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Backup your system & files with Macrium Reflect Free

Backup your system & files with Macrium Reflect Free 2015-05-04

Backup and restore your computer with Macrium Reflect Free.

Have you been looking around for backup software but like the idea of a a free version? There are several excellent free alternatives to commercial products available and this guide will be the first of a series on popular free backup offerings. This guide will cover how to install and use Macriums basic backup and restore features only. Familiarity with the software will allow you to perform the more advanced functions.

Macrium Reflect free is one of several backup products available, and as usual with a free product there are limitations, but it is far from crippleware. The major limitations with Macrium Reflect Free is the inability to create differential/incremental backups, no individual folder or file backup, and there is no product support for it.

On the plus side, Macrium Reflect Free will create, and restore, full image files of your hard disk/s with ease, either manually or by scheduling. Macrium Reflect Free can also clone your hard drive should you need to replace a system hard drive. It is possible to explore your backups and extract individual files to their original location, or anywhere you choose. Macrium Reflect free will also backup to a USB and network device.

Macrium Reflect Free works on Windows from xp up, on both 32 and 64 bit computers. Download it Here.

To install Macrium, click the downloaded executable file and a straightforward installation procedure will begin and will include a desktop icon
When complete click the icon and the program will scan your drives and open.

The opening screen taken on a Windows 7 PC shows this computer with two physical internal drives. disc one, which displays as a 500GB capacity drive, and disc two, showing as a 1.8TB capacity disc. Disc one is divided into two partitions which may or may not be assigned different drive letters. Perhaps a little explanation of what is happening here would be in order?

Backup software can be capable of many different types of backups but in the vast majority of cases it is used to take a snapshot or image of the system in case the hard drive fails, the computer is stolen, or otherwise becomes unusable. What we need to do is recover the operating system and data to the way it was before the failure or loss and in order to do this we need the entire file system. With Windows 7 onwards there will normally be at least two partitions as shown in our picture with the first small partition called "system reserved" and the other shown here as the remainder of our operating system, our data, and remaining free space.

It is essential we backup the small system reserved partition because without it Windows will not boot. Your computer may have more partitions than shown here because many new machines are coming with an extra disc partition for recovery saving the manufacturers from supplying a Windows installation disc. When making a backup image of your computer it is essential to include all partitions on disc one.

On our opening screen of Macrium Free, if not already selected, choose create backup. Then make sure all the partitions on disc one are selected as shown. The small box to the far left of the first partition will also select/deselect all partitions. Ensure nothing is selected on disc two, or any other internal discs. Next click on "Image Disc"

Follow the directions in order shown below.

A summary screen will appear displaying, backup and option details. There should be no need to change the default options.

On the next screen follow the prompts below.

The backup will now commence.

The box we unticked above can be used to create a template for future backups, for example, if we had ticked that box it would save a file of a name and location of our choice. This file will contain all the backup options chosen so far in this particular backup. Once saved, next time we wanted to run an identical backup we could click on "Backup Definition Files" then select the saved template file which allows for a "one click backup"

That's it, you've just used Macrium Free to configure and create a full system image. Store it safely and if you ever need to recover a single file or the whole system drive you're covered.

Another task that's very important is to create a rescue disc. This disc can be used to recover your computer from system failure. Select "Other Tasks" from the menu, then select "Create Rescue Media" from the drop down sub menu. Macrium Free offers two types of rescue media, WinPE and Linux. If you're new to backing up and/or only backing up to an alternate (not system) internal hard drive or USB drive the best choice would be the Linux option. Once this disc has been created you should ensure your computer will boot from it and you are able to browse to your internal and external drives. Another option is to make an ISO file from which you can then make a bootable USB flash drive.

Now we have successfully made a system image, lets look at how to recover a single file and then how to restore the entire image. There are two ways to browse to find the file inside a backup. The first and probably the easiest is to locate the Macrium backup file and double click it. When you do that Macrium does not have to be open. Alternatively if wish to open Macrium and your backup file is listed as shown in the example below, following these steps below will bring up a second dialogue box.

Whichever way you choose to select the file, this is the dialogue box that will allow you to "Mount" the Macrium backup file. Mounting the file makes it appear as just another drive on your computer. Here you see the importance of choosing a letter that can't be confused with any other drives you may have connected. Complete the dialogue box as below.

After clicking OK Windows Explorer will open and the newly created Z drive displayed in the list of drives, and when clicked will show the contents of the backup in the Explorer file window as below.

You are now free to copy and paste any folder or file from within the backup to anywhere on any connected internal, external, or network connected device. The Macrium Mounted drive behaves just as any other connected drive.

When you have finished restoring you should remove or "Unmount" the Macrium drive. Follow the prompts below and it will be gone.

The final part of the guide is performing a full restore. Even though this can be done through Macrium running in Windows, in most cases the reason for a full restore is because of a problem when Windows can't be used.

Now we are going to use the rescue disc that was made earlier. You may have to look in your computers manual to learn how to boot from the disc or USB flash drive and you may have to change the boot order in the bios. The manual will explain and it's nothing to fear. To get started, boot to the CD or USB flash drive and the opening screen will be a plain introductory restore dialogue box. Select next to proceed and the following screen will show a very basic explorer like layout. Browse the pc, network or external drives to find the backup image you wish to restore, as below.

Click next and another screen will display the partitions that form the backup. Choose the ones you wish to restore which would normally be all of them.

That will lead us to the final option box where we can select the drive to restore to. Be careful to select the correct drive, and when you are sure you've got the right drive click on next and the restore will commence. It is normal to take some time depending of course on the size of the backup file.

If you have any questions about this tutorial, please feel free to ask them in our Forums.

Special thanks to Lord Chance for making my words readable.
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