[Mercede Computer Associates -- PC's for a Warped World!]
Partition Magic v3.0- by Noah Sumner

Partition Magic is a wonderful package that makes "impossible" tasks extremely easy to accomplish. Partition Magic is a replacement for the antiquated DOS (and OS/2) FDISK, and includes many additional features, enabling you to do many difficult partition management tasks "on the fly". Partition Magic is a dynamite utility especially if you run more than one operating system.

Partitioning 101

To understand the value of Partition Magic, you need to understand exactly what a partition is. To explain this, I am going to steal the definition that was included in the Partition Magic 2.0 manual. Imagine you have a very large house with absolutely no internal walls, it would be very hard to organize things in your house and would not be very efficient. So we put up some walls (partitions) which help organize our house and make things more efficient. A hard drive is much like a big house and comes with no internal walls; so we build our own walls. We call these internal walls "partitions". Like a wall in a house it is not easy to change the location of a partition.

Partitions make it easier for us to organize data. Using partitions we can keep our operating systems, data, and applications separate. On today's bigger hard drives, partitions are almost required, especially if you use the FAT (used in DOS and Windows 95) file system. The FAT file system is very wasteful; on my hard drive if I had a single 2 gigabyte (2,000 megabyte) partition, I would be wasting 38% of my disk space! HPFS, by contrast, is not very wasteful and you may have larger than 2 gig partitions. However, you should still partition your disk to organize your data. If you are using more then one operating system, it is very beneficial to partition and keep the operating systems separate.

Version 3.0

Partition Magic v3.0 allows us to easily convert FAT partitions to HPFS, resize partitions, move partitions and even copy a partition; all without losing valuable data. Some people might say, "So what. I can do all that with FDISK, can't I?" NO! This is a truly amazing trick; earlier I said it would be like moving a wall in your house and that's what it is! Before Partition Magic, to resize or move partitions required a lot of time and a very detailed knowledge of computers and partitioning, unless you wanted to delete all your data. (My father once resized a partition, and it and took over 6 days.) So you can imagine how useful this utility really is.

Partition Magic v3.0 also allows you to do all the things that FDISK allows you to do: create, delete, label partitions, etc.

When creating partition with Partition Magic you can not create a blank partition, you will be asked what format you wish the partition to be. You have the choice of FAT, FAT32, HPFS, NTFS or Extended. If you select FAT, Partition Magic will help you choose how large to make your partition so you are still using drive space efficiently. For Instance if you were planning to make a 260 meg partition you would be wiser to create a 255 meg partition (about 5.5% more efficient or able to store 10 meg more data). You are also able to get this information when resizing a FAT partition or selecting the cluster option.

Partition Magic includes a very nice graphical interface that can be used under OS/2, DOS, Windows 3.1 or Windows 95. With this graphical interface it is extremely easy to create, delete, resize, move or copy partitions. However, in case of an emergency, there is a text mode version of Partition Magic which will also run under the same operating systems as the graphical interface. The text version is small enough to be included on an emergency boot diskette.

New Features

There are a few important changes (since version 2.0) to Partition Magic's interface. The "check" option button is no longer present; that option can be selected from the "Options" pull down menu and is now built into the "Info" screen. The "Convert" option has also disappeared and must now be accessed from the "Options" menu. Users of v2.0 will also notice two new buttons that took these places: the first is the "Cluster" button which gives various information about FAT partitions like how much space is being wasted and suggested cluster size.

As well there is a new "Copy" option. This feature allows you to copy a partition to free-space on any of the hard drives installed. This is as simple as clicking where free space is and clicking the "Copy" button. This is a great feature for a corporation that needs to set up a large number of identical machines in a uniform fashion.

Boot Manager Now Included

Partition Magic v3.0 for the first time also includes Boot Manager, a utility which allows you to choose your operating system every time you turn on your computer. OS/2 users will be very familiar with this feature since it is included with every version of Warp. (PowerQuest has licensed Boot Manager from IBM.) The inclusion of Boot Manager means that when you want to add a new operating system you don't have to load FDISK to add that operating system to the Boot Manager menu; you cam now do so from within Partition Magic.

As well, for users who don't yet have Boot Manager installed, Partition Magic can install Boot Manager for you and it will automatically create a partition on which to do so.

There is another utility called PQBoot which is used to change which partition should be "active" at boot up, however, this program is very basic and requires OS/2 to be on a primary partition.

Flaws

The only negative feature of Partition Magic is that you can't create a blank partition. This normally doesn't matter, however, if you wish to install something like Linux, you may be better off loading FDISK and creating blank partitions from there.

I also have to admit that I have encountered one minor bug where DOS and Windows report an error on my second hard drive. However, the error doesn't occur if I am running Partition Magic from OS/2. The error is minor and doesn't create any problems and tech support at PowerQuest has been working with me on the problem.

There are also two small features which OS/2 users will not get the benefit of. There is a utility called Drive Mapper which will update all references for Windows when a drive letter changes. As well, there is an application mover included that also only works with Windows. They work very well, however, obviously they are not for OS/2.

Conclusions

If you are worried about Partition Magic causing problems with your hard drive you shouldn't be. I have done a large amount of partitioning using Partition Magic since version 1.0 and to this day I still have not had any data loss. And I can assure you that before Partition Magic v3.0 was released it went through a long and extensive beta cycle to eliminate any bugs.

Partition Magic v3.0 is more of the same solid, useful product that PowerQuest has built their reputation on.


 * Partition Magic v3.0
by PowerQuest
MSRP: US$69.95
Noah Sumner is a member of TeamOS/2 and the Toronto OS/2 Users Group.

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