Creating the Recovery Media

The Macrium Reflect installation process is straightforward. Run the installer, launch the app, and then take a moment to create a recovery disc. Trust us; nearly every hiccup you might encounter in this process can be mediated via the recovery disc and the last place you want to be when you need to create a recovery disc is staring at a hard drive error.

After installing Macrium Reflect, navigate via the menu bar to Other Tasks -> Create Rescue Media.

You’ll be prompted to select a Windows PE or Linux recovery media. Select Windows PE then click on the Advanced button and select version 5.0. The rescue media creator will ask if you want a custom VIM or a default VIM. Select the default VIM.

In the final step you’ll see a review of the settings and a prompt to select what kind of media you wish to install the recovery disc on. We’ve opted to use a USB drive.

When the process is complete, it’s time to move on to cloning the disk. Now is the time to ensure that the new hard drive is hooked up to your machine.

Cloning the Disk

Hard drives hooked up and recovery media on hand, it’s time to get cloning! The first step is the most important step and really the only step you can really screw up. If you do screw it up, you’re going to have a really,  r e ally , bad time.

In Macrium Reflect, select the “Disc Image” tab and look for your operating system disk (typically Disk 1, C:\, and labeled with a little Windows icon) as seen in the screenshot below.

When you select the disk the option “Clone this disk” will be available beneath the selected drive. Click on it.

The next menu is where you make the most important selection within this entire tutorial. Macrium will show you the source drive you just selected and prompt you to select a destination.

Click on “Select a disk to clone to…” to select your new hard drive. If your system has multiple hard drives attached (e.g. the primary C:\ drive, a few media drives like F:\, E:\, etc. and then the blank HDD you’re about to use) it is critical you select the correct hard drive. If you perform the clone operations on the wrong disk (e.g. F:\, which has all your home movies on it) all the data on that disk will be gone. Double check you have selected the correct hard drive.

Once you have double checked that you have selected the correct destination disk, click “Copy selected partitions.” Macrium will ask if you wish to perform a “forensic” or “intelligent” sector copy. “Forensic” will copy every single bit on the hard disk, regardless of whether or not it’s actually in a used sector. “Intelligent” will only copy the disk sectors actually in use. We recommend you select the intelligent sector copy and tick “Verify File System.”

When you’re done, there’s one thing you’ll likely notice immediately: the partition copied in a 1-to-1 ratio to the new disk which means if you’re upgrading from a 120GB SSD to a 512GB SSD there will be a whole lot of unused space. Don’t worry, we can fix that easily enough. Simply click on the “Cloned Partition Properties” beneath your freshly cloned disk.

There you can click the “Maximum Size” button to automatically resize the existing partition to utilize the full amount of available disk space.

Much better! We didn’t spend all that money upgrading to a nice spacious SSD to leave the partition unexpanded. At this point, with your disk cloned and your partition expanded, it’s time to test out the new drive.

If you’re using a desktop computer the easiest way to test out your new disk is to simply boot down your computer, unplug the cables from your old hard disk (the source disk), and leave the cables for the new disk (the destination disk) plugged in.

If you’re using a laptop you’ll need to swap the hard drives.

Reboot the machine and it should boot right up without an issue. If there’s any hiccups you have two immediate options: reverse the process from the previous step and boot back to the old hard drive or, as we’ll look at in the next step, use the recovery media.

Deploying the Recovery Media

So you booted up the freshly cloned disk and instead of a nice boot splash screen you got an error message. Don’t panic! There’s a very good chance that your problem is very minor and a quick run through with the recovery media will mend any minor issues (like issues on the cloned disk with the master boot record or the like).

The recovery media is a breeze to use. Pop in the disk or flash drive you created, reboot your computer, and then wait for the Windows PE and the Macrium Reflect recovery tool to start up. If it does not boot up immediately (and especially if you’re using a flash drive instead of a disc) there’s a good chance that USB booting is either turned off or low-priority in your BIOS. Reboot, load the BIOS, and ensure that USB booting is prioritized over hard drives.

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