By Lily / Last update October 24, 2022

Need to backup one external hard drive to another in Windows

Sometimes we backup our important data or backup PC to external hard drive for better protection. While backing up external hard drive to another external hard drive seems necessary when one external hard drive has been used as a storage device.

For example, I store my photos on the newly bought 1 TB external hard drive, and I would like to backup this new drive to another external drive in case hard drive fails or computer meltdowns one day. What’s more, a regular backup on an external hard drive would be better for me because I wouldn’t expect myself to remember to backup manually every time.

Also I prefer incremental backup to backup only changed data to save my disk space. If I can encrypt my backup image I will feel even better (don’t call me greedy, you can’t be more careful with your data as well).

Can't copy external hard drive to another with  built-in tool

I tried to backup external hard drive to another external hard drive on Windows 10 with its internal backup utility - Backup and Restore, but only to get disappointed by the limitations:

1. It supports backup TO external hard drive not backup FROM the external hard drive. Yes, I can create system backup image to external hard drive or backup files to external drives with Windows tools, yet it is not my type. 

2. Windows Backup and Restore software doesn't allow you to create a system image to USB flash drive.

The drive is not a valid backup location

Although this seems to be difficult to understand, I have to say Microsoft only supports backups of disks that are installed inside the computer. And the capacity of a USB drive is relatively small at first, so it's not a recommended backup destination. Then, how to copy external hard drive to another directly? You could try third-party free backup software.

Best free external hard drive backup software - AOMEI Backupper Standard

 AOMEI Backupper Standard is the best free external hard drive backup software for Windows 7/8/10/XP/Vista and the latest Windows 11. With it,  you can backup external hard drive to another external hard drive in simple steps. 

And you can enjoy the following advantages in this software: 

✍ Backup external hard drive regularly: It provides users with 3 different backup frequencies, namely, daily, weekly, monthly, thus you don't need to backup disk manually and worry about data loss if you set it.
✍ Backup only changed files: By default, it uses Incremental Backup as backup method, which only backs up changes made since last backup. Thus, it greatly alleviates the backup disk full issue due to accumulated backups.
✍ Support all brands of external hard drives, such as WD MyBook Duo, Buffalo MiniStation Extreme NFC, Toshiba Canvio Basics, LaCie Porche Design, WD MyPassport, Adata SD700 External SSD, Samsung T5, WD Wireless Pro, etc.

In addition to backing up external hard drive or transferring files between two external hard drives, this software still supports copying operating system to USB flash drive, making a backup of data partitions or individual files, etc.

How to backup external drive to another external drive in 3 steps 

Here I'll show you how to backup external hard drive to another external hard drive in Windows 10. Also, this applies to Windows 11, 8, 7, XP, Vista. Before starting, please connect both external hard drives to your computer. Then, download, install and open AOMEI Backupper standard. 

Download Freeware Win 11/10/8.1/8/7/XP
Secure Download

(PS: this software supports only Windows 11, 10, 8, 7, etc. For server users, try AOMEI Backupper Server.)

Now, follow the steps below and learn the fastest way to transfer files between two external hard drives.

1. Select Disk Backup under Backup directory.

Disk Backup

2. Select the external hard drive you want to backup as the source disk. Note that you can backup two or more external drives to the same place. Just select them all.

Add Disk

Note: You cannot restore multiple disks to a larger disk. Please restore them one by one.

3. Click the folder-shaped button to select the other external hard drive as the destination hard drive. Then, confirm the backup task and click Start Backup to transfer files between two external hard drives. 

Select Destination

You can set more advanced features to make backups hassle-free, especially for long-term tasks:

Options: You can set email notification, High compression level, Intelligent Sector Backup, etc. Enable encryption for backup is an advanced option, so upgrading is needed

Backup Settings

Schedule Backup: You can choose to backup disk with a relative fixed frequency, such as, Daily, Weekly, Monthly, or use Event trigger, USB plug in (to copy flash drive to flash drive automatically when it's plugged in) features. The last two features are available on the professional version

Schedule Settings

Backup Scheme: You can change backup method to Differential Backup, which only requires one full backup or one full  backup plus one differential backup while recovery. It's available on the professional version at least. And if you upgrade, you can resolve backup disk full issue completely by deleting old backup images automatically. 

Incremental Backup

Other helpful features on external hard drive backup:

I also find some features of this software that might be useful in the event of external drive duplication. List them one by one for reference.

  • Sync. It is useful to sync files between two external hard drives when they are connected to one computer. Its advanced mode, real-time file sync, allows us to synchronize changed files in real time.

  • Disk clone. I found backing up disk may be not the only way to transfer data between two drives. If you want to, a direct external hard drive to external hard drive clone is available. The biggest advantage of this method is that it saves the steps to restore a backup image.

  • Bootable rescue media/recovery environment. These features are not related to external hard drive backup directly, yet they provide an extra layer of protection for host operating system. Create a bootable device or recovery environment in advance and when system fails unexpectedly, you can backup hard drive without booting Windows.

There are other features such as check image and email notification that I cannot explain all, but this free software really a comprehensive tool that offers many practical options. Get it and explore by yourself.


It is necessary to backup external hard drive to another external hard drive for data protection or free up our hands by scheduling the task. AOMEI Backupper Standard is a great option. It not only supports backing up external drive, but also provides you with multiple backup features to make this task easy and automatic. 

In addition, it is still able to backup disk with operating system installed and ensure secure boot after restoring. I restored Windows 10 backup to dissimilar hardware last week for my friend’s computer with the help of its Universal Restore and the system works great till now. Anyway, download it first and try yourself!