How to Clone My Existing Windows 10 to a USB Flash Drive

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My HDD is dying, and I do not have access to another one at the moment. The only thing I have access to, is an 8GB USB flash drive. I’d like to ask if a free and fully functioning solution exists to basically clone my C Drive aka my existing Windows 10 copy to my 8GB flash drive so I can continue using my OS from the flash drive in case anything happened to the HDD. I do understand that 8GB may not exactly cut it, I’m willing to uninstall everything and delete all unnecessary/temp files to make it work.

Alternatively I may be able to download Windows 10 ISO file off of Microsoft’s website for a fresh install, albeit with no access to an activation code which makes this route almost useless I guess? And also at the risk of (Windows to Go) or (Rufus) not accepting an 8GB flash drive due to its size.

I do understand that running Windows 10 from a USB 2 flash drive connected to a USB 2 connector may be awfully slow, but I have to work with what I have. And no Linux doesn’t cut it. I need Windows. I appreciate your suggestions.


Sorry, impossible.

First, Windows won’t run from a USB stick. Windows To Go only works for Windows 10 Enterprise (or Education) licenses. It’s likely you’re running Home.

Windows 10 absolute minimum install image size is around 11GB according to various sources online. 8GB is not enough size even for a basic Windows 10 image without any updates or software or anything.

The correct course of action is to back up your data (possibly using that 8GB stick), get a new primary storage device, and then either use a disk copy tool to copy from the old disk to the new one, or install fresh Windows 10 and restore files from your backup.

As a matter of fact, your USB flash drive is too small, it is difficult to clone the existing Windows 10 to it. You need to get a larger USB flash drive or the external hard drive to store the Windows OS. If you are using Windows 10 enterprise edition, its built-in Windows To Go feature can help you to do that. If not, Rufus can help you to create the Windows To Go USBE. And iSunshare WinToGo Genius can be good helper to clone existing Windows 10 to your USB drive.

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