Here come two questions from you: can I use a flash drive to backup my computer? What size flash drive do I need to backup my computer? To get the answers, you can resort to this post. Also, MiniTool will tell you how to backup your computer to a flash drive.

Nowadays file backup is vital. Usually, music files, movies, documents, photos, etc. are saved to a place – your computer. It is dangerous to put all data into only one place. This is because computer theft/loss, accidental deletion operation, virus or malware attacks, natural disasters, and more can lead to data loss.

Besides, the system often crashes due to mistaken operations, virus infection, software or hardware issues, etc. This is very frustrating. The only way to prepare for an unexpected situation is to have a good backup strategy.

Tip: This post - Best Practice: 3-2-1 Backup Strategy for Home Users & Businesses may be what you need.

The methods to back up your computer are various and the common one is using an external hard drive to save the created backup images or cloned data.

When reading here, you may ask: can I use a flash drive to backup my computer? The answer can be found in the following part.

Can I Use a Flash Drive to Backup My Computer?

Technically, you can backup your computer to a flash drive including the USB drive. In most cases, a simple flash drive or thumb drive is the first way you save your data. The flash drive is relatively small, easy to carry, and can work with most computers.

So, you can save some data like working documents, presentations, etc. to it and it is easy to give the drive to others. Besides, some of you use it to save the backup images or cloned data created by a professional backup software.

Then, another question comes from you: what size flash drive do I need to backup my computer? Simply speaking, this depends on what you need to backup.

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For example, you want to backup 20GB of data, you'll need a flash drive that is more than 20GB, just to have a little free space because free space is always handy. If you need to backup a flash drive to another flash drive via cloning, the target drive also should have enough space to save all the contents of the source drive.

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How to Backup Computer to Flash Drive Windows 10/7?

After you know the feasibility of using a flash drive to backup a computer, now it’s time to create a backup for your machine.

So, how to backup your computer to a flash drive? There are 3 methods: copy files to the flash drive, make a backup image for the drive and clone your PC to a flash drive. Now let’s see some details.

How to Save Computer Files to a Flash Drive?

It is very easy to save computer files to a flash drive and you don’t need any advanced computer knowledge. Anyone with some basic computer knowledge can easily handle this task. The following are the steps:

Step 1: Connect your flash drive to the USB port of your computer and Windows will identify it in a few seconds.

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Step 2: Open File Explorer in Windows 10, go to the location of the file you want to copy, choose it and press the Ctrl + C keys on your keyboard. If you want to copy multiple files, hold down Ctrl and click each file you want to copy.

Step 3: Find and open your flash drive in File Explorer, then paste the copied files to the drive by pressing Ctrl + V.

save files to a flash drive

Step 4: Eject your USB flash drive and remove it from your computer.

In addition to Copy & Paste, you can drag and drop or send computer files to a flash drive. To learn much information, go to this post - How to Transfer Files to a Flash Drive Using PC or Phone.

Furthering tip:

Some of you may think it is available to copy your operating system to a flash drive. In fact, it is not allowed since some files are in use. Besides, copying system files makes no sense and the system won’t boot from the flash drive even if you successfully copy the system. To ensure the system can boot, you can clone the system to a flash drive. We will show you cloning later.

How to Backup Computer to Flash Drive Windows 10 via Imaging?

When it comes to Windows 10 PC backup, you may think of using a professional backup tool for this work. In this part, we will introduce two tools – the built-in backup tool and MiniTool ShadowMaker.

Backup and Restore (Windows 7)

Like other operating systems, Windows also comes with the backup and restore function. With the feature, you can easily backup files to protect them from harmful threats and uncertain cases. Besides, the feature allows you to create a system image so that you can perform system image recovery when the system crashes.

Tip: If you have a USB drive, can you backup Windows 10 to a flash drive with Backup and Restore (Windows 7)? This tool doesn’t allow you to create a system image on a USB flash drive and you may get an error message “the drive is not a valid backup location”.

Want to know how to backup your computer to a flash drive? Follow the steps below.

Step 1: In Windows 10, go to Start > Settings > Update & Security.

Step 2: Under the Backup page, click Go to Backup and Restore (Windows 7).

Step 3: In the main interface of this backup tool, click Set up backup to start file backup.

Backup and Restore Windows 7

Step 4: Choose where you want to save your backup.

Step 5: Decide what you want to backup. Here, check Let me choose.

Step 6: Then, choose the items you need to backup.

Step 7: Review your backup settings and click Save settings and run backup.

back up files with Backup and Restore

Here are all the steps to backup your computer files to a flash drive. If you want to backup Windows 10 to a flash drive, what should you do? See the following paragraphs.

Create System Image Windows 10 on USB Flash Drive

After learning the answer to the question “can I use a flash drive to backup my computer” but the built-in tool cannot help you to backup the system, a third-party backup program will be your choice.

MiniTool ShadowMaker, a piece of professional Windows backup software, is designed to create a system image, backup your files & folders, disks, and partition. Besides, it allows you to sync files to other locations and clone a hard drive to another disk.

Importantly, it allows you to backup your PC to an external hard drive, a USB flash drive, SSD, and more. Now, don’t hesitate to download MiniTool ShadowMaker and install it on your computer running Windows 7/8/10.

Free Download

Let’s see how to use a flash drive to backup my computer system.

Step 1: Run MiniTool ShadowMaker.

Step 2: Click Backup from the toolbar and you can find that system-related partitions are selected as the backup source. To create a system image, ignore this step.

Tip: If you want to backup files to a flash drive, choose items you want to backup by going to Source > Folders and Files.
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Step 3: To backup your computer to a flash drive, here choose your target drive as the backup destination.

choose your USB flash drive as the backup destination

Note: Make sure your flash drive is large enough to hold the backed up data. If it is not sufficient, this software will tell you “free space on the target volume is insufficient” after clicking Back up Now.

Step 4: Click Backup up Now to start creating a system image on a flash drive.

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How to Clone Your PC to a Flash Drive

In addition to image backup, you can choose another way to backup your computer to a flash drive. That is to clone a drive to your flash drive. Of course, you should make sure your flash drive is large enough to hold all the contents of the source drive.

To clone your PC to a flash drive, MiniTool ShadowMaker can also be your good option. With its Clone Disk, you can easily perform the cloning operation. If you haven’t installed this PC cloning software, now download and install it on your computer.

Free Download

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Step 1: Run MiniTool ShadowMaker and choose the local section to continue.

Step 2: Go to the Tools page and choose Clone Disk.

clone disk with MiniTool ShadowMaker

Step 3: In the new window, choose your source disk and target drive (flash drive).

Tip: If your flash drive is small, MiniTool ShadowMaker will say “The selected target disk is too small to clone the source disk.” So, guarantee its disk space.

Step 4: After that, MiniTool ShadowMaker will start performing the cloning operation. After cloning, remove your flash drive from the PC.

When searching for “can I use a flash drive to backup my computer”, you can find someone also asks “how to backup a flash drive to another flash drive”. As for this question, you can also clone a flash drive to another flash drive for backup. Just follow these steps in this part.

Bottom Line

Can I use a flash drive to backup my computer? If you ask this question, you know the answer is yes. And in this post, we show you how to backup your computer to a flash drive via three different methods. Just choose a proper backup way based on your actual needs.

If you have any ideas of USB flash drive backup or any questions when using MiniTool ShadowMaker, let us know. You can leave a comment below or send an email to [email protected].

Can I Use a Flash Drive to Backup My Computer FAQ

What size flash drive do I need to backup my computer?
The size of your flash drive that you need to backup your computer depends on what you backup. If the data is too much, you may need a large flash drive.
How do I backup my computer to a flash drive?
You can save computer files to the flash drive or use a professional backup software to create a system image, backup files, or clone your disk.
Can you backup Windows 10 to a flash drive?
Of course, you can. MiniTool ShadowMaker can help you to backup Windows 10 to a flash drive easily and you can read this post - Back up Windows 10 to USB Drive: Two Simple Ways Are Here!
What is the best device to backup my computer?
Compared with an external hard drive, the size of the flash drive is limited. If the backup source is large, it is not suitable to backup your computer to a flash drive. An external hard drive is a good option.
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