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There are several ways to access your backed up data if your first restore disc does not work.

Macrium Reflect's free rescue media will not recognize any of my external hard drives with my backup on it. What do I do now? Is there any I way I can rescue my backups?

In this excerpt from Answercast #47, I look at a case where a backup drive is not being recognized by recovery media.

Accessing your backup

Absolutely! There are a couple of different things that you need to do.

One is... I believe that with the free version of Macrium Reflect you have the opportunity to create two different kinds of rescue media:

  • The easy one is a Linux-based version that is a very simple "works in most cases" solution.

That is generally what people end up using because it's there and it's quick. And it doesn't have the big problem that the next item does.

And that is:

  • There is another alternative that's available that actually creates what's called a "Windows PE" (for Pre-installed Environment).

  • It's a Windows version of the Macrium Reflect rescue disc.

The downside is this big, scary, warning they give you that says it may require a one-point-something gigabyte download from Microsoft! I'm not sure that's actually true (that it will take the entire gigabyte), but even if it does, that would be the first thing that I would point you at.

It's the first thing that I would have you try.

Macrium support forums

The other thing is to actually go out to the Macrium Reflect forums, their support forums.

  • One of the reasons that I have switched my recommendation to Reflect is that they do a much better job of proactively dealing with issues in their forums and answering questions that are posed there.

I had exactly this problem a couple of years ago, long before I actually started recommending Reflect. When I went there and submitted my question, what they ended up doing was:

  • Pointing me at the alternate version of the rescue media;

  • An ISO file that I could then download and burn to CD;

  • And sure enough, that one then recognized my particular hard drive.

It was a scenario that sounds extremely like the one that you're facing.

Get your rescue disk working

Now, those are all solutions to get the rescue disc working so that you can:

  • Boot from it;

  • And actually restore the entire backup image to a hard disk.

Recover your data

If you can live without a full restore, you can run Reflect on your booted PC. In other words, on any Windows PC that's running Windows:

  • You can access the contents of your images.

  • You can extract files.

  • You can extract whatever it is you need from that image;

  • And in fact, you can restore the contents of that backup image to a second hard drive.

I don't believe it's really all that easy to make that, then, a bootable hard drive. The steps get a little bit convoluted at that point. But the reason I mention this is that it's very, very important to realize that:

  • Your data is in no way lost!

  • You can get at it one way or another.

You may or may not be able to get a rescue media that works with your external hard drives (though I think you can if you try some of the suggestions I mentioned in the first place.)

But if, for some reason, those suggestions don't work, then any Windows PC running the current version of Macrium Reflect will at least be able to recover the contents of those backup images so that you can absolutely not lose anything that is stored on them.

Article C5737 - August 25, 2012 « »

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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.

Not what you needed?

August 28, 2012 9:51 AM

Generally, the Macrium rescue CD does recognize the drives. With an older version there can be a problem with USB3 atttached drives - you can put images on those but you cannot recover from them. The cure is to attach the drive to a USB2 port.

The WinPE CD is the preferred solution. But as was said, that requires the download of the 1.7GB WAIK - if you want to produce it from the free Macrium program. For convenience, I have uploaded a ready made WinPE .iso f the latest Macrium release. You can download it from my Skydrive site - right ck=lick on the grey box, then burn it to CD (e.g. with ImgBurn).

{Personal link removed}

Unfortunately I can't take responsibility for personal links on this site, particularly to custome created downloads, so I've removed it. I'd direct folks to the Macrium support forums for assistance in general, and agree that the WinPE disc may well be the best way to go.

Wayne Wood
August 28, 2012 3:00 PM

Leo, I had the problem of Macrium Reflect Standard version not recognizing my "WD MyPassport External HDD" because it was a "Dynamic...something" type drive and MR PRO is required to see that type of drive. Once I bought and installed that it worked. Macrium was nice about refunding the price of the Std. version.

Peter Mackin
August 28, 2012 5:10 PM

Leo, The WinPE version works well and has another feature that some people may need. If you have an XP system with a RAID hard disk configuration, neither the Linux based version or the off-the-shelf WinPE version will support the RAID disk. With the WinPE version you can add the RAID drivers to the WinPE directory before creating the rescue disk. That way when you boot from the rescue disk the added drivers will be loaded and you can see and restore to your RAID disk.

aussie philip
August 29, 2012 12:44 AM

Agree with comment 1, Can back up to a WD My Book external hard-drive using either USB2.0 or USB3.0 ports.
However the external hard-drive has to be attached to a USB 2.0 port to see Macrium Reflect backup image files on the external hard-drive, after booting computer using latest Windows PE-based rescue disk (ver.5.0.4995).
Can then check backup image file as outlined in Leo's excellent publication, " Maintaining Windows 7 - Backing Up ".

August 29, 2012 1:34 PM

Forget Macrium...Use Acronis and (Easus They are more straight forward and easier to use. I think Acronis is best pgm. for B/U.

I used to recommend Acronis, but no longer do so. Please see the explanation here: Acronis TrueImage Home - Backup Software
March 3, 2013 9:34 PM

Ok, first off, the original asker, I think, is saying that he DID burn a rescue cd, likely the windows version and, like ME, and many others, it DOES NOT WORK (for restoring). I have THE latest version, and it still is a problem.

I do have a mult-dock USB3 (with USB2 compatibility) duplicator / external USB 4-drive caddy. And no, hooking it to USB 2.0 port does NOT work. Nor does the eSATA port on the dock work (not for restore; backs up just fine).

Macrium Windows rescue CD boots fine, but does NOT see this drive caddy on either eSATA or USB 2.0 port. Maybe because the dock itself is mult-drive capable? Maybe because the dock port is 3.0, even though I have it hooked to USB 2.0 port? Who knows?

The forums are B.S.! Macrium ONLY allows paid customers to ask questions. You can find [some] answers but, when you get in a bind, if you have the free version, you are on your own, and must use other forums.

The other alternative nobody mentioned is the one that worked for me: NETWORK! When you boot the rescue cd (and yes, it does first download the entire 1GB WAIK s/w from Microsoft) - anyway, it gives you the option to look for backup files on your network. So, I copied my Macrium backup folder (image) to the network, browsed to that, and it worked just fine.

I might try a single USB external - pure USB 2.0 and see if it sees that. I have plenty of those. These multi-drive duplicator docks / caddies are somewhat different than using a true single external USB drive.

BTW, my entire image backup of Windows 7 Enterprise 64-bit was around 18GB so, with a 32GB USB flash or thumb drive, I might have had success, but I was able to browse to it on the network, even though it saw ONLY an old 'workgroup' computer, and did not see any of the domain systems - I simply mapped to the workgroup computer, copied the backups there, then restored, booting from rescue cd and pointing to the workstation share that I set up.

Hope my experience might help others searching for solutions. I'm now ready to try easus and see if it has a little more flexibility.

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