PowerQuest – PartitionMagic 4.0 review

manage hard drive partitions
Photo of PowerQuest – PartitionMagic 4.0
£50 + VAT

Autumn is, apparently, the time for the launch of new hard drive partitioning tools. We’ve had Partition Commander (reviewed on this site) and now it’s time for the latest version of PartitionMagic. This is the program that made partition management popular – nay, practical – on the PC. Before it, apart from a couple of small shareware tools, the only way to create or re-size your hard drive’s partitions was to back up all the data first, as it was sure to be annihilated.

Changing partition sizes without data loss is now as easy as falling off a swivel-chair. Why would you want to? Because, unless you’re using FAT32, HPFS or NTFS, smaller partitions have less cluster wastage, since their clusters (effectively the basic unit of hard drive storage) are smaller. So a 1KB file will only consume, say, an 8KB cluster rather than a 32KB cluster, saving 24KB per 1KB file. Simple, really…

There are other reasons, too. You may want a separate partition for a swap file, or to manage your data more efficiently. PartitionMagic 4.0 lets you do this from the comfort of an outstanding Windows interface. It’s ‘wizard-driven’, a daft expression that conjures up images of some bloke with a pointy hat behind the wheel, but actually means that the program asks you what you want to do – create a new partition, reclaim lost space, etc. – and does all the hard work for you. It can analyse your hard drive and make recommendations, too, while for advanced users there are the usual options for creating, resizing, deleting and copying partitions, as well as a few extras such as FAT conversion and cluster wastage analysis.

Included in the box are copies of DriveMapper and MagicMover, which respectively change the drive letters of applications (to cope with the drive letter shift that occurs when creating new partitions) and move whole applications from one drive to another. There’s also a boot manager, called BootMagic, but despite looking rather nice this is actually quite a basic affair, and we’d be happier using something like System Commander to complement PartitionMagic 4.0′s otherwise excellent features.

Company: PowerQuest

Contact: 01202 716726


Verdict
Were it not for the average boot manager included as part of this package, PartitionMagic 4.0 would be the best tool of its kind that we've seen. As it is, its partition manipulation features and ease of use are hard to beat, but if you want to install multi-FAT operating systems you'll need to budget for a more capable boot manager.