By Delia / Last update June 13, 2022

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User Case: How Do I Copy USB to USB with Boot Files?

“If I copy a bootable USB drive to another USB, will it create a duplicate bootable drive? I thought it's kind of a dumb question but a search with Google seems to indicate that it is not even possible to copy/paste data on a bootable drive to another USB? But even if we were able to copy it, why should it not work? (that is creating a duplicate bootable drive). Any kindly advice will be appreciated, thanks.”

As you can see from Google, Simply copying and pasting files from bootable USB drive to another one will not create bootable drive. To make a bootable USB drive, you not only need the files on the USB drive, but also require the partition table configuration, the meta data about the organization of drive content, bootloader, etc. 

Need to Copy USB to USB in Windows

USB flash drives as the removable devices are fairly convenient in transporting small amount of data from place to place and keeping the data readily at hand. An USB drive uses low power and has no fragile moving parts. It is small and light in capacity and mass, and could be purchased in low price.

The majority of PC users holding more than one USB drive normally. Many users would store the important files or documents that need to be move to other places on USB drive. So you may need to copy files from USB to USB, whether for upgrade or backup.

Generally, the most commonly used media that as bootable device is also USB flash drive due to aforementioned merits. You can take it everywhere. Just in case you can make an intact copy for USB stick as backup. In addition, you can clone USB bootable drive for upgrade if there are full filled with stuff.

Reliable Way to Copy USB Drive to Another USB Drive

If there are only files including documents, photos, music etc. on your USB, you can drag & drop everything from one to the other in Windows Explorer. If the data size on the USB is too large, you may find that copying files from USB to USB is very slow. And if the USB happens to be a bootable drive, that method won’t work. 

In this case, you could consider using USB free backup software to perform disk backup and restore it to the target USB, which may be faster than Copy & Paste operation. But for quick recovery, it's suggested to copy USB to USB with boot files in Windows 7/8/10 with the help of professional yet free USB to USB copying software AOMEI Backupper Standard

To be honest, the fastest way to copy from USB to USB via AOMEI Backupper is cloning disk since there are boot files. It is suggested to use Disk Clone feature to overwrite the USB drive entirely.

Step-by-Step Guide: Copy Bootable USB to USB in Windows 10 Easily

From above, you may know that you will use AOMEI Backupper in the following. Here I’ll briefly introduce you this software. It’s easy-to-use with its lucid user-interface and Windows 7, 8/8.1, 10,11, XP and Vista supported. Besides, it also has many extra features that solve problems for users, such as, sector by sector clone, edit partition, SSD Alignment.

After that, continue to see below and learn how to use it. I’ll will take how to copy bootable flash drive to another flash drive with AOMEI in Windows 10 as an example.

  1. Insert these two USB drives to your PC via USB ports on the machine. Make sure they can be detected by Windows.

Insert USB Drive

  1. Download AOMEI Backupper Standard,  then install and launch it. Click Clone tap and then select Disk Clone.
Download Freeware Win 10/8.1/8/7/XP
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Disk Clone

  1. Select the bootable USB as the source disk and the other as the destination one. Don’t mix them up, or you’ll lose everything on the bootable USB.

Select Source USB Drive

Select Destination USB Disk

  1. Here is the operation summary. You have options to edit partitions (supported by the professional version) on the destination USB drive, but if you want to make exact copy of the source USB, tick Sector by sector clone box. Click Start Clone then.

Start Clone USB

For Edit Partitions feature, you have three practical options in the following. The last two options are available on the professional version or other editions. 
👉 Copy without resizing partitions: It will not resize the partition size.
👉 Add unused space to all partitions: It will reallocate the unallocated space to each partition of the target disk, appropriate for the disk size.
👉 Manually adjust partition size: It allows you to extend unallocated space to any partition on the destination disk you want. And it requires you to select a partition and then drag it to the left or right side.

Edit Partition Size

  1. Wait for the process to complete. Click Finish when it done and close the program.

Above steps also apply to how to copy USB key to USB in Windows 10, Windows 8, Windows 8.1, Windows XP and Windows Vista.
If your target USB is larger than the bootable drive, you could consider using Edit Partitions feature to make full use of unallocated space after cloning
By checking “Sector by sector clone” option you will make the “Edit Partitions” option unavailable. So, please consider it carefully.
This software also applies to clone all kinds of HDDs and SSDs, including clone Windows 10 to new hard driveclone HDD to Seagate SSD, clone HDD to Samsung SSD, clone Windows 10 to NVMe, clone NVMe to another NVMe, etc.

Another Way to Copy USB Drive with Boot Files

In addition to AOMEI Backupper, you can also use command prompt to make a USB drive bootable, then extract the ISO image file via File Explorer or other ISO burner.

❀ Note: Pay attention to that if your USB is showing as Removable Disk in Windows Explorer, you can only create one primary partition there. If it shows as Fixed Disk, you can create multiple primary partitions in accordance with its size.

  1. Connect a USB drive and Run Command Prompt as administrator. Click Start, type cmd in the search box, then select it from the search result list and run as administrator.
  2. In the pop-up command prompt window, type the following syntax and hit Enter after each one.
  •  list disk
  • select disk X (X stands for the drive letter or disk number of your USB drive)
  • clean
  • create part pri
  • select partition 1 (This is the partition you just created)
  • assign letter=N
  • select partiion N
  • format fs=ntfs quick (If you want to create UEFI bootable USB in diskpart, format it as FAT32. Type format fs=fat32 quick as instead)
  • active
  • exit
  1. In Windows 8/10, right-click the ISO file and select Burn Disc Image, then follow the on-screen instructions to finish the rest of steps. In Windows 7, you could consider using a ISO burner as instead.

Burn Disc Image

  1. After that, restart your computer, press F2 or ESC to enter BIOS screen, select the Boot tab and use “+” to move the flash drive to the first place, then press F10 to save the changes. Later, it will go to the Windows Setup screen automatically. If not, the drive is not bootable or something goes wrong.

Final Words

The way to copy USB to USB can be pretty easy with the help of AOMEI Backupper. Actually, as one powerful backup & cloning utility, it is highly recommended to keep AOMEI Backupper installed after cloning.

To be specific, with the software, you can clone hard drive to SSD to gain better experience, scheduled copy operating system to USB flash drive for protection, or use 3-2-1 backup strategy to save disk space while keeping backup images up-to-date. Go for it to enjoy more.

If you want to unlock all features on the advanced version, such as, AOMEI Backupper Professional, please upgrade the free version.