Macrium Reflect, one of the best solutions for backing up system images for Windows, has been downloaded more than seven million times and the premium version has been sold on more than 60 countries around the world. It’s gained its popularity for being a quick and easy solution for backing up Windows operating system, something that Microsoft hasn’t spent a lot of time focusing on in the past, preferring to leave it up to third-parties to offer viable solutions. Windows 10 does provide an option of taking system image backups, but since the Fall Creator’s Update, Microsoft has stopped developing it, and have announced that it is deprecated and recommends you use third-party software for that, too.
System image backups aren’t for everyone. While being extremely convenient to use, they also take up a lot of hard drive space, which is something that many people don’t have to give to backup solutions. To understand why backing up system images takes up so much space would require you to understand what a system image is: you’re backing up the entire operating system, as though you were cloning the disk of your computer at the time so that you can restore it all later. Most other backup solutions (particularly that are offered by Microsoft) aren’t taking system images backup but rather emphasize backing up files on the operating system itself so you could restore them later–say your pictures, documents, so forth.
But Macrium Reflect is more than just system image backups. Reflect lets you choose from many different backing up options as well (you can backup full partitions, folders, and files); you don’t have to backup up the operating system in its entirety if you don’t want to, which also makes it a great solution for people who may just want to backup up the occasional system image and spend more time backing up folders or files.
Maciurm Reflect comes in a free edition (with limited features) and a full edition that unlocks far more features. The paid version includes being able to take incremental backups by itself, so you let the software do the work while you sit back and know that your files, folders, and partitions are being looked after and won’t ever be lost.
The following guide is going to run through the basics of Macrium Reflect and how to use its most well-known feature: taking system images backups, and then restoring them as well.
Macrium Reflect Versions
Macrium Reflect now comes in home, workstation, server and server plus editions. The feature differences are shown in the table below:
Part One: Installing Macrium Reflect
1. Download Macrium Reflect Free (30 day trial) from the Macrium website.
You can jump straight into the paid version if you don’t want to waste any time with the trial version. The paid versions are available from the same page. But for arguments sake, everything you will find in this guide, is available in the free edition of Reflect. (click to enlarge screenshot below)
2. From the Macrium Reflect Download Agent, choose the edition that you want to install, where you want Reflect to be saved to on your computer (it takes up close to 100 GB’s in disk space), and then click Download to get the download underway.
3. You can see the size of your download when it begins downloading so you know what you’re getting on your computer.
4. From the Macrium Reflect Installer, click Next.
5. Click Next to begin the setup wizard for the edition of Reflect that you chose.
6. Check the box to accept the terms and conditions.
7. Open the email you received from Macrium after you signed up and then enter the license key in the available field.
8. You may wish to take note of the date that your license will expire if you signed up for the free edition.
9. Head back to the email that you initially received from Macrium and in the second of the two emails will be a registration code already there and waiting. That is the code you need to enter into the Registration Code section, along with the same email that you used to sign up with.
10. You get a few different options to customize the Reflect 7 setup. We left ours on the default settings.
11. Click Install to complete the installation.
Part Two: Creating Rescue Media
Older versions of Macrium Reflect would prompt you to create rescue media before getting started with taking and restoring backups. That is no longer the case, but you still have the option to create rescue media from Macrium Reflect’s menu.
Should you wish to create rescue media so you can make sure that your computer can be booted up and the image be applied when necessary:
1. Open Macrium Reflect and click on Other Tasks in the menu and then Create Rescue Media….
2. Select the device that you would like to use for the recovery media. You can choose between adding an option to the Windows boot menu, burning it to a CD or DVD, or having it on an ISO file. We recommend adding it to the boot menu because it’s the most convenient.
3. Reflect needs to then build the WIM.
Part Three: Creating a Full Backup Image
1. Select the Backup tab and then click on Image selected disks on this computer. (click to enlarge screenshot below)
2. Alternatively you can image one of the disks instead of all disks by clicking on Image this disk. (click to enlarge screenshot below)
3. You need to choose a destination for the backup. Choose between a folder or a CD/DVD. (click to enlarge screenshot below)
4. To Create New Volume/Partition
Note: You may need to create a new volume on your computer to store the backup. This is because storing the backup on the same drive as the files that you’re backing up is going to prove useless when something goes wrong with that drive, which is the reason you’re backing it up in the first place. You also have the option to burn it onto a disk, which allows for you to keep the backup off the computer entirely which might be more suitable to you if you’re on a single workstation.
a. Open Disk Management by typing Disk Management into the search box and clicking on Create and format hard disk partitions.
b. Right-click on the blue bar of the disk that you’re looking to shrink and then click Shrink volume.
You need to shrink the current volume before you can extend it and create a new volume on it.
c. Once shrunk, right-click on the unallocated disk space and choose to create new volume. During the wizard to set it up is when you can assign the new volume a drive letter. (click to enlarge screenshot below)
5. Choose a backup template. These templates offer different backup solutions for just about anybody and to suit every need. (click to enlarge screenshot below)
6. At the bottom of the same page is an option to choose when you want to purge. Purging, in this case, is how long Reflect will keep the backups stored on your computer, but instead of going by the time it goes by storage space. The default is storing 5 GB’s of backups before it starts deleting the old ones. (click to enlarge screenshot below)
7. The image summary shows you when it’s getting backed up, how long the backups are being retained, and what you’ve chosen to get backed up. Click Finish if you’re happy with what is being shown here. (click to enlarge screenshot below)
8. Name the backup so you can easily find it again later.
9. Macrium will first test your disk write speed. (click to enlarge screenshot below)
10. Even when it’s your first time creating a backup, they happen relatively quickly, as can be seen by the length of the progress bar (about halfway through) and the time remaining (about 2 minutes) which can be seen from the screen while you’re downloading. (click to enlarge screenshot below)
11. Our Macrium backup took just over 6 minutes to complete and was about 12 gigabytes. Differential backups that only backup the changes from previous backups will happen quicker.
Part Five: Restoring a system backup
1. Select the Restore tab and then the Image Restore tab.
2. You will see the backup that you took along with the option to Restore Image on it. (click to enlarge screenshot below)
3. You can also click Browse for an image or backup file to restore and select the File and Folder Restore tab where you can search for backup files. (click to enlarge screenshot below)