Windows 7 Drive Imaging with Macrium Reflect on a Multiboot USB Drive

For many years, I had used Partition Magic to create images of my program (drive C) partition.  These images were relatively compact, taking perhaps half as much space as the imaged partition.  They gave me a way to restore an entire Windows installation in a half-hour or less, saving me many hours of reinstalling Windows and then reinstalling and configuring all of my application programs.

Sadly, Symantec acquired Partition Magic and ran it into the ground, much as Symantec had done with the previously dominant Norton Utilities.  For several years at this point, I had been using Acronis True Image Home instead.  Acronis may or may not have been as good as Partition Magic, but it was adequate.

Now I wanted to supplement Acronis with another drive imaging program.  The primary objective was to include a freeware alternative on a multiboot USB thumb drive, for those who would not be purchasing something like Acronis.  The objective was to find an ISO version of some such utility, so that I could use YUMI to include the program on a bootable jump (flash) drive.

A search led to Gizmo’s Freeware and lists of drive cloning freeware.  Both named Macrium Reflect Free as their first choice.  I downloaded and installed it on my Windows desktop, and ran it.  In Macrium, I went to Other Tasks > Create Rescue Media.  It gave me an option of producing either a Windows PE or a Linux rescue environment.  I decided I wanted both.  The Windows PE option sounded more complete and capable; the Linux option sounded smaller, suitable for installing on a smallish multiboot USB drive I was setting up.

Going with the Windows PE option first, I did not have to download the large Windows Automated Installation Kit (Windows AIK or just WAIK) ISO disc image because I had already done so.  I clicked the “Use a file already downloaded” option and navigated to where I had stored that ISO.  I chose “Install all WAIK features.”  This opened a “Welcome to Windows Automated Installation Kit” window.  I began with the “Step-By-Step Deployment” option.  That opened a file, also available online, that seemed to describe the steps that OEMs would need to take in order to automate the installation of Windows on multiple computers.

I didn’t need that.  I went back to the WAIK window and selected the next option, “Windows AIK Setup.”  The opened an “Install Windows AIK” screen.  I gathered that this was what Macrium wanted to do; it was just sitting there, spinning its wheels, waiting for me while I was finding my way along.  I just went with the defaults, in installing the WAIK.  I had checked Control Panel > Programs and Features to see if I had somehow already installed this; and when the installation was done, I checked again.  It wasn’t there before, but now it was.

I closed the WAIK window.  Macrium gave me an error message:  “An error occurred installing the following item.  Reflect can not continue.  Windows Automated Installer Kit.”  I went through the WAIK process again.  This time, WAIK gave me only the options to repair or remove WAIK.  I chose repair.  When it was done, I closed WAIK again.  This time it seemed to work:  I was on to the next screen.  I chose the 64-bit architecture and the Default Base WIM (whatever that was) and clicked Next.  Macrium said this:

Windows PE Free Edition Rescue Media

Check that your rescue media can access your drives.

If you are unable to access the source or target drives for your restore you may need additional drivers.

To add drivers to Windows PE please use the ‘Check for unsupported devices’ feature.

The non-free editions of Macrium Reflect can automatically resolve driver issues.

That sounded good.  I clicked Continue.  I declined to check for an update, since I had just downloaded the program.  I was now at a Burn Rescue Media dialog.  It was asking me where I wanted to burn the Windows PE thing.  I was wanting to make this just one of several items on a multiboot drive, as I say, but apparently I had to begin by copying to a USB drive and then maybe using ImgBurn to make an ISO from that, for second-round installation back onto a USB drive using YUMI.

Anyway, I had a 2GB Philips USB jump drive lying around, not being good for much else, so I plugged that into the computer.  Macrium didn’t see it — the USB drive selection was grayed, with only my Kingston USB drive showing — so I clicked the Back button.  Now I was back at the starting point, choosing Windows PE rather than Linux.  Fortunately, I didn’t have to go back through the whole process; I was right back to the Burn Rescue Media dialog.  Now I saw my mistake:  I should have clicked the button in front of USB Device before trying to arrow down to find other drives.  So now I was able to designate the Philips drive.  I selected that and clicked Finish.  It ran and then told me it was successful.  But what had it created, and where was it?  There was nothing on the Philips drive.  I tried booting a computer with it anyway; no joy.  Nothing on the desktop, or in the other usual suspects.  And then, jeez, I discovered it had installed itself on the Kingston drive instead.  Oops.  Had I not specified the Philips?

Whatever.  I booted a laptop with the Kingston.  It offered to load drivers for the network; I declined.  It gave me a Macrium-style interface with assorted options, including “Browse for an image file.”  I had already noticed that Macrium’s “Other Tasks” menu pick offered a “Convert image to VHD” option.  VHD was short for “virtual hard disk.”  Microsoft Virtual PC used VHD format; others (e.g., VirtualBox, VMware) had developed the ability to read it too.  In other words, I could use virtualization software to run a Macrium drive image as a bootable virtual machine.  This could be useful if, for instance, I wanted to be able to tinker with aspects of my Windows installation without losing the original pre-tinkering setup.

But for right now, I passed on the VHD option.  I wondered if Macrium would detect the Acronis .tib backup I had saved on another partition on that computer.  It didn’t.  It was interested only in Macrium proprietary (.mrimg) images, and I didn’t have any of those.  So, OK, how about if I made one now, from the drive C partition that I hoped was still functional in some sense, even though I wasn’t getting it to boot right now?  Macrium was willing to do that.  Browsing for an image file now produced that item.

Back on the desktop computer, I went ahead with the idea of using ImgBurn to produce an ISO, and then adding that ISO to the USB drive using YUMI’s “Try an Unlisted ISO” option.  That didn’t work.  It died with “Error 13:  Invalid or unsupported executable format,” apparently in response to a “chainloader (hd 32)” command issued by the WinPE bootable environment.  My understanding was that YUMI was already providing the bootable environment; the WinPE attempt to create another one was not processable.  I needed to find a way to get Macrium into a simple ISO, without the WinPE environment.  A search led to a suggestion to go to C:\Program Files\Macrium\Reflect and try using the Rescue.iso file there.  That file was dated 10/31/2012, predating this post by nearly two months, so apparently it was not necessary to go through the foregoing steps to create it.  I tried using that ISO directly with YUMI, without using Macrium’s “Create Rescue Media” menu pick.  The resulting YUMI drive did boot; and unless I acted quickly on its menu offering an option to run Memtest, it went promptly into the Macrium Restore Wizard.  As its name suggests, however, the Restore Wizard could only restore an existing image; it could not create one.

To review, then, I could install Macrium Free on a computer; I could use that installation to Create Rescue Media in either WinPE or Linux forms; I could use those media to make a Macrium backup; but I did not yet see a way to put that medium onto a multiboot drive.  This rescue medium could both create and restore Macrium images of a partition.  The Rescue.iso file would be installed when I installed Macrium on a computer, and Rescue.iso could be easily added to a YUMI multiboot drive; but Rescue.iso could not create images.  The task at hand, then, was to figure out how to get the form of Macrium that I created, using the WinPE option, to work on a multiboot drive.

Or maybe not.  Maybe the Linux form would do what I needed.  I went back to Macrium’s Other Tasks > Create Rescue Media menu pick and tried the Linux option.  It had a “Create ISO image file” option.  I selected that, and also selected Advanced > Debug mode.  Macrium created the resulting ISO very quickly.  When I booted it, I saw why; it had just copied over the Recover.iso.  I was looking at only the option to restore, not to create.  So I definitely needed the WinPE option.  The alternatives seemed to be to have a separate USB stick solely for Macrium, or look for something other than YUMI to create a multiboot drive.

I looked at the USB drive that I had used with Macrium’s Create Rescue Media > WinPE option.  I also looked again at that menu pick.  I hadn’t noticed that its CD/DVD Burner option contained a “Create ISO image file” option, just like the one that I had just created in the Linux (not WinPE) option.  Was this one going to do the same thing — just give a restore capability without an image creation ability?  I tried it.  I could see that the resulting ISO was a lot bigger than the other one (~170MB vs. ~13MB).  I used YUMI to put it on a newly formatted USB drive.  I booted another computer with it.  It worked.  It gave me a fully featured Macrium program, with the apparent (untested) ability to create and also to restore Macrium images.  So that was the answer:  use the WinPE > CD > ISO option.  That would give me an ISO that I could put onto a multiboot USB drive using YUMI.

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One Response to Windows 7 Drive Imaging with Macrium Reflect on a Multiboot USB Drive

  1. ID10T says:

    (chuckle)… am I glad I just chose the CD–>ISO option from the start – blind luck I guess – I wasn’t even aware that the other options/alternatives would leave you with a restore-only boot environment.

    I use BootICE and easyBCD to boot straight from ISO that I placed in a HIDDEN FAT32 Partition – Works great for the Windows ISOs and VHDs – NOT for LINUX CDs…I will look into easy2boot


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