How to backup Windows 11 with Macrium Reflect

Here are the steps to install and set up Macrium Reflect to create backups of Windows 11.

Windows 11 backup with Macrium Reflect

On Windows 11, you can use the built-in backup feature, or third-party solutions like Macrium Reflect to create a full backup of your laptop or desktop computer.

A full backup creates a copy of the entire computer, including the primary as well as secondary drives to an external source storage, which you can then use to restore a device in case of critical problems, malware, hardware failure, or after upgrading the primary storage.

Macrium Reflect is a paid backup software with a free version with limited features. However, the Macrium Reflect free has all the basic features most Windows 11 users need to create full and differential backups manually or automatically to protect the entire computer and files.

In this guide, you will learn the steps to use the free version of Macrium Reflect 8 with the best settings to make automatic backups of a computer running Windows 11.

Create full automated backups of Windows 11 using Macrium Refrect

To set up automated backups on Windows 11, you will need an external storage with enough space to save the backup, download and install a free copy of Macrium Reflect, and configure the best settings to create backups automatically.

1. Connect backup drive

You will need to connect an external USB hard drive to use it as the destination storage.

2. Install Macrium Reflect

To download and install Macrium Reflect, use these steps:

  1. Open Macrium Reflect download page.

  2. Under the “Backup at Home” section, click the Download Free link for the Reflect 8 Free option.

    Macrium Reflect download

  3. Select the I need a personal free license option.

  4. Confirm your email address to register the download.

    Reflect free license
    Reflect free license
  5. Click the Continue button.

  6. Select the No Thank You option for the email newsletter feature.

  7. Click the Continue button.

  8. Open the Macrium Reflect link you received in your email account to download the application.

  9. Double-click the ReflectDJHF.exe file to open the download agent.

  10. Click the Download button.

    Macrium Reflect download agent

  11. Click the Next button.

  12. Click the Next button again to begin the installation.

  13. Select the option to accept the terms.

  14. Click the Next button.

  15. Select the Home edition option.

  16. Check the option to confirm you will install the software for personal use.

    Macrium Reflect home setup

  17. Click the Next button.

  18. Confirm the email address you entered to register the download.

  19. Confirm the registration code you received in the email to download the software.

    Reflect home registration

  20. Click the Next button.

  21. Click the Next button again.

  22. Click the Install button.

    Windows 11 Macrium Reflect install

  23. Click the Finish button.

Once you complete the steps, you can proceed to set up a backup schedule for your computer.

3. Create Windows 11 backup

To create a full backup of a Windows 11 laptop or desktop with Macrium Reflect, use these steps:

  1. Open Macrium Reflect.

  2. Click the Create Backups tab.

  3. Click the Local Disks tab from the right side.

  4. Select the system and other drives to backup.

    Macrium Reflect backup source drive

  5. Clear the destination drive.

  6. Click the Image selected disks on this computer option from the left pane.

    Image selected disks option

  7. Under the “Destination” section, select the Folder option.

    Backup destination option

  8. Click the Folder button on the right.

  9. Select the destination storage to save the full backup of Windows 11.

  10. Click the OK button.

  11. Click the Advanced Options link in the bottom-left corner.

    Advanced options

  12. Click on Auto Verify Image from the left pane.

  13. Check the Verify image or backup file directly after creation option.

    Verify backup after creation

    Quick tip: The Advanced Options page also offers settings for compression, file size, password protection, and some automation. You can adjust these as needed.
  14. Click the OK button.

  15. Click the Next button.

  16. Under the “Add/Edit Schedules” section, click the Add Schedule button, and select the Full option.

    Add schedule full Windows 11 backup

    Quick tip: You can also use the Select a Template for your Backup Plan drop-down menu to choose a backup plan that includes a mix of full, differential, and incremental backups. (The incremental backup option is only available for the paid version of the software.)
  17. Set a schedule for the full backup. For example, create a full backup of every month.

    Windows 11 backup schedule

  18. Click the OK button.

  19. (Optional) Under the “Add/Edit Schedules” section, click the Add Schedule button, and select the Differential option. (A differential backup copies all the changes since the last full backup. Using the option, you’ll need the latest full backup and latest differential to restore the most up-to-date data.)

    Differential backup

  20. Set a schedule for the differential backup. For instance, you can configure Macrium Reflect to create a differential backup every week.

    Macrium differential schedule

  21. Click the OK button.

  22. Under the “Define Retention Rules” section, specify the number of copies of the backups (or days) that should be kept before deleting the old backups to free up space in the backup drive.

    Macrium retention rules

  23. Click the Next button.

  24. Click the Finish button.

  25. Click the OK button.

    Quick note: You can skip the backup from running immediately by clearing the Run backup now option before saving the settings.

Once you complete the steps, Macrium Reflect will create a Windows 11 full backup during your specified schedule.

If the backup plan includes a differential backup, it’ll also run on schedule. If you ever need to recover the system, you’ll need the full backup and the most recent differential backup to restore the computer with the most up-to-date data.

4. Create Macrium Reflect recovery media

To create a Reflect recovery media, connect a USB flash drive with enough space, and use these steps:

  1. Open Miacrium Reflect.

  2. Click the Other Tasks menu and select the Create Rescue Media option.

    Create rescue media

  3. Select the drive to create a bootable media – For example, USB flash drive.

  4. Click the Build button.

    Reflect USB rescue build

  5. Click the OK button.

  6. Click the Close button.

After you complete the steps, you can use the USB recovery media to start the computer and restore the latest backup.

Restore full backup of Windows 11 using Macrium Reflect

To restore a previous backup, use these steps:

  1. Start computer with Macrium Reflect USB recovery media.

    Quick tip: If your device doesn’t automatically boot with the USB media, you may have to change the boot order in the UEFI. To open your device firmware, you’ll typically need to press a key (F2, F12, Delete, or Esc) immediately after you turn on your computer. For instructions on accessing the boot menu or changing the boot order, check your manufacturer’s support website.
  2. Click the Existing Backups tab.

  3. Click the Browse for an image file option from the right side.

  4. Select the Windows 11 full backup to restore.

    Macrium Reflect recovery image select

  5. Click the OK button.

  6. Click the Restore button from the right side.

    Macrium restore Windows 11 backup

  7. Click the Next button.

    Finish backup recovery

    Quick note: The application should restore the full backup on the correct destination drive. However, if you’re replacing or formatting the destination drive, you may need to drag the partitions you want to restore from the Source to the Destination drive.
  8. Click the Finish button.

  9. Click the Continue button.

  10. Click the OK button.

  11. Click the Close button.

  12. Click the Power button from the bottom-left corner.

  13. Select the Reboot option.

  14. Click the OK button.

Once you complete the steps, Macrium Reflect will restore the latest backup of Windows 11 on the computer.

About the author

Mauro Huculak is a Windows How-To Expert who started Pureinfotech in 2010 as an independent online publication. He has also been a Windows Central contributor for nearly a decade. Mauro has over 14 years of experience writing comprehensive guides and creating professional videos about Windows and software, including Android and Linux. Before becoming a technology writer, he was an IT administrator for seven years. In total, Mauro has over 20 years of combined experience in technology. Throughout his career, he achieved different professional certifications from Microsoft (MSCA), Cisco (CCNP), VMware (VCP), and CompTIA (A+ and Network+), and he has been recognized as a Microsoft MVP for many years. You can follow him on X (Twitter), YouTube, LinkedIn and Email him at [email protected].