Macrium Reflect Free Edition

A simple, but powerful, solution to cloning and imaging
Disk imaging and cloning is a practice that has saved many an IT support technician and home enthusiast.There are countless times we’ve build a PC for a friend or relation only to have to come back to it several months later to find that ‘fiddling’ has rendered it unbootable and useless. In these cases an image of the PC before we handed it over to them was a wise move and cut down on wasted build time. Likewise, a new SSD to replace the aging and slow hard drive can be easily cloned across, once you’ve manually sorted the size difference.We had a similar situation recently, where an SSD from a previous machine was upgraded and the old unit earmarked to become the main system drive of another PC. It’s an easy enough setup, but the task of finding the right cloning software was more difficult than we first anticipated. Thankfully someone recalled using Macrium Reflect, the Free Edition, with some success, so naturally we took a look.

Macrium Reflect

Macrium Reflect Free is a clever and well laid out GUI front-end to the built-in Windows Volume Shadow Copy Service. This makes it a faster alternative to most other third-party cloning and imaging programs, and as a result of utilising the Windows services it also means that the compression of imaging can be reduced up to 40%.As the title suggests the program is free, but is limited to imaging, cloning, accessing created images, scheduling backups and creating Linux and Windows PE bootable media. For most purposes, including the situation in which we needed it, this covered everything satisfactorily. What’s more, it has a rather tiny install footprint and is exceptionally quick in its operation.Thankfully we didn’t need to create a bootable media device. Cloning the volumes on a hard drive to a SSD simply required us to hook up the SSD via a SATA-to-USB cable, give it some power and run Reflect. Both the drives were recognised and it was a simple one-click solution to opt for cloning the main drive and selecting a destination. The entire cloning process took less than half an hour, and several minutes later we had the old drive out and the new SSD in.

Features At A Glance

  • Free
  • Support for UEFI, GPT and RAID
  • Uses Volume Shadow Copy Service
  • Very easy to use

Conclusion

Cloning software we’ve used in the past never really did the job; all of them copied the system volume information across, but there was usually some issue regarding the boot procedure, which often became fouled up somewhere. We’ve also suffered random disk failures, unloaded drivers and unexplainable system slow-downs. So, as you can imagine, we were prepared for the worst.Nothing of the sort happened, though. The SSD booted, Windows sprang into life and everything was as it should be. Even the system partition remained hidden when we opened Explorer, which came as a surprise. Alongside that, a Windows update that occurred during the cloning process finalised itself and reported a successful install. In short, we were fairly impressed. So the next time you’re called upon to clone or image a PC, consider Macrium Reflect Free Edition. It may help you out considerably.Reflect Free has an easy on the eyes GUI, and it’s remarkably quick tooMacrium have done a sterling job with Reflect Free
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