By Delia / Last update June 15, 2021

Why backup files before reformatting?

We all have some important files that we don't want to lose, so we back them up, especially before performing operations with a high risk of data loss. 

For example, you may want to save files before formatting a USB flash drive, SD card, or an external hard drive, thus you can easily retrieve the desired data after formatting.

In some other cases, you may also need to format an entire computer. For instance, when windows 10 breaks down and you can't simply fix it, the most powerful method at that point may be resetting the system. But this process may result in the loss of some data, so you need to backup files before formatting Windows.

There are also some operations that theoretically do not erase any data, but are still risky, so we better back up important files before the operation just in case, e.g. backup Windows 7 before upgrade to Windows 10.

How to backup files before formatting?

Before we start, we may want to figure out what kind of storage needs reformatting. To be specific, formatting removable device and formatting hard drive with system installed require different backup strategies.

To backup files before formatting hard drive, laptop, PC, or computer entirely, we should backup the machine completely with disk backup or system backup operating; To backup files before formatting memory card or portable hard drive that has no system installed, file backup or partition backup is enough.

Well, how to save files before formatting? In Windows, we have two different ways, Windows Backup and Restore utility and free backup software. Both of them are easy-to-use and have their own advantages. Let’s get to know them one by one.

How to backup my files before reformatting via built-in tool?

Insert a destination backup storage if necessary. We can also backup files to OneDrive or network drive with this tool. In Windows 7 and Windows 10, click Start > Control Panel > System and Security to open Backup and Restore. In Windows 8/8.1, type recovery in search box and select Windows 7 File Recovery to start backup utility. Take backup files before formatting in Windows 7 for example.

Set up backup

  1. In Backup and Restore, click on Set up backup. As you can see, we can backup system and create a rescue media as well.

  2. Choose where to save the backups. We can save it on network drive.

  3. Choose what to backup.

  4. Review backup settings, save settings and run backup. Schedule backup is available.

Tips: To restore file backup later, type recovery in search box or click Select another backup to restore files from as the screenshot shows.

Windows Backup and Restore tool cannot encrypt and compress backup image. In that way, file’s security and device storage are matters to concern. Free backup software AOMEI Backupper Standard takes care of those disadvantages. Let’s learn it more.

Save files before reformatting computer with freeware

AOMEI Backupper earns good reputation because of its powerful features and concise interface. In backup, it offers system backup, disk backup, partition backup, file backup, and file sync. All of them support backup files to external drive, USB stick, network drive, or NAS incrementally or differentially. Encryption, compression, image splitting, and email notification are supportable. Free download it to have a try.

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

To backup files before reformatting with AOMEI Backupper:

Step 1. Install and open AOMEI Backupper Standard. Select File Backup in Backup tab. Optionally, you can choose System Backup to back up Windows OS, or choose Disk Backup to back up the entire hard drive.

File Backup

Step 2. Click Add File or Add Folder to add the files from the partition we need to reformat.

Add Folders Files

Step 3. We can select another location as the destination path here, and then click Start Backup.

Select Destination


  • If we need to restore file backup in the future, open AOMEI Backuper and go Restore tab.

  • Options: encrypt, compress or split backup images by clicking this option. If you want to encrypt backups, you need to upgrade to AOMEI Backupper Professional.

  • Schedule: this option is for regular backup (daily, weekly, and monthly) and backup style (full backup, incremental and differential backup).


To sum up, AOMEI Backupper can help backup files before reformatting. It saves times when it avoids some potential backup risk, like backup files fails. AOMEI Backupper could be helpful when we try to clone disk to another hard drive, create bootable rescue media in particular when our computer fails to boot. In short, it is handy and all-around backup software and it is worth trying.

If you want to protect unlimited computers within your company, you can pick AOMEI Backupper Technician. With the inbuilt AOMEI Image Deploy tool, you are also allowed to deploy/restore system image file on server-side computer to multiple client-side computers over network.