A new flashing utility for Windows, Mac and Linux that makes it simple to create bootable USB drives, thumbdrives and media cards.
Etcher has a sleek new modern UI, is simple to use, and virtually identical on all Operating Systems. The photo above shows the UI from the Linux, Windows and Mac versions. While Etcher’s sleek design is elegant, functional and simple, perhaps the most amazing thing is how long it took such a solution to arrive.
Tech savvy users have been creating bootable drives (“flashing” images) for at least a decade, and Raspberry Pis owners have been flashing SD/micro-SD cards since 2012. Despite all of this activity, hundreds of articles and tutorials with differing strategies – it took 5-10 years for a simple cross platform solution to arrive.
Creating Bootable Media with Etcher
In the photo above, you’ll notice the UI is broken out into three steps:
- Select the image file: Using a file browser window, you select the image file you want to flash. It supports image formats: img, ISO, zip, bz2, dmg, gz, hddimage, raw and more
- Select the target-media to “flash”: Select USB thumbdrives or media cards as the target. Optionally, drives can be selected as well, but this requires enabling a special setting (for safety), which is described below.
- Click the “Flash” button: After a confirmation message, the image is written to the target, verified, and automatically ejected from the computer.
Creating Bootable Drives with Etcher
Usually, images are flashed to a thumbdrive or microSD card for OS installation. But, occasionally, there’s a need to flash an external SSD or hard-drive.
As you may have noticed, selecting a “drive” as a target isn’t enabled by default. This is so users don’t accidentally flash an image onto their system drive (which overwrites all data). Fortunately, enabling this only requires a simple change in settings.
First, open the settings screen by clicking the gear icon in the upper right corner of the main window. It will display a “Settings” screen similar (or identical) to the picture above.
To enable targeting drives, select the setting titled “Unsafe mode”. This is marked “dangerous” because it enables flashing any type of drive – even internal drives. So, this mode must be used with caution. Since the need to flash “drives” is not a frequent occurrence for most users, it may be wise to disable this option after drive flashing is completed.
Etcher is a great option – as a general purpose flashing utility. It has a common UI and standardized features across Operating Systems, which makes using it on other platforms simple.
There are many other flashing programs and utilities, and in certain scenarios other tools may be more efficient. But, as a general solution, I recommend starting with Etcher.