How To Use and Create a Full Backup of Windows 11/10 on a USB Drive

Windows 11/10 comes with an in-built backup system that can create a system image or full backup of your Windows PC. One can use the image to restore Windows to the same state when you took the backup. The biggest problem with this system is that it does not back up or create a System Image on a USB drive. This tutorial will look at a hack to make a full backup of Windows on a USB drive.

How To Use and Create a Full Backup of Windows 11/10 on a USB Drive

Follow the steps to create a backup of Windows, and then use it to restore in case Windows crashes.

  1. Prepare the backup drive.
  2. Configure the backup process
  3. Create a System Image

You will need an admin account to execute these steps.

1] Prepare the Backup Drive as a shared network drive

  • Plugin the external drive or USB, and make sure it’s accessible from the file explorer.
  • Create a Folder with the name Backup in it. Now right-click > properties > sharing > share with > select your account.
  • Click Ok to confirm.

Note: This drive is now accessible via a network, but only with your credentials.

create a full backup of Windows 10 on a USB drive

Note:  Since USB drives are of limited capacity most of the time, I will highly recommend using an external drive with at least 1 Terabyte capacity. However, if you cannot do it now, choose essential things to back up. You need at least a 64 or 128 GB USB drive in either case.

2] Configure the Backup Process

  • Open Start, Menu, and type File History. You should see File History Settings as the top search result. Click on it. You can also go to Control Pane > All Control Panel Items > File History
  • In the next screen, click on System Image backup, or you can directly go to Control Panel\All Control Panel Items\Back up and Restore (Windows 7)System Image Backup Windows

Here, You have three options. First, it lets you select the drive (external and internal). The second option is to use a DVD writer, and the last option is for Network location. The first option sounds best, but when you select the USB drive here, the system doesn’t allow it.

  • Let’s select the third option, which says “Network Location.”

Windows 10 System Image USB Drive 5

  • Browse and select the folder you share while preparing the backup drive.
  • Add your credentials. If you get an error that says Specified location cannot be used, double-check if your credentials are correct.

3] Creating a System Image

Creating a System Image

Click Next (Now you know why we created a network folder) to start the process. During this, you will have the option to select the partitions you want to backup. In the end, you get a preview of deriving included in the system image. Click Start to initiate the backup.

Select partitions for backup

Windows 10 Backup Process

Make sure to keep the drive safe. You can use this to restore the same PC with the same number of drives you backed up. The option to restore is available under Control Panel > System & Security > Backup & Restore > Select another backup to restore files from.

Using System Image to restore is a nuclear option. You get back to the same state as you were in last time. However, it comes with a drawback. If you have created an important file or data and deleted it, it cannot be restored. We highly recommend using File History, which takes up hourly backup.

Can I Save Windows to USB?

If you mean you can install Windows on USB or copy Windows to USB and use it on any other computer, then yes you can do it. However, you will need the right set of software that can do that and a large-size USB drive.

How Can I Create Bootable USB Drive for Windows?

You can use the Microsoft Media Creation Tool to create a bootable USB drive. You can use this drive for advanced troubleshooting and fixing problems in Windows that cannot be fixed from within the OS.


Ashish Mohta
A die-hard fan of Windows, PC Gaming, and Xbox. He is a seasoned content writer with over 15 years of experience in the industry. He is a specialist in writing about Windows, software reviews, troubleshooting Windows, and automation.


  1. These instructions are out-of-date. Seem Microsoft plugged that up. Windows now checks to see if the USB is portable.


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