Techie Tuesday: Imaging disks with bad sectors


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 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

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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!”

Techie Tuesday: Creating and Editing a Backup Plan


Macrium Reflect provides multiple  Backup Plan options to create backup cycles in days, weeks or months that allow you to pick when you want your backup definitions to run and whether they should be Full, Differential or Incremental backups. Scheduled backups can run independently of whether anyone is logged into the computer.

Macrium Reflect provides an easy 3 step approach to editing backup plans for a backup definition:

  1. First, optionally select a Template from a set that includes implementations of industry best practice like Grandfather, Father, Son (GFS) or Incremental Forever
  2. Add, remove or change the schedules as needed for full, differential and incremental backups
  3. Finally, define Retention Rules for each type of backup. Using the  Retention Rules, you can retain a specific number of each type of backup or keep them for a number of days or weeks before cleaning up.

Options define whether to apply the retention rules to all the backups in the folder, whether to run the purge before backing up, and let you define a minimum amount of disk space to retain in gigabytes (GB) before automatically deleting the oldest backup sets in the destination folder to make space available for new backups.

Note: A backup set consists of a full backup and any Incrementals or Differentials with the same image ID. The image ID is the part underlined in the following example backup file name:  69B5FC3F39E0F9F5-00-00.mrimg

The wizard splits the task of scheduling backups and setting retention rules into 3 steps as follows:

Select a Template for your Backup Plan

  1. Click the drop down box and chose an applicable template.A summary is given for each template to help you select the template you require.

Add/Edit Schedules

When you have selected the template you want to use you can view the planned schedule.

Resolving Scheduling Conflicts

If multiple backup types are scheduled run at the same time on the same day then only one backup will run.. For example, when scheduling a Full backup on the first Monday of each month and scheduling a Differential for every Monday, on the first Monday a Full and Differential are both scheduled to run at the same time. In this scenario only the Full backup will run.

  • Full backups take precedence over Differentials and Incrementals
  • Differential Backups take precedence over Incrementals.

To add to this schedule:

  1. Click Add Schedule and select either Full, Differential or Incremental.
  2. Set the frequency for the backup schedule.
  3. Click OK.

To Edit the schedule:

  1. Select the schedule you want to edit and click Edit Schedule.
  2. Change the schedule to meet your needs and click OK.

To delete a schedule:

  1. Select the schedule you want to delete and click Delete Schedule.
  2. A confirmation box appears, click Yes.

Define Retention Rules

Establish how long each type of backup in the schedule should be kept. It is advisable to keep backups for the recommended period, however you can de-select the backup type if you do not want to retain it.The new Macrium Reflect retention rules provide a powerful and flexible way to manage the lifetime and storage space used by your backups.Choose how backups are matched and retention rules are applied to the target folder

Retention rules are applied to the target folder of the backup by selecting one of two options:

Apply retention rules to matching backup sets in the target folder.Disk Images are purged if they contain exactly the same Partitions as the current Image. Partitions are identified using the unique Disk ID stored in sector 0 of the disk and the Partition sector offset.
Note: For GPT disks the unique GPT disk GUID is used instead of the Disk IDFor File and Folder backups retention rules are applied according to the ‘Backup Set Matching’ option select in the ‘Advanced Properties’ for this backup.

Apply retention rules to all backup sets in the target folder. All backup sets in the target folder of the same type (Disk Image or File and Folder) are purged according the retention rules.Note: This option uses the same logic as Macrium Reflect v5

Select the age or number of backup types that you wish to keep

Advanced options

If required, set Advanced Options as follows:

  • Compression to reduce the file size. Select level of compression and whether to make an intelligent sector copy, that copies only disk sectors used by the file system or make an exact copy of the partitions, that includes unused sectors.
    Note: reducing the file size may increase the total backup time.
  • File Size to enter a fixed file size for the image, this is useful for manually copying the image file to CD/DVD.
  • Password to select whether to password protect the image.
  • Auto Verify Image to select to verify image or backup file directly after creation.
    Note:  This can add a significant amount of time to the backup process.
  • Comments to set comments for the image or backup.
  • Shutdown  to set whether the computer should be shutdown after a backup task has completed.

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Techie Tuesday: Restoring and browsing


Macrium Reflect can restore disk partitions exactly as they were when the backup was taken. With File and Folder backups you can restore all or selected files and folders to their original or new location.

You can also explore any backup or image file in Windows Explorer. This powerful feature enables you to restore individual files or folders by simply using copy and paste.

To restore whole computers, including boot partitions, Macrium Reflect uses Windows PE, a cut down version of Windows. On a working system, when you restore to an earlier time, Macrium Reflect reboots into the Windows PE operating system, carries out the requested restore, then boots back into the restored operating system. On a system that is not working, to restore to an earlier time, you need to boot from your Windows PE rescue media, whether that is a CD, DVD or USB-stick. The rescue media contains Macrium Reflect so that you can carry out the restore, then boot back into the restored operating system.

Although this all sounds complex, it really is very simple to perform with Macrium Reflect leading you through each step.

Finally, if you have Macrium Reflect Server Plus, it has a rich feature set for restoring backups of SQL databases and Microsoft Exchange Servers while giving you the power to restore to any time and granularity right down to an individual email.

Further reading:

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Techie Tuesday: Verifying your backup


We recently ran some polls on Twitter to about backup strategies. A worrying statistic was that 64% of respondents have never tested their backups!

There are a number of ways you can test your backups and a combination of two or three is advisable.

Verify a backup

Backup verification checks the entire contents of backup files against MD5 message digests (Hashes) created from the source data when the backup was created. If data is read back with a different MD5 hash to the hash that was generated when the data was written, it is guaranteed to be corrupt. Verification can be performed automatically after the backup is created (which will add more time to the backup process) or manually later. You can read more here: Verifying image and backup files

Test Rescue Media

Test your Rescue Media by rebooting with the Rescue Media in the computer (if it doesn’t work see My CD/DVD Rescue Media will not boot).

Mount an image

By mounting image files in Windows Explorer you can browse or explore an image and access all the files in a backup. The backed up data appears as a temporary drive in Windows Explorer that you can access, just like any other drive, mounted with its own drive letter. Individual Files and Folders can easily be recovered by using Copy and Paste. You can read more here: Browsing Macrium Reflect images and backups in Windows Explorer

Test Restore an image

If the image contains only data, restoring it is very simple using Macrium Reflect. You can restore it back to its original location or to another disk without interrupting the operating system. Restoring a Data image from within Windows

System images of, for example, the C drive, contain operating system files so it is not possible to restore files in real time because they will be in use by the operating system. To resolve this Macrium Reflect boots Windows PE. It then restores the file system before rebooting again and loading the restored Windows OS. Although this sounds complex, it really is very simple to perform. For restoring a system image see Restoring a system image

Create a Virtual Machine from an image

Macrium viBoot enables you, to instantly create, start and manage Microsoft Hyper-V virtual machines using one or more Macrium Reflect image files as the basis of the virtual machine storage sub-system. At a minimum, viBoot enables you to boot into the images you have made using Macrium Reflect, for validation purposes, or to retrieve data from old applications stored on a bootable image. At an enterprise level, you could recover an entire network environment in minutes. Macrium viBoot

To convert an image into a virtual machine using other hypervisors see Converting a Physical machine to Virtual Machine

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Techie Tuesday: Creating desktop shortcuts for full, incremental and differential backups


Creating Desktop Shortcuts for your backups enables quick and easy execution without the need to start Macrium Reflect or choose the backup type (Full, Diff or Inc).

Pre-requisite: To create a desktop shortcut for your definitions files you must already have a backup definitions file. If required, follow the instructions in  Creating a backup image of your computer, drive or partitions.

  1. Select Backup Definitions Files tab.
    Backup Definition Files Tab
  2. Select the backup definition file and Click the Create Desktop Shortcut button on the Backup Definition File View toolbar.
    Create Desktop Shortcut
  3. Select the Backup Type and enter the shortcut name that appears on the Desktop.
    For easy reference to the backup type you could add a Full, Diff or Inc suffix to the shortcut name.
  4. Click OK.

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Techie Tuesday: Converting a Physical machine to Virtual Machine


This article will guide you through the steps needed to convert a physical machine to a virtual machine, using any hypervisior.

  1. Using Macrium Reflect take an image of your physical machine.
  2. Once you have an image, create a Rescue Media ISO image.
  3. Create a Virtual Machine using your preferred hypervisor (Hyper-V, VMware, Virtual box…), assigning to it a vCPU, Memory and a Virtual Hard Disk.
  4. Boot the VM using the created Rescue Media ISO image.
  5. From the booted Rescue Media restore your image on to the Virtual Hard Disk attached to your VM.
  6. Without exiting the Rescue Media, run the ReDeploy option.
  7. Detach the ISO from your VM and reboot it.

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