How to Backup and Restore Windows 11 to External USB Drive

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Do you need to backup and restore Windows 11 to an external USB drive? Here is the guide for you.

Computers are very versatile devices. Windows 11 is one of the most reliable client operating systems available. However, it is a best practice to back up your computer because there are always a few unseen situations that may require you to restore the device.

A backup ensures you do not lose any valued data, and in this guide, we show you every possible way to backup and restore Windows 11 to an external USB drive. Plug in your external USB, and let us get started.

How to Backup Windows 11 to an External USB

1. Backup Windows 11 to an External USB Drive From Windows Backup and Restore

One of the built-in legacy solutions available on Windows 11 is the Windows 7 Windows Backup and Restore. This utility can produce a backup image of the entire system, including the operating system, configuration, and apps, and it can regularly backup data files from libraries, desktops, and Windows folders.

1. Press Windows + R to launch the Run dialog, then type control, and hit Enter to open the Control Panel.

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2. Select System and Security and click ‘Backup and Restore (Windows 7)’.

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3. Click the Set up backup option.

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4. Select your USB drive from the options and click Next.

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5. Choose any of the two options shown in the image below and hit Next.

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6. Select your desired schedule and click ‘Save settings and run backup’.

2. Backup Windows 11 to an External USB Drive From File History

You may use File History to back up your installation. If a file is inadvertently deleted, altered, or damaged, Windows File History can help you restore earlier versions of your data to a network location or an external hard drive.

1. Press Windows + R to launch the Run dialog, then type control, and hit Enter to open the Control Panel.

Control - How to Backup and Restore Windows 11 to External USB Drive

2. Select System and Security and click File History.

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3. Click System Image backup.

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4. Click Create a system image.

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5. Select On a hard disk, then click your external USB device and click next.

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6. Select the drives you wish to include in the backup and click Next.

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7. Click Start backup.

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3. Backup Windows 11 to an External USB Drive Via wbAdmin Command

Windows 11 has a command-line utility called Wbadmin that lets you backup and restore your files, apps, and system. It is an effective tool for creating personalized backup solutions and automating backup tasks.

1. Press Windows + R to open the Run dialog.

2. Type cmd and hit Ctrl + Shift + Enter to open the Command Prompt with admin rights.

CMD - How to Backup and Restore Windows 11 to External USB Drive

3. Type the script below and hit Enter to initiate the backup, replacing F with your external USD drive letter.

wbAdmin start backup -backupTarget:F: -include:C: -allCritical -quiet
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4. Optionally, you may include all drives connected to your computer in the backup by adding their drive letters, as shown below.

wbAdmin start backup -backupTarget:F: -include:C:,E:,I: -allCritical -quiet

4. Backup Windows 11 to an External USB Drive Via Third-Party Applications

The last way you may perform a backup to an external USB drive is by using third-party applications. You may employ a few options, but while the steps are similar, you will have to consult the vendor for specific steps.

Our comprehensive guide on the best Windows 11 backup tools has covered some of the best backup software.

How to Restore A Windows 11 Backup From an External USB

1. Restore Windows 11 Backup Via WinRE

Most backup options will similarly process the backup, so you may be able to use the WinRE option regardless of how you made the backup. Of course, this does not include backups made with third-party solutions.

1. Press Windows + I to open the Settings app.

2. Click the Settings option on the left, and on the right, click Recovery.

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3. Under Advanced startup, click Restart now.

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4. In the next few screens, click Troubleshoot, Advanced options, See more recovery options, then System Image Recovery.

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5. Click ‘Select a System image’ and click Next.

6. Select your image source, click Next, and follow the wizard to complete the process.

2. Restore Windows 11 Backup Via Third-Party Tools

You could need to restore your system using the same third-party backup program you used to make your backup. Depending on the backup method you used, there are differences in the precise processes involved in restoring your system. Nonetheless, the whole procedure will be like this:

1. Launch the backup tool.

2. Select the restore option.

3. Select the backup image.

4. Confirm restore.

5. Wait for the restore to complete.

Backup and Restore Windows 11 to External USB Drive

The solutions discussed would guide you on the easiest way to backup and restore Windows 11 to an external USB drive. If you know of any other cool ways of achieving it, let us know in the comment section below.

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