By Lily / Last update November 12, 2021

About external HDD

HDD, the short of hard disk drive, is a kind of data storage device used for storing and retrieving data using one or more hard rapidly spinning platters coated with magnetic material. When you read and write data on the HDD, it will spin with a moving actuator arm.


An external HDD is used as an extended storage device or it is used for storing backup images. It is produced with a USB port. Once you need to use it, connect it to your computer, and it will be detected by your computer.

External HDD

Why you want to create system image to an external HDD?

Creating system image to an external HDD is an effective way to keep data safe. There are many reasons that will cause your system in trouble, such as system crash, virus attack, laptop stealing, hard drive damage, etc. Once your system failed, it could be annoyed because reinstalling a system would take a lot of time.

However, if you have created a system image to an external hard drive before, you can restore system image easily, saving a lot of time and energy. Plus, HDD is cheaper than SSD, so it should be a better choice for storing system backup image.

Top 2 ways of creating system image to an external HDD

Here I will show you two ways of creating system image to an external HDD. At first, you need to prepare an external HDD, which is big enough to store your system files. You may choose WD HDD, Seagate HDD, Hitachi HDD, Samsung HDD, or Toshiba HDD as you like.

Method 1. Creating system image to an external hard drive with Windows built-in tool

Windows built-in Backup and Restore can help you create system image backup. Here I'll take Windows 7 as an example to show you the detailed steps. Also, you can backup Windows 10 to external hard drive with this tool, but its name is a little different. It's called Backup and Restore (Windows 7).

Step 1. Connect your external hard drive to your computer and make sure it can be detected by your machine. Click Start-> Control Panel-> System and Security-> Backup and Restore to open the program. Then, click Create a system image at the left side.

Create a System Image

Step 2. Select the external HDD you prepared before as the destination place to store the image backup. Click Next.

Select Destination Drive

Step 3. Select the drive (s) that you want to backup (system drive has been selected by default). Click Next.

Select Source Drive

Step 4. Then, confirm your backup information. If there is no problem, click Start backup to launch the progress.


However, you may encounter system image backup failed using Windows built-in backup tool. Luckily, there is another way to create system image to an HDD.

Method 2: creating system image to an external HDD with third party software

There are many utilities to make up the shortages of Windows tool. For example, AOMEI Backupper Standard, a powerful backup software, can backup and restore system in a few simple steps, and it is free for Windows XP/Vista/7/8/10/11. To create system image to external hard disk drive, you can follow the steps below:

Step 1. Download AOMEI Backupper Standard free, install and launch it. You will see its main interface, click Backup and then select System Backup.

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System Backup

Step 2. Then, it will bring you to the system backup page. The system drive has been selected by default, and all you have to do is to select the external hard drive you prepared before as the destination place.

Select Destination

Step 3. Then, you can set up more for your system backup image by Options, like adding comments. If you would like to set up an automatic backup, the Schedule would be helpful. If there is no problem with your backup, you can click Start Backup to launch the progress.

Creating system image to an external HDD with AOMEI Backupper is simpler than Windows backup tool and it can avoid a lot of problems. You can also use it to restore system image, even restore system image to another PC. Besides, you can create a bootable disc with this software which is helpful when your system cannot boot. Use AOMEI Backupper to secure your data right now!