V Communications – Partition Commander 8 review

hard disk partition management
Photo of V Communications – Partition Commander 8
£35

“For worry-free partitioning”, boasts the box copy on the back of V Communications’ latest, “Partition Commander is the only choice!”. That’s not true, as users of PartitionMagic can testify. But it’s nonetheless it’s a choice worth considering, thanks to a well-thought through, wizard-driven system and a happy capability to get the job done. Partition Commander 8 is not, however, without its problems.

It’s got the key tools you’d expect within the package. You can create, resize, convert, copy and move partitions, and the software happily supports FAT, FAT32 and NTFS file systems. It does its main work through one of two ways; there’s a gentle wizard approach, which simplifies the whole process suitably well, and a more hands-on method, where you have complete control over what’s going on.

However, for us, things didn’t all go to plan. After installing the program, we chose to boot from CD – which Partition Commander allows – and were greeted by a message relating to our NTFS partition. Sadly, the message cut off before it was finished, and we found we couldn’t scroll right down to the bottom of it.

On hitting the ESC key, we were then faced with some garbled lines at the very top of the screen (leaving the rest of it blank), and the job of reaching for the reset button. We checked out the manufacturer’s Web site and got the 4.5MB update download, which also adds support for those without a floppy drive in their computer (as was the case with one of our test PCs). However, those garbled lines didn’t want to go away when we tried again. The same problem occurred on both of our test machines, in both cases when we ran the Partition Wizard from Windows and allowed it to restart the PCs.

A cold restart, however, worked better, with the program kicking in before Windows has a chance to load. It brought up a DOS menu from which we could check out the program’s tools. Coupled with sensible backup advice, this is where things ran more smoothly, as the program stayed true to its word, giving us the easy flexibility to manage our partitions with the minimum of fuss.

It’s happy to do a lot of the work automatically for you, and will create boot and utility disks to allow you to recover interrupted operations. Two features worth extra mention; the BackStep wizard will undo your actions one at a time (even, to an extent, if you’ve deleted a partition), while the Copy Commander function copies one drive to another, with all settings and partitions in place. Both very useful, we thought.

There’s also a ‘Personal’ version of System Commander, which lets you configure a boot menu so that you can run multiple operating systems on one PC – again, a useful inclusion.

Once we got past the initial hurdles the program threw in our direction, we liked Partition Commander 8, and yet it’s sadly tinged by the aforementioned bugs. Hopefully, V Communications will release a further update to circumnavigate them, but until that point, it’s only experienced users who are likely to get the most out of this package. A pity, as there’s some really quite useful stuff contained within it.

Company: V Communications

Contact: 01752 895100


Verdict
At heart, this is an effective, worthwhile utility for managing hard drive partitions, but it's one in need of bug-fixing before it can really be recommended.