PartitionMagic 6.0

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  • Editors' rating
    7.5 Very good

Pros

  • Usable interface
  • ability to split and copy existing partitions
  • improved Windows 2000 support.

Cons

  • No control over the size of split partitions
  • no support for dynamic disks under NTFS 5.

PartitionMagic is a tool that, sooner or later, finds its way into every PC technician's toolkit. Knowledgeable home users will also find it extremely useful.

If you need to split the hard disk that a PC manufacturer chose to allocate as one huge drive into more manageable chunks, or you've added a new drive and need to alter partition sizes to reflect your actual data usage, then PowerQuest's PartitionMagic is invaluable.

PartitionMagic provides a quick and easy way for even moderately experienced users to restructure their data storage via a usable graphical interface. It saves hours of time compared to manually backing up everything and battling with reformatting drives and the FDISK command.

Most of PartitionMagic's features remain the same as the previous version. You can create, move and resize partitions without losing the data in them. You can convert partition types between FAT, FAT32, NTFS, HPFS and Linux ext2, and you can switch between primary and logical partitions. You also still get the DriveMapper and BootMagic utilities.

One completely new facility in PartitionMagic 6.0 is the ability to split a partition. An existing partition can be split into two, and you can select which directories and files are moved into the new partition. Unfortunately, you have no manual control over the size of the new partition. It is calculated automatically to be the minimum size required to support the data you are moving, plus half of the remaining free space. Of course, you can always resize the new partitions afterwards, but it would have been nice to be able to allocate more space to the partition where you may know the data content will grow faster.

You can only select files and directories in the root of the partition to be moved to the split partition, and the command only works on FAT and FAT32 partitions. As with most of PartitionMagic commands, there must be enough free space (5 per cent and 10 per cent for FAT and FAT32 respectively) for the command to work.

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A new Copy partition wizard allows you to make a complete copy of a partition, but because you must have the necessary unallocated space on the drive before you start, this is not intended for use as a backup procedure. It is, however, ideal for copying a partition before installing a new operating system upgrade, for instance.

The only other new features are a modified user interface, which includes a tree-like window showing which partitions are on which physical drive, and increased support for Windows 2000 and Windows ME. PartitionMagic now runs natively as both an ME and Windows 2000 application, so you are no longer forced to boot from floppy for Windows 2000. However, there's still no support for the dynamic disks available from Windows 2000's NTFS 5 file system.

Despite having used PartitionMagic to restructure data storage since version 2.0, and having never lost a single byte of data doing so, we still advise backing up thoroughly before using the program. Also, PartitionMagic still fragments a hard drive to incredible degree, so a thorough defragmenting is still required on completion. Other than that, PartitionMagic doesn't have any real drawbacks and is an essential tool for any PC technician.

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