6. Restore Your Image
Iâ€™ve said it before, but it merits repeating. No backup solution is complete until you KNOW that you can successfully restore your disk images. Until you know that your backup works, itâ€™s totally worthless.
Go ahead and reboot the computer with your recovery media inserted. If youâ€™re booting from a USB flash drive, make sure your motherboard bios supports it. If booting from optical media, make sure your bios is set to first try booting from CD/DVD.
Hereâ€™s what the Linux-based recovery disc looks like upon boot:
Most people should simply choose Normal Mode in the recovery environment. If it acts funny, try Safe Mode or Low-Graphics mode. The Normal Mode worked fine for me.
This brings us to the main screen of the recovery disk. Weâ€™re looking for the Simple Restore Wizard, but notice that a Backup Wizard is also included.
To me, this is one of the main strengths of DBE â€“ you can actually create backups directly from the Rescue CD without actually having DBE installed on that computer. This is one advantage over a tool like Macrium Reflect.
Anyway, letâ€™s continue restoring our image. Go ahead and double-click the Simple Restore Wizard. When it launches, click the browse button to find the image that you created.
If you are running from a Rescue CD, then YES, you may eject the CD since itâ€™s running in RAM. Networking support is not included, though, so as of now it is not possible to restore directly from a mapped Network Drive. If anyone figures this out, let me know.
Continue with the Restore Wizard. The next screen will let you examine the properties of your selected image, including the size of the original partition and how much data is actually used. When youâ€™re finished ogling at your image properties, click Next again.
Weâ€™re almost done now. The last â€“ but crucial â€“ required step is to choose the disk that you want to restore. Make sure you choose the correct disk!
Note: if you stored your disk image on drive C:\, and you try to restore the image to drive C:\, what do you think will happen? Thatâ€™s right â€“ nothing! Nothing except an error message politely suggesting that you are an idiot, anyway.
The last page of the recovery wizard will give you an option to review all your proposed changes before it starts destroying data. Take a good, hard look at everything to make sure youâ€™ve chosen the correct image and the appropriate hard disk. If all looks good, take a deep breath and hit Next to start the restore.
And weâ€™re off! Sit back and watch helplessly as your disk is erasedâ€¦ and (hopefully) restored with the working disk image data!
Again, this process may take a while depending on how much data is contained in your disk image, and depending on how wimpy your computer is. Take another coffee break or have a snack.
Hey, it looks like my restore is now complete.
Exit the Simple Restore Wizard and reboot the computer. Donâ€™t forget to remove your recovery boot disk! Provided everything went as planned, your system should now come back to life. Congratulations! If your hard disk melted, exploded, or consumed all the potato chips in your cabinet, I offer my condolences. Please re-read the instructions, and better luck next time. You DID back up your data, correct?
7. Final Thoughts
Paragon Drive Backup Express is a powerful tool provided you understand its limitations. Sure, it lacks the bells and whistles of its commercial siblings, but what it does offer is simplicity. Iâ€™ve tried several backup-restore disk imaging tools now, and DBE is one of the easiest, if not THE easiest to use. If all you want to do is create an image or two that you can restore later, DBE has you covered.
Of course, you might ask how DBE compares to the free version of Macrium Reflect. Itâ€™s a fair question. While they both can create and restore images without problem, there are a few little feature differences.
The main advantage of Macrium Reflect is that you can clone an image directly to CD/DVD. DBE lacks this capability in the free version, though you can always just store the image directly on a disk and burn to DVD afterward. Not a major setback, but it is an inconvenience in DBE.
The main advantage of DBE over Macrium Reflect is that you can create a disk image directly from the recovery media without installing anything. For purists who like a Windows installation to remain as uncluttered as possible, this is a major advantage. In fact, here is a link where you can download the Linux-based recovery ISO directly. I donâ€™t think Iâ€™m violating any Terms and Conditions of DBE since they essentially distribute the ISO with the program, but I will remove the link if asked by someone from the company. Itâ€™s a good idea to install the program anyway to make sure you have the latest version of the recovery media.
Other than those two differences, the programs are quite similar. Neither free editions support differential backups, encryption, or any other fancy features, but they both work well to just create and restore disk images. Pick whichever one you prefer. As an added bonus, both support Linux EXT file systems, so you should be able to clone Linux partitions from within Windows. Nice.
As always, good luck, and happy backups! May your images never get corrupt.
— Brian Bondari —