If you are in the market for a tool that can take an image of a hard drive, save it to a file and allow you to roll out this image to many computers or even just as a way to back up a complete machine – then there is a solution out there that comes as either a Free version or paid, depending on your needs. The product in question is Macrium Reflect and I will go through how I used this as a alternative to Norton Ghost and a few issues I found along the way.
What does it do?
The program can be installed on any Windows type box, for the purpose of the solution, I used a Windows XP Pro computer with an extra 1TB Hard Drive and a External eSATA Dock for easy swapping of drives. The program allows you to image the complete hard drive to an image which is stored in this case on the 1TB Drive. As it only store what is used, imaging an 80GIG Drive only takes up 14GIG Worth of space. Unlike Norton Ghost, it does not compress the image – which is probably why it images so fast. You can tick a box which makes a 1 to 1 image – so 80GIG Drive is an 80GIG Image file.
Free verus paid Solution
As I was more used to Norton Ghost for my imaging needs, I was expecting when I made a image of the complete drive, restore would make it the same but alas no, it restores partitions. This meant that I kept ending off with un-bootable windows machines depending on how the hard drive I used as a blank was laid out (for example if it had extra partitions). There is a solution which is from the same site but separate – how weird is that?
Macrium Reflect DiskRestore
You can find the page HERE and this gets you the program –
DiskRestore is a utility to quickly restore Macrium Reflect disk images. DiskRestore provides the following benefits over the conventional Macrium Reflect restore process:
The normal Macrium Reflect restore process is a partition based restore. This enables control over partition size and placement. This flexibility comes at a cost and the restore wizard can seem overly complex for some restore tasks, plus you are restricted to restoring a single partition at a time. With DiskRestore you simply select the partitions you want to restore and click ‘Restore’.
IMG to VHD
Another useful tool is IMGtoVHD, this converts a Macrium Reflect image to a VHD which can be used in VMWare and other Virtual machines.
ImgToVhd is a utility that creates VHD files from Macrium backup images. These can then be used to create a bootable virtual machine facilitating quick access to a failed machine whose repair would be time consuming or not possible.
We have created a utility, ImgToVHD to enable the conversion of a Macrium backup image file to VHD files (one per disk). The VHD file(s) can then be used as the storage component of virtual machines from Microsoft (Virtual PC and HyperV), VMWare and Oracle/Sun (Virtual Box).
This enables a previously backed up machine to be reincarnated as a virtual machine. A significant use of this is to quickly regain access to a machine that has suffered a fatal hardware failure.
Please note that this is beta quality software. It is being released to the public for evaluation purposes only. No guarantees are made for its quality or fitness for purpose. Use is not recommended in a production environment.
Feedback is welcomed as this will help us improve the quality and utility of this tool and this blog post. Comments are currently enabled for this post – constructive comments will be helpful to both us and the other users of this tool.
Please take care to ensure that you are not breaking the terms on any licences by running a virtual machine from a backup image.