If the care and feeding of your Vista systems is anything like mine, from time to time there’s just no getting away from messing with disk partitions. For me, that means one of several activities gets underway:
- Migrating a notebook or desktop user from a smaller drive to a larger one, sometimes with additional logical volumes to add into the mix, sometimes without.
- Setting up desktop machines to use VM technology of some kind (I’ve learned it’s safer to set up and run a separate logical and/or physical volume in which to run VMs to keep system or data partitions from filling up completely).
- Setting up sandboxes of one kind or another for testing, specific applications, or whathaveyou.
I’ve used the Disk Management utility in Administrative Tools (Start, Control Panel, Administrative Tools, Computer Management, Storage, Disk Management) since the NT 4.0 days, but though this tool has gained in capability and flexibility considerably since then, it still can’t compare to a commercial disk partition management tool. And as such tools go, I’ve learned to like Paragon’s Partition Manager 9.0 Professional Edition better than most of the others I’ve used (Partition Magic, EASEUS Partition Master, Acronis Disk Partition Manager, and so forth, though those with no budget for software left may have to opt for the Open Source gparted instead).
Strictly as a partition management tool, Paragon Partition Manager is worth the $65 or so this program will typically cost you. As the following screenshots amply illustrate, it not only allows you to manage partitions quite nicely (create, format, resize/redistribute space, merge, and even undelete) it will also let you copy partitions or entire drives (either logically or physically), perform various types of partition- and disk-level backups and restores, and even install a boot manager (great for multi-boot to older Windows versions and/or Linux), and even a file transfer wizard to grab files from inside a working partition, or a backup snapshot the program has made of any partition you’ve saved. There’s even a byte-level disk editor available to those knowledgeable and intrepid enough to use such a powerful but dangerous tool.
When you actually start to use the program, you see a multi-pane interface that looks much like many other disk utilities, with similar silos at the left (a control panel, as it were), controls and displays at the right (for specific items or tasks related to the chosen activity), and icons along the top to provide instant access to the most common tasks. Here’s a look at the wizard driven elements for Backup, Copy, and Tools on the left, with disk views at the right (notice how physical disks act as containers for logical volumes).
All in all, Paragon Partition Manager 9.0 makes a pretty good addition to any Vista admin’s toolbox. The partition tools are the best and most worthwhile components of the tool, but the backup, copy, and boot management capabilities can be handy when migrating users from one disk to another. The recovery tools are adequate, but only from a very basic perspective (I’ll stick to a well-crafted VistaPE recovery UFD any day). I also found the lack of user-driven search a bit frustrating when the time came to search the help files (you can only plough through an index that they create, and pick the terms inserted therein). Minor nits to be sure, and no reasons not to try this program out for yourself, or even to buy a copy of your very own.