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Macrium free

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Very Strange.
I am running XP SP3 fully updated.
I have 2 WDC hard drives each 500 GB one is the primary "C" and the other is a slave for back up "E" I also have a Seagate Free Agent 250 GB USB drive for backup.
I have been doing an image every 2 weeks with Macrium Reflect free.
It typically takes less than hour to do the backup.

Last week I found I was in a mess so I restored the latest Macrium image. It took about 18 hours but when it finally finished it was perfect.
I had the image on my D (USB) drive. I figured it took so long because it was on the USB. The image was 30 GB

I decided to make a new image on the installed 500 GB hard drive "E" to see if it would restore more quickly.. During the backup dialogue in Macrium it showed 49 GB to backup. It took about 5 hours to make the image and when it was finished it is 292GB.

Since it is the free edition Macrium is no help.
So can someone here help?
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