USB Flash vs USB Storage

An interesting situation arose today with a Client who had a Windows 8 tablet and he wanted to make a system image backup to a 64GB USB Mass Storage Device and it wouldn’t work – the error message was “drive not valid”.

Before I go on, here is a link that helps guide you through the making a system image process on Windows 8.1.

So our discoveries,

Windows 8/8.1 has a slight anomaly when connecting USB devices – it will only backup to certain ones, depending on their type.

We connected a Windows 8 tablet to a USB OTG cable and connected a USB Mass Storage Device (Cruzer). The tablet wouldn’t see the USB device as a valid drive/storage device.

We tried other USB OTG (On The Go) cables, an external Hard Drive and a USB Flash drive and they all worked – it was just the USB Mass Storage Device that didn’t.

At this stage we tried a Windows 7 machine.  Now, Windows 7 recognises the difference between a Hard Drive and a Device with removable storage – Windows 8 does not do this and it will not backup to a USB device that it detects as a Device with removable storage instead of a Hard Drive.

I’m assuming this is a “feature” to only allow backups to be done to “legitimate” Hard Drives. This is a bit confusing why they have done this, but they have done it so we need to accept and move on 

So, if you have a Windows 8 PC, Laptop or Tablet and wish to take a backup system image in case of catastrophic failure, make sure you use a USB Hard Drive and not a “Mass Storage Device”.

Don’t forget to follow the link above for a “how to” on backing up Windows 8 system images.

If you want to get really technical, I have put a few links below that will help you understand the 3 different technologies

USB On The Go (OTG)

USB Mass Storage Devices

USB Flash Drive

Hard Disk Drive


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