How to Solve ‘The drive is not a valid backup location’ Issue on Windows PC

  • The error message “The drive is not a valid backup location” sometimes appears in Windows 10.
  • Windows’ “Backup and Restore” feature doesn’t seem to recognize Thumb drives as a backup location.
  • This problem occurs because Windows cannot find the file system needed to boot up the operating system.
  • If you are running out of space on your hard drive, it might be time to consider purchasing a bigger USB flash drive.

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It has been known to annoy users of other Windows operating systems as well as Windows 10, displaying the error message “This drive is not a valid backup location.” As a result of Windows’ “Backup and Restore” feature not recognizing thumb drives as backup locations, many users have encountered this problem.

In many cases, creating a useful backup plan for anti-virus software requires regular backups to a USB drive, which is a convenient and necessary step. It is fortunately possible to resolve this problem fairly quickly, without involving complicated steps on the user’s part.

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It only takes a few steps to back up your files to a USB drive when you follow the instructions below.

What are the causes of the “drive is not a valid backup location” error?

This message may indicate that something is wrong with your computer if it says, “The disk drive for /media/backup/data is not ready yet or not present.” When you try to access files on your external hard drive, this error message may appear if Windows cannot find the file system necessary for booting up. Here are some possible causes if you see it.

The NTFS file system was accidentally chosen for your external hard drive.

There is a problem with your external hard drive.

A limited amount of space is available on your external hard drive.

This external hard drive does not have authorization to be viewed.

Windows Ce Devices

Windows CE, also known as Windows Embedded Compact or Windows Embedded CE is an operating system developed for Windows Embedded devices. The Windows CE operating system has powered industrial, medical, and a variety of other devices for more than 20 years.  Microsoft licenses Windows CE to original equipment manufacturers (OEMs), who can modify and create their own user interfaces and experiences, with Windows CE providing the technical foundation to do so. The current version of Windows Embedded Compact supports x86 and ARM processors with board support package (BSP) directly.

Your external drive cannot be modified due to insufficient access rights.

Make sure you have a larger USB Flash drive when you backup Windows

Windows Powered

Microsoft will shortly drop the “Windows CE” name for these non-PC devices and rebrand them as “Windows Powered,” in a stunning development similar to the renaming of Windows NT 5.0 to Windows 2000. Three years after Windows CE was released, Microsoft dropped the CE name in favor of the “Windows” name, which has not exactly set the world ablaze.

In order to maintain a healthy PC, you need to regularly back it up. If your hard drive is full, you may want to consider purchasing a larger USB flash drive. You should do this for several reasons. In the first place, it allows you to store large documents, videos, music, and videos. In the second place, it allows you to save money by eliminating the need for additional memory cards. In the third place, it secures your data.

If you don’t know how to use a USB flash drive, please view our previous tutorial on how to use a flash drive. This tutorial assumes that you already have some experience using a flash drive.

Install your USB flash drive in your computer’s USB port, and verify that the drive is recognized by the computer.

Windows Compact Embedded

Microsoft previously referred to Windows CE as Windows Embedded Compact. “CE” does not have any explicit meaning, although it implies a number of notions that Windows developers thought of when it was created, including “compact”, “connectable”, “compatible”, “companion”, and “efficient”. [7][8] With Windows Embedded CE 6.0 released in 2006, it underwent a name change, and with Windows Embedded Compact 7, it underwent another.

Secondly, double-click “My Computer” in the left pane.

Click “Disk Management” in the newly opened window.

Create a volume by right-clicking the disk where Windows 10 is installed in Disk Management.

Choose a size of 32 GB and name the volume “Windows10Backup”. Click OK.

Your installation of Windows 10 is now ready to be backed up.

Select “Image File” from the context menu when you right-click the newly created volume.

Save the file to a location of your choice.

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Select “Full Mode” or “Quick Mode” using the Next button.

You can scan in three ways: deep scan, quick scan, or don’t scan (if you’re not interested in scanning).

Next, click Finish and review the settings.

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Set up a subfolder to handle backup issues

This is how I set up the backup solution I’ve been using. It takes a little bit of time, but it works for me.

Navigate to “C:/Users/” in Windows Explorer.

Then select Properties by right-clicking Documents and Settings.

The Security tab can be found on the top of the screen.

4. Select Edit.

Make sure everyone is in full control.

Changes should be saved.

Utilize the inbuilt recovery drive creator tool

You can create a Recovery Drive in Windows 10 with its built-in Recovery Drive Creator Tool within minutes. The recovery drive enables you to recover your files quickly if your system fails. Here is a step-by-step guide on how to create a Windows 10 recovery drive.

Start by typing “Recovery” into the Start Menu.

Choose the option to “Create a recovery drive”.

This Drive Is Not A Valid Backup Location

We strongly recommend using MiniTool ShadowMaker that creates a system image when encountered with one of these cases. Please follow the instructions in solution 1 for creating a system image.

Make a backup file and save it in a safe location.

Your recovery drive’s size can be selected in step 4.

The recovery drive’s name should be entered here.

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Choose either FAT32 or NTFS as the recovery drive’s format.

Don’t use a USB drive to back up the system

The use of an external hard drive for backing up Windows 10 can prevent problems caused by plugged in USB flash drives in ports other than the ones used for installation. Use an external hard drive instead of a USB flash drive when backing up Windows 10. You should also use an external hard drive if you’re using a USB flash drive.

Basically, a system image is a snapshot of your computer. Including all your installed programs, files, settings, and favorite Internet Explorer pages, it includes everything installed on your computer. System images can be stored on CDs, DVDs, or external hard drives. A copy of your whole computer’s contents can also be saved to an online storage account, like OneDrive or Dropbox.

The following steps will guide you through the process of backing up your system image:

Back up your Windows 10 installation disc or ISO file by inserting it or downloading it.

Choosing “Create a system repair disc” will result in the process of creating the disc.

If you want to back up your entire computer, click the “Back up my entire computer” option.

Then click the Create button.

Connect your computer to the external hard drive or insert the disc when prompted.

Once the image has been created by Windows, wait a few minutes.

Your computer will automatically disconnect the external hard drive once you have completed all the steps.

In case Windows 10 needs to be reinstalled, use the disc or external hard drive.

You should format the drive as NTFS

If you’re thinking about restoring your drive, we strongly recommend that you first format it as NTFS, so that you can access the files stored on it. Here’s how:

Using your right-clicking mouse, choose “Restore” from the list of choices.

You will then be given the option to create a new simple volume in the dialog box that opens.

Click Next when you have selected “NTFS File System.”.

Then click Finish. 5. Name the volume something like “Backup Image.”.

The operation will be completed once the wait time has passed.

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Frequently Asked Questions

To solve the "The drive is not a valid backup location" error, you can create a partition on the USB drive and then share this partition over the network. Make sure you have access rights to this location. Finally, back up Windows to the network drive using the Windows Backup and Restore utility.

To create a system image on a USB drive, it must be formatted to use the NTFS file system. However, if you then format the USB flash drive to NTFS, the computer displays the information "The drive is not a valid backup location," so you cannot back up the system to the USB drive.

In the Backup and Restore window, click on Change Settings in the Backup section. In the Choose Backup Location window, in the 'Save Backup As:' section, select the location where you want to save the backup files and then click the Next button.

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Mark Ginter is a tech blogger with a passion for all things gadgets and gizmos. A self-proclaimed "geek", Mark has been blogging about technology for over 15 years. His blog,, covers a wide range of topics including new product releases, industry news, and tips and tricks for getting the most out of your devices. If you're looking for someone who can keep you up-to-date with all the latest tech news and developments, then be sure to follow him over at Microsoft.