How to Backup External Hard Drive (Before Formatting)

Read this article to learn the step-by-step tutorial about how to backup external hard drive (without formatting). Find out the benefits of external hard drive backups and preparations of backup process. Check it right now!


by Lily Updated on May 24, 2024

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Why should you backup an external hard drive?

The external hard drive is a kind of storage device which is separated from your machine. For some reasons, you may make use of an external hard drive to store data:

🦾Data Protection: Backing up an external hard drive ensures that your valuable data stored on it is protected against loss due to hardware failure, theft, or accidental damage.
🦾Redundancy: Creating a backup of an external hard drive provides redundancy, offering an additional layer of security in case the original data becomes inaccessible or corrupted.
🦾Ease of Recovery: In the event of data loss or corruption on the external hard drive, having a backup allows for easy and quick recovery, minimizing downtime and potential disruptions.
🦾Long-Term Preservation: Backup ensures the long-term preservation of critical data stored on the external hard drive, safeguarding it against degradation or obsolescence of the storage medium.

Even though an external hard drive has so many sparking points, it faces a series of problems. It is tiny and portable, so it is easy to steal or lose. It may be broken in seconds due to the repeating “plugin” and “pull out” on different computers. Once the external hard drive gets in trouble, the data may disappear permanently. Thus, you should make external hard drive backups just in case.

External Hard Drive

What else, you may want to change the usage of your external hard drive by formatting it. How to keep the data safe? Backing up an external hard drive before formatting is the answer. In the following content, we will present you with an all-in-one external hard drive backup software to save you trouble. Continue to read.

Easiest external hard drive backup software - AOMEI Backupper

For storing the backup images, you have many choices, such as the internal hard drive of your computer or another external hard drive. The problem is how to back up the external hard drive. To solve the problem, here we highly recommend a free backup software AOMEI Backupper, which can help you make external hard drive backups with a few steps.

★ It offers you full backup solutions, including system backup, disk backup, partition backup, file backup, and cloud backup. You are also allowed to backup Yahoo Mail to a computer if you upgrade to higher editions.
★ It is embedded with the Schedule Backup feature. You can automatically make external hard drive backups with the Daily/Weekly/Monthly mode.
★ It supports various backup storage devices, such as an internal hard drive, another external hard drive, a USB flash drive an SSD, etc.

How to backup external hard drive in Windows 11/10/8/7

Before the initial backup, there are some preps you should know and do. Preparing for external hard drive backups involves several essential steps to ensure a smooth and successful process:

Check Storage Capacity: Assess the storage capacity of your external hard drive to ensure it has enough space to accommodate the backup data. 
Organize Data: Organize the data on your computer or device before initiating the backup process.
Create Backup Plan: Develop a backup plan outlining the frequency and type of backups you'll perform. 
Verify Data Integrity: Before initiating the backup, verify the integrity of the data on your external hard drive. 

Download Freeware Win 11/10/8.1/8/7/XP
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Let's say you find an external hard drive as the backup destination. Learn how to backup an external hard drive to another external hard drive as follows.

Step 1. Connect the two external hard drives to your computer. Launch the program, and click Backup -> Disk Backup.

Disk Backup

Step 2. You will move to the Disk Backup page. You can edit the task name to distinguish it from other backups. Then, you need to select the source disk and the destination path.

Add Disk

Step 3. Click Start Backup to launch the progress. When it’s done, click Finish to exit.

Start Backup

Helpful notes:

👉 If your storage device is small, you can change the backup image compression level to High in "Options".


👉 You can do a scheduled backup, but the external hard drive should not be extracted while backing up. You can set it up in "Schedule Backup".

Configure Schedule

👉 If you want an easier way to create an image of your external HDD/SSD, you could try the Disk Clone feature.

Disk Clone

Optional choices for external hard drive backups

If you haven't an external SSD to make backups, here are some choices on the market for you to take as reference. These SSDs offer a variety of price points, storage capacities, and features to suit different user needs.

External SSD Model Price Storage Space Speed Other Features
Crucial X6 Portable SSD (2TB) Affordable 2TB 10Gbps Compact design, durable build
Samsung T7 Portable SSD (2TB) Moderate 2TB Up to 1050MB/s Password protection, shock-resistant
SanDisk Extreme Portable SSD (2TB) Moderate 2TB Up to 1050MB/s Rugged design, water and dust resistance
WD My Passport SSD (2TB) Moderate 2TB Up to 1050MB/s Hardware encryption, compact design
Seagate Fast SSD (2TB) Moderate 2TB Up to 540MB/s Sleek design, USB-C connectivity

FAQs about external hard drive backup

1. How long do external hard drives for backup last?

External hard drives come in two main types: hard disk drives (HDDs) and solid-state drives (SSDs). HDDs, with their moving parts, typically last around 3 to 5 years. SSDs, which have no moving parts, tend to last longer.

2. Is using an external hard drive for backup a good idea?

Absolutely! External USB or Thunderbolt drives offer a convenient way to back up your important files and store extra data. They're also handy for transferring files between different devices and locations.

3. Is it safe to back up to an external hard drive?

While external hard drives are great for quick data recovery, it's important to consider security risks like ransomware. To ensure the safety of your backups, store them in a separate location from your primary drive. This helps protect your data in case of physical damage or theft.


This is about how to backup an external hard drive by using AOMEI Backupper. Seriously, it should be the best way to backup the external hard drive. You can use it free on Windows XP/Vista/7/8/10/11. Hope this could be helpful. 

Actually, AOMEI Backupper can do many other things for you to keep your data safe, for example, transfer files from one computer to another and create a system image backup. But if you need more features like merging backup images or creating a recovery environment, you need to upgrade to AOMEI Backupper Professional, which can be a better data protector than the Standard edition.

Lily · Editor
Lily Green joined AOMEI in 2018 and has since become a professional in the areas of data protection and data transfer. She is committed to helping users protect their precious computer data and troubleshoot Windows system errors. She consistently stays vigilant about the latest trends in technology, guaranteeing that the given information aligned with the ongoing advancements in the field.