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Wise Tech Tips

Backup your Entire Hard Drive (including Programs) with Reflect

By James Wise
web posted May 18, 2009
TECH TIPS – Would you be prepared if the hard drive in your computer failed? Do you have extra time on your hands to spend installing Windows and all your programs? If not, you might want to consider creating an image of your hard drive. Today, we’ll talk about a free program to do this called Reflect.

Previously, we’ve talked about how important backups are and some options for data backups (more options will be mentioned in future columns). Data backups are critical and today’s program doesn’t replace the need for frequent data backups. However, an image of your hard drive can help you recover your operating system and programs more quickly.

An image is most effective for things like replacing your hard drive. It can also help if something happens to your system. For example, if you install a new program that causes problems and you can’t recover from this or if you get a virus that causes problems, you can restore a good image (and your most recent data backup) to restore your system. An image backup isn’t really useful if you are changing PCs. In cases where the hardware (other than just the disk drive) is different, it’s really best to re-install from scratch.

There are a number of “drive imaging” programs available. Some must be purchased like R-Drive  and Ghost. There are free programs available as well including DriveImage XML which is one of the built-in programs that the previously discussed AppSnap program can install. Lately, I’ve been using the free version of Macrium Reflect. Like DriveImage, Reflect allows you to create an image while your system is running. Reflect is easy to use for creating an image and restoring it. It can make a recovery CD to make the recovery process simple. You can also explore an image to make it show up like another disk drive. This makes file restoration easy in case you need to recover a file from an image without recovering the entire image.

Installing Reflect

1)    Visit this website to read about Reflect and download it.
2)    Run the downloaded file (reflect_setup_free_x86_x64.exe)
3)    Click Next
4)    Click Next
5)    Select I Agree and click Next
6)    Choose where you want to install the program (normally the default is okay) and click Next
7)    Click Next
8)    After the installation completes, click Close

Creating a backup image

1)    Click on start, all programs, Macrium, Reflect, Reflect
2)    The first time you run the program, it will have to “register” which requires an Internet Connection (and nothing more). Click OK twice and then click OK once more after the license is successful.
3)    Click on the disk you want to image
4)    Click on the Create an Image of the selected partition or disk button

5)    Choose where you want to place the image. This is just where the image file will be saved (you won’t be overwriting the selected location).
a.    For another hard drive (such as an external usb drive), use Local Hard Disk and browse to the desired location. This is the option I normally use.
b.    If you want to create the image on a network location, use Network and browse to the desired location.
c.    If you want to burn the image to a CD or DVD, use CD/DVD Burner and select your CD/DVD drive letter. Using this option, the program will break the backup into pieces so that it fits on one or more disks.
Click Next
6)    Click Finish
7)    On the next box, I normally use the default settings. If you want to create different image backups, you could use a different name so that future backups will be easier. For example, if you are backing up disk 1 to the E drive you could name this job “Disk 1 to D Drive”. Then you might have other backups as well like a job named “Disk 1 to Server” which would be your backup job to create the image on a network location.
8)    Click OK
9)    After the image is created, click OK
10)  Click Close

If you want to run this backup again later, just go to the XML Definition Files tab and double click the name you gave the backup (from step 7). You can then step through the screens which will be filled in by default with the settings used when you saved that backup name. 

If you would like a document with detailed instructions (and screenshots) or a video showing this, just email me.

It’s possible to schedule image backups as well. However, I generally just make a new image on an occasional basis (especially after installing new software). For any problems in between image backups, I can restore my most recent image and then recover my most recent data backup (which I run each day, once a week, and once a month).

While there might still be some times when you want to install from scratch again (like performance problems), an image backup can be quite useful. 

Next time, we’ll talk about how to recover a Reflect image and how to explore an image in case you want to recover one or more files without recovering the entire image.


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WEBNEWS –  Send in your favorite or favorites. There is no limit to the number of recipes you can send in. With the Editor’s wife being the driving force behind her own personal section, help her create an exchange of local favorites, home cooking, grilling, sauces, and deserts!  Send in your submissions here.