A good backup program needs to be able
Make a complete image
a disk and most importantly, your system disk.
complete image to a machine that cannot itself boot
because it contains an empty replacement hard disk.
restore individual files from image backups.
backups & Schedule
And, of course, like any good software, it needs to
be relatively straightforward to use and give you reasonable support
Additional features beyond those basics are nice, but
certainly not required.
1) Image Backups
System image backups in Reflect are
almost a one-click operation. Click the “Create an image of the
partition(s) required to backup and restore Windows” and Macrium configures
a backup for you to do just that. All that you need to do is specify
where the backup image should be stored.
Naturally, there are options to increase the
compression of the image, protect it with a password, encrypt the
backup, and more.
But for a basic image backup, you can pretty much
bypass all of that.
Restoring an image is similarly straightforward, with
For example, if you’ve replaced a damaged hard drive
and you want to restore your most recent backup image to it, you’ll
need something to boot from.
2) That’s the Macrium Rescue media:
Before you need it, use
Reflect itself to create a bootable rescue disc and save it
somewhere. That disk contains enough of an operating system to boot
and run a copy of Reflect also included on that disk. That copy can
then restore the backup image to the hard disk.
3) Browsing for files
Reflect stores disk images in .mrimg (for Macrium
Reflect IMaGe) files. Because that contains everything, that’s all
that you’ll need to restore an entire machine.
But, because it contains everything,
it’s also possible to browse that image file looking for individual
files contained in the backup.
Reflect solves that very elegantly:
In Macrium Reflect, you can mount a backup image as a
virtual drive on your machine.
What that means is that you could mount last week’s
backup image of your machine as the F; drive and then use Windows
Explorer – or any other Windows application – to browse the backup
and view the files as they were at the time of that backup.
Restoring a file that was originally backed up from your system
drive would be as simple as copying that file from its location
in the image mounted on F: to your hard disk C:.
4) Incremental and scheduling backups
When you create your initial image backup, Reflect
offers to save an XML definition file in addition to the backup
itself; this definition file contains all of the options specified
for that backup, including what was backed up and where it was
That file can then be used later in two important
- To make an
- To schedule automated backups
An incremental backup is nothing more than backing up
only those files that have changed since the previous backup.
Because the XML definition file contains all of the information
about what was backed up and where it was placed when it comes time
to make an incremental backup, Reflect need only look at that,
locate the previous backup, note what files have changed on your
system since then, and backup only those files.
Come time to restore that image, you can select the
most recent incremental image, which will then restore that and all
of the backups up to and including the first.
Scheduling a backup, then, becomes nothing more than
telling Reflect “do the backup that’s described in this definition
file on this schedule”. Reflect then automatically sets things up so
that the backup happens automatically, without your needing to do a
Image versus File
I’ve focused on image backups, but Reflect also
allows you to configure file backups.
While image backups backup an “image” of your hard
disk and everything on it (including all the files), file backups
focus on backing up only files or, more commonly, a subset of all of
the files on your system.
An image backup is required if you want to restore
your system to an empty replacement hard drive, since in addition to
all of the files, it contains, all of the system overhead, and the
boot information used to create a bootable machine.
On the other hand, an image backup contains all of
the files – there’s no way to exclude certain files from an image.
A file-based backup is useful if you’re not concerned
about backing up something that might later need to be bootable and
you’re confident that you can specify everything that you might
possibly want to restore in the future. For example, it might be
enough for some folks to create a file backup of only “My Documents”
and everything in it.
I focus on image backups as being the most
comprehensive. At the cost of some storage space, you know that
everything is in there.
Macrium has several forms of support:
online documentation and help.
- A knowledge base of articles
that address common questions or expand on various backup
scenarios and issue.
- An online support forum for
purchased product owners that is regularly monitored by
employees who respond (from my examination at this writing).
Free versus Standard
version of Macrium Reflect is
available. Compared to the purchased product, it has the following
- Only image backups can be made.
- Incremental backups are not available.
- Forum and email support is not available.
The page for the free version includes a full
Personally, I find all of those to be deal breakers
as they do not meet my original criteria. However, the free version
is one way to safely take full system images if that’s all that you
need to do.
The Standard version includes all of those missing
features and more. In my opinion it’s the version to get for home