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Review: Paragon Drive Copy 10 Personal

29 April 2010, Mike Williams

Paragon Drive Copy 10 Personal is a comprehensive drive management tool that makes it easy to copy files and partitions, clone entire hard drives, recover an unbootable PC, and even migrate your system to a virtual machine, so you can run your applications anywhere.

This type of application can often be very complex, burying you in jargon about partitions and file systems that you might prefer to avoid. Paragon Drive Copy 10 Personal opens in Express Mode, however, a simple front end that provides a straightforward menu of the program’s core options. So you might click Disk Copy and Imaging, select the Copy Partition option, and a wizard will open (eventually – it’s a little slow) to walk you through the process. It’s all very straightforward and easy to use. And if you want more control, just click Advanced Mode for immediate access to every Drive Copy feature.

Perhaps the most obvious use of Paragon Drive Copy 10 Personal is as a basic backup tool, with its Simple Backup Wizard. In just a few clicks you’re able to choose the partitions you’d like to protect. And these may then be backed up to a local or external drive (though the Personal version doesn’t support network drives).

If you prefer to run regular backups, with the minimum of effort, then it’s possible to schedule copies of individual partitions, or complete hard drives. And copies can be incremental, so only sectors that have changed since the last copy will be transferred, greatly improving the program’s performance.

Drive management

Paragon Drive Copy includes plenty of hard drive management functionality, and while you won’t use this as often as the backup tools, it could still come in very handy.

There are simple partitioning options, for instance. You can create, format, delete, undelete, hide or unhide partitions. It’s easy to set, change or remove the drive letter for a partition. And interesting extras include two levels of drive surface test (Normal and “Extreme”), and a whole range of low-level tweaks: you’re able to update a hard drive’s MBR, change its primary slots order, modify a partition’s ID and SID, and more.

If you plan to upgrade your PC with a faster, higher capacity hard drive, then Paragon Drive Copy will clone your existing installation across, resizing any partitions accordingly, so there’s no need to reinstall anything.

Unusually, there’s also support for transferring your old system to a new hardware platform. If you just take the drive out of an XP PC and plug it in to a new PC, for instance, then you’ll probably run into immediate trouble: your system won’t have the right drivers installed and it probably won’t even start. Paragon Drive Copy includes an “Adjust OS to New Hardware” option, however, which should be able to make it boot again. There are no guarantees, but the program worked well in our tests, and we think your chances of success are good.

Virtual clone

One very useful new feature in Paragon Drive Copy 10 is its ability to copy the contents of your hard drive – operating system, applications, data, everything – to a virtual hard drive (VMware Workstation, Fusion, Microsoft Virtual PC and Sun VirtualBox formats are supported). Save this to an external hard drive and you can then take your entire system with you, everywhere you go, and access your apps and data from just about any Windows PC.

How does this work? It’s not difficult. The new P2V Copy wizard will let you choose a drive, then convert it to the virtual drive format of your choice. Keep this on a portable external hard drive, add the setup program for your preferred virtualisation tool and you’re done. When you arrive at a friend’s PC, install the virtualisation app, connect to the virtual hard drive, and you’ll see your desktop, just as though you were sitting in front of your own computer.

This interesting take on the portable PC won’t necessarily let you run all your programs. Virtualisation programs don’t have the performance or DirectX capabilities to support high-end games, for instance. But if you regularly need access to other applications, emails and documents, wherever you might be, then this is a simple and effective way to make it happen.

Disaster recovery

Paragon products have always delivered good disaster recovery functionality, and Drive Copy 10 is no exception.

The program warns you before you make any hard drive changes that you should launch the Recovery Media Wizard. And this will quickly create a bootable USB flash drive, CD or DVD, that includes an array of features aimed at getting a corrupted PC working again.

There’s a stand-alone version of Paragon Drive Copy, for instance. This allows you to update a hard drive’s Master Boot Record, undelete partitions, and solve other issues that might prevent your PC from starting normally.

A separate Boot Corrector option will check for and fix many other common system startup problems.

If you’ve used Drive Copy to back up your system, then you can restore the last image from the boot disc, which should get your system working.

And if all else fails, then the File Transfer Wizard will at least help you recover important documents from the stricken PC.

Hopefully you’ll never need it. But if the worst happens and your PC won’t start one day, then Drive Copy 10’s recovery disc will at least give you a good chance of restoring normal operations in a very short time.

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