By Ivy / Last update July 5, 2021

Can’t Create a System Image to USB Flash Drive

Usually, Windows Operating System users would like to create a system image to USB flash drive, which can restore OS to a normal state from the system image file when Windows OS corrupted. However, it must be frustrating when you create a system image not working for USB drive in Windows 10/8/7.

Maybe you've encountered this situation. You were told that you could not backup system because the drive not formatted as NTFS when you first try. To create a system image to a USB drive, it must be formatted to use the NTFS file system. Then, format the USB flash drive to NTFS, but the computer displayed the information "The drive is not a valid backup location" so that you still cannot backup system to the USB drive.

The reason why you got this message is Windows 7 Backup and Restore, File recovery in Windows 8, both don’t allow using USB Flash drive as destination, and Windows 10 works the same way. Since the size of USB drive is quite small so that the space filled up quickly. Moreover, the USB flash drive could be easily lost or access by other people. So making a system backup to USB flash drive is not a recommended option for Windows 7/8/10 users.

Fix Create a System Image not Working for USB Drive Problem

There are some better solutions for USB flash drive not a valid backup location for system image. You will get two ways to fix the drive is not a valid backup location in Windows 10/8/8.1/7 problem.

Solution 1: Backup system to another hard drive

Backup your system to an external hard drive or a separated partition on internal hard disk could be close to your needs, you can still restore Windows OS from the image file even the OS corrupted, as long as the hard disk not formatted.

Solution 2: Use the third party backup software

After problem analysis and method summary, we found the best way to fix this problem is to use the third party backup software.

With powerful features and intuitive interface, AOMEI backupper is highly recommended by Windows users, provides main functions, like disk backup, partition backup, file backup, system restore create bootable media and more. By the way, it’s a freeware to backup system.

Create a System Image to USB Drive with AOMEI Backupper

AOMEI Backupper is more flexible than Windows built-in backup program, which supports create a system image to a NTFS formatted USB flash drive, and so on. Please download AOMEI Backupper Standard and launch it.

Download Freeware Win 10/8.1/8/7/XP
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1. Select Backup -> System Backup.

System Backup

2. Select the USB flash drive as destination to save the system image file (here is F partition). At this step, you can select NAS device, network share, external hard disk, internal hard disk as destination.

Name The Task

✦ Tips
Type a name into Task Name box (here is System Backup) if needed.
The AOMEI program will select the partition associated with system files automatically to ensure Windows OS could be restored properly. You don’t have to select manually.

3. Press Start Backup to image Windows system.

Start Backup

✦ Tips:
Options allows you to comment, compress, split, encrypt (paid) the system backup, enable email or SMS notification, etc.
Schedule enables you create system image regularly, like Daily, Weekly, Monthly, Event triggers, USB plug in (the last two features are premium features, please upgrade to AOMEI Backupper Professional or higher to enjoy.
Scheme is capable of deleting old backup images automatically while the backups over the number you specified before)

★ Advanced way to create a system image in Windows

AOMEI OneKey Recovery offers you a more advanced way to create a system image in Windows. After clicking OneKey System Backup at the main interface, you'll see two options as follows:

  • Backup system to AOMEI OneKey Recovery Partition: you are allowed to create a factory recovery partition to save the image file.
  • Backup system to other location: you are allowed to save the image file on a local disk, external hard drive, or USB flash drive, etc.

Backup To

The End 

After you backed up, the problem “create a system image not working for USB drive” will be fixed eventually. The mirror image could be saved to the USB flash drive. Please take care of the USB flash drive in case of losing. Then, you can restore Windows Operating System to an earlier state from the USB drive with the image file when your system corrupted.