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The first step after installing any backup software is to create bootable rescue media. I'll show you how to do that with Macrium Reflect.

After installing backup software, the very first step that many people unfortunately overlook is to create what's called bootable rescue media.

Rescue media is typically a CD that you can use to boot your machine in the case that the machine's own operating system installation has been rendered corrupt or un-bootable. The rescue media is a copy of the backup program that can then be used to restore a backup image to your machine.

Once installed, Macrium Reflect includes a built-in tool to create rescue media.

Create Rescue Media

Run Macrium Reflect if it's not running already, and click the Other Tasks menu and the Create Rescue Media menu item:

Create rescue media link

In the resulting dialog, access the default Linux option for the type of rescue media to create. (I'll discuss when to use other options below.) Either one can be used to restore Windows and other operating systems.

Macrium rescue media: Windows or Linux

Click Next. On the next page of the wizard, you'll select where to create the rescue media:

Macrium rescue media: destination selection

In the drop-down list under Select CD/DVD burner, choose either:

  • The drive that represents your CD/DVD burner. Be sure to insert a blank, writable disc.

  • "Create ISO image file" if this computer has no burner or you simply want to save the ISO image to be burned to a disc or on another machine later.

Click Next and Macrium will either begin burning the rescue media to disc, or it'll ask you where to place the ISO file that it will create.

Rescue Media Created

And you're done!

You either have rescue media ready to go or an ISO file that you can burn to disc on another machine.

Testing your rescue media

At this point, I strongly suggest rebooting your computer from the rescue media that you've just created.

With so many different computers and backup devices out there, it's not unheard of for rescue media (from any backup software vendor) to not necessarily boot or see your particular backup device.

Testing now, before you need it, ensures that:

  • The rescue disc works.

  • The rescue disc can "see" your backup drive.

That confirms that should you ever need it, you'll be able to use that disc to boot and restore your backup.

Alternate rescue media

If for some reason your test of the rescue media fails, there are two options that Macrium provides:

  • Compatibility mode

  • A Windows-based rescue media

Burning rescue media with compatibility mode enabled would be the place to start. If that fails for some reason, then burning a Windows-based rescue media would be next (although be aware that this may require a rather large download from Microsoft).

With working rescue media in hand, you're ready to start backing up.

Video

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Video Transcript

This is Leo Notenboom for AskLeo.net.

After purchasing and installing backup software, one of the very first things you should do is create rescue media. Rescue media are the CDs that you might boot from should you ever need to restore your machine from some kind of an unbootable state. I'll show you how to do that here with Macrium Reflect.

Once you start Macrium, select Other Tasks menu and the Create Rescue Media option. You have your choice of using either a Linux or Windows-based boot disk. Many people choose Linux but if you have problems booting from that media or have problems with it being able to recognize your backup device, go ahead and burn a copy of a Windows-based rescue media as well.

We'll select Next. In this particular case, I only have the option to create an ISO image file because I do not have a CD burner on this machine. On another machine, that dropdown includes the actual drive letter for my CD burner. We can select that and Macrium will actually burn the CD directly. In this particular case, we'll create the ISO image file that can then be taken to another machine that will be able to burn this image to a CD.

Hit Finish. We're given the option of where we might want to store that file. I will throw that here. I'll hit Save and the ISO file is created. If this were an actual CD burner that was available, then the CD would be burning as well. Once the ISO has been burned to CD or Macrium has burned the CD directly, you now have your bootable rescue media. It's important at this point, before you actually need it, to actually boot from the CD that you just created.

The reason I say that is that it's important to understand whether or not that particular version of rescue media will a.) boot your machine and b.) actually see any backup devices you have attached to your machine. Regardless of the backup program that you're actually using, rescue CDs are notorious for not necessarily recognizing absolutely every external hard drive or backup device that you might have.

Macrium includes several options to allow you to burn different versions of rescue CDs that hopefully both boot on your machine and recognize your particular backup device. Once you have your rescue media and have tested your rescue media, you're ready to start backing up.

Next Steps

The next video in the series: Macrium Reflect 3: Making an Image Backup.

Article C4988 - November 23, 2011 « »

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Leo Leo A. Notenboom has been playing with computers since he was required to take a programming class in 1976. An 18 year career as a programmer at Microsoft soon followed. After "retiring" in 2001, Leo started Ask Leo! in 2003 as a place for answers to common computer and technical questions. More about Leo.

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9 Comments
Glenn P.
November 29, 2011 2:53 PM

What I'm  looking for is a "Rescue Media" that not only allows one to restore  a backup, but also to actually create  one from scratch as well, since I most emphatically do NOT  trust any  backup software that operates while Windows is up, active, and running.

So: Can the Macrium "Rescue Media" create  backups, as well as restore them...? Leo?

Great question, I had to go research it. The Linux-based rescue media is restore-only and runs a dedicated restore-only application. But the Windows-based rescue media appears to run a full-fledged version of Macrium does appear to support full image backups (no incrementals) and File/Folder backups.
Leo
29-Nov-2011
Glenn P.
November 30, 2011 12:23 AM

That's enough for me! The only thing lacking so far is encryption, which I'd love to have, but can  do without (my current backup solution, BootItNG by TeraByte Unlimited, with which I am not quite happy, doesn't have encryption, either). Telling us how much Macrium costs would be of help.

Unfortunately, I can't go out and get it right now, because I'm on vacation at my brother's house in California (I live in NJ!) and won't be home for a week.

Fortunately, since I'm not at home, I'm not using the computer, and therefore currently have no need of any backup software anyway!     :)

Ted Bundy
December 7, 2011 4:42 PM

Well Leo i have something to tell you and i dont think it will come as a surprise to be honest mate. You are THE MAN Leo. Ive been trying to figure out how to do all this backup malarky and have been reading the usual Geeky websites and everyone i read i hear myself saying the same old thing "thats all very well o geeky person but this is planet earth not Tharg so is there any chance of translating it into Earthling vocabulary so i might just get a slight inkling of what the hell you are talking about"!!! And then i read all 8 of your articles Leo and it was written in Planet Earth speech so the job was a doddle. Cheers for that mate and i know a geezer who will charge £75 to get ya PC back on the road and what does he do for this money? Puts a CD/DVD in and waits to prise the dosh from ya hands. Keep it up my man. Regards Ted.

Glenn P.
December 20, 2011 10:01 PM

For Leo:

Confirmed! I now am home and have Macrium, and yes, it indeed does allow full backup from the CD, booting before Windows even loads! Yay!

BUT...   (You just knew there had to be a "but", didn't you?)

I am not very happy with the way Macrium got sold and delivered, and there were very  serious glitches in its installation.

To describe all my woes would require a full-fledged review, for which there just isn't space here, but BEWARE!  -- Your mileage may vary. I'm happy with it now, but it can have some very definite growing pains...

For the record, my purchase and delivery experience was quite smooth.
Leo
21-Dec-2011
Danny
March 4, 2012 9:37 PM

Very helpful Leo, Thanks!!

One quick question..how do you "check" to see if what you think you've created is what you actually have created? You mention this at 1:51, what are the steps? I just backed up my new desktop to get an image of what this thing looks like when its in tip top shape, so if I do have to reformat down the road I have all my programs, drivers, updates, setups, etc and I can load it back to this state easily. I followed this and step 3 to create the backup, any guidance?

Abby
April 17, 2012 11:40 AM

Leo, I just purchased the standard version of Macrium yesterday and as I was following your instructions for creating a rescue CD I notice they've changed the default to the Windows PE 3.1. I have an HP computer that I purchased rescue discs for so do I need to make the rescue CD via Macrium also? TIA

Mark J
April 17, 2012 12:08 PM

@Abby
Although the rescue disk is Windows PE 3.1 based, it also contains the Macrium program which you would need for restoring the data. So you would need to create it.

GVH
June 30, 2012 3:23 AM

- Purchase and download of version 5 standard was OK. No problems encountered.
- Installation is somehow unusual as it requires a few more steps compared to classic software installations. But in the end, this is quite easy. No problems encountered.

- Comment on this articles Macrium Reflect #
The number # after the words 'Macrium Reflect' are not version numbers ! Did you notice this at once ? I didn't !

Woody
July 20, 2012 3:55 PM

Leo, when I booted from my rescue disc (I tried both Linux and Windows PE) , the Macrium program couldn't see my "WD My Passport" USB external HD. Any suggestions? Thanks

Contact Macrium or their forums. They'll probably have a solution for you in the form of an alternate rescue disk.
Leo
20-Jul-2012

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