By AOMEI / Last Updated December 23, 2019

Why backup Windows 10 to USB drive?

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

If you save your backups to 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 USB hard drive can be stored in a location that’s separate from your computer once the backup is done. You can also clone USB drive to another drive with free USB clone tool for extra protection.

USB drives are small and compact, so users can carry them easily in their pockets. It has become commonplace on other devices, such as smart phones, PDAs and video game consoles.

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.

Windows 10 built-in backup tool to backup to USB drive

USB flash drive is good file transport tool as well as a great backup storage 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 hard drive in Windows at the step of “Where do you want to save the backup?” You will see a warning reads: “The drive is not a valid backup location”.

This problem would happen when you use either Windows 7 File Recovery in Windows 8, 8.1 or Windows 7 Backup and Restore in Windows 7, 10.

Create a System Image

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

In this case, you must buy a large space USB, the capacity should at least be equal to 64GB. However, 64GB USB is not suggested because the actual space is less than 64 GB. 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 space USB, you can use a third party freeware to help you. AOMEI Backupper Standard is a reliable and all-around backup and recovery software designed for Windows 7, 8, 10, 8.1, Vista and Windows XP. It is easy and free to use. Let’s see how to backup Windows 10 to USB.

1. Download AOMEI Backupper Standard and launch the software.

2. Select Backup and click System Backup.

System Backup

3. Select the USB drive as the destination storage. System drive and its related partition have been selected by default.

Backup to USB

4. Confirm the operation summary. Here you have options to do scheduled system backup in daily, weekly, or monthly by clicking Schedule. Click Start Backup.


  • Options: This offers you options to compress and split backup images.

  • Schedule: This also is the place where you can change backup mode between full backup, incremental backup and differential backup.

  • Scheme (supported by AOMEI Backupper Professional): This helps you auto delete old backups when backup image amount overpass the value you set.

  • You can backup Windows 10 to external hard drive with the same backup tool as well.

Restore system image from USB

Only system backup is not enough. After successful backup, you may also need to know how to restore system image from USB drive some day if disaster happens.

Both Windows built-in tool and AOMEI Backupper can restore Backup image. However, if you need to restore to another computer, you have to use the paid edition of AOMEI Backupper, because Windows built-in tool and free AOMEI edition does not have this function.

USB drive not only can be used as a backup location or store vital data, also, you can use it to create a Windows USB recovery drive. When you Windows cannot boot, you can boot from the Windows recovery USB and then restore your system.


With the help of AOMEI Backupper, you can backup windows 10 to USB very easily with just a few clicks. And you do not have to worry “The drive is not a valid backup location” problem 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.