanks.
     
  11. majoMo

    majoMo Registered Member

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    You can try Folder2Iso. It does both (reliable restore and boot-sector).
     
  12. Tadoussac

    Tadoussac Registered Member

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    I am willing to try something new. I downloaded Folder2Iso, as you suggested. The program takes my usb key contents and converts it to an iso file. It all happened super-fast!

    To complete the test, I want to take the iso file and restore the original file structure onto another USB Key (iso2folder). I don't see this option available in the program. Am I missing something, majoMo?

    Kindly explain the "restore" process.

    Thanks.
     
  13. TraumaDoc

    TraumaDoc Registered Member

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    Folder2ISO ONLY creates an image. It does not have an extract function.

    USB Image tool creates only img and ima images but will allow you to restore - it has backup and restore function, but as I stated before, the img/ima it creates is uesless in other programs.

    Renaming the img/ima to ISO does not work - it is still invalid.

    I find this kind of funny that it's not as simple as DVD/CD imaging - I've tried 20 tools in the past 24 hours as a matter of point to just want to find a common user way - rather than cloning/full-disk-imaging tools, etc.
     
  14. Tadoussac

    Tadoussac Registered Member

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    Thanks TraumaDoc:

    You may have identified a problem that is without complete software solution at the present time. The alternatives are few in number, and involve some degree of trade-off as you have mentioned.

    Now that many people are shifting to cloud backup for their portable storage needs (dropbox, Amazon S3, etc.), I believe that the USB Flash Key market will be slowing down, and that could result in less software developers being attracted to the space.

    Who knows - maybe someone in Wilders will jump in with a suggestion!
     
  15. TraumaDoc

    TraumaDoc Registered Member

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    I agree, and it's too bad.

    I tried PowerISO today and it has a built-in, clear tool to create an image of USB drives. But here is my issue. It created only an IMG image. Of course, this image was not usable in any other application.

    But here is the kicker ... even PowerISO would NOT Mount, View, Open, Extract, or Convert to another format the same .img file it created itself.

    Isn't that something that should not happen?

    I'm REALLY confused about that.
     
  16. majoMo

    majoMo Registered Member

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    IMO to "burn" an ISO image to a USB Flash drive isn't suitable; since it is flash memory data storage based and not an optical drive like CD/DVD devices.

    So I do a ISO with Folder2ISO and extract with WinRar or 7-Zip e.g., after format USB flash disk. For reliable and fast backup purpose Folder2ISO is enough to me.
     
  17. TraumaDoc

    TraumaDoc Registered Member

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    What is your reason to say it is unsuitable? Why do you consider there to be a difference between a HDD and a Flash USB disk? Flash drives are quick, convenient, etc. I consider flash drives to be "disposable." They are cheaper as well. I wouldn't want to take my 500 GB external HDD 2.5 inch drive and make multiple partitions, are delete 400 GB of stored data, just to image it with a bootable disk image, Windows setup, etc. It's easy to take the 16 GB Flash USB and flash it with what I need, then wipe it when finished.

    I'm just surprised there is no simple tool to flash it, back it up, restore it all-in-one.

    The real problem is why these tools create a image (in most cases it seems img/ima) and yet the same tool won't read the image it created.

    A simple one-in-all ISO creator is needed. Why create it the image with one tool, convert it, or then extract, etc. with another? Of course, in there you are required to format the Flash USB with a 3rd tool to get it bootable, maybe even a 4th (as such with Hiren's Boot CD recommended USB prep method).

    Could you elaborate on why you think it's unsuitable?
     
  18. TraumaDoc

    TraumaDoc Registered Member

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    Also, it's not "just backup" that I want. I want to backup the USB image as-is, then make it completely available for immediate restore to the same USB drive. For example, I need to re-image one of my desktops from scratch - in this case I do not want to "image" it, but reinstall my OS from the original Windows DVD. So, I need my flash drive to contain my wiping and prep tools, then image it again with Windows install, then I'll wipe (image it) again with my work documents to carry around. 3 images - and so a simple image of each USB disk state is what I need. No need to consider what I'm backing up, or restoring, missing files or folders. Just take this image - restore it to the disk and that's the end of it.

    These are functional backups I need - not just data storage.
     
  19. Tadoussac

    Tadoussac Registered Member

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    TraumaDoc:

    Here is an interesting thread from the USBImageTool forum, where a problem similar to yours is discussed:

    http://www.alexpage.de/forums/topic/recommended-tools-for-mounting-images-under-windows

    The dialog hints that a software product called "OSForensic Tool" might be able to extract the .ima / .img files created by USBImageTool. In addition to the this, the developers also offer separate products to image and restore USB Keys ... although NOT in .iso file format.

    They have a hot imaging product called "imageusb", which creates (and restores) using the .bin format - and a cold imaging product called "osfclone", which uses the .dc3dd file format. Check out the main product page, and also the "Tools" link.

    http://www.osforensics.com/index.html

    I am not the developer, nor have I tested any of these products - please don't shoot the messenger if this stuff isn't satisfactory! :doubt:
     
  20. majoMo

    majoMo Registered Member

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    From "USB Image Tool" FAQ:
     
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