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With so many imaging programs out there, it's hard to stand out from the crowd--yet Macrium's Reflect Free Edition has managed to do precisely that. It doesn't image hard drive partitions any better than the competition, but its interface is the friendliest I've run across. This free program has gathered the best bits from several of its rivals.
For some reason, many imaging programs mimic the original XP Explorer windows. Reflect uses this look, but the authors appear to have scrutinized their competitor's products and avoided the same mistakes. The interface's color scheme is friendly, and it took me no time to get going with the program. My only minor complaint would be that I'd like to be able choose the type of storage (network or local), and the actual folder in one dialog instead of two.
The tricks Reflect has "borrowed" from its competitors include letting you save an image definition file in XML (a la DriveImage XML) as well as mount and unmount images as normal Windows drive letters, such as Z:\ (a la R-Drive Image). Macrium Reflect even lets you schedule backups and create a recovery disc using Linux or Bart's PE--a nice bit of versatility. Missing features are file backup and password protection; you'll find these in the $40 paid version. The former isn't a big deal as you can use Windows Backup for that task, but if you're worried about security you can skip the free version.
Being free doesn't hurt its cause--but even if Reflect Free Edition cost money, it would be in my bag of recovery and backup tricks.
Note: This link takes you to the vendor's site, where you can download the latest version of the software. The installer file includes the 32-bit and 64-bit versions; you can choose the correct version at installation.
--Jon L. Jacobi
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