Techie Tuesday: Reviewing your backup history

#TechieTuesday

Macrium Reflect maintains an easy to access log of all types of backups and restores where you can review activities, purge the log files and view Windows VSS events.

  1. In the main task bar click Log.
    log
  2. Clicking the Delete old logs icon will take you to the Log file purge settings, where you can select to remove old logs.
    delete
  3. Make selection and click OK.
  4. Select the activity you want to review.
    review
  5. If the activity has a VSS log, select to view VSS events, if required by clicking the View window VSS events icon.
    vss

Download a 30-day Trial of Macrium Reflect for Home or Business use.

Techie Tuesday: image or clone?

#TechieTuesday

Both a clone and an image are an exact duplicate of your drive or partition: data, files, software, the master boot record, allocation table, and everything else needed to boot and run your operating system. Should your hard drive fail or become corrupt, a clone or image backup can quickly recover your PC and you can get back to work. But which is the right one for you?

Image

A Disk Image stores the information required to completely restore disks (or their individual partitions) exactly as they were when the image was taken. You can store several compressed disk images on one sufficiently large external storage device, so you can have the option to restore any one of them.

The entire contents of the imaged file system are stored in a full image file. This is a reliable way of backing up your PC, however, repeating the process can be slow and subsequent images can fill your backup media very quickly. After you have created an initial full image, you can create differential and incremental images. These are both quicker to execute than full images and create much smaller image files.

A differential image stores the changes that have been made to the imaged file system since the last full image. Subsequent differentials can be taken, but only one differential and the full are required in order to fully restore the system. This is quicker than creating a full image, however the longer the time between the full and the differential, the larger the differential image file is and the longer it takes to create.

The main difference with incremental images is that they only store file system changes since the last image, either full, differential or incremental. The resultant backup set therefore consists of a full image and a number of incremental images which must all be present in order to restore the system correctly.

Clone

Cloning with Macrium Reflect creates an exact copy of an entire hard drive, or specific partitions on a hard drive, to a different drive. Everything on the target disk is overwritten and you are left two identical drives.

This is useful if you are upgrading to a larger hard drive or moving from a large magnetic hard disk to a smaller and faster SSD. When you Clone a hard drive, you can boot from the target disk on the same system with the state of your computer at the time you undertook the clone. But Windows cannot boot from a USB connected drive; this is a restriction imposed by Windows. You can clone to a hard drive installed in your computer or to a hard drive installed in a USB hard-drive Caddy. If you clone your system disk to a USB connected external drive then, to boot your clone the physical disk must be removed from the USB caddy and attached to your Motherboard SATA port.


You can read more about both here: Macrium KnowledgeBase: Backup, imaging and cloning

Download a 30-day Trial of Macrium Reflect for Home or Business use.

Techie Tuesday: The Macrium Rescue Environment

#TechieTuesday

Absolutely the first thing you need to do after purchasing and installing Macrium Reflect is create rescue media.

If you lose your Windows operating system, you can start your PC using Macrium Reflect rescue media on CD, DVD, or USB stick. This makes creating rescue media the first thing you need to do with Macrium Reflect. It contains a bootable, lightweight version of Windows and a full version of Macrium Reflect.

This lightweight version of Windows is called Windows Pre-installation Environment (also known as Windows PE or WinPE) and is provided by Microsoft. When you create rescue media, Macrium Reflect downloads Windows PE automatically for you and writes it to your media. It downloads just those components you need to rescue your system.

You have the option of restoring to a new system or virtual machine using Macrium ReDeploy to reconfigure your windows installation for the new hardware.

Windows PE and the rescue environment

Windows PE is a reduced version of Microsoft Windows that is designed to boot from CD, DVD or USB on a wide range of hardware. When you run the rescue media wizard, Macrium Reflect automatically downloads the Windows PE components from Microsoft and builds the rescue environment locally. The Macrium Windows PE rescue media has the following features:

  • Fixes for boot problems
  • Macrium ReDeploy to prepare Windows to load on new hardware
  • RAID support
  • USB 3.0 support
  • CD boot
  • USB boot
  • Boot menu
  • Full version of Macrium Reflect
  • Reduced download size compared with full Windows Automated Installation Kit (WAIK) – 150 MB to 450 MB (depending on PE version and 32- or 64-bit support)

Windows PE hardware support

The Macrium Rescue Environment needs to include support for your hardware such as USB ports, network interfaces, and in particular for your storage device if for example you use RAID disks. The default Windows PE environment supports a good selection of hardware and you can add support for further devices. When Macrium Reflect creates a rescue CD or USB, it analyses your system hardware and tries to locate drivers for unsupported devices by looking on your system. If it can’t find appropriate drivers, Macrium Reflect prompts you to provide drivers. You can provide drivers by finding driver packages on the local hard drive, looking for driver CDs supplied with the system, or downloading drivers from the web. After you provide these additional drivers, Macrium Reflect adds them to the Windows PE environment.

Note: You cannot add support for booting media because booting takes place before drivers are loaded. For example, if your CD drive is connected via an unsupported SCSI interface card or your boot menu lies on an unsupported RAID array, then the Windows PE cannot boot. Booting using a USB stick is a good workaround in this case as all USB 2 interfaces are supported by default.

Note: You can also overcome this issue using this solution.

CD, DVD and USB rescue media 

You can boot your computer into Windows PE from a CD, DVD, USB stick or USB attached external hard disk. For convenience or for automated restores to your system disk, you can add Windows PE to a boot menu that’s displayed when your system first starts. Although, do not rely upon this local copy as a rescue mechanism because it could be lost if you suffered hard disk failure or corruption leaving you without a method for rescuing your system.

Macrium Reflect creates custom Windows PE systems for each installation type by downloading the required components from Microsoft.


The Rescue Media Wizard

  1. Insert your blank CD, DVD or USB stick.
  2. From the Backup tab of the task pane, below Other Tasks, click Create bootable Rescue media.Accept the default Windows PE environment selected by Macrium Reflect or Click ‘Change PE Version’ to use a different version of Windows PE for your rescue media:Explanation of the ‘Change PE version’ dialog…
    • The device is supported by default in WinPE
    • There is a compatible driver in the host operating system
    • There is a compatible driver already present in the collection of drivers on previously created rescue mediaClick Next and add device drivers if required.This dialog enables you to add drivers for any Network and Disk controllers that are unsupported in Windows PE.A device driver is a collection of files (also referred to as a driver package) and generally comprises of:
      • The driver software, these files have a .SYS extension.
      • The driver information, or INF, file which contains the installation instructions for the drivers, these files have a .INF extension.
      • An optional security catalog that signs those drivers for operating systems that require signed drivers, commonly used on x64 operating systems, these files have a .CAT extension.
      • One or more optional supporting software library files (Dynamic Link Library) that contain further code to support the driver software, these files have a .DLL extension.


      Windows PE (WinPE) is packaged with a large collection of drivers but there are many devices that are not part of the WinPE driver package. If your device is not compatible then you must add its driver so WinPE recognizes it and communicates with your device.

      The wizard checks whether your device requires drivers adding to WinPE. It builds a list of devices in your computer that are either Hard Drive/RAID controllers, Network Interface Cards, USB controllers or USB hubs. For each of these devices it checks if:

    Example of adding a device driver…

  3. Click Next. to prepare and build the Windows PE imageNote: If you have already built the Windows PE image for this rescue media then the wizard will skip this step and advance to the Burn page<
    Option Descriptionth>
    PE Architecture Either 32 bit or 64 Bit. The default option is selected to match the architecture of the host Windows OS.
    Include optional components Select this option to add BitLocker Encryption and iSCSI support to the rescue media. Please note that adding these components may several minutes to the creation process.
    See Adding iSCSI support to Windows PE for more information on using iSCSI in Windows PE
    Automatically unlock BitLocker encrypted drives Select this option to automatically unlock all BitLocker encrypted drives when Windows PE starts.
    See Adding BitLocker support to Windows PE for more information on using Windows PE to access BitLocker encrypted drives.
    Default base WIM Use the standard Microsoft Windows PE base installation. Macrium Reflect executables will be added to this to crate the rescue media,
    Custom Base WIM Use your own customized WIM for the rescue media. This is an advanced topic not covered in this help.

    Click Next to begin the WIM build process. If necessary, files will automatically be downloaded from Microsoft to complete the build process.

    You can also select the PE Components .zip file by clicking the ‘Browse’ button in the download dialog. The PE .zip file can be downloaded by using the Reflect download agent ‘ReflectDL.exe’.
    See Installing and updating Macrium Reflect offline for more information on downloading the PE components separately.

    A detailed log of the build process is saved to: ‘C:\ProgramData\Macrium\waik\waiklog.txt’

     

  4. Once complete you can choose where to burn the media<
    Option ________________ Description
    Rebuild Click this button to advance to the ‘Prepare Windows PE image’ wizard page to rebuild the Windows Image (WIM).

    Note: If updates are available for your rescue media then you will receive a message box prompting you to rebuild.

    Check for unsupported devices Select this option and Windows PE will prompt to add drivers for unsupported Network Interface and Disk controllers when started.
    Prompt for key press Select this option to enable the ‘Press any key to boot from CD or DVD…’ prompt when your PC starts. This is useful if you want to bypass Windows PE and boot into your host Windows OS.
    CD/DVD burner Select this option to choose a CD/DVD device that you are using to create your rescue media.

    To save the rescue media to an .ISO image file for burning with any burning software. Click the drop-down list of burners and select ‘Create an ISO image file’:

    USB Device Select this option to save your rescue media to a bootable USB stick or external hard drive.
    Enable multiboot MBR/UEFI Only applies if you are saving your rescue media to a USB device. This option enables the USB device to boot both legacy MBR and GPT/UEFI for modern motherboards. Please consult your motherboard user manual for information on choosing these boot options at PC startup.

    Note: CD/DVD media is always created multi-boot MBR/UEFI

    Technicians USB Applies to Macrium Reflect Technicians license keys only. See Technicians portable application support for more information

     

  5. Click Finish.to create your rescue media

To complete the process, boot from your Rescue media to ensure it works correctly.

After Windows PE loads, Macrium Reflect runs. The Windows PE user interface for Macrium Reflect is identical to that of the main application and offers the same core functions.

If you are using USB media, you can make the Macrium Rescue Environment compatible with multiple computers:

  1. Use the Rescue media wizard to create a bootable USB rescue device on one computer.
  2. Repeat the process with each other computer in turn using the same USB device.

You can read more about creating rescue media here.

Download a 30-day Trial of Macrium Reflect for Home or Business use.

New CMC helps reduce risks associated with data loss and downtime

cmc_agentIT Works in Scotland have been using Macrium for a number of years to ensure their clients’ desktops and servers are protected should disaster strike. They were one of the first of Macrium’s resellers to trial the new central management console and Martin Paul from IT Works has some great feedback on this fantastic new tool from Macrium Software.

“The software allows IT Works to focus more effectively, thereby effectively reducing the risk associated with data loss and downtime. This gives peace of mind for the client in knowing that their systems/data is available to them when they need it most”.

Shedding light on risks

Martin was pleased that the interface allowed IT Works to quickly and easily shed light on any potential risks and let them know when anything has failed and keep quiet when it hasn’t!

Martin has been particularly impressed by the software updates.

“With any other software updates, there is a 50% chance it may fail and break. But I can trust Macrium updates every time. It is incredibly quick, in fact no other software updates are quite as fast!”

For IT Works, CMC offers them a new commercial opportunity to push out to their client base with a solution that works effectively and easily. Martin and the team at IT Works are looking forward to completing their training.

“The interface is incredibly slick and responsive with support that is second to none”.


You can download a 30-day trial of the CMC here.

Macrium Central Management Console in a Nutshell

image2016-7-21-15-27-10
It’s finally here! We’re pleased to announce the release of Macrium’s Central Management Console (CMC). To tell us a bit more about CMC and Macrium’s plans for the future, we speak to Stephen Macpherson, Sales Director at Macrium Software.

What made Macrium decide to create a CMC?

We had been getting lots of requests from our customer base for a management tool and it was a very obvious extension to our product portfolio as well as a nice compliment to the speed and power of the Macrium Reflect family.

What are the main features of the CMC?

I think the main feature is the ability to manage large numbers of Macrium Reflect end-point back up agents making the job of the IT Administrator much easier. They can simply manage deployment of the agents, quickly configure backup jobs, manage repositories and monitor the backup process. Of course, the recovery is vital too and incredibly fast and easy.

You can see a full list of all the features here and also try out a free trial!

How does CMC work with the existing Macrium Reflect product family?

All existing stand-alone products will work with the CMC although they do need to be version 6.1 or later. Almost all Reflect products can be incorporated into the CMC which makes central management much more straight forward than in the past.

Who do you see benefiting from the new CMC?

It will benefit administrators who already have Macrium solutions in their estate and want to reduce their administrative workload. They may also want to take advantage of the great backup capabilities we have across more machines, and CMC allows you to do that really easily.

What’s next for Macrium?

We’re currently looking into integration with cloud backup repositories which we have already been testing and at the same time considering a managed service provider version. We will continue to provide a steady stream of updates supporting the latest versions of Microsoft operating systems.


You can read more about the CMC (and download it for free) here!!

Techie Tuesday: Imaging disks with bad sectors

#TechieTuesday

A disk with bad sectors is permanently damaged and, if the bad sectors are in use by the file system, it is very likely that data in the damaged area is unrecoverable. This can signify that your hard drive is coming to the end of its life. It is possible, however, to manage the situation and create an Image for restoring or mounting and copying files and folders. See this Wikipedia article http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Bad_sector for more information.

If a bad sector is encountered during image creation then you receive this error in your backup log:

Backup aborted! Unable to read from disk – Error Code 23 – Data error (cyclic redundancy check).
This is considered a fatal condition because data cannot be read and the image aborts.

Run chkdsk on the problem drive to reallocate file system clusters to undamaged disk sectors:

  1. Open a command prompt with elevated privileges. See Running an elevated command prompt for help with this.
    • Run chkdsk c: /r from a command prompt, replacing c: with the appropriate drive letter.

      The /r switch is important and causes the entire file system to be checked for bad sectors. This requires a reboot to complete and may take some time.
      This operation maps out any bad sectors in use by the file system.
  2. Immediately create an Image of your drive. This ensures all file system clusters are located on good sectors.
    It’s important to realize that you have lost data if clusters are relocated, as the data contained in them is unrecoverable. Consider replacing your disk.
  3. If you receive Error Code 23 in your log after running chkdsk, run chkdsk repeatedly until an image is created without error.
  4. if you are running Windows Vista or later, after restoring an Image to a new disk, run chkdsk c: /b to re-evaluate all the bad clusters restored on your drive.
    If you are running Windows XP, Boot into the Windows PE rescue CD and run chkdsk c: /b to re-evaluate all the bad clusters restored on your drive.

Set Macrium Reflect to ignore bad sectors when creating an image

If running chkdsk is unsuccessful, force Macrium Reflect to continue on Error 23.

  1. Select Other tasks > Edit defaults > Advanced.
  2. Select Ignore bad sectors.
  3. Click OK.

If the option ‘Log each bad cluster detail’ selected then each sectors will be reported in the Image log, e.g:

Read Error: Bad sector found in cluster 2353222
Read Error: Bad sector found in cluster 2353223

Otherwise a summary of bad clusters will be reported at the end.

Bad Sectors: 112 Clusters located in bad sectors. Data may be lost


Download a 30-day Trial of Macrium Reflect for Home or Business use.

Helping Brooklyn PC Clinic look good with their clients

brooklyn-pc-clinic-logoMacrium spoke to Mike Jonas from Brooklyn PC Clinic in New York who offer computer repair and support services to home and businesses.

Mike has been installing Macrium Reflect on home and business user’s computers for some time now and is very complimentary about the popular backup and recovery solution.

“I love Macrium Reflect. It always works for me and most importantly of all, I trust it to work every time”.

Mike works with a number of small businesses and residential users and spends a lot of time trying to educate his customers on the value of backing up their data. Sadly, they often don’t realise the importance until it’s too late.

Mike has used a number of other backup solutions in the past, but finds that Macrium Reflect has more things going for it.
“The other solutions can be a bit hit or miss and I was never 100% confident that they were doing their job. In particular, Reflect’s bootable rescue media has been a great tool for repairing Windows boot problems and has got me out of many a hole in the past!”

Mike particularly likes the differential backups.

“Whatever the developers did, they’ve done a great job! Macrium has saved me hours rather than having to go back and restore factory images. Macrium always makes me look good with my clients!”