By Ivy / Last Updated February 7, 2021

    Can I use a flash drive to backup my computer?

    How to backup computer to flash drive in Windows 7? How to backup entire computer to flash drive in Windows 10? How do I transfer files from my computer to a USB? How big a flash drive do I need to backup my computer? What is the best flash drive for computer backup? Many users may have these doubts, just like the following scenario. You my encounter similar problems. Now, let's have a closer look at it.

    Hi, everybody. I have a Lenovo desktop running Windows 10 Home version. I just want to create system image Windows 10 on my 4 GB USB flash drive but it fails. What went wrong? How do I backup computer to USB flash drive? What is the best flash drive for backing up computer? Thanks.

    Backup Computer

    The system image backup fails, probably because there is not enough space to hold everything on system. Indeed, the actual size of a fresh Windows 10 is around 15 GB. That's to say, if you want to create Windows 10 system image backup, you need a bigger flash drive(at least 16 GB).

    Then, for Windows 10 backup USB, you could consider the branded manufacturers, such as, SanDisk Extreme PRO, Sandisk Extreme Go, Kingston DataTraveler SE9 G2, Samsung Bar Plus, Kingston Data Travel Vault, PNY Pro Elite Series etc. Take transfer speed into consideration, USB 3.0 will be the best choice.

    What should I backup on my computer?

    In Windows 7/8/10, the most important part is the system partition and other related boot partition, so it's necessary to create a system image. Why do I say so?

    First of all, system crash will lead to boot failure of a computer and everything on it will disappear, including personal files, installed apps, system settings, etc. Then, only when you have a system backup, the computer can return to normal in a short time. More so, you are allowed to restore files from system backup if you mistakenly delete the files in use.

    In addition, you can consider adding an extra layer of your important files by creating a file backup. There is no doubt that all personal data are unique and cannot be downloaded from anywhere. They deserve to be backed up separately.

    How do I backup computer to flash drive in Windows 10?

    In general, you could backup computer to external hard drive, cloud drive or other storage devices. But today, I strongly recommend you backing up Windows 10 OS to flash drive, that’s because it’s very portable to take, the price is relatively inexpensive, and the device itself is fairly durable. Almost everyone could afford one.

    Without further ado, let's get started. You have two options, built-in Backup and Restore and free backup software AOMEI Backupper Standard, both applicable to windows 7/8/10. Honestly, the later one is easier.

    Method 1: Backup computer to USB using Backup and Restore

    To backup system with the built-in tool, Backup and Restore (Windows 7), you need to create a sub-folder in the USB drive at first. If not, you may receive error message, saying, "the drive is not a valid backup location". That's because most flash drive does not have big enough space to store system image in the earlier dates.

    Step 1. Type Backup in the search box and select Backup settings from the result list. Then, you will see the following interface, scroll down to Looking for an older backup and click Go to Backup and Restore (Windows 7).

    Backup and Restore Windows 7

    Step 2. Click Create a system image at the left panel.

    Create A System Image

    Step 3. Click the drop-down menu under On a hard disk section, select your USB drive as the destination path, and then click Next.

    Select Usb

    Step 4. Confirm the backup settings and click Start backup to run the pending operation.

    Notes ✎...
    ◕ If you want to transfer files from computer to a flash drive, you could use Let me choose option that allows you to select personal files as needed. To make it, click Set up backup instead of Create a system image, then follow on-screen instructions.
    ◕ This software is still applicable to Windows 8/10, but the interface and operation will be somewhat different.

    Method 2: Backup Windows 10 to USB via AOMEI Backupper

    To backup entire computer to flash drive with AOMEI Backupper Standard, you will use "System Backup" feature that will include everything required to boot Windows. Thus, it minimize the risk of boot failure. And here are some advantages of this software.

    • Recognize any detected device in Windows, such as, flash drive, external hard drive, network drive, NAS etc.

    • Compatible with all Windows system, including Windows 7/8/10/XP/Vista.

    • Support all backup solutions, namely system backup, disk backup, partition backup and file backup.

    • Support basic schedule backup, including daily backup, weekly backup, monthly backup, incremental or differential backup etc.

    • Have multiple backup options, three compression level, email notification, splitting, pre-command/post-command etc.

    All of these features mentioned above are free of charge. And more advanced features are included in the advanced version, such as, AOMEI Backupper Professional, namely backup flash drive automatically when plugged in with "USB plugged in", encrypt image files to prevent unwanted access, delete old backup when backup disk full with "Backup Scheme" etc.

    Step 1. Download and install AOMEI Backupper Standard. Launch this software, click Backup and System Backup to backup Windows 10 OS. To transfer files from my computer to a USB, click File Backup to replace it.

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

    System Backup

    Note: To backup entire computer to flash drive, it is suggested to select "Disk Backup" if your target drive is big enough. In the meantime, you can backup multiple hard drives at a time if you have more than one disk installed on this computer.

    Step 2. Click where the arrow point and click This PC in the next window, then find your flash drive on the computer and select it as destination path.

    Select Destination

    Step 3. (optional) Set backup options and schedule backup by clicking Options or Schedule.

    Daily Backup

    Step 4. Confirm everything is OK and click Start Backup to run the pending operation.

    Start Backup

    Notes ✎...
    ◕ If you want to backup computer to flash drive automatically when plugged in, you could consider using "USB plug in" feature. It's available on AOMEI Backupper Professional at least.
    ◕ If your system is very big, you could compress with normal or high compression level. Please note that high compression level requires more backup time and less disk space.
    ◕ Don't want to backup everything on system partition, you could enable incremental backup or differential backup to backup changes only. The scheduled differential backup task requires payment.

    Plus: why backup computer to USB flash drive?

    For computer users, there are various reasons why you use USB flash drive for computer backup. One of the most common reasons is that you hate reinstalling system and installed programs, settings, etc. And this task is tedious and waste too much time and effort.

    Besides, you couldn’t afford data loss caused by reinstallation. And recovering files from a crashed computer is complicated and not guaranteed. So, a system backup will be the best choice to get your computer back without download time. What's more, you are able to restore files from system image by "Explore Image" utility in AOMEI Backupper.

    Wrapping things up

    It's essential to backup computer to USB flash drive, because a system image backup could protect your computer from system issues and data loss. No matter what happens, you can restore computer to an earlier date.

    To create a backup image, you could use both Windows built-in tool Backup and Restore (Windows 7) as well as free backup software AOMEI Backupper Standard. Both of them can satisfy your needs. But I prefer the Windows backup software. It not only can backup Windows 10 to USB, but also prevent data loss by "Explore Image".

    In addition, it has more useful features that can secure your system and personal data, for instance, disk backup, system clone disk clone, universal restore, create bootable USB, clone MBR disk to GPT, etc. Any interest? You could download the freeware or free trial version to enjoy these features (some features only available on paid version).