January 28, 2021

A Complete Guide to Understand Etcher

What is an Etcher?

Etcher was the former terminology for balenaEtcher, which is actually a free and open-source utility that is used for writing image files like .iso and .img files and is also used to zip folders into storage media to make live SD cards and USB flash drives.

The image files writing utility is developed by balena and is licensed under Apache License 2.0. The software is developed utilizing the Electron framework. Windows, macOS, and Linux are the operating systems Etcher supports.

Etcher is quite a useful tool that is being widely used by people to create bootable drives instantly and efficiently. The goal of this article is to illuminate the basic understanding and key aspects of Etcher!

Key Features of Etcher

Ever since its launch, Etcher has been used by many users to write over one million images to SD cards and USB drives. Besides, it is an actual cross-platform tool that can be used over Windows, macOS, and Linux. No matter whichever operating system your PC is using, Etcher successfully writes .iso, .img, and .zip files to USB drives and SD cards.

Some prominent features of Etcher are listed below:

  • Provides support for creating multi-boot USBs
  • Provides support for persistent storage on Ubuntu or Linux images
  • Act as an effective handler for *.img and *.iso files

Besides, the detailed information of Etcher’s main aspects is discussed below:

Outstanding Interface

Etcher’s main interface is absolutely fantastic and simple to use! Most of the bootable drive creators either lack a pleasant appearance or are too complicated and have quite an unpleasant experience overall. But Etcher’s interface is very minimal and easy to use.

Select Image:

The users are required to select the location of the image from the operating system of which the users want to create a bootable drive.

Target Selection

Now, the users have to select which of the external drive should be used to create the bootable drive.(There is this built-in drive picker that is specially designed in order to avoid overwriting of a hard drive)


Now, finally, the users are supposed to click the Flash button to complete the process.


There is also a validated burning option which is, in fact, a unique feature of Etcher. It is designed to double-check the integrity of an image after flashing so that the user is not left trying to boot from a disk drive. Validation actually ensures that the flashing has been done correctly. The feature is of great help as when the flash drive is found corrupted while making an attempt to boot from it, it prevents that to a big extent.

Drive Selection

One of the external storage devices is selected by Etcher itself and is usually dependent on the choice of USB drive according to available storage space. In fact, many times, the entire flashing accidentally gets done over a hard drive or some other device that the user doesn’t desire. However, in order to make such things better, Etcher enlists the storage space of each device as well as the name for better distinction.

Etcher CLI

Etcher also has another version called Etcher CLI, that facilitates the users in writing images and validating flashes from the command line. But since the CLI tool is not reliant on the Electron framework, it has a very small downloading and installation size. This version also enables the users to write custom scripts by making use of CLI to carry out tasks like multi-writing.

How to Install Etcher?

The installation link of Etcher is available on its website i.e., Etcher.io. The users simply have to navigate to the site and click on the download link for the desired/ concerned operating system i.e., – 32- or 64 – bit Linux, 32- or 64 – bit Windows or macOS.

Now, there is this GitHub repository where Etcher has provided complete instructions regarding its addition to the collection of Linux utilities or on Debian or Ubuntu. After adding the Etcher Debian repository, the users are required to update the system and then install it.

How to Create Bootable Linux USB Drive from the Command Line?

A bootable Linux USB stick can be easily created from the command line using the dd tool. The dd tool is available on all macOS as well as Linux systems. Also, the entire process is very quick and easy and there is no requirement of installing any additional software at all! The process is elaborated step by step, below:

  1. First things first, so firstly, you have to insert the flash drive into the USB port.
  2. Now, you have to find out the name of your inserted USB drive. lsblk is the best tool to perform this job successfully! In most of the systems, the name of the USB drive appears as / dev/ sdx but this is variable over some systems.
  3. The USB flash drive gets mounted automatically upon insertion on most of the Linux distributions. However, you need to unmount the USB device before flashing the image. For this, the unmount command is to be used which is followed by the device maker or the mount point.
  4. This is the last step which involves flashing the ISO image to your USB drive. Here, you need to ensure that you replace the /dev/ sdx with your drive and you do not append partition number. Moreover, you are also required to use the correct path to the ISO file.

As the image is being flashed, a progress bar is displayed by the command and the process might take several minutes.

Writing image files, creating bootable USB drives, and zipping folders to make SD cards and USB flash drives with Etcher is a relatively very easy task. It just takes some minutes to Install the Etcher utility in your system and then use it for the creation of bootable drives.

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