How to Backup a Computer System on a Flash Drive

By Nick Davis

You know it has to be done---the infamous backup of all your personal computer files. What If your system crashes? You need to have another copy of your files. With the invention of the flash drive, backing up your personal data is no longer a hassle. By using a flash drive and Windows pre-installed backup program -- "Backup or Restore Wizard" -- you don't have to worry about losing files anymore.

Connecting the Flash Drive

Step 1

Plug the flash drive into an available USB port on your computer. You will hear a bell ring, indicating the computer recognized the drive. A bubble will also appear stating that the flash drive is installing, and then it will indicate that the drive is ready.

Step 2

The flash drive should appear in your list of drives as E:, F:, or G: drive. If the drive is not recognized, remove it from that USB port and try a different port.

Step 3

Once the flash drive has installed, click "Start," "All Programs," "Accessories," "System Tools," and then "Backup."

Operating the Backup Software

Step 1

The backup software will open, and the first screen is "Welcome to the Backup or Restore Wizard." Click "Next." On the next screen, make sure the "Back up files and settings" button is green. Click "Next."

Step 2

On the next screen, "What to Back Up", you can choose from "My Documents and Settings" (select this one if you save all personal files in the My Documents folder), "Everyone's documents and settings" (use if you are on a network or you share your computer with multiple users with logons), "All information on this computer" (if you want to back up the entire computer---make sure your flash drive has the same amount of gigabytes (GB) as your computer), or "Let me choose what to back up" (use this option if you save your personal files in a folder outside of the My Documents folder. You will be presented with a screen that will let you pick which folders you would like to back up.). Click a backup option and then click "Next."

Step 3

The next screen is "Backup Type, Destination, and Name," so click "Browse" next to "Choose a place to save your backup:" The default drive is "A:"; click "Cancel" and you will be given a "Save As" box. Click "My Computer" on the left side and then click on your flash drive---it should be drive "E:," "F:," or "G:." Click "Save." You will be back on the "Backup Type, Destination, and Name" screen. Enter a name for the backup--you may want to call it "My Backup" or "Main Computer Backup."

Step 4

The wizard is now complete, and the files will be backed up to your flash drive. Once done, you will be given a report on what was backed up. If any errors appear, check the flash drive and restart the backup.

Tips & Warnings

  • Close all files and programs.
  • Purchase a flash drive with a large enough capacity if backing up video or music files.
  • For Mac users: There are many free backup and restore programs available for download. A flash drive works the same on the Mac operating system. Once the software is installed, follow the instructions for that specific program.
  • Make sure you have closed any running programs and files before you run the backup wizard. Any files left open will not be included in your backup.