Ghost Windows for Free with Paragon Drive Backup Express (A Visual Guide)

6. Restore Your Image

I’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, it’s totally worthless.

Go ahead and reboot the computer with your recovery media inserted. If you’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.

Here’s what the Linux-based recovery disc looks like upon boot:

Paragon Drive Backup Express - Recovery Environment 1

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. We’re looking for the Simple Restore Wizard, but notice that a Backup Wizard is also included.

Paragon Drive Backup Express - Recovery Environment 2

To me, this is one of the main strengths of DBE – 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, let’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.

Paragon Drive Backup Express - Simple Restore Wizard

If you are running from a Rescue CD, then YES, you may eject the CD since it’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 you’re finished ogling at your image properties, click Next again.

Paragon Drive Backup Express - Simple Restore Wizard 2

We’re almost done now. The last – but crucial – required step is to choose the disk that you want to restore. Make sure you choose the correct disk!

Paragon Drive Backup Express - Simple Restore Wizard 3

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? That’s right – nothing! Nothing except an error message politely suggesting that you are an idiot, anyway.

Paragon Drive Backup Express - Restore from itself

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 you’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.

Paragon Drive Backup Express - Simple Restore Wizard 3

And we’re off! Sit back and watch helplessly as your disk is erased… and (hopefully) restored with the working disk image data!

Paragon Drive Backup Express - Restoring Disk

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.

Paragon Drive Backup Express - Restore Complete

Exit the Simple Restore Wizard and reboot the computer. Don’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. I’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. It’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 don’t think I’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. It’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 —

23 thoughts on “Ghost Windows for Free with Paragon Drive Backup Express (A Visual Guide)

  1. How does this compare to Macrium Reflect Free? I switched to it (from DriveImage XML) because DXML didn’t support backing up/restoring the MBR. I’ve done backups/restores of XP, Vista, and Win7 w/Reflect without issue, but one thing I wish you could do was a backup from the restore media it creates. That’s about the only “hole” I’ve found so far.

  2. I don’t get it. Why do you keep saying “The main advantage of DBE over Macrium Reflect is that you can create a disk image directly from the recovery media without installing anything”?

    In the first page, you installed DBE to make a backup so why is the above statement very important?

  3. Bill Bob – It’s only important because the option is available. For people who have multiple computers, it’s handy to just pop in the CD and make a backup without having to install software on every computer.

    A few people asked about it in the comments on the Macrium article, so I felt compelled to mention it.

    For most people it’s not important, but there are some who appreciate the option.

  4. I like the option, but I also like the option of being able to actually install the software, which I wasn’t able to do…just an FYI.

    I’m running Win7 64bit beta and the button to get the serial doesn’t work. I did a quick search and saw others with the same complaint, so I doubt the problem is specific to the beta.

  5. Thanks, Brian. Two questions, though:

    1) I’d like to ghost the entire HD onto an image to be stored on an external hard drive, in case my current internal hard drive dies. If that happens, I want to be able to restore everything to a new hard drive, and I want everything to boot/work as before, including XP and the MS Office products I have on there. Will there be any problems with the MS products working on new hardware, or will the registration not correspond then? (I don’t have the original disks for XP, just the COA sticker, and nothing for Office)?

    2) I’m not sure I agree with your step 6 (Restore Your Image). If it works, great. If it doesn’t work, you’ve just destroyed a working set up. In my case (see above) that means I cannot get XP and Office working again (there is no way to back them up). Yes, I agree that you can’t know for sure that your image works until you test it, but writing over the original seems kind of scary. In my case, what I’d prefer is to restore it to a new internal hard drive at the time my HD begins to fail. What do you think?


  6. You’re welcome, Che. Two answers, I hope:

    1) Everything *should* work fine. Store the image on the external drive, and if your internal hard drive dies, just pop in a new one and restore from the external. If the only different hardware is the internal disk, all software should work as before, MS products included.

    2) While I encourage people to go ahead and test the restore, the last thing I want is for them to break a working system. If you have a spare internal disk and don’t mind swapping it, that’s even better than simply restoring over the existing installation because it simulates a real-life drive failure and restoration.

    The point is to make sure the restoration will work, one way or another. Good luck!

  7. Brian,

    I’m looking for a free product that can be used to move a WinXP installation onto a larger HD to upgrade the HD in a laptop.

    In your article on using Macrium Reflect:
    – The restore wizard gave you the option of overwriting the MBR.
    – The was a reply from Nick @ Macrium Software confirming that you could restore a backup image into a larger partition.

    Does Paragon Drive Backup Express match these two features?


  8. Greg – Yes, restoring a backup image to a larger partition is almost never a problem for this type of software. Usually it’s attempts to restore to a smaller partition that can cause problems.

    Yes, Paragon DBE can back up and restore the MBR. Good luck.

    Kevin – Thanks. Glad it helped!

  9. Wow, I had been surfing for months for a decent tute for this type of stuff. Your forum is very well put together and comprehensive even for noobs like me to understand. Wish me luck I will be ghosting my computer this weekend.

  10. Great article – I’ve just used this tutorial to transfer all data on my laptop’s old 60Gb hard drive to a replacement 160Gb hard drive. It all went well and the new drive is up and running without a hitch, so thank you!

    One slight problem – the laptop’s hard drive contained a hidden partition for system recovery as well as the main storage partition. Now that everything is on the new hard drive, the partitions are still the same size, leaving me with 100Gb of unallocated space.

    Now I know I can just create a new partition in that space to give me a separate 100Gb drive, but I’d prefer to expand the C: to fill that space instead. Is there a way of doing that without expensive software?

  11. First, many thanks to Brian ( for producing these detailed and easy-to-follow tutorials.

    After carefully comparing DriveImage XML, Macrium Reflect Free and DBE, I’ve decided to use DBE.

    However, since my Dell’s hard disk has a hidden diagnostics partition, I suspect I’ll have to edit the boot.ini file to point at partion(1) on the new drive, since the old boot.ini (presumably copied over to the system disk image) points to partition(2).

    Bryan provided a very clear explantion about this issue.

    Can anyone advise how I can make similar amendments to the boot.ini file using the DBE Recovery Media CD or another tool?


  12. I tried but fail to restore.
    Back up has no problem, verify no problem
    But the restored partition simply did not work. Disk was found but partition was not recognized and fail to reboot. (missing kernel dll)

  13. I must applaud you on your efforts and clarity. I would ask you to consider adding into your articles a statement telling what OS is being used in each and to which the article might possibly apply since differnet OSes can and will have different reactions. I am using Win 7 and do not know if all of this applies. I am however certain that soon, the great majority will be using it since it appears to be the best ever. That said, even the best can break and so I would like to be prepared. I hope that you would find it in your heart to update with Win 7 results when you have the opportunity. Once again, thanks for all of the work on the behalf of a public that you never get a chance to meet.

  14. If your hard disc contains a hidden partition (usually a recovery partition from the manufacturer) you would normally have to remove both the system partition and recovery partition, then create a new partition taking up the whole drive before running the restore. Klaw81, if you have forgotten to do this and still want to remove the hidden recovery partition then use another of Paragon’s free tools, Partition Manager which will do exactly what you want.

  15. Hey Brian,

    I’ve been looking all over for something like this, and your post is very thorough, thanks for all the great information! But I do have one question, how well does DBE deal with RAIDs? I’ve been having a hell of a time with a newly built machine installing my XP copy to the RAID, but installing with the SATAs as IDE works fine. So I was thinking install as IDE, backup image and recovery to DVD, and recloning it to the RAID.

  16. Reading your article made me decide to try the Paragon solution. They have updated their product offering and now the free product is Paragon Backup & Recovery 2010 Free Advanced Edition. Didn’t know what to expect but thought it might retain the features you described that I wanted. Not having seen the version you discuss I would still have to say this new version is even better.

    I just got 4 new Dells, all the exact same model and configuration with identical OEM licenses for Windows 7 but delivered with Windows XP installed. It took almost 2 days to get one setup the way I wanted, mostly removing all the stuff Dell puts on their systems and applying all the latest Windows updates. What I wanted was a clean way to make an image of that one configured system and apply it to the other 3.

    I didn’t want the Paragon program to be in the image so I installed it on one of the other 3 systems and created the Paragon Recovery Boot CD. Then I booted my configured system with the CD and made a partition image of the System partition, which is partition 2 because these machines have the Dell diagnostics partition as partition 1. I created the image on an external USB drive. You can also use a USB thumb drive (memory stick).

    Then I simply booted the other systems from the Paragon Recovery Boot CD with the USB drive connected and performed a partition restore to that system’s partition 2, leaving each system’s diagnostics partition intact. Worked great. No problems at all. Both source and destination partitions were 160GB but the image created was only 11GB. That was with “No Compression” selected. You can select different levels of compression when creating the image. Took about 20 minutes to create the partition image and 20 minutes to restore it to each system.

    NOTE that if you’re putting the image on multiple machines that will be connected on the same network you need to rename each machine after booting with the new image. You should also make the source machine Administrator’s password blank before creating an image just as a safety precaution.

    Also if the Windows partition (System partition) will have a different partition number on the target machine, like if you don’t want to keep the diagnostics partition, you need to prepare for that in advance. You have several options. You can create a boot diskette on which you can edit the boot.ini file to point to partition 1 and then change the boot.ini on the hard disk after booting the system. You can change the partition number in the boot.ini file right before shutting down the system to make an image of it. You can also use a Windows XP installation CD to boot to the recovery console and execute the commands that will make corrections to the boot.ini file. You can easily find instructions for doing that on the Internet.

    The new free Paragon program is excellent. It’s been several years since I worked with Ghost but this program is easily as nice if not better than Ghost. Since I will be rolling out Windows 7 to 25 machines at work in the next 6 months I will be requesting permission to purchase one of the Paragon professional packages.

  17. I was trying this for my company use, but it seem doesn’t work out. After I recovery the system, it shows Error Loading Operating System. Because the company was crashed before I made an image, so I found a similar company to make the image, then recoveried on the crashed company, is that why it doesn’t work out? Please help me.

  18. Nice piece of software. The progress bar showed installing the Rescue CD for a while and ended black screen. Finally I returned to Ghost 2003. I am still using it with those 2 boot floppys. Always checking if the image does get installed properly. Better burn your disk images twice if you do not have a spare computer to verify.
    Maybe I failed with Paragon because I have my XP installed on the chipset Raid controller. Otherwise it would have been the total bargain for free.
    Since I cannot use Ghost with USB-Floppy to backup my laptop (cursor out of control), I might use Paragon for this operation.

  19. It wasn’t the best choice for my Windows XP system but it is almost perfect on my Vista laptop.
    The ultimate solution is Drive SnapShot 1.40. Works without installation. Creates bootable DVD or USB-Stick and pretty much everything you want. And restore takes only about 5 minutes where others take 45. This would be my pick for 39 EUR.

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