I have desktop system that is only used for testing purposes. I install and test lots of software, play around with Windows configuration and system files, infect my test system with trojans to test the efficiency of an antivirus software, and many more! Because I mess around with my test system so much, I had to restore Windows at least once a week, or sometimes even up to a few times!
Reinstalling Windows is a time consuming task and I never like doing that. Fortunately I’ve known about Norton Ghost many years ago and I’ve been using it to create an image of my hard drive, so I can easily restore everything back to the original clean state within minutes. However, Norton Ghost is not free. There are other freeware that is able to create disk image but I am never satisfied with it, so I am stuck with Norton Ghost for nearly 10 years…
I think I am going to make a change starting from today because I discovered a very powerful disk imaging software which is FREE!
Macrium Reflect is a backup and disk imaging software program for Microsoft Windows developed by Paramount Software UK Ltd in 2006. It creates disk images and file backup archives using Microsoft Volume Shadow Copy Service to ensure ‘point in time’ data accuracy. This means that you can create a full backup of your hard drive through imaging even when you’re logged on in Windows.
There are 2 versions of Macrium Reflect. The free and full version. The free version can only be used on Windows XP and Vista. You’re able to create disk or partition images and access them from Windows Explorer. It has a scheduler where you can create backup from the defined time. Finally it can also create Linux Rescue CD or BartPE Rescue CD, which has network support so you can save the created image to another computer. You can directly burn the Live CD from the software.
As for the full version, it has all the features in free version plus the following: Windows Server 2003 compatibility, File and Folder backup and restore, Differential disk images and backups, Incremental disk images and backups, VBScript Generator, Email notifications, Run programs before or after backup, Shut down PC after backup, Windows system event log support, Windows PE 2.0 Rescue CD with RAID support, Windows boot menu, Technical support by email and forum access.
Although it’d be nice to have all the features in the full version, the free version is good enough to help me easily restore Windows within minutes.
Let me take you through a simple step-by-step disk imaging with Macrium Reflect FREE Edition. Let’s say Windows is installed at C: drive and D: would be your CD/DVD drive. I’d advice you to create another partition (E: drive) to save the backup image.
1. Run Macrium Reflect
2. Click Backup from the menu bar and select Create Image.
3. Create Backup Wizard will appear. Click Next, and select the partition that you want to backup. Select C: drive and click Next.
4. Now select Local Hard Disk and browse to E: drive. Click Next
5. Click Finish to begin imaging.
When the imaging completes, you should have a file with random letters and numbers with the extension .mrimg at your E: drive. That’s the image of your C: drive.
Next, you’ll have to create a Rescue CD.
1. Run Macrium Reflect
2. Click Other Tasks from menu bar and select Create Rescue CD.
I’d prefer to use Linux, so select Linux and click Next.
3. Put in a blank CDR disc into your CD/DVD drive and click Finish.
When your Windows system goes haywire or refuse to boot up, then you will have to start your PC using a rescue CD. Just boot up your computer with the Linux Rescue CD that you just created. Follow the on-screen instructions from Restore Wizard to recover partitions from your saved image file.
When your computer has a system or software that is hard to configure and get it right, it’d be best to create an image of your partition as a precaution. Whenever the system or software doesn’t work and you can’t get people to help you to fix it, the easiest way to fix it yourself is by restoring from the image that you created while it is still working. There you go, no need to use Norton Ghost because Macrium Reflect can do the job.