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Review: Paragon Hard Disk Manager 2010 Suite

04 March 2010, Mike Williams

Paragon Hard Disk Manager 2010 Suite is a comprehensive collection of tools that can handle just about every hard drive-related task you might want to carry out.

The partitioning tools, for instance, are worthy of a stand-alone program on their own. There are options to create, format, move, resize, hide, unhide or delete partitions, all of which launch helpful wizards that make them very easy to follow and understand.

Once your drives are organised as you’d like, then you can keep them optimised with the very thorough Paragon Total Defrag 2010. Not only will this defragment your hard drive, but it can also rearrange your files in a variety of ways to try and improve performance. And there are even options to defragment and compact the NTFS Master File Table, a system area that’s usually ignored by most of the competition.

The “Smart Backup Wizard” offers a variety of ways to back up your data. You’re able to create an image of individual partitions or an entire drive; your emails, media files or documents can be backed up in a couple of clicks; or define your own choice of files and folders to be saved.

These backup features are functional, but a little basic, so for instance there are no encryption or compression options. And you can’t save your file-based backup to CD, DVD or FTP server, although oddly these destinations are available if you’re backing up a full partition or hard drive.

Paragon Hard Disk Manager 2010 Suite does considerably better at disaster recovery, however, thanks to an excellent Linux-based system that it can burn to CD, DVD or a flash drive. If Windows won’t start then launch your system from this, instead, and its Boot Corrector tool will fix most boot problems. You can also launch a stand-alone version of Paragon Hard Disk Manager to try and diagnose the problem, restore a previous backup, or if all else fails, use a file transfer wizard to recover the most important data from the stricken PC.

And there are plenty of other useful tools on offer. You’re able to migrate your Windows installation to a new hard drive, for instance, resizing partitions to match the new drive size. A Wipe tool will securely erase free space, partitions or entire hard drives to ensure confidential data can’t be recovered. A Boot Manager simplifies the process of installing and managing multiple operating systems on one PC. And there’s an array of geek-friendly drive manipulation options: you can convert file systems, change partition types, directly view and edit drive sectors, and much more.

You get a vast array of functionality, then, but a simple front-end menu makes it easy to find what you need. Just choose an area, like “Partitioning” or “Backup and Recovery”, select an option, and a wizard will appear to walk you through that particular task.

If you’re looking for more, what you won’t get in this edition is support for dynamic volumes, beyond reading them. If you need to back up, restore, wipe or otherwise work with dynamic disks then you should opt for Suite’s big brother, Paragon Hard Disk Manager 2010 Professional. Other goodies provided with that version include support for working with virtual machines, scheduled and incremental copy tasks, and some useful drive tweaks, like the ability to change cluster size, or downgrade your file system from NTFS to a FAT variant.

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