What Is an ESD File?

How to open, edit, & convert ESD files

A file with the ESD file extension is a file downloaded using Microsoft's Electronic Software Download application, so the file itself is called a Windows Electronic Software Download file. An ESD file stores an encrypted Windows Imaging Format (.WIM) file.

You might see this type of ESD file when upgrading the Windows operating system. This is often the case when you download an image file from Microsoft's website to install something like Windows 10.

Other ESD files may instead be completely unrelated and stand for an ExpertScan Survey Document file. This type of ESD file is used with the Expert Scan software to store surveys, forms, and/or reports.

How to Open an ESD File

ESD files that are from Microsoft, and used when installing software upgrades, are not to be opened manually (unless you're converting them like described below). Instead, Windows uses them internally during the update process.

Screenshot of several ESD files in Windows 10
ESD Files.

They're often stored along with WIM (Windows Imaging Format) files in the user's \AppData\Local\Microsoft\ folder, under the \WebSetup\Download\ subfolder.

ExpertScan Survey document files that have the .ESD file extension can be opened with Expert Scan, a program by AutoData.

Other software may use ESD files too, but neither for software upgrades nor document files. If none of the ideas above work to open the ESD file you have, it's likely that it's in neither format.

At this point, it's probably smart to try your ESD file in a text editor. If the file is full of legible text, then your ESD file happens to be a text file, in which case the text editor can, of course, be used to open and read it. However, if only some of the text is readable, you can try to use what information you can read to research what program was used to build that ESD file; it's likely that the same program that built it is also able to open it.

If you find that an application on your PC does try to open the ESD file but it's the wrong application or if you would rather have another installed program open ESD files, you can change the default program for a specific file extension in Windows.

How to Convert an ESD File

Wim Converter is a free tool that converts Microsoft ESD files to WIM or SWM (a split WIM file). The free NTLite program can save an ESD file to WIM as well.

The free ESD Decrypter tool can be used to convert an ESD to ISO. Since this program is downloaded through a ZIP archive, you might need a free file extractor like 7-Zip to open it.

ESD Decrypter is a command-line program, so it definitely isn't as straightforward to use as a program that has a graphical user interface. However, there is a very helpful ReadMe.txt file that comes with the download which will help you understand how to convert the ESD file.

If you're ultimately after a way to boot to an ESD file, then follow the directions above to convert ESD to ISO, and then read How to burn an ISO file to a USB drive or How to burn an ISO file to a DVD. You'll also need to change the boot order in BIOS so that your computer will boot to the disc or flash drive.

ExpertScan Survey Document files can be exported to PDF using the Expert Scan software mentioned above.

Still Can't Open Your File?

If none of the programs mentioned above are helping you open your file, there's a good chance that you're not really dealing with an ESD file, which might be the case if you've misread the file extension.

For example, EDS files appear to be related to ESD files but since the file extensions are actually different, it's a good indication that the formats are different too, meaning that they require different programs in order to work.

If you find that the suffix on your file does not read ".ESD," research the file extension it does have to learn more about what program is able to open or convert it.