By Delia / Last update April 13, 2022

Is it a good idea to backup Windows 7 to USB?

Backing up your Windows 7 to USB is a good rescue plan, that the backup image can be restored when Windows 7 becomes corrupted or not bootable. Here, a Windows 7 image is an exact copy of the operating system drive that gets backed up and saved into a file. Once your OS develops problems and cannot easily be fixed, you can make use of the backup image so as to bring your computer back to earlier date when everything is alright.

Not only the OS, if you've got some important data on Windows 7 computer, you can also back them up to USB flash drive or external drive as a double guarantee. Since the removable device is independent of the operating system and computer hardware, you can at least preserve these important files in the event of a serious failure.

How to back up Windows 7 to USB (2 free ways)?

Backup and Restore is the data protection tool that comes with Windows. You can use it backup libraries, volumes, or create a system image in Windows. But when choosing a USB flash drive as the storage device, you may receive "The drive is not a valid backup location" prompt, which is quite annoying.

the drive is not a valid backup location

One possible reason for this is that in the early days, USB flash drives were created in small sizes (1GB to 32GB). It was not safe to put system backup images on a flash drive, especially in the case of scheduled backups.

In recent years USB flash drives can be as large as 128GB, which is enough to backup Windows 7 system image, but the settings of Backup and Restore remain unchanged. Therefore, it is recommended to use effective backup tool (Way 2) for Windows 7 backup, as well as for Windows 10, Windows 11, etc.

I will describe both methods below.

Way 1. Backup with Windows 7 Backup and Restore

Window 7 Backup and Restore tool is pretty basic in terms of feature without fast speed of a third party software. Anyway, we’ll show you how to finish the job with the Windows 7 tool, and there are three ways for you to run it. 

  • Option 1. Click the Start orb and type backup into search. You will see Backup and Restore appear in program, and press enter.

  • Option 2. Click the Start orb > All Programs > Maintenance > Backup and Restore

  • Option 3. Go to Control Panel > System and Security > Backup and Restore

Then, to create system image for Windows 7 on USB drive, please follow steps below.

Step 1. Click “Create a system image” in the left pane.

Create Image

Step 2. In this window, select the location you’re going to save the system image (USB will show under hard disk). Click “Next”.

Save Image

The next screen will offer to backup any other volume you want to include in the process, while the main system partition and the boot partition are both automatically selected and cannot be touched.

Select Source

Step 3. At the final confirmation window, click “Start backup” to start the process.

Confirmation

Way 2. Backup Windows 7 with effective freeware

AOMEI Backupper is a powerful and convenient software for backing up system, disk, partition, and files, which also applies to restore and clone. Besides, it has other utilities, such as make bootable disk.

It works with Windows 11, 10, 8.1, 8, 7, Vista, XP, and not only USB flash drive, it also supports storage devices such as internal/external HDD, SSD, NAS, network share, CD/DVD and cloud drive.

How to backup Windows 7 to USB drive in simple clicks:

Step 1. Download, install and launch AOMEI Backupper Standard. Select “System Backup” under “Backup” tab.

Download FreewareWin 11/10/8.1/8/7/XP
Secure Download

System Backup

Step 2. Name the backup task, the complete system file will be chose by default , and you should select your USB as the destination path.  

Select Destination

Step 3. Click “Start Backup” to execute the backup. Click “Finish” when the process is done.

Tip:

  • You could set up a scheduled backup to run the task daily, weekly, monthly. You can also perform incremental backup to save only changed data except for the first-time full backup.
  • There's a very useful feature named USB plug in (paid feature) at Schedule Backup settings. It will backup files automatically to the USB drive once the USB is plugged in.

Note: Before backup, please connect USB to your computer so as to make sure it can be detected.

Conclusion

This article describes how to backup Windows 7 system or data to USB drive. The second method is more recommended. If you have further needs, such as restoring a Windows 11 system image to another computer with different hardware with secure boot, the Universal Restore feature of the backup tool AOMEI Backupper can also help you.