Thank you for your comments. And I do understand that simply dragging/dropping in windows to a USB drive would not work for the reasons you state in your first sentence.
I was not clear on the time I expressed. I meant that starting from a blank hardrive, it took me approx six hours to install the original operating system with Hewlett Packard's recovery discs, to set my preferences for font size and desktop color and arrangement, to set up wireless networking and file sharing, to download-install-set preferences for my favorite programs and applications for screen grap, pdf, video player, opensource word processer, rar and unzip utilitiy, etc, etc.
After six hours of this, and RIGHT there at the point where I wish to preserve this set up for future installation if something corrupts or if I simply want to clean up 100 percent and start fresh, I want to burn a single ISO image (clone) of this harddrive to separate media (preferably USB). I understand and have accomplished the phase of burning a bootable CD disc with Acronis loader on it, and have attempted to burn an ISO onto the 16gb NFTS formatted usb. Where I have trouble is that Acronis is rather like the cockpit of a Boeing 747 and I only need the utility of a Cessna 142 single engine.
Mine is the simplest of disc cloning and recovery needs. Two laptops computers in the house. I don't want scheduled recoveries, email notifications, complex IT enterprise solutions/options, separate sector and/or file accessiblity in order to access parts of the image, myriad compression options, file splitting options (16gb is plenty of room for these single images and then some), etc, etc, and etc.
Try as I might I slog through the tutorials on youtube, acronis's site, and the acronis user's forums and it all does me more harm than good. The harder I work to understand the cockpit of that 747 the less clear it is to me how to SIMPLY start the engine and fly. I don't need the learning curve for this. I just need a program that asks
"do you wish to clone the present image of your harddrive to separate media...period?"
Select "make media bootable"
or select "make a separate boot media"
"insert both media in respective drives"
"Browse to destination media."
"Browse to drive to be cloned"
How on earth can something so basic be that hard to do in Acronis? For each step above there are multiple options available for which a beginner has no clue whatsoever. I've asked half a dozen times at the
acronis forum for a simple guide to help me do this most simple of tasks and I've been referred over and over again to tutorials designed for IT technicians working across multiple platforms in commercial and industrial settings.