Parted Magic is a bootable Linux-based environment that's primarily designed to handle most partitioning and hard drive-related tasks.

You can format, test or back or drives; create, copy, move, expand, shrink or delete partitions; or securely wipe a hard drive, ensuring any personal information has gone forever.

The system is based on the well-respected Parted and GParted tools, so you can be sure it's reliable. Extensive file system support means you can use it on Intel-based Macs, Linux and Windows PCs (the full list: ext2, ext3, ext4, fat16, fat32, hfs, hfs+, jfs, linux-swap, ntfs, reiserfs, reiser4, and xfs). And you don't have to install anything to make it work - just burn the download ISO file to a disc, boot from it and go to work.

And there's a lengthy list of additional programs to add further capabilities: the Midnight Commander file manager, TrueCrypt for encryption, ClamAV antivirus and TightVNC-viewer for remote access, along with undelete tools, music players, disc burning apps, an IRC chat program, several data recovery programs and a whole lot more.

Verdict

An impressive list of tools, packed with essential hard drive, partitioning and data recovery-related functionality. And while some apps require Linux expertise, the core features really don't - Parted Magic will be very accessible to most Windows users, even if they've never tried Linux before