How to Create a Recovery Drive for Any Version of Windows

Macrium Reflect can be used to back up Windows XP through Windows 10

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Macrium Reflect is a free backup tool that works with every version of Windows from Windows XP to Windows 10. It lets you pick which partition you want to back up and stores it in a single file (called an image file) that can later be restored. Here's how to create a backup of your PC using Macrium Reflect.

Instructions in this article apply to the free version of Macrium Reflect 7.

How to Set Up Macrium Reflect

Before you can use Macrium Reflect to create a backup of your Windows drives, you must go through a lengthy setup process:

  1. Go to the Macrium Reflect download page and select Home Use. You'll be asked to provide your email address.

    Go to the Macrium Reflect download page and select Home Use.
  2. Check your email for a message with a registration code and follow the link to download Macrium Reflect.

    Check your email for a message with a registration code and follow the link to download Macrium Reflect.
  3. Open the ReflectDLHF.exe file you just downloaded.

    Open the ReflectDLHF.exe file you just downloaded.
  4. Select Free under Select Installation Package, choose a download location, then select Download.

    If you're asked about downloading WinPE components, select Yes.

    Select Free under Select Installation Package, choose a download location, then select Download.
  5. Select Next when the installer appears.

    Select Next when the installer appears.
  6. Select Next again and accept the license agreement when prompted.

    Select Next again.
  7. Select Home, then select Next.

    Select Home, then select Next.
  8. Provide your email address and the registration code (found in the message you received from Macrium), then select Next.

    If you deselect the box beside Register this installation of Macrium Reflect, the program will ask you to register every time you open it.

    Provide your email address and the registration code (found in the message you received from Macrium), then select Next.
  9. Select Browse to choose an Install location, then select Next.

    Select Browse to choose an Install location, then select Next.
  10. Select Install.

    Select Install.
  11. Once the installation is complete, select Finish to open Macrium Reflect.

    Once the installation is complete, select Finish to open Macrium Reflect.

How to Create a Recovery Drive With Macrium Reflect

Macrium Reflect can back up your entire hard drive, or you can have it back up just the partitions that are required for Windows to work. To back up everything:

  1. Select Image this disk.

    If you just want to be sure that you can get Windows working again should something happen to the system files, select Create an image of the partition(s) required to backup and restore Windows in the left pane.

    Select Image this disk in Macrium Reflect.
  2. Under Destination, select the ellipses (...) beside the Folder field to designate a location for the backup file, or choose CD/DVD Burner and select Next.

    Macrium Reflect doesn't let you back up specific files and folders. If you wish to exclude a particular drive, uncheck the box underneath it.

    Under Destination, select the ellipses (...) beside the Folder field to designate a location for the backup file, or choose CD/DVD Burner and select Next.
  3. Macrium Reflect then gives you the option to create an automated backup schedule. Choose one of the options under Select a Template for your Backup Plan to set up your preferences, or select Next to skip the step.

    Choose one of the options under Select a Template for your Backup Plan to set up your presences, or select Next to skip the step.
  4. Review the summary page and select Finish.

    Select Advanced Options at the bottom to adjust the compression settings, set a password for the backup, and more.

    Review the summary page and select Finish.
  5. Select OK.

    Select OK.
  6. Wait for the backup to complete, then select OK and Close.

    Wait for the backup to complete, then select OK and Close.

It is recommend to store your backup file on an external hard drive or an online backup service in case something happens to your computer.

How to Restore Your Backup Files With Macrium Reflect

You have two choices for restoring the Macrium Reflect backup image: You can use the program from within your computer, or you can use a recovery DVD or USB flash drive. For the first option, select the Restore tab in Macrium Reflect, then select Restore Image next to the backup file.

Since you can't restore Windows while you're using it, the first option only works for partitions that don't include the one Windows is installed on.

Select the Restore tab in Macrium Reflect, then select Restore Image next to the backup file.

How to Create a Macrium Reflect Recovery Disc

The recovery disc option lets you use a DVD or USB flash drive running Macrium Reflect to restore the backup file. This method is necessary for restoring the Windows partition as it is intended to work when Windows won't start. To get started:

  1. Insert a blank DVD or flash drive into your computer.

  2. Open Macrium Reflect and select Other Tasks > Create Rescue Media.

    Open Macrium Reflect and select Other Tasks > Create Rescue Media.
  3. Select the DVD drive or USB drive, make sure all the boxes under Rescue Media options are checked, then select Build.

Select Advanced to further customize your backup preferences.

Select the DVD drive or USB drive, make sure all the boxes under Rescue Media options are checked, then select Build.

Once the process is complete, remove the disc or flash drive and store it somewhere safe. When the time comes, you can boot from the disc or boot from the flash drive to restore the backup.