How to Free Backup Windows 10 to USB Flash Drive – MiniTool


Want to protect your Windows 10 computer? A backup is imperative since it can be used to restore your Windows 10 to an earlier date. Thus, how to backup Windows 10 to a USB flash drive or external hard drive? The MiniTool programs – MiniTool ShadowMaker and MiniTool Partition Wizard are helpful.

Should You Backup Windows 10?

As to this question, perhaps you are wondering. As a matter of fact, to backup a computer is imperative. As is well known, the sensational WannaCry ransomware leads to data loss. Besides, the hardware failure, system corruption, human error and other accidents always come out of the blue on your computer, causing data loss and unbootable OS. Actually, there is no one wants to experience such a terrible thing. In order to protect your computer from the data loss, you should backup your computer.

In recent times, although Window 10 is the newest operating system, system issues still exist. Thus, it is an urgent affair to make a backup for your Windows 10.

How to Backup Windows 10?

How do you back up your computer? As for the question, the answer is very easy, provided you have a professional tool. In this post, we will put forward two different backup ways as well as two reliable Windows 10 backup programs.

Where should you backup Windows 10? This is a question. In fact, there is more than one place, for example, back up data to cloud storage devices, NAS, USB flash drive or external hard drive and more. Usually, the USB drive and external hard drive are chosen. Once system crashes, the computer backup won’t lose.

① Create Windows 10 Image Backup

What is saved in Windows backup? How does Windows backup work? These two questions are often asked by you. More often than not, it refers to a system image backup which is a snapshot or exact copy of everything on the system drives, including system settings, programs, and files. During the backup process, file compression can be carried out, which can save disk space. When your computer stops working, you can use it to restore everything back the way it was.

In order to create a system image for Windows 10, a piece of professional Windows 10 backup software is required.

Why MiniTool ShadowMaker?

Which one should you use? MiniTool ShadowMaker is such a program which is released by the MiniTool team. And it provides you with an ideal backup solution: this free backup software for Windows 10/8/7 is very easy-to-use, and it can cope with many backup tasks, for instance, system backup, partition backup, disk backup. In addition, an automatic backup can be set up so that you don’t need to remember to backup your Windows 10 computer. Besides, it enables you to delete some old backup file versions for disk space management. Just free download MiniTool ShadowMaker and install it on your computer to have a try.

How do I create a backup with Windows 10? Now, follow the steps to backup Windows 10 to USB drive or external hard drive.

System Backup

Step 1: Double click on MiniTool ShadowMaker Free Edition on your Windows 10 computer, a few seconds later, you will enter the following interface. Just click the first Connect.

In the Free Edition, Remote Backup is not supported. But MiniTool ShadowMaker Beta 3.0 supports this feature. Just download it to have a try.

Step 2: Then, the best free backup software for Windows 10 will enter Home page by itself. You can see it tells you to set up a backup when there is no backup. Just navigate to the Backup page.

Here, you need to select the source drive(s) and the destination drive. As for system backup, MiniTool ShadowMaker will check all the system partitions which are required to run Windows by default. As to the destination drive, please choose one partition on the USB drive or external hard drive that you have connected to your computer in advance.


From the above screenshot, you see three options which can be used to make an advanced setting for Windows 10 backup. By default, Schedule and Scheme are in off status.

1. Schedule: MiniTool ShadowMaker Free Edition offers three schedule settings, including daily, weekly, monthly. (Tip: On Event option is not included in the Free Edition and you can get it in the Beta 3.0.) Then, MiniTool ShadowMaker will perform the automatic backup depending on the specific time point you have chosen.

2. Scheme: This feature puts forward three backup scheme settings: full, incremental and differential. By selecting one, the relative old backup image file versions will be deleted, which can save much disk space.

Note: Free Edition only supports incremental backup. If you want to change the backup scheme to Full or Differential, use its Beta Edition.

3. Options: It can help you to make more advanced settings for the backup, such as image creation mode, file size, compression, comment, email and so forth.

Step 3: After finishing all the settings for Windows 10 image backup, please click Back up Now button to begin to backup Windows 10 to USB or external hard drive. This operation will be performed in Manage page. Here, if you have made a scheduled backup for your Windows 10, the latest backup time and the next backup time will be displayed.

What's more, in this tab, you are allowed to manage your backup task after it is completed, for example, browse, restore, mount, edit scheme, locate image, verify, delete and edit schedule. Just choose one when there is a need.

Disk Backup

In addition to backing up Windows 10 OS to USB flash drive or external hard drive, some of you probably ask: how do I create a disk image in Windows 10/8/8.1/7? Actually, the operation is still very easy. In Backup page, click Source section, select all the partitions on the target hard drive. Then, the rest steps are similar with the system image creation.

Want to get more information about disk backup? Refer to this article - How to Backup Computer to External Hard Drive in Windows 10/8/7.

Use Backup and Restore (Windows 7)

In addition to the third-party backup and restore tool, you can use Backup and Restore (Windows 7) to create a system image for Windows 10. To put it simply, this tool is a part of Windows. Just go to Control Panel > System and Security, then open this free backup tool. Create a system image feature is useful for Windows 10 backup.

But, this free tool often goes wrong. This article - How Can You Create a Windows 10 Image Backup shows you some details.

What if the system is unbootable after system corruption? How to use the backup image to restore the computer to the earlier date? Just get MiniTool ShadowMaker Bootable Edition with Media Builder, and then use Restore feature to do the job by following the guide - How Can You Make System Image Recovery in Windows 10?

② Clone System Disk for Backup

In addition to disk imaging, the second way here is to clone the entire system disk to another disk for backup. As you know, hard drive failure may happen to your computer accidentally. For system disk, once it gets damaged, Windows 10 will fail to boot. In this case, a disk copy can be used directly to boot your computer.

How can you clone a system disk? Here are two tools for this job, one is MiniTool ShadowMaker and another is MiniTool Partition Wizard. More details are shown below.

MiniTool ShadowMaker

From the first way, you know MiniTool ShadowMaker Free Edition is a piece of dedicated backup & restore software for Windows 10/8/7. Then, perhaps you want to know: is it helpful to do disk cloning? The answer is positive. By means of its Clone Disk feature, it is very easy to backup Windows 10 to another hard drive by cloning. Have a try first.

Step 1: Run MiniTool ShadowMaker Free Edition to select one computer to manage, the local computer or the PC in the same LAN? Please click the corresponding Connect button to the next step.

Step 2: In the main interface, please go to Tools page, and you see many other features provided by the best free backup software for Windows 10. Thereinto, Clone Disk enables you to clone a hard drive with ease. So, just click it.

Step 3: Now, select which hard drive to clone and decide where the copy is saved by clicking the corresponding section. Here, we choose system disk as the source hard drive and an external hard drive as the target disk.

After the selection, click OK button to continue to backup Windows 10 by the disk cloning. Then, a prompt will inform you that all the data on the target disk will be deleted during the cloning process. Thus, remember to save your important files to a safe place.

Step 4: Then, MiniTool ShadowMaker will show you the cloning time and progress bar. Just wait patiently for the copy process.

After the disk cloning is completed, a window will appear, saying that you should make sure either the original hard drive or the target disk is disconnected when performing the first Windows boot. If not, one disk may be marked by the operating system.

To be specific, to clone the system disk is to backup Window 10. Therefore, shut down your computer, and then remove the target disk. In the case of hard drive failure, replace the damaged disk to restore the computer to the correct status.

Use Partition Wizard

Actually, MiniTool Solution Ltd. has developed another piece of cloning software called MiniTool Partition Wizard. This tool enables you to clone Windows 10 to a new hard drive with ease by its powerful features including Copy Disk, Migrate OS to SSD/HD. At first of all, download this hard drive cloning software to your Windows 10 computer.

Copy Disk: This feature is used to clone the data disk and system disk to another hard drive.
Migrate OS to SSD/HD: You are allowed to copy the entire system disk or only migrate all the partitions that system boot requires to SSD/HD.

Both of these features have the ability to ensure your computer can directly boot from the target disk containing the system copy.

Here take the second feature as an example.

Step 1: Open MiniTool Partition Wizard to the main interface, and click Migrate OS to SSD/HD in the tool bar.

Step 2: There are two modes for your choice:

A. This option can copy all the partitions on the system disk to another hard disk. It is similar to Copy Disk.
B. This mode only copies the system required partitions.

Please opt for one based on the actual situation. Here we choose A.

Step 3: Then, select a hard disk to save the copy.

Note: You had better use an empty disk as the target disk since the cloning process can destroy all data.

Step 4: Here two copy options are offered to select: Fit partitions to entire disk or Copy partitions without resize. Select one by yourself.

In this page, you can review the changes you have made.

Step 5: Then MiniTool Partition Wizard will tell you how to boot your computer from the target disk.

Step 6: Go back to the main interface to click Apply button.

Perhaps you are looking for: How to Clone a Hard Drive to SSD in Windows 10/8/7?


Now, we have told you two ways about how to backup Windows 10/8/7:
One is to backup Windows 10 to USB flash drive by creating a system image with MiniTool ShadowMaker Free Edition & Backup and Restore (Windows 7). And the second is to clone your system disk to another hard disk for Windows 10 backup with MiniTool ShadowMaker and MiniTool Partition Wizard.

Then, you may ask: what are the differences between these two ways? Actually, disk imaging can occupy a little disk space. Besides, only the software which created the image file is capable of doing the restoration. As to a disk cloning or system migration, you can directly boot your computer from the target disk in event of system issues. But this way can take up much disk space. No matter which way you use, the backup for Windows 10 gives you a chance to restore your computer when accidents happen. Just free download MiniTool ShadowMaker or MiniTool Partition Wizard to begin Windows 10 backup.

When using our software to deal with backup & restore operations, if you have any question or suggestion, remember to write an email to or leave a comment below. Thanks in advance.