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Macrium Reflect is a Free and Easy To Use Backup Utility

A lot of people will be upgrading to Windows 7 from XP over the next few months, and backing up your data is a crucial step in the process. Today we take a look at Macrium Reflect Free Edition, which is an easy to use backup utility that should help make the process easier.

Installation

Installation of Macrium Reflect is pretty straight forward. When you use the free edition, you’ll notice that they include a key for you.

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You will need to register the free version, and you’re reminded that you need an Internet connection.

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After installation has completed you are offered to check out their online tutorial if this is the first time using it.

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Using Macrium Reflect

The user interface is nicely laid out, this is a shot of the main GUI where everything is available to operate the utility.

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To start a backup, click on the new backup image icon. It will make an image of an entire disk or partition, which is cool if you have  dual boot system.

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The Create Backup Wizard starts and will guide you through the backup process.

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In the next step, select the disk you want to create the backup image for.

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Choose a location for the backup file. Notice you can backup to an optical disc, network location, or external drive. In this example we are using an external drive.

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Now you can check out the the imaging summary or click advanced to control compression levels.

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You can set the compression level to none, medium, high, or a specific size. Also you can copy only the disk sectors that are being used and have data, or make an exact copy of the entire disk.

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After you have everything set how you like it, enter a name for the backup and run the process.

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The backup process begins. The amount of time it takes will vary depending on the amount of data and specs of your system.

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You get a notification when the process has completed. For this test we backed up 88GB of data and with medium compression the entire size came in around 46GB which is nice if you have limited space to store a backup.

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It also includes a nice tool to verify your backup image to make sure it is free of errors and can be used at a later time.

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You can create a Rescue CD if your computer won’t boot or load windows, or if your trying to restore an image. Just go into Other Tasks and select Create Rescue CD.

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Then Select a Linux recovery disk or BartPE and continue to follow the wizard and burn the CD.

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The nice thing about Macrium Reflect Free Edition is everything is wizard driven, making it easy to use for beginners and experienced users alike.

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Conclusion

We ran this test on a Windows 7 32-bit system, but this easy to use backup utility would be great for backing up your XP machine if you’re upgrading to Windows 7. Again, everything is Wizard driven, with a nicely laid out easy to navigate GUI. If you are looking for an easy way to backup your XP or Vista machine before doing a fresh install of Windows 7, you might want to check out Macrium Reflect Free Edition.

Download Macrium Reflect Free

Lowell Heddings, better known online as the How-To Geek, spends all his free time bringing you fresh geekery on a daily basis. You can follow him on if you'd like.

  • Published 12/9/09

Comments (33)

  1. David Levine

    This sounds like a great alternative to DriveImage XML, which is what I am currently using to create image files. Thanks for writing about this program. I will definitely look into it.

  2. whiplash55

    I’m not sure about some terminology, is a “image” the same as a “clone”?
    Thanks.
    Basically I want to be able to copy bit for bit my entire drive onto a new larger hard drive and put it in the computer and boot up normally.

  3. Andy B

    Another excellent article from the best site on the web.

    Thank you.

  4. Kodess

    @whiplash55: An image is an exact copy, or clone, of the imaged object.
    So short anwser: Yes it works.

    But, macrium reflect has a mode: intelligent sector copy, in which it copies every part of your hard drive, THAT IS BEING USED, so the image/clone is smaller, but has all the data you need.

  5. Simon

    Has anyone ever tried restoring a PC with this tool? I use Macrium Reflect (works really well for backups) and I made the Linux boot CD, but I’ve never needed to restore my computer so I never tried it. So, does anyone have experience with it?

  6. Kat1110

    I used Macrium Reflect to do an intelligent sector copy of my Vista prior to repartitioning my hard drive to enable a clean install of Windows 7. It was a breeze.

    First free imaging software I’ve ever used to work so easily and effectively. I was so happy with it, that it was one of the first programs I installed on the 7 partition in order to do an intelligent sector copy as soon as I had customized Win 7 to my satisfaction. I highly recommend this software and was pleased to see your positive review.

    Thanks for another excellent and easy to follow tutorial.

  7. Vaibhav Kanwal

    I use FullSync, Its free & Open Source. A very good software

  8. SarahJames

    Some things I noted: Macrium Reflect also let’s you restore the image when the size of the partition you want to restore it to is changed, provided the size of the partition is big enough to accomodate the image (something that doesn’t work in DriveImage XML – so this is a huge improvement, apart from the fact that Macrium Reflect is incredibly fast), but if you want to restore the image to a different partition it won’t work!!! You have to restore the image to a partition with the same name! / on the same location.
    (So you can’t restore an image created of D on E or something like that).

  9. Ken

    Apology for a simple question – I have now cloned my old XP hard disk to an external hard disk, and am hoping to restore it onto my new Windows 7 PC, but I’m not sure what to do now. In particular, if I restore the whole disk, will it not overwrite my Windows 7 with XP?

  10. David

    I tried using Reflect to “clone” my hard drive, save the image to an external USB drive, and restore it to a blank drive. Somehow this did not work. The image file would often not verify, and gave errors. Sometimes time it said “the image is corrupt” in the middle of restoring. Maybe my hardware is not compatible? It would be great to clone a machine that is running. But backing up to a USB drive also is a big advantage. Norton Ghost is the one utility that always works, but the version I have doesn’t recognize USB drives when booting in DOS. Maybe if I can find a DOS disk that supports USB drives, that might work.

  11. deelibra

    Hi all, Just wanna say I love this site it has helped me though alot of problems.
    keep up the great work… this site rocks :-)

  12. Steve

    Nice Article – Thank You! I have a question about this software. For several years, I have used a imaging software called Drive Snapshot. It’s not very pretty and automation requires command line skills, but it seems to work. One of the features that I like about it is that I can “mount” the image (it gives it a drive letter) and pluck a specific file out of my image if needed. Can anyone tell me if Reflect works the same way?

  13. kiko

    to Steve: YES – from right click menu- “mount image” – you browse it with explorer as usual – find what you want and copy and paste – done -

  14. John

    I am about to replace an old 40 GB hard drive with a 100 GB because
    it’s getting noisy. I ran an image onto my outboard MyBook 500 GB
    drive and made a Rescue CD ROM. I’m verifying the image now, and I
    hope to put in the new drive and spin the rescue disc to find the data and
    transfer it to the new disc. Should I run the Revovery Discs that came
    with the computer beforehand, or will this image form all the partitions
    and make the new drive exactly like the old? I ran the Revocery Discs
    a couple of years ago, after backing up everything, and then had the
    opportunity to install programs and files only as I needed them.
    I’d like to keep the 2 year old XP SP3 system as is. It’s been running
    great for these past 2 years. So, do I need to use the Recovery Discs to
    get the formatting and the ability to access the MyBook drive?
    Would it hurt anything to try the Rescue disc first and if it doesn’t work,
    run the Recovery Discs and follow them with the Rescue Disc?

  15. golfeus

    Can I use Macrium to resize a hdd from a Dell M1330 that has a hidden partition on it for their proprietary multi-media (no power up dvd player). Everything else has failed and partition magic told me theirs will not work.

  16. Jo Radakovich

    @everyone asking tech questions.

    http://support.macrium.com/

    It is current and focuses on such questions.

    Hope this helps.

  17. Dave

    I have a new laptop with one physical hard-drive and 1 OS. I would like to create a clean disk image of the system as it is. However, it seems I will need to install this program onto the drive before it is usable for making a backup. Can I backup the same partition the program is running from? Is there any way to create a disk image without the Macrium program files also being stuck on the image? I had Ghost 14 but couldnt use it for this same reason. I would ideally like to install a program that is capable of creating an image of a networked drive. Possible?

  18. Eldin

    Dave,

    Shrink your C-Drive and create a new partition. You can then install Macrium, run the program and save the image of your C-Drive (OS) to the newly created partition.

    Although, it’s recommended to save the image to an external drive or secondary drive, its also fine to save it to another partition on the same drive. It’s like having a recovery partition you get from manufactures; Dell, Acer…

    Your second question confuses me, also YES you can save the image to a network.

  19. hans

    the question below was asked by ken 28/12/2009. i never saw an answer to it. i am really interested to know whether restoring with xp will overwrite win 7. please, can somebody help? regards hans

    Ken
    Apology for a simple question – I have now cloned my old XP hard disk to an external hard disk, and am hoping to restore it onto my new Windows 7 PC, but I’m not sure what to do now. In particular, if I restore the whole disk, will it not overwrite my Windows 7 with XP?

  20. IDNoble

    When you restore a partion, you are essentially doing the following:
    1) Erase the partition you are restoring to 2) format the partition, 3) Restore image from backed up data. All these actions is carried out once you tell macrium to go ahead with the restore process, and should not be interrupted – else you’ll end up with unbootable partion. So in a nut shell, if you restore your Windows XP to Windows 7 partition, You will no longer have windows 7 (it does not exist anymore). If you are trying to dual boot, this is NOT the way to do it.

  21. Glenn Stolp

    Hello Support, My problem is:
    Purchased 1T – FANTHOM “GREEN DRIVE”, for Backup. Installed & uninstalled “Reflect”(free) several times. (Installed on “C” – Destination disk external drive “J”.
    Upon use, When I request Backup -> Saving image -> Saving Partion -> ***does not do anything, nothing saved to (J:) BackUp Disk. Analysis never Completes.!!!
    I would like to utilize your Program “Macrium Reflect” (Free and Easy).
    Have I “errored” in my useage?, Installation, or ? -> I Used “Online” Tutorial”.

    PROBLEM (basically): CANNOT GET PASSED ANALYSIS -> ?

    Would appreciate any resolutions and assistance in me using this program

    Thank you, Glenn W Stolp
    glennstolp@hotmail.com

  22. Ralph

    This program is simply the best! I no longer have to worry about my hard drive crashing or getting viruses that are hard to remove. I installed my OS. Installed everything that I wanted. And when I finally got it to where I was satisfied I made a backup of my “C” drive. It’s so easy to reinstall the OS backup with Macrium. Now after fixing a computer for a customer I make a backup of the OS. If he brings it to me later with a problem (usually a virus problem) I do a restore with the backup I made for him and he’s back in business. We are sooooo lucky it’s free.

  23. Tom

    I used Macrium Reflect to create an image file on an external USB drive in order to upgrade my Hard Drive. I went from 640 GB drive (5400 rpm) to a 750 GB drive (7200 rpm) with Windows XP Pro on my laptop. The image file was 512 GB and took 6 hours to create. Worked well.

    To Restore the image onto the 750 GB drive you boot from a rescue disk. There were two options provided for creating this disk. The Linux one required a network storage device…not an option for me I only had a USB drive. The BART PE option required that you create a BartPE rescue disk. BartPE disks require you have posession of your windows install disks — with the correct drivers ready to go (eg. so … if you use are using the Intel SATA drivers under XP you will need to have your slipstreamed disk so that the BartPE can see the SATA drive).

    During the creation of the Bart PE ISO you will need to import the Macrium Reflect PlugIn (provided by Macrium Reflect in the install directory, thank you). This “importing” allows you to have access to the Macrium Reflect restore software from the rescue CD.

    I had an error during creation of the BartPE rescue disk where the Intel SATA IAStor files were not found (although they were plainly present) I managed to find a fix suggested on Bart PE discussion threads so that the BartPE creation software would know where to look to find the drivers to finally create the BartPE. Once I had a good BartPE disk that was up and operational all was gold and the restore took the exact same 6 hours. I now had an identical XP Pro installation on a larger hard drive.

    I ditched Norton Ghost 12 which I had been using for backup and restore. Nortong Ghost unexplainably started out reporting that it woould take 18 hours to complete and at 10 hours into it the expected time kept going up such that 24 hours later I had an 18 hour estimate that went up 1 hour per hour. I was stuck at 54%…..and this at and end of a full week of trying.

    I think, I’m sure that I am now officially frightened of Ghosts.

    I am now a Macrium Fan…I am not sure if the Paid version would create it’s own restore disk or not. If so, the cost of the software would have been worth paying but I couldn’t confirm that in the time I looked.

    Hope this helps someone…

  24. nicle

    I use EASEUS todo backup home. Macrium Reflect is good in some extend. But it hasn’t incremental and schedule backup available in the home edition, what’s more, it hasn’t files and folders backup which is inconvenient for me. Maybe they can do some improvements.

  25. Tony

    This may seem like a silly question now that windows 7 has been out quite a while but I am trying to create an image with drive snapshot of a WinXP partition with a Win7 .vhd installed in that partition. I have a dual boot menu. I then want to simulate my main HD failing so I restore that image to an external eSATA drive from within WinXP. Everything is good so far. I then shut down, disconnect may main HD to simulate failure, then boot from the eSATA drive. My dual boot menu does not appear. An error screen appears mentioning something about GUID, which is the unique ID given to each HD in a system. I’ve been told I have to boot the Win7 recovery DVD to fix this problem. I can boot into WinXP though when I press Enter at that error screen. So….since Win7 uses GUIDs for HDs, and when I restore an image to a new HD the GUID will be different, it seems that no imaging application can work for Win7 unless it changes the GUID either during imaging or restoring. So with Macrium has everyone restored Win7 to a brand new HD and had no problems booting?? Drive snapshot sure can’t do it for Win7, only WinXP.

  26. Tony

    Forgot to ask, can Macrium restore an image within Windows to another external drive WITHOUT creating a rescue disk?

  27. Tom

    Macrium Reflect needed a rescue disk to perform the Restore function. Inside of Windows Macrium Reflect was only able to create or browse the Image (that gets restored once you make the rescue disk). With the free version at least I didn’t see any options to restore a volume while within windows.

  28. Dave R.

    I have been using Macrium Reflect for about 8 months now. It is definitely the easiest, free for home use, imaging software out there. Every step is so easy to follow.

    I have my images set up to run monthly, onto an external HD. Up to now, each month, I get a full image backed up. The problem is, now my external drive is full of images, and I’ve run out of room on the drive. Is it possible to set up an incremental backup on the External Drive? Can I set up the full image on the External Drive, and maybe, if I have to, set up the incremental backups on a CD/DVD? Also, since I have the original Image on the External Drive, which is the original, clean image, I have 7 more additional full images on the drive, can I safely delete the images in between. If I am able to set up an incremental backup, can I do it based on the original clean version, rather than the current versions? Thanks for the help.

  29. Scott

    Hi,

    I just started using Macrium Reflect (Free Version) for several different pc’s. One thing that seems weird is I cannot tell the difference easily which image to restore because it just says the ID as a name. Am I missing something? I changed the name even though it said to leave it alone under recommended. The only thing I can think of to do is look at the images on my backup drive to first determine which image to restore.

  30. Gary G

    I keep getting stuck at 54% completion of the back up???

  31. 2stoopid

    Does anyone know how to create an image without installing this as an app??

    I don’t want Reflect showing up as installed in my image. Ive tried the rescue cd but it appears all you can do with that is restore an image you have already created. Also I tried copying the Reflect prog files to a usb stick but the app wouldn’t run correctly from there so looks like it wont ever be portable.

  32. CrazyHorse

    Looks like they released a new free version, anybody tried this out yet ? Any plans to update the review ? Been using my 4.2 for a while now but am always cautious about making changes.

  33. Babinlonston

    Is it possible to create reovery partition in hidden using this software ?

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