VCOM – Partition Commander 10 review

partition management and emergency system recovery
Photo of VCOM – Partition Commander 10
£29.99

Painless partitioning of hard drives is something that appeals to the nerd in this reviewer, but it also has practical applications for both home and business users. Dumping all your applications and data on the same drive letter as your operating system, which is the norm for most new PCs, is inefficient and untidy.

When – not if – you come to move your data to a new hard drive or a new PC, it’s much easier to do so when your documents, videos, photos and other files are on separate drive letters. It also means you can do more clever things, such as run several different operating systems on one PC and let them all have access to your data files.

Partitioning tools have been around for many years. In fact one of the first software reviews on this site was a review of the first version of Partition Commander. While the basic premise has remained the same in the intervening eight years, a few things have changed.

First, the similarities. Partition Commander 10 does what you would expect it to do from the title, allowing you to create, delete, move, resize, copy, merge and edit partitions on your hard drive(s) through a simple user interface. So you can, for example, shrink your Windows C: drive, add a new logical partition containing a D: drive for data, an E: drive for music, an F: drive for photos and so on.

You can convert to and from different file systems (NTFS, FAT32, etc.) and you can also merge two adjacent partitions together. What is particularly convenient for people upgrading their hard drives is the copy function, which painlessly copies a partition from one drive to another.

So far, so average, at least in partitioning terms. But what we really liked is the “here’s what to do if you mess up” feature. The Partition Commander 10 CD is bootable, so even if your PC won’t boot normally, you can still get to Partition Commander.

You then have a choice of either DOS (but not plain DOS – this one even has NTFS and Linux Ext2 and Ext3 support) or Linux, both of which contain versions of the Partition Commander tool. Linux might be preferable, but for the few machines that won’t boot with it, you simply choose the DOS option instead. And you can drop to the command line too, so this is really the only emergency boot CD you’re likely to need.

There’s also the Boot Corrector tool, which can correct damaged Windows registry files, repair the MBR and the partition boot record and allow you to modify partition parameters such as IDs and bootable and hidden flags. That’s handy with, for example, recovery partitions that are deliberately mis-labelled to prevent access from within Windows. All things considered, the bootable features of this CD are probably more useful than the standard, installable, Windows application, capable though that undoubtedly is.

What’s missing is any kind of boot-time menu system, so if you do install multiple operating systems you’ll have to find one of those for yourself. Fortunately, tools such as Grub and Lilo come free with most versions of Linux and do the job admirably, although they aren’t necessarily as user-friendly to configure as the old System Commander tool from VCom.

Company: VCOM

Contact: 01752 895100


Verdict
This is a tool that you might want to use once - to configure your hard drive - and then keep on a shelf for emergencies and for when you upgrade your hard drive. If things do ever go wrong with your PC, you may well be glad you have a bootable CD with such powerful partition recovery tools on it.