[Guide] Backup Windows 10 to USB | Create a Windows 10 Recovery Drive

Roxanne updated on Jun 27, 2019 to Backup and Recovery | How-to Articles

Reasons to Create a Windows 10 Backup to a USB

You never know when you’ll need a Windows recovery drive in order to restore your system to a pristine state. If your system crash due to the virus, hard failure or human error, you can restore it to its previous state. However, choosing a storage place seems more important. 

If you save your Windows backups to an internal hard drive, you may lose the backups if a hard failure happens. Some people may choose to back up the system 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 advised to save the backup to an external storage device, like a USB drive. It is safe for your data because a USB drive is separated from your computer. If your computer crashes, you can use the USB to help restore your system.

It is pretty easy to backup Windows 10 to a USB. There are two methods to do this. One is using a free backup tool, which is as easy as a piece of cake. The other one is to use the Windows 10 built-in backup tool.

Method 1. Backup Windows 10 to USB with a Freeware
Method 2. Create a Windows 10 Recovery Drive with the Built-in Backup Tool

Method 1. Backup Windows 10 to USB with a Freeware

EaseUS's free backup software is a reliable and all-around backup and recovery software designed for Windows 7, 8, 8.1, 10, Vista and Windows XP. It is easy and free to use. Let’s see how to backup Windows 10 to USB.


To make sure that your computer could boot even when the system crashes, you must enable PreOS. 

Pre-OS can be considered as a simple OS environment, under which you can use our product without system login or a ready bootable disk created. It is especially useful when the operating system fails to boot, login Pre-OS environment and recovering from a previous image will resolve the trouble easily.

Open EaseUS Todo Backup, click Tools and click Enable PreOS. Then, follow the below steps to backup Windows to a USB.

enable preos to make sure that your pc could boot from the usb

Step 1. Connect your USB drive to your PC.

Launch EaseUS Todo Backup and then click System Backup to backup Windows 10/8/7.

click system backup to back up Windows 10/8/7

Step 2. Select the destination as the USB drive and click Proceed.

create a system image to usb


  • If you have stored data on the USB drive, remove data first in case of data overwritten.
  • Plan name and Description - An accurate plan name and appropriate description can help you find the needed image file easily.
  • A schedule is to create an automatic backup plan. 
  • Backup options are to edit the advanced parameters. 
  • Image-reserve strategy is to reserve the limited image as per image retention rule.

Restore the system image from the USB

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

If you can boot into Windows, just open EaseUS Todo Backup and restore the system image.

If Windows won’t boot, follow the details below:

1. Restart the computer and we will get a Windows boot menu. Select EaseUS Todo Backup and, we will get into EaseUS Todo Backup.

restore system image from the preos

2. Select the image file you want to recover and then select the source you want to restore.

recover Windows 10 system image

3. Select the destination location which you will recover the system and save it. And confirm the recovery information, then click Proceed to restore Windows 10 backup.

select the system image and restore

Method 2. Create a Windows 10 Recovery Drive with the Built-in Backup Tool

The Windows built-in tool also supports to create a Windows 10 recovery drive. But it will take much time. Let's see.

  • From the taskbar, search for Create a recovery drive and then select it. You might be asked to enter an admin password or confirm your choice.
  • When the tool opens, make sure Back up system files to the recovery drive is selected and then select Next.
  • Connect a USB drive to your PC, select it, and then select Next > Create. A lot of files need to be copied to the recovery drive, so this might take a while.

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”. It is a default limitation that Windows users cannot backup system drive image to USB flash drive. In this case, you must buy a large space USB, the capacity should at least be equal to 64GB.

Besides, you also need to back up the system files to the recovery drive. So, your USB must have enough free space, which will cost a lot.

1. Plug in your USB again - which should have enough free space to hold everything on your internal drive. Make sure Windows can access the drive.

2. In Windows's Search field, type file history, and select Control Panel's File History program.

3. In the dialog box, click create a system image.

create a system image to the recovery drive

4. Choose the USB as your destination.

The backup may take a few hours. You must be patient.

Restore the backup 

If you can still boot into Windows: In the search box, search for the Control Panel. Select Recovery. Then select the Windows system image.

recover windows 10 with the built-in tool

If Windows won’t boot and you have a Recovery Drive: Insert the Recovery flash drive into a USB port and boot your PC. If your PC skips the flash drive and attempts to boot Windows, reboot and enter your Setup screen (F2 usually works; if it doesn’t, check your manual). Look for a boot or boot order option. Once you’ve successfully booted the flash drive, select a language.
Once you’re in a recovery environment, select Troubleshoot, then System Image Recovery. Follow the instructions.

According to the two methods, using a backup tool seems much easier and efficient. Why not use a tool to make things easier?


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Frequently Asked Questions

Why choose EaseUS Todo Backup?

"The easiest way to protect your data and system files."techradar

"EaseUS Todo Backup Free is one of the most popular free data backup applications available. This software offers a myriad of features and is extremely user-friendly. It provides a full system backup, meaning you can back up your entire operating system."TopTenReviews

"EaseUS ToDo Backup Home is a great backup program, well suited to the home and SMB space."PCWorld

What is the difference between Clone and Backup? In what cases should I use Clone?

Clone will copy one disk to another or one partition to another (unallocated space is also supported). Usually, this option is used to upgrade the current disk by creating an identical copy. Backup will generate a .PBD image file containing the selected files or system that can be restored from the .PBD image if needed.

What is the difference between System Backup and Disk Backup?

System Backup will auto-select the system boot related partition(s) as the backup source to make sure the system image can be restored properly. Disk/Partition Backup will allow you to manually select a whole disk or speficy a certain partition as the backup source. You will get the same backup result as System Backup if you manually select the system and boot partitions with the Disk/Partition Backup option.

As a computer newbie, what features should I use to protect my computer?

You can use System Backup to back up the system and boot partitions, use Disk/Partition backup to back up the data partition and add plans to run an automatic backup. If you use the computer frequently or have software that may cause boot failure of the computer, we would suggest you back up the computer every 1 to 2 days. For other situations, you can backup the computer once a week. In addition, you can schedule File Backup to back up the files which are changed frequently.

What kind of storage service should I use to save my backup images?

EaseUS Todo Backup can save backup images to internal disks, external disks, network drives, or free cloud(Google Drive, Dropbox, and OneDrive) and CD/DVD. It is suggested to save the images to the internal/external/network drives to save time as those kinds of disks have a better read-write speed. It is suggested NOT to save the image on the source disk, because once the disk is damaged, all the files on the disk will become unavailable and you will be unable to restore the image.

As a company network administrator, what features should I use to protect our internal computers?

It is recommended that you use the SQL Backup feature to back up your company's SQL server and Exchange Backup feature to back up the Exchange server. In addition, you can execute System Backup to back up the system and boot partitions on every computer and set a plan to execute the backup once a day or twice a week to ensure that the computer can be restored timely when it has boot issues. File Backup feature can be used to back up important user data. If there are a large quantity of computers, you can purchase EaseUS Backup Center to manage the backups on the client computers centrally.

About EaseUS Todo Backup

Be it a file, system, partition, or disk, EaseUS Todo Backup will help you back up or clone the item and provide you with multiple backup plans.