DD Utility - Easily Backup and Restore Disk Image Files In Ubuntu

April 17, 2015 | By in UBUNTU HOWTO
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The legacy DD is a command line utility for UNIX like operating systems. DD stands for Data Description and the utility empowers the user to copy and convert files but it is a command line utility without any Graphical User Interface (GUI). DD utility can copy and convert simple files, device drivers (e.g for CD ROM, LAN, Speakers, HDD etc) and can access boot sector information that is why it can be used to prepare bootable backup and restore images. It performs the conversions to and from ASCII to EBCDIC, furthermore, it performs the byte order swapping as well. The name of the utility i.e DD seems to have been extracted from IBM’s Job Control Language (JCL) where it appears in a number of command statements.

This article is about a variant of DD command line utility with Graphical User Interface (GUI) i.e dd Utility. It is partially cross platform that is it works on UNIX like operating  Linux Ubuntu and Apple’s Mac OS X.

Key Features

  • dd Utility offers the ability to backup and restore IMG files to memory cards and disks
  • Provides an easy way to drag and drop to backup and restore
  • Its ability to compress disk image files on the go helps to significantly reduce the file size of backups
  • Writes disk image files to removable media e.g. memory cards
  • It is used to create bootable USB device for the various Linux distributions using the ISO image
  • Make life extremely easy while installing and restoring compressed disk image files on the go
  • Supports various file formats including IMG, ISO, Zip, GZip and XZ
  • Best choice for burning IMG files to SD Cards for use with Raspberry Pi, Arduino,  BeagleBoard and other ARM boards
  • The dd Utility is an open source product, its code freely available at gthub for customization and redistribution

 Installing DD Utility on Ubuntu

Source can be downloaded using following command.

wget https://www.thefanclub.co.za/sites/default/files/public/downloads/ddutility_1.4_all.deb

Once done , we can use the dpkg utility to install this package using following command.

sudo dpkg -i ddutility_1.4_all.deb

Congratulations! Your dd Utility is successfully installed.

Backing up a memory card or disk to an IMG file

Open the dd Utility application from dash or application menu. The disk may also be dragged and dropped to the dd Utility in order to initiate the backup process.  Administrator rights are required to read the image file from the memory card therefore administrator logins will be required to initiate the backup. Once done click on Backup button.


A list of attached memory cards will be shown, select the appropriate card to proceed further. It is important to note that it is not required to format the card at this stage.

Browse to the location of backup folder and provide file or folder name.

DD backup final

Compression may cause some delay towards the completion of backup process but it will reduce the file size significantly.

DD Backuping

Progress bar will keep you updated about the percentage of task completion. The time for completion may vary from one backup task to another depending various parameters such as disk size, I/O wait, load on machine and compression level and technique used.

DD Backup done

Bingo! Backup has been completed.

Restore the image file to memory card or disk

Open the dd Utility application from dash or application menu. The image or ISO file may also be dragged and dropped to the dd Utility in order to initiate the restore process.  Administrator rights will be required to read from disk or memory card, lastly, click on the Restore button to proceed.

DD Restore

Restoration may take from few seconds to several hours depending on various factors mainly the size of image file, I/O wait of speed of the media, extracting from the compressed data etc. A progress bar will keep track of how much work done and how much more time it will take to complete the restore process.


Graphical user interface of dd Utility makes complex disk operations so easy and keeps the user involved. Dd utility uses the Linux (ubuntu) kernel to access the raw devices instead of directly interacting with the hardware which is not a good move in the modern operating system architectures where direct memory access (DMA) is used to reduce the impact of I/O wait.

The ' dd ' command is one of the original Unix utilities and should be in everyone's tool box. It can strip headers, extract parts of binary files and write into the middle of floppy disks; it is used by the Linux kernel Makefiles to make boot images. It can be used to copy and convert magnetic tape formats, convert between ASCII and EBCDIC, swap bytes, and force to upper and lowercase. The dd Utility with the GUI helps not only the system administrators but laymen to equip themselves with a variety of advance data manipulation techniques.


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