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Above Average Users Only Please!
on 17 June 2010
I've partitioned drives in the past using Windows and also using a free bit of software available to download. It isn't for those who only have a basic understanding of how to use a computer. If you get partitioning a drive wrong it could spell serious disaster in terms of losing all your data, screwing up the operating system and in short putting yourself into a mess that is rather hard or expensive to get out of.
Fortunately, other than one hiccup the partitions in the past have gone reasonably okay. So when I saw this bit of software, I thought I would see how user-friendly it really is.
The fact that at the very start of the installation process it asks you whether you want to install the 32-bit or 64-bit version of the software, will probably put your average punter into a minor panic. Of course, it is easy enough to find out which system you have - simply got into Start, find 'My Computer', right click and then select 'properties' and if under the General tab it does NOT say 64x then it is a 32-bit computer.
So once you have figured that out, you proceed with the installation. It takes a good 5 minutes or so to install at the end of which it asks you to restart. This is not unusual. However, what it doesn't tell you is that when it restarts, it will jump straight to the CD rather than going into Windows.
Again, this will throw your average joe into a mild panic because what they are seeing in front of them is NOT what they are used to seeing when the PC starts up. Instead, there is a tiny Partition Commander window with various options like 'Resize Partition' 'Backup' and so on. There is a mini description of what each function can do but nothing particularly clear and no warnings of what it might do.
There is an option to eject the disk and then another option to restart the PC. Doing that will ensure that the PC loads up normally.
Once it has done so you can still click on the newly installed Partition Commander logo (that should be on your desktop) and run the program from within Windows. Of course it is better to run it before windows loads but again only suggested as an option for those who are confident with what they are doing.
Opening the software provides an array of options like:
1. Partitioning - under which you can 'Quick Create', 'Quick Resize', Delete Partition and Merge Partitions.
2. Cloning and Migration - does what it says!
3. Mac related operations - not entirely sure what that does as I don't have a Mac to play around with!
4. Back-up and Rescue
5. Multi-system Management - where you can set up how your PC boots and also use this to install a new OS (Linux for eg) onto your PC.
6. Launch Advanced View - click on it and it says 'Don't forget to create a recovery CD'. No doubt, this is good advice but again will put fear into those who just want things to be done! It then also tells you to back up your system. So you know you are entering into territory that can be rather disastrous. The Advance View is a lot more complicated but advanced users (duh) will probably appreciate it.
Needless to say if the terms NTFS, FAT32 and FAT16 mean absolutely nothing to you then I would advise you to get someone who does know to partition your drives rather than trying to do it on your own even with this bit of software.
Having said all that, I would highly recommend partitioning NEW drives particularly i.e. if you have just bought a new computer and it has come with a 1 Terabyte hard drive that is not partitioned. The benefits of partitioning? Well, your computer will work faster, you can keep all your programs in one partition, and all your documents safely in another partition (only drives with programs in are likely to crash).
This is a useful bit of software, makes it easier to do and make changes, but I would still really recommend you have a certain level of knowledge and confidence before you go buying and installing it and trying to make some serious changes to your PC.
Hope that helps.