It’s almost a year since we last reviewed PartitionMagic, so it’s almost inevitable that a new version should arrive. This one has a few tweaks and improvements over the previous version, but whether that makes it a necessary upgrade is open to debate. So, let the debate begin.
PartitionMagic is a tool for restructuring the contents of your hard drive. It does this by allowing you to create, edit, delete and move partitions, which are the basic elements by which your drive is managed. For example, if you have two drive letters – C and D – but only a single hard drive, then you probably have two separate hard drive partitions. It’s the equivalent of dividing up a large room into smaller offices.
Why would you want to do this? Perhaps to run different operating systems on the same PC, something that PartitionMagic 8.0 lets you do because it has a boot manager included in the box, so you can choose your preferred operating system when you switch on your PC. Perhaps you want separate partitions for games and applications, so that your work doesn’t get in the way of your play (or possibly the other way round). Perhaps you fancy giving Linux a try but don’t want to lose your Windows applications just yet.
All of these things are possible with PartitionMagic, which has been designed to handle partitions without destroying their contents – quite an important point, really. The user interface is Windows-based, so you make all the necessary changes to your configuration before hitting the ‘Go’ button. At this point, depending on what’s required, PartitionMagic will drop out of Windows to perform the changes (to avoid data corruption). Then you can simply reboot the PC and carry on as normal.
New to this version of the software is support for external drives such as USB and FireWire devices. You can’t change the boot settings of these – PartitionMagic can’t access them from outside Windows – but you can break them up into smaller partitions and change their structure as required. There’s also support for Linux Ext3 partitions and the ability to handle hard drives of up to 160GB in size. This will be a relief to those users with large hard drives, since the previous version only handled drives up to 80GB.
For a limited time you also get PowerQuest’s DataKeeper backup software in the box, along with the various low-level partition management tools that are usually included with this software. You also have the option, via the file browser, of moving files and directories from one partition to another, even if one uses FAT32 and the other is a Linux partition.
All these elements are packaged up in a nicely-designed interface that gives you access to the major features plus a selection of ‘wizards’ which guide you through procedures such as ‘install a new operating system’ or ‘create a backup partition’. It’s all fairly painless.
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