By Ivy / Last update December 24, 2021

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Why Create Windows 10 System Image on Flash Drive?

Usually, you have two ways to restore Windows 10 back to normal if system failure: Recovery Partition, and the Windows 10 System image. 

Hard disk has a recovery partition when Windows 10 installed, around 450MB, which stores the OS, drivers, applications, and default settings for operating system repair. Or your PC might have a recovery image designed for computer reset or refresh, which is typically 3 to 6 GB in size and stored on an independent recovery partition. The recovery partition can troubleshoot and fix the system problems, then restore your computer. 

However, sometimes the Windows 10 recovery environment missing, and you could not restore your Windows 10. Now you have to create system image on USB for Windows 10 to restore Windows 10 safely, because creating Windows 10 system image on internal hard disk is a risk operation. The same is true for the latest system - Windows 11.

How to Fix The Drive is Not A Valid Backup Location

As a matter of fact, you can use Windows 10 built-in tool - Backup and Restore (Windows 7) to create a system image backup for Windows 10, but if you choose the USB drive as destination, you might find create a system image not working for USB drive and get the error: This drive cannot be used to store a system image because it is not formatted with NTFS if your USB is formated to FAT32. Even it’s formmated with NTFS, there is a chance to get the error the drive is not a valid backup location

The Drive is not a Valid Backup Location

How to fix? Here is the solution: create a folder on your USB drive, and share the folder with yourself (your current account). And choose On a network location while choosing the destination to save the Windows 10 system image.

Just do as follows to create Windows 10 system image on USB drive.

1. Type backup and restore in Windows 10 search box, then choose Backup and Restore (Windows 7), and then click Go to Backup and Restore (Windows 7).

Create a System Image

2. Click the Create a system image option on the left side.

3. Select On a network location, click Select..., input the network location of your USB flash drive (\\IP\SharedFolderName, like \\\My Backups) and the network credentials, click OK to save the Windows 10 system backup. Then click Next.

★ Tip: Make sure you have plugged the USB flash drive into the computer; the program will detect the device automatically.

4. Confirm the backup settings and click Start backup to backup Windows 10 to USB drive.

★ Tip: This method also works for Windows 11, but the location of Backup and Restore (Windows 7) has a little different. To find it, go to Start > Settings > System > Storage, scroll down to Storage Management and select Advanced storage settings > Backup options > Go to Backup and Restore (Windows 7). 

Then it will create system image on USB flash drive successfully. If not, please try the following steps and run commands as administrator.

  • Create a folder named Refreshimage in the USB drive.

  • Press Windows + X key conbination on the desktop and select Windows Powershell (Admin).

  • Type recimg -CreateImage DriveLetter>:\Refreshimage and press Enter. (change the USBDriveLetter with your USB drive letter)

Recimg Create System Image Windows 10

Best Way to Create System Image Windows 10 on USB

If you still have problems to create system image backup on USB drive, please try the best USB image tool - AOMEI Backupper Professional, which works great with USB flash drive in Windows Vista, XP, 7, 8, 8.1, 10, 11 and it is a powerful image tool for hard disk, NAS device, external hard disk, SD card, SSD drive and more; as well as the hard disk cloning software for you to clone data safely and easily.

Please download the USB image tool 30-day free trial to have a try. Then, follow the steps below to backup Windows 10 to USB easily and quickly.

Download Free Trial Win 11/10/8.1/8/7/XP
Secure Download

1. Connect your USB flash drive with your computer and make it can be detected, then launch AOMEI Backupper.

2. On the main interface, select Backup > System Backup.

System Backup

★Tip: Make sure the USB drive can accept the system image for Windows 10, you’d better prepare at least 16GB USB drive.

3. Select the USB flash drive as the destination location to save the Windows 10 system image. Edit the Task Name to distinguish from other backups if you prefer. 

Destination Location

★ Tip: The program will select the partitions associated with Windows 10 system files and boot files automatically.

4. Click Start Backup to create Windows 10 system image on USB drive easily.

Start Create A System Image to USB Drive

★ Tips:
you could encrypt, split, compress the Windows 10 system image file, enable email or SMS notification, use VSS, sector by sector backup, etc.
Schedule is capable of backup Windows 10 to USB on regular basis, Daily, Weekly, Monthly, Event triggers, USB plug in, as well full backup, incremental or differential backup.
Scheme allows you delete old backup images automatically while the backups exceed the retain number you specified.

Wait for a moment, you’ll find Windows 10 system image on flash drive has been successfully created. Then take the USB drive to a safe place.

★ Advanced way to create Windows 10 system image

Specialized onekey recovery software - AOMEI OneKey Recovery can help you create system image on Windows 11/10/8/7 & Windows Servers. You can save system image on a local disk, external hard drive, and USB flash drive, etc and make it run automatically. You can also make a factory recovery partition to hold the system image.

OKR Backup

The Epilogue

After creating Windows 10 system image on flash drive, please create bootable media to boot the computer if the system fail to boot, then you could restore Windows 10 system image back to normal. Moreover, it allows you restore Windows 10 system image to new hard drive if the hard drive failure.

If your USB flash drive is big enough, you could create Windows 10 system image via USB plug in, which means that the program will automatically create system backup for Windows 10 every time the USB plug in, it’s quite smart.

If you want to protect unlimited computers within your company, you can pick AOMEI Backupper Technician. With the inbuilt AOMEI Image Deploy tool, you are also allowed to deploy/restore system image file on server-side computer to multiple client-side computers over network.