As operating systems and applications continue to demand greater disk space, it can be hard to meet the extra storage needs. Although it might be possible to add another drive to a system, sometimes there’s no option but to replace the existing drive with a larger one. This can involve many hours spent formatting drives, installing software and copying data, and can often tie up another system. Paragon’s Partition Manager 8 Server is intended to ease this process.
The software provides the tools needed to manipulate hard drives and partitions through a simple and intuitive interface. It copies all the existing data and software to the new drive without requiring an extra system, and without carrying out lengthy, error-prone data-copying runs. Similarly, it can simplify the roll-out of workstations and servers by copying a standard installation partition to a new drive before installing it in the new system.
Although the software’s primary function is to copy and resize partitions, Partition Manager 8 includes a number of useful disk-related extras. The surface tester, used to check a drive for bad blocks before starting any other operations, offers Normal and Extreme test levels, and can be run on its own or as part of the partitioning operations. There’s a partition-defragmenting tool that also offers NTFS optimising options, plus a hard disk sector viewer and editor. It also offers a number of support utilities for different file systems. The three Windows file systems, FAT16, FAT32 and NTFS, are all supported, as are the three most common Linux systems, Ext2, Ext3 and ReiserFS.
We tested the software using a server with a Supermicro P4DCE+II motherboard sporting two Intel Xeon 2.8GHz processors and 2GB of RAM. Both drives used the parallel ATA interface. A 5.9GB system partition containing Windows Server 2003 R2, Internet Information Services and .NET 1.1 was copied to a new drive in 3mins 52secs. The same system took 4mins 3secs to copy the whole disk with boot information to the same target, resizing the partition to 14GB in the process.
The software’s ability to copy an entire drive can be useful when rolling out a number of identical systems, although you’ll need to use Microsoft’s Sysprep tool before attempting to clone Windows systems to avoid problems with the Security Identification codes (SID). Linux systems can be cloned without prior processing. Dynamic disks and RAID5 arrays can also be processed. Sadly, only the Enterprise Server Edition of the software allows you to make backup images of disks and partitions, either locally or across the network, so it’s essential to use another form of backup before manipulating partitions with important contents. Email notifications can be sent for selected operations, but only to a single recipient.
Partition Manager 8 is up against a number of other similar tools from the likes of Acronis and Symantec, as well as a number of free tools. However, the range of extra facilities on offer and its ability to work with server partitions and workstations makes it well worth considering.
Source: Copyright © PC Pro, Dennis Publishing