By AOMEI / Last Updated September 11, 2020

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Why backup Windows 10 to USB flash drive?
Built-in backup tool to backup to USB in Windows 10
Easy way to backup Windows 10 to USB with Freeware
Restore system image from USB

Why backup Windows 10 to USB flash drive?

We all know system backup is very critical. If your system crashes due to virus, hard failure or human error, you can restore it to its previous state using a system backup image. However, choosing a reliable location to save the image files is even more important. The reasons to run Windows 10 backup to USB are as follows.

1. Keep image files away from computer errors.

If you save your backups to an internal hard drive, you may lose the backups if hard failure happens. Some people may choose to backup to NAS (network-attached storage). However, if many users have access to the shared location and it is always connected, virus and malware may also infect the shared folder.

Therefore, it is recommended to backup to an external hard drive, like a USB drive. It is safe for your data because a USB flash drive can be stored in a location that’s separate from your computer once the backup is done. You can also clone the USB drive to another drive with free USB clone tool for extra protection.

2. Easy access on other devices.

If you want to use the image files on other computers, you can easily connect USB drives to the computers via USB ports. To restore a system image to a computer with different hardware, you need to perform dissimilar hardware restore to ensure the system is bootable after recovery.

3. Strong endurance.

A USB flash drive is always very tough. It is not likely to be damaged unless you hit it with a hammer or something else.

Built-in backup tool to backup to USB in Windows 10

USB flash drive is a good file transfer tool as well as a great storage location for backup images. When it comes to backup Windows 10 to USB, many PC users would like to use Windows Backup and Restore.

However, when you choose USB flash drive as the backup destination at the step of “Where do you want to save the backup?”, you will see a warning that reads: “The drive is not a valid backup location”. This problem also happens when you use Backup and Restore in Windows 7/8. (In Windows 8, the tool is called Windows 7 File Recovery.)

Create a System Image

It is a default limitation that Windows users cannot save system drive image to USB flash drive. In earlier times, USB flash drive was created in small size. Therefore, it is hard and insecure to place a system backup image which is up to several GB in size on a flash drive, especially when scheduled system backup is set.

Now you can get a USB drive with large capacity. To save a system image, the available storage space on USB should be at least 64GB. However, a 64GB USB is not suggested because the actual space is less than 64GB. Therefore, it is recommended to buy a 128GB USB. When you use a 128GB USB, you will not see this warning again.

Easy way to backup Windows 10 to USB with Freeware

If you do not want to buy a large capacity USB, you can use a third-party freeware to help you. AOMEI Backupper Standard is reliable and all-around backup and recovery software designed for Windows 10/8.1/8/7/Vista/XP. It is easy and free to use. Following are its main features in regard to backup:

● Multiple backup types: it offers system backup, disk backup, partition backup, and file backup.
● Various backup locations: it supports backing up to local disks, external hard drives, USB flash drives, NAS devices, and network share.
● Advanced backup options: it allows you to schedule backup tasks, and compress or split image files, etc.

Let’s see how to backup Windows 10 to USB flash drive via AOMEI Backupper step by step:

1. Connect the USB flash drive to your computer and make sure it is detected. Download, install and launch AOMEI Backupper.

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

2. Select Backup and click System Backup.

System Backup

3. The system-related drives have been selected as source partitions automatically by AOMEI Backupper. Select the USB drive as the backup destination.

Select Destination Path

Backup to USB

4. Confirm the operation and click Start Backup. Here are some backup settings for you:

  • Options: you can comment the backup task to distinguish it from other backups; you can also compress the backup image to save storage space on your USB drive, etc.

  • Schedule: you are allowed to set the backup task to run daily, weekly, monthly, event triggers, USB plug in (the last two are premium features, please upgrade to enjoy). You can also choose backup mode from full backup, incremental backup and differential backup.

  • Scheme: it will auto delete old backups when backup image number overpasses the value you set. This feature is available in AOMEI Backupper Professional and higher editions.

Tips: You can backup Windows 10 to external hard drive with the same steps.

Restore system image from USB

After successful backup, you may also need to know how to restore system image from USB drive if disaster happens some day. First, connect the USB drive with system image to your computer. Then, open AOMEI Backupper and use one of the following methods to restore system image from USB:

  • Go to Home, find the system backup task and click Restore.

Home Restore

  • Click Restore on the left pane, click Select Image File to locate image file on the USB flash drive and follow the wizard to finish the recovery process.

Select Image File

Tips: Sometimes, your computer may fall into the worst situation where it cannot boot any more. Luckily, AOMEI Backupper enables you to create a Windows USB recovery drive to get you prepared for that.


With the help of AOMEI Backupper, you can backup Windows 10 to USB flash drive with just a few clicks. And you do not have to worry about the problem that “The drive is not a valid backup location” at all. Also, you can make system restore with USB quite easily. Besides backup and restore, AOMEI Backupper is also professional cloning software that supports to clone HDD to SSD.