$500 a small price to pay

I just purchased Acronis Disk Director Server last week. This is an incredibly cool utility that manages disk partitions on a server, can act as a boot manager, recover data on partitions with various corruptions, and otherwise perform really significant disk maintenance.

I just purchased Acronis Disk Director Server last week. This is an incredibly cool utility that manages disk partitions on a server, can act as a boot manager, recover data on partitions with various corruptions, and otherwise perform really significant disk maintenance. You can also copy partitions easily. The real beauty of Disk Director Server is the ability to complete all of these tasks from within the Windows GUI, while your production servers are still running.

In many ways, it's similar to Symantec's PartitionMagic, with the very notable exception that it actually runs on Windows Server 2003, including 64-bit editions. It's not actually that often that one might need an application like this. Generally, hard disks are fairly stable; it's not often that one needs to resize partitions on a production Windows server either. However, if you need to do it, this is really the only way to go.

Unfortunately for me, an initial setup problem (and my own naivete) left me with two Windows terminal servers with 3 small partitions each. For those of you who have ever run Windows Terminal Services, you know how quickly user profiles eat up disk space, even if desktop and document folders reside elsewhere. If you're thinking of running Windows Terminal Services (or LTSP, for that matter), then a word to the wise: healthy-sized disk arrays are your friends. The first time your thin clients slow to a crawl because you're out of disk space, a tool like Acronis Disk Director starts to look pretty attractive.

I actually tried using GParted, a Linux partitioning utility that comes with most distros. Booting the server from a 64-bit Ubuntu CD, I was able to access the partitions, but any updates I tried to make ultimately failed. It turns out that Acronis really does have a corner on this particular niche market.

So to avoid rebuilding two servers from scratch when my time is at a minimum a week before school, I went ahead and coughed up the $500 (or, more accurately, got my superintendent to cough it up), downloaded the software, and had both my servers ready to go within 30 minutes. Acronis bean counters, if you're reading this, don't worry, I uninstalled it from one before installing it on the other. That's right, they want $500 per server, if you'd like to keep it running on all of them at once.

Free software is great, especially on educational budgets, but sometimes there are products that are actually worth paying for. Hats off to Acronis for making one.