Technology in terms you understand. Sign up for the Confident Computing newsletter for weekly solutions to make your life easier. Click here and get The Ask Leo! Guide to Staying Safe on the Internet — FREE Edition as my thank you for subscribing!

Macrium Reflect 5: Scheduling Backups

Now that we’ve installed Macrium Reflect and created some backups, it’s time for the computer to take over the task.

Scheduling backups to happen automatically without you having to do a thing is critical for ongoing protection.

I’ll walk you through setting up a scheduled backup using Macrium Reflect.

Scheduled Backups

In Macrium Reflect, click the Scheduled Backups tab:

Macrium Reflect Scheduled Backups tab

Because we haven’t scheduled any backups yet, click the green plus icon to add a new one.

Scheduling step 1: select a Backup Definition File

When we created our original full image backup, Macrium also created a backup definition file that contains definitions of all the various parameters of our backup. It’s this definition file that we now use for scheduling. Click it (“My Backup.xml” in the example above) and click Next.

Selecting the type of backup

Select Incremental as the backup type. Because the backup may run while we’re not logged in, enter account credentials so that the scheduled task can “log in” to do its job. You can also give the scheduled task a name; perhaps something like “Nightly Backup”.

Click Next.

Selecting the frequency of the backup

Next, you need to select how frequently you want this backup to happen. In general, I recommend that you select Daily.

Click Next.

Selecting the backup time

Enter a start time that your computer is likely to be on, but not being used. I tend to select random times in the middle of the night because I leave my computer on all of the time. Most folks should just select “Every Day”, although perhaps a business computer used only during the week might select only weekdays.

“If missed then run at next start-up” is a decision for you. If the computer is not running at the scheduled backup time, there are two alternatives:

  • Checked: The next time that you turn on your computer, the missed backup will begin. This may impact the overall performance of your computer until the backup completes.
  • Unchecked: The missed backup is simply skipped. You’ll probably want to make sure that the computer remains on for the next scheduled backup or consider choosing a time when the computer is more likely to be on.

Backups are important enough that, unless you have specific reasons, I recommend leaving this checked and performing a missed backup at the next start-up.

Click Next.

Scheduled backup summary

Finally, you’re presented with a summary of the backup options selected. Click Finish and you’re done.

You can close Macrium Reflect at this point if you like. It’s scheduler will make sure that the backups happen according to the schedule and options that you’ve set.


View in HD (1280×720)

Video Transcript

This is Leo Notenboom for

So far, we’ve installed Macrium, we’ve created rescue media so that we can  boot and restore to a completely dead machine should we ever need to. We’ve created an image backup; a full image backup of the entire machine and we’ve created an incremental backup of changes between the time that incremental backup was taken and the full backup. Now comes to automate the process by scheduling backups.

In Macrium Reflect, click on the ‘Schedule Backups’ tab; there are none so far so we click on the ‘plus’ sign to add a new scheduled task. The backup definition file that we created when we originally created when we took our first full backup is what we’ll start with.

We will call this an incremental backup. Since this will happen at a time when you’re not actually logged in, you’ll need to provide your account credentials. We’ll be logging in here as me with my password. And the task name can be whatever you like. ‘Nightly backup’ is a good one since that’s the basic idea behind what we’re attempting to do here. We’re going to do this daily. I’m going to pick an arbitrary time of 1:48 in the morning and we’re going to start tomorrow and we’ll run ever day.

‘If missed then run at the next stat-up.’ This is an option you can choose if you want to. The trade-off is that the back-up will be running when you start using your computer and it’s possible that your overall performance may be affected. If you choose to not run at the next start-up, then it’s important to leave your machine running to make sure that the backup happens at it’s next
scheduled opportunity.

Macrium shows us a summary of the settings we’ve chosen and we’re done. We now have a nightly backup that will run every morning at 1:48 and will perform an incremental backup of the entire machine. Each night, things that changed the previous day since the previous backup will be collected into the incremental  backup. At this point, it’s actually safe to go ahead and close Macrium Reflect as it will have added it’s own scheduled tasks to its own software or to a Windows task scheduler so that the software will in fact run at the appropriate time.

Next Steps

The next video in the series: Macrium Reflect 6: Restoring an Image.

Do this

Subscribe to Confident Computing! Less frustration and more confidence, solutions, answers, and tips in your inbox every week.

I'll see you there!

11 comments on “Macrium Reflect 5: Scheduling Backups”

  1. Good video Leo, but some basics were not covered and perhaps should have been. For example I have been struggling with some features of another backup product, NovaBACKUP Professional 12.5(by Novastor). Example one is that the Disaster Recovery (DR) backup is a 3rd party add-in that is not yet fully integrated with the baseline “file” product. One consequence is that it is impossible to edit DR scripts for re-use on another system (in case the backup drive letter is different) or to change options. Incremental, Differential and Full (file) jobs can be edited. Go figure. Stats and compression ratios, etc are unavailable for DR backups. Another annoying “feature” is that the system locks up during the backup for up to 3-7 minutes at a time. Some comparable products allow “throttling back” to keep a useable system functioning during the backup operation. What about Macrium on these issues – it can make you hate your backup software? Also does “Mac” use VSS or something similar to backup open files like Outlook PSTs? I consider this to be a MUST HAVE absolutely essential feature as I have Outlook open all the time (except when my system is hibernating). The file naming for “Mac” backups seems clean compared to NovaBACKUP which I find confusing and inconsistent — no doubt the result of the partial integration of a their file-level product and the afore mentioned 3rd party “image” backup product. One nice feature of NB is the ability to create a bootable USB thumb drive; does “Mac” support this instead of a recovery “disc”? My favorite backup is still ShadowProtect (SP) which is about double the cost of the other “Top Ten” 2012 backup products (of which NB was ranked first and “Mac” and “SP” were not on the list) but then it is straight-forward, clean, it works, and it is intuituve and has great scheduling flexibility (and image DR is fully integrated w/ Diff and Incrementals and it was the first to fully support VSS). Maybe the freedom from frustration is worth the extra cost in *MUST HAVE* backup software.

    I guess I’m not completely certain how failures in another backup utility reflect poorly on Macrium. I typically don’t advise editting scripts across machines simply because there are differences that are easily accounted for by simply recreating the script in the new environment. That being said Macrium saves ’em as XML files which I would presume you can edit to your heart’s content.

    Macrium does use VSS, and certainly didn’t appear to lockup or effect the performance of my test machines – realize that I can’t make a blanket statement there, because if your machine is “close to the edge” on performance, running a backup – or anything else – could push it over and impact how the machine’s running.

    I’ve not attempted to create a USB based recovery media. I’d be surprised if it were not available, but haven’t looked. Macrium’s FAQ and Knowledgebase seem extensive and I’d suggest you browse around there as well.

    (I’d suggest avoiding the term “Mac” to refer to Macrium Reflect – many people reading this will see it as somehow Apple Mac related, where it’s not – worth avoiding the confusion in the future.)

  2. Can I use regular CD’s to back up on, or do I need to use a DVD? Is there a certain type of media I need to look for to serve as the back up disk?

    When you schedule backups, does the program back up to your computer or to a CD? It seems to me that it needs to back up to a CD in order to be useful in the event the computer actually needs to be restored.

  3. Thanks for leading me through setting up Macrium step by step. I have been using Genie, based on (I think?) your recommendation several years ago. After receiving an email advertising their new version, I got a virus alert from AVG when I tried to download it, so I am now making a futile attempt at uninstalling Genie. Seems they didn’t include an uninstall….Your comments about Macrium help me feel confident that it will be a good backup program.

  4. Leo
    What I’m not clear on is the incremental backups.
    Do you just let the incremental backups accumulate on the destination disk (in your example daily) then at some point erase them and the original backup? Then do a full backup and schedule the incrementals again?


    Essentially yes (though I don’t delete the old backup until the new backup has completed successfully). Macrium can also be configured to this automatically for you, which is actually what I have set up.

  5. My biggest issue with scheduled back ups will be remembering to connect the External Hard Drive. I don’t usually leave my computer “always on” as some do, nor do I leave the External Hard Drive always connected. We learnt in some other article that for security purposes a back up is best kept separate from the computer, therefore I’ll need to manually bring the drive to the computer to connect it, although the suggestion here is to set up for automatic scheduled back ups to run.

    For this reason I wonder if online backup might actually be better, as it will simply start at the appointed time without having to go fetch the External Hard Drive out of storage.

  6. @Tony
    Both online and image backup have their uses. An image backup protects you against having to reinstall all of your programs from scratch when your disk has problems. An online backup protects you against losing your data. If your house or business is destroyed you data will still be backed up. In my opinion, its good to have both.

  7. if I make the choice to backup all local drives om my computer will the resulting backup file than have the complete image of windows including MBR etc?
    Or do I need to backup the Windows partition separately?
    In most other backup programs (Redo Backup etc) it is necessary to boot from a separate bootable media to get a complete image. Is this not needed in Macrium Reflect?

  8. @Bob
    If you back up all local drives, that backup includes the drive with the MBR and the operating system, which will be restored as a bootable OS.
    In order to restore the image from any backup system, it is necessary to do this using bootable media. That is because in order to replace your OS, it can’t be running. Therefore you need to be running a different OS, in this case, the one from the rescue media.

  9. That is clear to me for the restore procedure.
    But for the creation of a bootable image there is no need to use a separate bootable media when I use Reflect?
    I think it is a must for most other backup programs (as Redo Backup).
    Or am I wrong?

  10. Under this setup, after the next *full* system backup is made (for me, that’s the 1st of the month), will the scheduled incremental backups automatically create incremental backup files based on the new full backup, or will I have to change that manually every month?


Leave a reply:

Before commenting please:

  • Read the article.
  • Comment on the article.
  • No personal information.
  • No spam.

Comments violating those rules will be removed. Comments that don't add value will be removed, including off-topic or content-free comments, or comments that look even a little bit like spam. All comments containing links and certain keywords will be moderated before publication.

I want comments to be valuable for everyone, including those who come later and take the time to read.