Managing hard drive partitions is not something you need to do every day. Windows 7 has the ability to shrink partitions but that's about it. Hence, if you need to enlarge a partition, you'll have to look elsewhere for the functionality. One viable option is Paragon Hard Disk Manager 12 Professional. There are a number of new and improved features in this version that make it even more valuable.
The latest release includes the ability to split partitions for the purpose of separating data and programs. It also includes new functionality related to virtual disks. You can now mount a virtual disk drive as read-only to prevent any changes from occurring. Updated features include the ability to exclude certain file types when copying a hard drive and to copy data from one hard drive to another of a different size. Paragon Hard Disk Manager 12 Professional supports all the major virtual disk formats, including MS Virtual PC, VMware Workstation, VMware Fusion and Oracle VirtualBox 4.
Paragon Hard Disk Manager 12 recognizes multiple disk formats. It offers full read/write access to FAT16/FAT32 partitions, NTFS (Basic and Compressed Disks) under Windows, Linux and PTS DOS, and Linux Ext2FS/Ext3FS/Ext4FS partitions. You'll also get limited read/write access to Apple HFS+ partitions.
Typical Usage Paragon Hard Disk Manager
There are multiple ways to use Paragon Hard Disk Manager to perform routine system maintenance tasks. The most basic is a simple backup operation. To test this, we installed the software on an older Dell XPS M1330 laptop with a 60 GB SSD drive and a Seagate USB 3.0 1.5 TB external drive connected using a PC Card adapter. The drive had 53.3 GB of data, which we were able to back up in 13 minutes and 20 seconds. With compression enabled, the actual size of the backup files on disk was 27.7 GB. That equates to approximately 37.24 MB per second.
Using the same laptop and external disk, we tested the physical-to-virtual (P2V) capabilities. This tool will build a ready-to-run virtual machine for the target format of your choice (see Figure 1). In our case, we wound up with a 45.689 GB file targeted at VMware workstation 7.0 in just over 25 minutes. That's a little slower than the straight backup, but you end up with a true virtual machine.
Figure 1: Ready to Run Virtual Machine
Another way we were able to test was to expand the size of a virtual hard disk. The specific scenario was a Windows 7 virtual machine running on VMware vSphere and ESXi 5.0. Increasing the size of the virtual drive requires two steps. First, you must change the size of the virtual disk using the vSphere tool. Then, you must use Paragon Hard Disk Manager 12 to increase the size of the partition.
Other Options for Paragon Hard Disk Manager
Backups don't have to go to an external hard drive. Paragon Hard Disk Manager 12 supports FTP/SFTP, network shares, local mounted or un-mounted partitions and secured hidden partitions. You can merge adjacent partitions of dissimilar type into a single partition, encrypt the target backup file, and resize a partition while copying. Boot disks for accomplishing a bare-metal restore can be DOS, Linux or WinPE, and they can be stored on CD/DVD or USB disks.
If you work with virtual machines, you probably have more than a few virtual hard disks for various configurations. Paragon Hard Disk Manager 12 can mount any virtual disk and make it available as another physical disk. This works with all the major virtual hard disk formats from Microsoft, Oracle and VMware. Once you have a virtual hard disk mounted, you can perform all the same functions as you would with physical disks, including changing the size and type of partitions, merging partitions and generating selective backups. You can also create new virtual hard disks if you'd like.
Paragon Hard Disk Manager 12 includes the ability to securely erase any hard drive. You can erase the entire drive or wipe the free space left by deleted files. Figure 2 shows the different erase algorithms available. These must be selected by using the wipe hard disk or partition wizard. This option can be found under the Wizard menu along with other wizards for performing all the common operations. They add a user friendly interface to the same options available elsewhere but with more of a lead-you-by-the-hand approach.
Figure 2: Available Erase Algorithms
If you must manipulate hard disk partitions, you want a tool that is both flexible and reliable. Paragon Hard Disk Manager 12 is all that and more. With the added virtualization features, you have everything you need to make the changes necessary with confidence. The added backup and restore functionality makes it even easier to perform disk maintenance chores from a single place.