Most people know that they should create a backup of the disk drive, so why is it that so few people bother? Perhaps is is because disk drives are very reliable and the hardware rarely fails. When there is a problem it is more likely to be files that have gone missing or have been corrupted, or there is a serious malware infection that is hard to remove.
The solution to each of these problems is a full system restore from a backup. Macrium Reflect is a popular backup utility and there is a free version. Some features are disabled, but there are enough working features to back up and restore whole disk drives.
Download Macrium Refelect Free from here and you can choose either the 32-bit or 64-bit version to match your Windows operating system. Run it and select the Disk Image tab in the left panel. Click Create an image of the partition(s) required to backup and restore Windows.
The source disks and partitions are selected automatically and it is usually a System Reserved partition (Windows 7 and 8 create this), and C:\ which is the Windows boot disk. What you need to do is to decide where to store the backup. This can be a USB disk drive, a second internal disk drive, or DVDs. This last option isn't a good one because disk drives are big and DVDs are small, which cold mean that dozens of discs are required. A USB disk drive is best for reliability and performance.
After setting the destination for the backup, a summary of the job is displayed and in the bottom left corner is Advanced Options. Click it if you want to set the amount of compression used (increasing compression makes the backups smaller, but it may take longer). You can also set an option to automatically shut down the computer when the backup is complete.
Tick boxes are displayed to save backup job so that you can run it later or to run the backup now. Run it and back up the disk.
Restoring a few files or folders is easy and after selcting the Restore tab, you'll see the backup (you can browse for the file if it isn't visible). Click the Browse Image link and the partitions backed up are displayed and you can select the one to browse. The backup is mounted like a disk drive and an Explorer window opens. You can then drag or copy files and folders out of the backup to restore them.
A whole disk image can be restored and a useful feature is the ability to create a boot CD/DVD or flash memory drive. This enables you to start the computer and run Macrium Reflect even when the PC won't boot because Windows is corrupt, files are missing or there is malware.
What if you can't start the computer and can't run Macrium Reflect? You can create a boot CD/DVD or a USB memory drive that can be used to start the computer. It contains Macrium Reflect.
Click the CD icon in the toolbar and you have a choice of Windows PE or Linux for the recovery media. Windows PE is best and it's easy to make an old flash drive or a CD-R bootable. You will find that booting from this runs Macrium Reflect and it is exactly the same as running it in Windows. Just select the Restore tab and click the Restore Image link next to the backup. It's possible to select individual partitions to restore, but everything is selected by default and this is usually the best option.
Macrium Reflect is one of the best free backup programs available and it is well worth trying instead of Windows built in backup facilities.
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