How to Back Up a Computer on a USB Flash Drive

By Ty Arthur

If you have important documents on your computer that you can't afford to lose, you will want to make periodic backup copies of the files in the event your computer crashes. USB flash drives are a quick and convenient way of backing up files, because they can transfer files at high speed, have large storage capacities, and are small enough to put on a keychain for safekeeping.

Step 1

Plug the male end of the flash drive into the female USB port on the front or back of your computer system.

Step 2

Wait for the "Removable Media" menu to pop up if your operating system supports plug-and-play devices. Click on the option "Open A Folder To View Files" in the menu.

Step 3

Double-click on the "My Computer" icon on your desktop, or open your Start menu and click on "My Computer" if your operating system does not support plug-and-play devices. Click on the flash drive in the "My Computer" menu to open a new folder.

Step 4

Locate the files that you want to back up either by going through your Explorer menu in the Start bar or opening up a second instance of the "My Computer" menu.

Step 5

Click on the file or folder and drag it over to the flash-drive folder to initiate the transfer. Wait for it ro finish transferring, then repeat the process with all of the other files you want to back up. Remove the flash drive when you are done, and keep it stored in a safe place in case you lose the documents on your computer and need to transfer them back over.

Tips & Warnings

  • Because of the manner in which USB flash drives read and write their data, most flash-drive manufacturers recommend that you do not open files directly on the drive, but instead transfer them to a computer first, as they may not save properly.
  • Flash drives have volatile memory that stops working after it has been written over a certain number of times. The exact number of times will vary between manufacturers, but is usually around the 100,000 range.