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. It stores an encrypted Windows Imaging Format (.WIM) file.

You might see this file when upgrading the Windows operating system. This is often the case when downloading a 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 kind is used with the Expert Scan software to store surveys, forms, and/or reports.

Screenshot of several ESD files in Windows 10
ESD Files.

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.

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 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 it, it's likely that it's in neither format. At this point, it's probably smart to try using a text editor to open it—it might just be a normal text document, but if not, doing so could still provide some readable information that can help you identify the format it's in.

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 one to WIM as well.

ESD Decrypter 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 user interface. There's a very helpful ReadMe.txt file that comes with the download which will help you understand how to convert the file.

If you're ultimately after a way to boot to an ESD file, then follow the directions above to convert the file 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 the 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 in some way 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 doesn't read ".ESD," research the file extension it does have to learn more about the programs responsible for opening or converting it.