Disk Imaging

Overview Disk Imaging

Creating an image of your hard disk is the best way to protect your data and operating system from disk failure or accidental deletion of critical system files. Fortunately, with Macrium Reflect this process is not only incredibly fast but also extremely easy.  To backup your personal file and data consider creating regular File and Folder backups instead of or as well as Disk Images. You can image your entire system, a disk or specific partitions. Reflect also helps you to image just the partitions required to boot Windows which in the case of some disks running Windows 7 or later includes the Microsoft System Reserve (MSR) partition. We recommend that you use the imaging feature to ensure that in the event of disk failure or software corruption, you are able to restore to a known good state with the minimum of ease.

There are a number of image types to ensure your backup process is as quick and disk efficient as possible.

Full Image

A disk image creates an exact copy of the data on your hard disk. This includes the structure of the partitions on the disk and the file system format on the partition. A typical Macrium Reflect image file only includes the parts of the disk that are used by the file system, this is then compressed to reduce the image file size.  An image using standard compression will be around 60-70%  of the size of the used space of the imaged partition. A full image creates a new Image Set complete with a unique Image ID.

Differential Image

Applies to: Standard, Professional and Server Editions of Macrium Reflect only.



A differential image only saves the changes since the last full image. This reduces the resultant file size and time to create considerably.  A differential image requires two files to be present for a restore, the full image and the differential.

Incremental Image

Applies to: Standard, Professional and Server Editions of Macrium Reflect only.



An Incremental image only saves the changes since the last backup, whether this is a full, differential or incremental.  This will produce smaller images than a differential and will be quicker to create, however, all previous images up to and including the current incremental image are required to restore your image file.

Image Set

An image set is a term used to define a collection image files that all relate to the same full image. All files in the same image set use the same Image ID. An Image ID is a unique 16 character code that is used in the file name and also internally in the image files. In order to restore later incremental of differential images, the whole backup set must be valid and present. Missing backups from a set could result in significant data loss.