Ah, fall is that time of year. The leaves
have fallen, there is a snap in the air, and PowerQuest
has released a new version of Partition Magic (PM). The
Ottawa PC News has reviewed previous releases of PM and
every year PowerQuest manages to add enough new features
to make the reviews worthwhile.
This year is no different. Partition
Magic v5.0 adds some gee-whiz features that leave
everybody scratching their heads, saying: "Geezzz...how
in the heck do they do that?"
What it is
First, a recap: Partition Magic is a
powerful utility for creating and modifying hard disk
partitions. It can handle most partition types used in
PCs: FAT16, FAT16x, FAT32, FAT32x, NTFS, HPFS, HPFS/386,
Linux Ext2, Linux Swap, and Extended partitions. It is
deft at resizing partitions, changing cluster sizes,
hiding/unhiding partitions and converting between various
partition types - without losing any data.
What I have found most useful about
Partition Magic is its ability to resize partitions. I
frequently partition drives into 3 sections. On my NT
machines, I create a small drive C as FAT and install an
emergency configuration of NT. I then create a large
partition, format it as NTFS and install my main version
of NT there. Finally, I create a small partition for
stuff I want to have available, but just out of the way.
Inevitably, at some point I find one of
the partitions too small. Maybe a service pack comes
along and I need to add it to both versions of NT.
Perhaps I did not leave enough space on the C:\ volume?
Or I want to add a utility program to my third partition
but it is too small. Well, I never have to worry about
this sort of problem any more. With Partition Magic I can
quickly and easily resize my partitions to suit my
I won't go into more detail on the basics
of Partition Magic. Anyone interested can read my review
of version 4 at http://220.127.116.11/public/reviews/partmag2.htm
(even if you don't have access to the Internet, you can
access this web page by using Wildcat! Navigator and a
dial-up line to PUB II. Ask me if you need more info.)
The new features in version 5, while not
terribly extensive, are very impressive. You can now
merge two FAT or FAT32 partitions. The contents of one
partition becomes a subdirectory on the other. While this
could be manually accomplished with previous versions, it
is much faster and easier with version 5.
PowerQuest has beefed up conversions
between partition types. With previous versions, you
could convert from FAT to NTFS (PM just called the NT
utility Convert to do the actual conversion). There was
no way to convert from NTFS back to FAT. Now you can
convert from NTFS to FAT or FAT32. You can also convert
from a primary partition to an extended partition or vice-versa.
This can be a real time saver over manual methods.
Although PowerQuest has claimed they have
improved their wizards, I did not look into this at all.
I always find that rolling up my sleeves and doing it
without wizard help suits me better. But those who like a
simple click-and-you're-done type operation may
You now have the ability to view the list
of pending operations. This is very welcome! With version
4.0, it was possible to queue up a series of actions. For
example, you could delete a partition, move another, re-size
a third to fill in the empty space, and convert a fourth.
Although you could then see the expected end result, you
could not see the list of all the operations that would
take place. Sometimes, that meant I would cancel all
pending operations and re-do them, just to make sure I
understood what was going to happen. Now, I can call up a
simple text listing showing all the pending operations.
If I am happy, I then click on the Apply Changes button
to have them carried out.
The user interface has been cleaned up
quite a bit. Things are more logically laid out and
easier to understand. New visual indicators are used to
show where the first two GB of the disk ends and where
the 1024th cylinder lies. Both of these can be important
to know since some operating systems have certain
restrictions with respect to one or the other of these
PowerQuest has included a treasure on the
CD-ROM. There are some documents in Adobe Acrobat format
that contain a lot of detail about hard disks and
partitions. They are a terrific source of information for
anyone interested in knowing nitty-gritty details about
disks. PowerQuest should highlight the existence of these
Partition Magic v.5 is being
offered to OPCUG members for the discount price of
US$30 at their web site. You can order it at
Enter the user group code UGEVAL99 to get the special
pricing. Other PowerQuest products are available on
the same page, all at discounted prices. Note that a
shipping charge of US$10.00 (per total order) may
push the price close to local store prices. I have
seen PM 5 as low as $67 locally.
Is it worth it? I highly recommend
Partition Magic. If you don't already have a copy,
version 5.0 is a very impressive package. Be sure to read
my review of version 4.0 for more information on the many
other features. If you already have version 4.0, take a
look at the new features above to see if you need any of
them. If you don't, I would recommend sticking with
version 4.0. If you have a release prior to version 4.0,
there are enough new features and capabilities that I am
sure you will find the upgrade to version 5.0 worthwhile.
Partition Magic (Proprietary, $67)
*Special OPCUG pricing US$30 (see above)*
Originally published: January, 2000