Paragon Hard Disk Manager Suite
At a Glance
Paragon Hard Disk Manager Suite has been a top hard disk utility for several iterations. Hard Disk Manager Suite 2011 adds support for the latest hard drive technologies as well as a few new perqs for pros and help for those looking to optimize their drive or switch to an SSD.
Hard Disk Manager Suite's comprehensive feature list includes partitioning tools, imaging of partitions for backup and recovery, defragging of both FAT and NTFS partitions, and secure data wiping; plus, it supports boot sector repair, boot management for running multiple operating systems, and data restoration to diverse hardware.
The data restoration capabilities are especially compelling, since you can add drivers for different devices at the time of restoration. This feature has been improved by virtue of a switch to the new Windows Preinstallation Environment 3.0 format for the recovery disc. (The software also comes with a Linux boot disc.)
Other new features include support for the exFAT file system for flash drives, as well as AFDs (Advanced Format Drives which use sectors larger than the standard 512 bytes), and the ability to convert MBR (Master Boot Record) disks to GPT (Globally unique identifier Partition Table) types that you can use with 64-bit Windows. And the software's support for Apple's HFS+ partitions system now includes the ability to create and format, as well as resize partitions. Also new is a wizard to help laptop owners migrate from a large hard drive to a smaller SSD by helping you cull the data you want to transfer.
About the only thing missing from Hard Disk Suite 2011 is the ability to convert its backup images to those understood by Microsoft's Virtual PC 2007, Oracle's VirtualBox, and VMWare, so you can run them as virtual machines. The company gives away the ability to create virtual hard drives in its Go Virtual software, but that app won't convert backup images made with Hard Disk Manager Suite 2011.
In use, my issues with Hard Disk Management Suite 2011 lie with its minor interface flaws. While I found the app easy to use for the most part, there's some redundancy between the tasks pane and the task bar that adds complexity; reducing the redundancy, along with adding better translation and conceptual clarity, would make the program easier to use. Also, some functions, such as defragging your hard drive, are available only from the launcher application--annoying when you're in the app trying to get stuff done. I've always appreciated the fact that Paragon melded both partitioning and imaging into one interface; I just wish they would continue that trend and expand it to all functions.
The newest Linux and Windows PE 3.0 boot CD images seem to have alleviated the only problem I ever experience with the programfailure to support newer hardware. To be fair, this has hardly been Paragon1s problem alone--any number of recovery and hard drive utilities using Linux boot discs have suffered the same problem. But the company does well to include these in this version.
Minor interface gripes aside, Hard Disk Manager Suite 2011 remains the most comprehensive disk management tool out there. For the price you can't beat it.
--Jon L. Jacobi