By Lily / Last update February 25, 2021

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Why to create a system image on a USB drive?

A system image is a file which contains the system settings, programs, files as well as all the drivers required by Windows. With a system image at hand, you can restore system to a normal state if the system has damaged. You see the importance of creating a system image, and you may save it on a USB flash drive for the following reasons:

  • You won’t lose the image file saved on an external USB drive due to system errors.

  • Compared to other external drives such as HDDs or SSDs, USB drives are more affordable and they can be connected to your computer directly.

Can I save a system image on a flash drive?

There is a built-in tool in Windows to help users create system image, which is called Backup and Restore. However, some users find they can’t create a system image on a USB drive with Backup and Restore, only receiving a warning “The drive is not a valid backup location”.

The Drive Is Not a Valid Backup Location

Even if the USB drive is big enough to hold the system image and it is formatted as NTFS, the problem still exists. Actually, the error is caused by the limitation of Backup and Restore: it does not support USB flash drives or thumb drives as the backup location when creating a system image. Then, how to fix “can’t create a system image on a USB drive”? There are two workarounds:

How to create a system image on a USB flash drive automatically?

If you are looking for a reliable third-party backup utility, AOMEI Backupper Professional can be the best choice.

◈ It offers you all-around backup solutions: System/Disk/Partition/File Backup.
◈ Various backup locations are supported, including local disks, external hard drives, network location and NAS devices.
◈ There is a special feature called “USB plug in”, which means the program will run the task automatically once it detects the USB drive is connected.

Just download AOMEI Backupper and follow the instructions below to create a system image for Windows 10/8/7 on a USB drive effortlessly.

Download Free Trial Win 10/8.1/8/7/XP
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1. Connect the USB flash drive to your computer and make sure it is detected.

Tips: It is recommended to permanently assign drive letter for the USB drive. Thus, the program can recognize your USB drive easily every time you connect it to the same computer.

2. Install and run AOMEI Backupper. Click Backup on the left pane and select System Backup.

System Backup

3. The required system partition(s) is (are) selected by default. Choose the USB drive as the destination path to store the system image.

Select Path

4. Click Schedule in the bottom. In the pop-up window, select USB plug in from the drop-down list. You can choose to run the task one time every day or not and click OK.

USB Plug in

5. (Optional) Click Scheme and open Enable Backup Scheme. Choose one scheme type and set the number of backups to be kept. This will help you delete old backups automatically to gain more space for new backups.

Backup Scheme

6. Confirm the operation and click Start Backup > Add the schedule and start backup now to run your first backup. Safely disconnect your USB drive after the backup process is finished.

Start Backup

>> Options: you can encrypt, compress or split the image files, etc.

Wrapping things up

If you fail to create a system image on a USB flash drive with Backup and Restore, you can turn to more advanced backup software—AOMEI Backupper. It enables you to auto backup system to a USB drive once the drive is connected. You may be more pleased to find out AOMEI Backupper owns the sync and clone feature. It can help you copy data from one hard drive to another easily. Go for AOMEI Backupper right now!