What Is an ESD File?

If it's not a Windows OS-related file, it's either a document or a diagram

What to Know

  • Some ESD files are Windows Electronic Software Download files.
  • They are used by Windows automatically, so there's no need to open one manually.
  • However, you can convert one to WIM with Wim Converter.

This article describes three formats that use ESD files, including how to open each kind and what your options are for converting your file to a different file format.

What Is an ESD File?

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 11.

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. Still others might be casebook files made with EasyStreet Draw.

Screenshot of several ESD files in Windows 10
ESD Files.

How to Open an ESD File

ESD files from Microsoft aren't 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.

The crash diagramming tool EasyStreet Draw is used to open those kinds of ESD files.

Other software may use ESD files, too, but neither for software upgrades nor document or diagram 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—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 It?

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.

  • Are ESD files bootable?

    ESD files are bootable after converting them to ISO with a tool like ESD Decrypter or NTLite. Once you convert, double-click the ISO file to burn it to a CD on Windows. Or, download a free tool like Rufus to burn the ISO file to a USB drive.

  • How do I convert ESD to ISO using NTLite?

    First, go to the Image tab in NTLite and select Add to add the ESD file, or you can drag and drop the file into NTLite. Next, select the Operating systems root folder > Convert > select WIM (Standard, editable) > OK. Then, choose the extracted WIM folder > select Create ISO, and name the folder.

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