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

Roxanne updated on Oct 21, 2020 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.

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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 OS 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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