Thursday, October 18, 2012

Macrium Reflect Free - disk / partition backups

Have been looking for ages for a good free partition backup (imaging) software, and Macrium Reflect Free 5.0 does exactly what I wanted and even more – I’m quite surprised the free version has so many features really. While Windows Backup has improved quite a bit in the last Windows versions and handy for file backups, what I needed is an application to image entire partitions or disks and be able to easily restore the disk contents after a system crash. Another feature I was looking for is to have a bootable CD or flash drive so I can restore the system without the need for a full OS. I’ve been reading on the likes of Clonezilla, PING and DriveImage XML, but they just don’t seem very easy to use, especially on the last part - they are using Linux based boot images, mostly console based and they just don’t seem very friendly to use (here is a good start if you are looking into this).

In today’s exercise I’m going to backup the entire disk of my ASUS R2H (all partitions), in preparation for installing Ubuntu 12.04 next week (mm, that’ll be interesting :-), but just as well you can choose one partition if you want to image them separately or some more often than others. The windows are a bit tall for the 800x480 screen (R2H), so I’m running it through Remote Desktop in 800x600 and it seems to fit just fine – it appears they did think of smaller screen computers, but not that small.

The main interface is colourfull and easy on the eye.

1. Macrium Reflect - Disk Image - Create a Backup

I’m going to save the disk image on my Seagate GoFlex Home NAS on the network, but a USB hard drive should be just as good.

2. Macrium Reflect - Disk Image - Destination

The summary page has an advanced button (bottom left) where you can choose the compression level, split the image into separate files, enter a comment or choose to shutdown when finished, if you have to leave it running for longer on its own.

3. Macrium Reflect - Disk Image - Summary

Initial estimation is about 2 hours for the 60 GB disk (about 80% full) – the system is quite busy on the CPU, maybe the medium compression is a bit too much for the tiny Celeron. Grab a cup of coffee or find something else to do :-)

4. Macrium Reflect - Disk Image - Executing

That was quite accurate, 2 hours later disk backup is finished – with an image file of about 40 GB.

5. Macrium Reflect - Disk Image - Finished

Now if you switch to Restore tab, you can see the image and you can choose to verify it…

6. Macrium Reflect - Restore - Verify

or, just above that (or from left tasks) you can choose to browse the image – that will mount a partition as read-only in Explorer. I see that very useful if want to pick a few files from an image, without the need for a full restore.

7. Macrium Reflect - Restore - Mounted image

That’s it from the backup perspective. There will be two other posts on how to create a recovery USB flash drive and how to use that to restore the backup we just did.

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