by Jim Bray
PartitionMagic is a handy utility that, though its original raison d'être
may not be a big deal anymore, can still be a valuable addition to your
We first used
PartitionMagic as a solution to "hard drive weight problems."
That was back in the early days of larger hard drives, when most of them
were formatted using the old fashioned FAT ("File Allocation Table")
method. FAT is actually a throwback to the olden days of DOS, and is a
rather wasteful way of arranging data on your drive.
matter when hard drives held 200 Megabytes or less, but on today's comparatively
gigantic multiple-gigabyte drives FAT wastage could be a legitimate concern.
And PartitionMagic can handle drives of up to 20 Gigabyte or more.
newer operating systems like Windows 98 (and later versions of Win95),
NT or (if you can find it) OS/2, don't have this weight problem.
But if you're still laboring under DOS, Windows 3.x, or the original release
of Windows 95, you may need a FAT farm unless you want to risk wasting
up to half your hard drive.
is and was a handy little utility that makes losing FAT quick and easy.
But with FAT32 and NTFS becoming ever more popular, it needs a new reason
to exist and fortunately (at least for PowerQuest!) it has one.
That's because where
PartitionMagic comes in really handy is in manipulating your hard drive
and its partitions (hence the name!).
Partitions are those
"virtual hard drives" into which your real hard drive can be
divided. If youve ever set up a hard drive from scratch, youve
had to enable at least one "partition," and some people like
using multiple partitions to organize their data.
For example, I've
divided my current 18.2 gig hard drive into 3 partitions. Drive C: (the
first partition) is used for Windows 98 and the applications I run specifically
under that operating system. The second partition, (D: drive) is for data
files or applications that will run under Win98 and NT without having
to reinstall them all the time (a wonderful time-saver for someone who
is forced to reformat regularly), and the third partition (Drive E:) is
for Windows NT (well, a prerelease version of Windows 2000 I'm testing)
and the applications I use under it.
This is to make keeping
track of everything easier, and hopefully to prevent them from arguing
with each other.
Anyway, without a
utility like PartitionMagic, partitions aregenerally
the dickens to change after the fact, unless you want to reformat your
hard disk. This can be a time consuming hassle: you have to back up your
files (and I usually forget at least a couple of important ones), delete
the partition(s), create and format the new partitions, reinstall your
operating system, then reinstall your programs and data.
Might as well just
get a new computer!
So why bother? Well,
if you want to install 750 megabytes worth of software onto drive E:,
but it only has 500 megabytes free, youre in trouble.
Unless you can resize
drive E:. And that's where PartitionMagic shines. Itlets
you rearrange your partitions virtually at will, moving your data around
on the fly. You can stretch one drive, make another smaller or even (thanks
to the MagicMover and DriveMapper utilities) move your applications from
one partition to another without confusing the entire system.
The product now includes
"BootMagic" as well, which is designed to let you run multiple
operating systems safely and in a virtually "no brainer" manner.
Since I do this, this is a welcome enhancement.
The product can be
used either under Windows or DOS, supposedly, though we found that the
Windows version boots you back to DOS before making any changes anyway.
Fortunately, the DOS interface feels quite Windows-like anyway.
You can also
change cluster sizes or change your FAT hard drive
into FAT32. The product also works with NTFS or Linux, but you can't just
convert from Linux to FAT32, for example, like you can from FAT to FAT32.
The best time
to invoke PartitionMagic is when you're first setting up your hard disk,
because partitioning adds "drives" to the hierarchy and that
can confuse your system if your CD-ROM (usually the last drive in the
series) already has a letter assigned to it. Use FDISK (ugh!) to make
a partition for PartitionMagic, then use PartitionMagic for the rest.
Putting PartitionMagic and your operating system onto one partition also
works well, and that's how I have it set up (it's on C: drive).
specifically required for repartitioning with PartitionMagic, you should
still back up your data: hard drives crash, houses and offices burn down,
and there's always Murphy's Law...
To be honest, most
"ordinary consumers" will probably never need or use a utility
like PartitionMagic, but for those who want to take more control over
their hard drives, PartitionMagic really does a nice job of empowering
you. And that's a good thing.
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