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How to Create an Image of Your USB Drive

by Walter Jules

You can backup your USB drive by creating a saved image. You can then take that saved image and clone multiple USB sticks. This guide shows you how to create an image of your USB drive using Windows 10.

Copy Versus Clone

Don’t follow this guide if you’re simply copying files from a USB stick. Take the usual drag-and-drop method in File Explorer to transfer files to and from the USB stick.

This guide targets users who need to fully backup or clone a USB stick, such as a USB boot drive. The difference here is that you simply can’t drag-and-drop its contents to another USB drive. You need the drive’s master boot record and partition tables too. Even if the source USB drive isn’t bootable, you still need to make a clone if it has more than one partition.

The resulting image, then, consists of all visible and hidden files and the drive’s unused space. The image also includes slack space: Unused remnants of drive space Windows 10 allocates to a single file.

Finally, if you need to copy files from a single non-bootable USB drive to multiple units with an identical capacity, cloning may be your quickest solution. Scenarios could include USB-based press kits for tradeshows, or a manufacturer’s product catalog mailed to clients.

Clone Your USB Drive

Download and extract Passmark Software’s free ImageUSB tool. The most recent version (as of this writing) is v1.5.1000 released on October 25, 2019. This program doesn’t install into Windows 10, so be sure to unpack the ZIP file into a location you can remember.

Next, insert your source USB stick and launch the program by double-clicking on the ImageUSB.exe file. Click “Yes” if a User Account Control pop-up appears on the screen.

When the program opens on your screen, check the box next to your listed USB device.

Next, select “Create Image From USB Drive” in Step 2.

Click the “Browse” button to select or create a destination for the saved image. You’ll also need to create a file name, though you can’t change the “.BIN” file extension.

Click the “Create” button once you choose a file name and location to start the image-saving process.

Finally, click “Yes” in the pop-up window to verify and confirm the task’s details.

Under the “Available Options” section to the right, the “Post Image Verification” option is checked by default. With this feature enabled, the program scans through the file upon completion to verify its integrity. If the file fails inspection, you’ll need to create the image again. You’ll also see a “Beep On Completion” setting that provides an audible alert.

Transfer Your Image File Back to a USB Stick

For this guide, you will need a USB drive with a capacity matching the original storage device. For example, if you created a USB image from a 128GB drive, then the second drive needs the matching 128GB capacity. You cannot install the image to a drive with a 64GB capacity, for example. Why? Because the image includes unused space.

As before, double-click the ImageUSB.exe file to launch the program. Click “Yes” if a User Account Control pop-up appears on the screen.

When the program opens on your screen, click the “Write Image To USB Drive” setting listed under Step 2.

Click the “Browse” button to locate and select the image file stored on your PC.

Once you locate the stored image, click the “Write” button to begin. Keep in mind that ImageUSB will erase everything stored on the destination USB stick and replace its contents with the image’s data.

When complete, delete the file from your PC if you have no plans to write it to another USB stick. If you’re making multiple clones, insert a new USB drive and repeat these four steps.

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