Techie Tuesday: Installing a Macrium reflect v5 to v6 Upgrade

TechieTuesday

We occasionally get asked how upgrade from Macrium Reflect v5 to v6, so this week for #TechieTuesday we take a look at the process.

License key format

Note: If you are unable to locate your v5 or v6 keys then please see this page http://www.macrium.com/account/myorders.aspx to request your order history

Macrium Reflect v5 keys

Product Key format
v5 Standard 16-XXXX-XXXX-XXXX-XXXX-XXXX-XXXXXXX
v5 Professional 17-XXXX-XXXX-XXXX-XXXX-XXXX-XXXXXXX
v5 Server 18-XXXX-XXXX-XXXX-XXXX-XXXX-XXXXXXX
v5 Server Plus 19-XXXX-XXXX-XXXX-XXXX-XXXX-XXXXXXX

Macrium Reflect v6 (and v5 to v6 upgrade) keys

Product Key format
v6 Home 36-XXXX-XXXX-XXXX-XXXX-XXXX-XXXXXXX
v6 Workstation 37-XXXX-XXXX-XXXX-XXXX-XXXX-XXXXXXX
v6 Server 38-XXXX-XXXX-XXXX-XXXX-XXXX-XXXXXXX
v6 Server Plus 39-XXXX-XXXX-XXXX-XXXX-XXXX-XXXXXXX

How to download the Macrium Reflect installer

  1. Download and run the Macrium Reflect download manager:  Click ‘ReflectDLUpgrade.exe’ to download.
    Enter your v6 Key in the download manager to download and run the v6 installer:

    Note: You must enter your v6 key. If you enter your v5 key you will download the Macrium Reflect v5 installerThe Macrium Reflect installer and Windows PE rescue media files will be downloaded and the installer will start automatically .

Entering your license keys in the installer

In the installer License Key page enter your v6 Key you will then be prompted to enter your v5 key:

Note: You are only required to enter your v5 license key once. After this first installation your v6 key becomes a Full key and your v5 key is deactivated.


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

Managing backups – what do you want?

As we move into the winter months and the fast approaching Christmas; at Macrium we are putting the finishing touches on our new management framework that will be available as a technical preview later this quarter. As you would expect, this kind of product has generated a lot of internal discussions and debate as to what it is we need to focus on.Read More »

What harm can Anti-Virus software do?

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We recently updated Macrium Reflect to 5.3, little realising the problems that would caused by Anti-Virus software…

Updating Macrium Reflect

Here at Macrium we are all really passionate about computers and take great pride in our product (Macrium Reflect). It is this pride that means we keep our software support in-house so that our customers get the best support possible (because who else would know the product better?) and it is also this pride that drove us to spend months testing the 5.3 release, and in particular testing the entire product from top to bottom, not just the new features.

So we finally threw the switch (one day we’ll install a big red lever but for now the switch remains metaphorical) and the release went live. Of course a couple of bugs slipped through our testing net, in particular there was a compatibility problem with very old Pentium II/III systems which we don’t have the hardware to test but which we immediately investigated and at the time of writing have fixed and patched.

Security Software and Macrium Reflect

How does this relate to AV software? Well aside from the bug I already disclosed and a couple of other minor issues we have received an unprecedented number of support tickets and forum posts with the following alarming titles:

  • Upgrade to 5.3.7086 results in non-loading software

  • 5.3.7086 crashes

  • reflect does not start after updating to 5.3

As you might imagine these are exactly what you don’t want to see after a substantial update to your software. So it was immediately all hands on deck to fix the issue. Internal testing was launched. Support info was requested from customers. People were poring over code till their eyes bled (okay not quite).

Who’s to blame?

But the questions started flying: who screwed up? how did we miss this? why can we not reproduce it?

And the answer? Anti-virus software! (A term which I am here using to refer to the broader category of security software). It was nothing we’d done. None of our code changes were causing problems. The reason we missed it? On our virtual testing machines we don’t install anti-virus software. Why? Because it does far more harm than good and in a testing scenario it can interfere with performance analysis and even product functionality. If you don’t believe anti-virus can do more harm than good then I refer you to this excellent blog post by Jeff Atwood:

http://blog.codinghorror.com/choosing-anti-anti-virus-software/

Many of our customers who were affected by this issue put the blame on us:

“Why don’t YOU make YOUR software compatible with [insert popular AV product here]?!!!”.

The answer is two-fold: the first part is that it’s simply unfeasible to do it, even for companies far bigger than ours. Imagine testing against one AV product. Which versions do you test? 2015, 2014, 2013, 2012… Do you test the incremental releases in between? Which OSs do you test on? Windows 8.1, 8, 7, Vista, Server 2012 R2, Small Business Server 2008… Where do you draw the line?

“…our product is fully compatible with Windows”

And that’s just one product. Now imagine testing on all the different security products out there. How many can you name just off the top of your head? Avast, AVG, Norton, MalwareBytes etc. And those are just the big ones. We’ve had customers complaining who use security software we’d never even heard of. Imagine trying to cater for all the possible system and software configurations that all our consumers might have. It’s not possible.

Which brings me to part two of why we don’t test against AV software: We ensure our product is fully compatible with Windows. That’s no simple matter, especially when we still cater for Windows XP which we’d like to point out Microsoft themselves no longer support. And even with that basic remit we do our best to ensure maximum compatibility across an ever increasing spectrum of hardware configurations (RAID systems, Tablets, legacy hardware like the Pentium II issue I mentioned above).

Summary

So to return to the title of this post “What harm can Anti-Virus software do?”: A lot, is the answer. For a limited but significant portion of our users who run these so-called “security products” on their systems they suddenly found their backup systems completely compromised and in many cases unusable. We did our best to assist these users individually in resolving their issues, even creating some KB articles (see here and here) but ultimately this is a problem caused by another vendors product not functioning correctly. Their job, as according to their own descriptions, is to protect users systems from malicious and harmful software. Reflect is neither malicious nor harmful and so interfering with it’s installation and operation is a malfunction on the part of the anti-virus software.

Extra info

Just to provide a bit of further information on this issue. We digitally sign all of our executables in an effort to prevent these kinds of issues. Unfortunately it appear lots of AV software either doesn’t check for this or doesn’t seem to care, even though digital signing is suppose to provide proof of authorship and integrity of the file. For more information on this please see our KB article: http://kb.macrium.com/KnowledgebaseArticle50213.aspx

Customer support the Macrium Way

Customer support is one of those odd things for a business. It is a direct cost to the business and doesn’t bring in revenue that directly impacts the bottom line, yet customers have high expectations that when something goes wrong, there is someone they can turn to to help them out. Companies that recognise the importance of helping and supporting their customers only stand to benefit.

Without a doubt, customer support is something that is ingrained in the culture at Macrium. Every day, everyone at Macrium is responsible for engaging with our customers and answering queries and technical problems they have. In this blog I wish to share with you how we go about dealing with support and show how we offer what we hope is a unique and excellent experience for our customers.

What we offer
There are several ways that our customers can get help if they are having problems with Macrium Reflect. If it is simply a case of how to do something, then there are a selection of video tutorials on Youtube. They do not have any sound, but this is something we are hoping to address in the future.

There are also many HowTo style articles in our knowledge base as well as some more in-depth articles on error codes that may be encountered, the subtleties of how Reflect handles different types of hardware configurations and some of the more edge case scenarios that may be chanced upon. If you find the knowledge base search a little clunky you can always just use the search at the top right of the main website.

Customers who have bought Macrium Reflect have access to the Macrium Forum. The purpose of the forum is to give Macrium users the opportunity to help each other out as well as share and discuss ideas and concepts about backup and imaging. We regularly check the forum, answering questions and offering solutions to any unanswered posts as quickly as possible.

If a customer is unable to get the solution to their problem from the outlets above, the last stop is to email support directly. We get all sorts of email requests from simple prospective sales questions to in depth technical issues. Regardless of its type, each case is careful reviewed, discussed and more significantly, answered by the software developers who wrote the software.

How we deal with support

Technical support is handled by the software developers who wrote the software. This guarantees that we can offer a qualified answer straight away. There is no triage system. There is no 1st, 2nd, 3rd or nth level support whose primary goal is to either pretend that the people dealing with the customers know what they are talking about when they don’t or delay the customer, hoping they will go away. At Macrium, you get straight through to the experts who can answer the question directly.

Macrium development team meet to discuss customer support cases

Every morning, the development team meet to discuss the support cases that has come in during the night. This gives us the opportunity to discuss specific cases in detail and propose the best solutions. It also allows us to share knowledge throughout the team. The support cases are then assigned to individual engineers who respond directly to the customer. From an engineer’s point of view it is nice to have contact with the people who actually use the software we are writing. Some support issues are also fed back into the product. They may have come about because of a bug in the software or suggest that a part of the product is not clear or easy to use. Since it is the developers dealing with the support issue, a fix can be incorporated back into the product straight away if necessary. Similarly,  questions that crop up frequently can be addressed by writing a knowledge base article, improving the knowledge base for our customers and also allowing us to reply with  a detailed response in a much more timely and consistent manner.

Some have criticised us for not offering telephone support. On the face of it, this is a fair criticism, but have you ever received good or excellent service from a telephone support line that doesn’t come with a premium price tag? Being put on hold, transferred to another person or department and being fobbed off with scripted answers that doesn’t answer the question are all common place on telephone support lines. This is not the Macrium Way and we feel that by having the time to consider each problem as it arrives by email allows us to provide an answer that is both personal and technically excellent. This is the least we feel our customers deserve.

Without customers, Macrium would not exist and it is our goal to ensure that any customer who encounters a problem with Reflect is answered with a solution as quickly as possible.