What's the Safest Way to Resize a Partition?

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Kevin Germino keeps programs and data on separate partitions, but he needs to adjust their sizes. Can he do this safely?

I know of two programs that can resize the partitions on your hard drive, making one bigger at the expense of the other, without destroying the files on either. But there's a caveat: The task is inherently dangerous. Not hugely dangerous--I've resized partitions countless times and only met with one disaster. But back up your data first just to be safe. Better yet, make an image back up of your entire hard drive.

The oldest non-destructive repartitioner is PartitionMagic, now owned by Symantec. They haven't been keeping it up, however. It's been six years since the last upgrade (to version 8, and that was before Symantec bought it), and I didn't like that version even then. In fact, that one disaster of mine happened with PartitionMagic 8. See my old review for details.

The other program, Acronis' Disk Director, seems to

work well. I took the current version (10) for a spin before writing this article, and found it easy and reliable (but back up, anyway). And at $50, it's $20 cheaper than PartitionMagic.

Speaking of backups, there's another option: If a partition resizing goes horribly wrong, the easiest way to recover would be from an image backup. And if you make image backups of both partitions, you don't really have to use a non-destructive partitioning program. You can create blank partitions with whatever tool you used in the first place (even fdisk), then restore from the backup.

The best-known image backup programs are Ghost and TrueImage, also by Symantec and Acronis (probably not a coincidence). There are others. The Ultimate Boot CD for Windows has a very nice image backup program (DriveImage XML) and several destructive partition tools.

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