A drive-management tool is not the kind of software you're likely to use every day, but when you do need software such as Paragon Hard Disk Manager 11 Pro, it rapidly becomes essential. This is because it deals with how your information is organised on internal or external hard drives and how storage space is organised.
The feature set of Paragon Hard Disk Manager 11 Pro looks pretty comprehensive, handling everything from partition management to drive and file backup and taking in defragmentation and secure deletion in passing.
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The main working screen of Paragon Hard Disk Manager 11 Pro is well laid out, with information on each of the hard drive partitions available to the machine on which it's installed. There's everything from the simple properties of each partition to a full hex editor, if you want to get down and dirty.
Most people will veer towards guided use and Paragon Hard Disk Manager 11 Pro provides a good range of wizards to simplify popular tasks, like partition resizing, smart backup and even migrating the operating system.
Having set up the parameters for a partition task, Paragon Hard Disk Manager 11 Pro restarts the machine and runs under its own Linux-based operating system. Under test, it took 7 minutes 40 to merge a third-full 70GB partition with the empty one next to it.
Doing the reverse, splitting one partition into two, is more complex. There's no specific function for this and instead you have to reduce the size of an existing partition and create a new one in the freed-up, unallocated space.
It refers to resizing the partition as a move operation, too, which it isn't.
It's a shame the program restarts for many tasks, as it makes it feel rather clunky. Rival products, such as Acronis’s Disk Director, manage many of the same operations without having to reboot Windows.
The new Pro version of the software works with Microsoft, VMware and Oracle virtual machines, as well as with physical disks – and in addition to rotating-disk drives, with SSDs too. It can also handle GPT disks in excess of 2.2TB.
Back up facilities include file and system copies; and you can easily setup specific backups for email, media or document files.
There's a scheduler within the program, so if you want to set a system or file backup automatically, you don't have to delve into the tortuous depths of Windows Scheduler.
The defragmenter runs as a separate utility, and offers useful features, such as putting all your folders first on the drive and sorting largest or smallest files first. It also aligns partitions along sector boundaries. Both these things can speed up the running of apps and loading data, but a better approach is to look at the most frequently used programs and put them in prime position.
The defragmenter took 1 hour 7 minutes to defragment 16.6GB of files on an 70GB partition, notwithstanding its own initial time estimates of up to 2:59.
It then locked the netbook we were working on, so we had to remove the battery to reset it. Not exactly confidence-building, though it had completed the task successfully.