How to back up your documents to a USB stick.

NB: In this procedure I am using E: as the drive letter of the backup device that was plugged in, if your backup disk uses a different letter then please substitute that letter everywhere in this procedure with whatever letter your device uses e.g. G: or H: or whatever.

  1. VERY IMPORTANT: First make sure you close all open programs so that there is nothing else running and you are just looking at your desktop picture.


  1. If your backup drive is E: then all you need do is open Windows Explorer (the yellow folder icon to the right of your start menu)
    Click File Explorer Icon
  1. When in Windows Explorer locate in the left column the entry that says Libraries:
    Explorer Showing Libraries
  1. Select all of the folders you see there by pressing CTRL + A on your keyboard. Once all the folders are highlighted select the “Copy” icon in the toolbar at the top:
    Explorer Select All And Copy
  1. Nothing will happen when you press the copy button but your selection of documents and pictures etc. will now be in the clipboard.
  1. Then in the left column, select your E: drive:
    Select E Drive Then Paste
  1. Then as shown above click the “Paste” icon to paste the documents and pictures from your computer to the external drive. The following dialog will appear:
    File Copy Dialog
  2. This will show the progress as your copy continues. If you can’t see this dialog, look at the explorer icon down in the task bar that runs across the bottom of the screen you will see a green progress bar going across where the Explorer icon is, click on that and the above dialog will pop to the front.
  1. Once the files have been copied to your backup drive then close out of the Windows Explorer.
  1. Once Explorer is closed and you are back at your empty desktop, go to the safely remove icon that will be down in the bottom right corner of your screen:
    Safely Remove Icon
  1. If you can’t see the safely remove icon down by the clock then click the upward pointing chevron that in the above image is to the left of the “Safely Remove” icon and see if it’s hiding in there, if it is then left click it and you will see something similar to this:
    Safely Remove List
  2. When you left click that, there will be a delay for a few seconds and then you should get the following Message in the bottom right corner:
    Safe To Remove Message
  1. If you get another message saying that the drive is still in use then you must wait as the copying operation is still going on in the background even though the on screen dialog at point 7 above indicated that it had completed. Please be patient and then repeat the safely remove process every 10 minutes or so until it says you can remove the backup device. If you have tried for over an hour and it still won’t let you remove it, then I would just pull it out as the backup would never still be going on 1 hours after the on screen copying dialog said it had finished. Sometimes this occurs because you anti-virus program has decided to scan the files and Windows thinks they are still being used, but after that period of time you can just pull the disk or USB stick out.
  2. When you come to repeat the process the next time you will get a warning that the files and folders already exist on the destination drive (Your backup disk or USB Stick).  This is correct and you should elect to merge any folders with the same name and overwrite any files that have the same names, as you want your latest version of the files coming off your computer to be what is stored on the stick or disk. Even if the files haven’t changed I would overwrite them on the stick just to be sure.

That completes this how to.