How to Fix “The drive is not a valid backup location” using USB in Windows 7/8/10?

Posted by @Teresa

September 28, 2017

Fix the issue “the drive is not a valid backup location” issue that occurs when you try to backup Windows 7, 8, 10 system image to USB flash drive.

When does “The drive is not a valid backup location” happen?

USB flash drive is good transport tool in files transferring as well as great backup storage for backup images. Many PC users would like to backup important files to USB drive. Users who pay much attention to file security even back USB stick up via USB auto backup freeware. If the USB drive is large enough to contain Windows operating system, it is not a bad idea to create a system image on it.

However, when you choose USB flash drive as the backup destination hard drive in Windows at the step of “Where do you want to save the backup?” you will see an orange warning with exclamation point icon reads: “The drive is not a valid backup location”. Meaning you cannot create system image on USB drive under Windows OS. This would happen when you use either Windows 7 File Recovery in Windows 8, 8.1 or Windows 7 Backup and Restore in Windows 7, 10.

The drive is not a valid backup location

Causes for invalid backup location error using USB

It is a default limitation that Windows users cannot backup system drive image to USB flash drive, yet backing up files and other data to it is supportive.

Another possible cause would be, in earlier times, hard drives are created in small size, so does to USB flash drives. The sizes of these USB drives are range from 1 GB to 32 GB. Therefore, it is hard and unsecure to place system backup image, up to several GBs, on flash drive, especially when scheduled system backup set.

However, hard drives are produced larger and larger in recent years, even USB sticks increase up to 128 GB capacity. Thus, covered potential risk would not be an issue any more. Figure out how to create system image on USB in Windows 8.1, 8, 10 and Windows 7 right now.

Solution to “The drive isn’t a valid backup location” in Windows 7, 8, 10

It is time to turn to third party software when Windows built-in tools cannot meet your needs. AOMEI Backupper Professional is reliable and all-around backup and recovery software designed for Windows operating systems like Windows 7, 8, 10, 8.1, Vista and Windows XP. It supports to backup system to HDD, SSD, SSHD, external hard drive (USB 1.0/2.0/3.0), PC card, flash drives and thumb drives etc. Full backup, incremental backup and differential backup are available in Backup Options. Its System Backup feature is made with one-click operation, which means it will automatically select System Drive (C drive) and System Reserved Partition for you. No need to worry if you forget something each time. Download its free trial to have a try.

1. Install and launch AOMEI Backupper. Go Backup and then System Backup.

System Backup

2. Select the USB drive as the destination storage. System drive and its related partition have been selected by default.

Select USB
Open USB

3. Confirm the operation summary. Here you have options to do scheduled system backup in daily, weekly, or monthly by clicking Schedule. Click Start Backup.

Start Backup


Backup Options: This offers you options to password protect backup image, compression and split backup images.

Schedule: This also is the place where you can change backup mode between full backup, incremental backup and differential backup.

Scheme: This helps you auto delete old backups when backup image amount overpass the value you set.

Does not create system image on USB drive using AOMEI Backupper easy? All operations could be done within three steps. So next time when your friends or families meet this same “The drive is not a valid backup location” issue using USB flash drive in Windows 7, 8, 10, just introduce this tutorial to them.

After successful backup, you might need to restore system image from USB drive some day when disaster comes. AOMEI Backupper is also professional cloning software that supports cloning HDD to mSATA SSD, cloning hard drive with bad sectors, cloning boot drive to SSD, cloning hard drive to Kingston SSD etc. Create a bootable rescue media with this utility will save you lots of time and effort.