SD card is a highly portable storage device people use in mobile phones, cameras, gaming consoles, and so on. And cloning is a great idea to create backups or upgrade to an SD card with a larger capacity.
If you want to clone an SD card on a Windows device, you can only use third-party apps. Or, you can use a Linux or a Mac PC, which has a built-in method to clone SD cards. You can also use SD card duplicator devices.
In this article, you can find the detailed process of all these methods.
When Should You Clone an SD Card?
There are a few scenarios where you should clone an SD card, such as:
- For Backup and Recovery purposes.
- Transferring files quickly.
- Creating another bootable drive.
- Upgrading to a larger SD card while keeping all the contents.
Before You Clone the SD Card
You should make the following preparations before cloning the SD card so that the process goes smoothly:
- Cloning erases all data on the target drive. So, make sure to backup all necessary data.
- The destination drive needs to have enough storage space to save the data from the source. If you want to clone all sectors, the target drive needs at least the same size as the source.
- You need an SD card reader to clone a microSD or if you don’t have a built-in card adapter. (If you are confused between an SD card and a Micro SD, we have just the right article to help you clear your confusion.)
- Cloning may take a long time, and you don’t want to abruptly cut off the process. So, use a power backup, such as UPS, and connect your Laptops to the AC power supply to prevent abrupt shutdowns.
Cloning SD Card Using Cloning Software
Some OS like Windows does not have a built-in method to clone any drives, including SD cards. So you need to use third-party cloning software. One easy-to-use open-source application you can use for this purpose is the Win32DiskImager. It is a lightweight free software to copy a complete image of a disk and restore a disk using the image.
Win32DiskImager clones every sector of the SD card to the image file. So, the file size will be the same as the maximum space on the SD card. Therefore, you can only use Win32DiskImager to clone an SD card to an equal-sized or larger storage device.
Here are the necessary steps to use this application to clone an SD card:
- Insert the SD card you want to clone into your computer. Use a memory card reader if you need to.
- Install the Win32DiskImager app from the sourceforge website and open it.
- Under Image File, enter an image path (
.img) to store the SD card image.
- Set the drop-down box under Device to your SD card’s drive.
- Click Read to save the SD card image to the
- Click Ok after the process completes.
- Insert the SD card or a disk where you want to restore the contents of the original one into your PC.
- Open Win32DiskImager if you closed it.
- Enter the path from step 4 under Image File and the new SD card’s drive letter under Device.
- Click Write to restore the image file to the new SD card.
- Wait for the process to finish and click Ok.
You can also use other free apps like Clonezilla to perform the same task. If you want to use them, it’s better visit their official websites or documentation to find out the complete process to clone your SD card.
Most open-source apps only allow cloning whole sectors of the SD card. But it is also possible to clone used sectors only. You can also manually adjust partition size in such cases and consequently, you can clone to a smaller SD card or even a hard drive.
You’ll have to use paid apps for such purposes like AOMEI Partition Assistant, Macrium Reflect v8, and so on. Some free ones may also allow cloning used files only, so browse the internet if you want to search for them.
These programs are easy to use and the general process is as follows:
- Insert both SD cards, or an SD card and any other drive.
- Open the app and search for Disk Clone option.
- Select whether you want to clone used data only or all the sectors.
- Choose the source and destination drive.
- Adjust Partition size.
- Initiate the cloning process.
Cloning SD Card on Mac or Linux
Unlike Windows, Mac and Linux systems have native options to clone an SD card. You can use the Terminal for this purpose on both Operating Systems.
Here is the complete process:
- Insert the source SD card into your computer and open the Terminal.
- Then, list out all of your disks. The commands are:
- On Mac:
- On Linux:
sudo fdisk -l
- On Mac:
- Make a note of your SD card’s disk name. It should be something like /dev/sdb on Linux and /dev/disk2 on Mac.
- Unmount the disk using the following command while replacing the disk name with that from step 3:
- On Linux:
sudo umount /dev/sdb
- On Mac:
diskutil unmountDisk /dev/disk2
- On Linux:
- Write the image of the SD card to your local drive using the command below:
sudo dd if=“disk name” of=~/backup_image.img
Here, replace “disk name” with your disk name on either OS. You can also use any name for the
- Now insert the destination drive on your computer.
- Copy steps 2 to 4 to determine its disk name and unmount the drive.
- Enter the command
sudo dd if=~/backup_image.img of=“disk name”. Use your disk name and, if necessary, image file name.
Cloning SD Card using Duplicator
SD card Duplicators are hardware devices with embedded programs for cloning SD cards. While they are somewhat costly devices, you only need to insert the SD cards and press a button to clone from one to another. And you can simultaneously clone to more than one device.
But some cheap models are known to have issues while duplicating. So, don’t forget to read the user reviews before buying a Duplicator.
Cloning SD Card Through Virtual Hard Disk
Users usually use Virtual Hard Disks to create another drive for a Virtual Machine or transfer files to the VM. However, you can also clone a drive, such as SD card drive, by copying a physical drive to the VHD and VHD to another drive. You can use the Microsoft Sysinternals program Disk2Vhd to create the virtual disk. To do so,
- Open the
disk2vhd64.exeafter inserting the SD card to your PC.
- Select path and name for the Virtual Disk on the VHD File name textbox.
- Check the SD card from the list and click Create.
You can also use the Command-line Interface to create a Virtual Disk using his utility. The syntax is
disk2vhd <[drive: [drive:]...]|[*]> <vhdfile> and you can enter it on any Windows Terminal.
After creating the VHD, you need to use other VHD to Disk conversion apps to copy its contents to the disk.
Can I Clone SD Card to Hard Drive?
Yes, you can clone an SD card to a Hard Drive, an SSD, or a Flash drive, provided that you satisfy all other requirements. Most applications do not allow cloning SD cards to a device with GPT partition mode. So, check the partition information of your hard drive and whether the app you are using supports it or not before trying to clone the SD card.
Does Cloning Take Longer Than Copying From SD Card?
Cloning the SD card depends entirely on the size of the SD card. Unlike copying, where the system opens a file, reads it, and writes it to the destination, cloning reads and writes the bits on the SD card directly.
So, if you only clone the used sectors, it’s faster than copying. But cloning all sectors is slower if you have more free space.
Does Cloning a Bootable SD Card Make the Target Bootable?
Yes, cloning a bootable SD card is a surefire way to create other bootable drives. A bootable drive contains many data that are completely hidden from the user. Even showing all protected files does not make the data visible.
So it’s impossible to simply copy all files from a bootable SD card to make another bootable drive. But cloning copies all the sector data, so it transfers even those hidden data.