Few utilities become indispensable after you use them a few times. They usually do only one thing or a few things extremely well. One of my newest favorite utilities is PartitionMagic from PowerQuest. Version 2.0 has some unique abilities, including the ability to change the size of a disk partition without destroying the data. With this utility, you can split a 1.2GB partition into, say, a 600MB and two 300MB partitions.
Why is this such a big deal? Well, because a FAT partition can have only 64K directory entries, the size of a cluster (the minimum addressable unit of the disk) keeps increasing. A 1.2GB partition has a cluster size of 32,768 bytes. If you have small file, say a 500-byte mail message, the file still occupies one cluster, with 32,268 bytes of wasted space. Put this file on a 300MB partition, with a cluster size of only 8,096 bytes, and you recover 28,672 bytes. If you do this for a large number of files, you will see a lot of free disk space you never knew you had. With PartitionMagic, you can do so without having to run FDISK and then reinstall your software.
OK, so you already partition your disks to avoid large cluster sizes. But what about that new computer you just bought? The one that was delivered with the 2GB drive, formatted as one partition, with 32K clusters? Or even worse, a 2.1GB drive with 64k clusters? You decide to repartition the disk into smaller logical drives. But you do not want to run FDISK on it, because that takes time. Besides, the computer has all that pre-installed software--you have the software on the hard disk but no floppies or CD-ROM from which to re-install. In this case, you'll find PartitionMagic useful, just for the time it saves you.
In addition to resizing partitions, PartitionMagic can also create, remove, and format partitions, as shown in Screen A. You can use PartitionMagic to hide and unhide partitions, if you wish to boot to different operating systems. OS/2 users can create room for Boot Manager using PartitionMagic.
Version 2.0 of PartitionMagic understands FAT, NTFS, High Performance File System (HPFS), NetWare, and Linux volumes. It runs under DOS: PartitionMagic will run under Windows 3.1 or 95, but to change the disk configuration, you have to boot to a DOS prompt. And the product runs under OS/2. Unfortunately, the current version does not run under NT, so you have to boot to a DOS prompt. PowerQuest is working on a new version, due this month, that will run under NT and understands the FAT32 file system. The company promises major enhancements for NT users. Look for a review of version 3.0 in an upcoming issue of Windows NT Magazine.
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