PartitionMagic 4.0

PartitionMagic 4.0 contains an impressive array of features for partition management.

The above may appear to paint a rather bleak picture—to some extent, this is justified. The types of operations performed by PartitionMagic are inherently dangerous and bugs in such a program are a serious matter. On the other hand, my suspicion that the bugs manifest due to something specific about my system may mean that others may have better luck. PowerQuest also has a good reputation for producing reliable software, so I have high hopes that they will correct these problems. Assuming this happens, PartitionMagic 4.0x will be an excellent program and a must-have utility for anyone managing multiple operating systems on one computer. The $69.95 price may seem a bit high, but if you have ever spent most of a day juggling partitions around using tape backups, removable disks or some similar mechanism, you'll recognize the appeal of being able to do that quickly and on the fly. If you own a previous version of PartitionMagic, the $29.95 upgrade price represents a true savings for any Linux user, since it radically improves on the program's utility for the Linux community.

The best possible way to use PartitionMagic seems to be as an exclusive means of managing partitions on a drive. Because of incompatibilities such as the one mentioned above with Linux's fdisk, I recommend using PartitionMagic to create all the new partitions on a disk. If you find yourself with a disk that PartitionMagic won't handle because of Linux-created logical partitions, you may be able to use Linux's fdisk to delete the offending partitions and recreate them in the correct order. If you're careful to create new partitions of precisely the correct size, your partitions will still be usable, but I strongly recommend backing them up before attempting such an operation.

If version 4.01 is not available by the time you read this, I recommend waiting for it unless you are in immediate need of Partition Magic's abilities. If you must use version 4.0, use it cautiously: back up all data before changing a partition, then run e2fsck, CHKDSK, or SCANDISK on any modified partitions immediately thereafter. (You may need to specify the -f option to e2fsck to be sure it runs on the partition.) A spot check of the integrity of the data after a modification would also be a good idea. Of course, these suggestions also apply to any program that does low-level operations on a hard disk, but given the problems I encountered with PartitionMagic 4.0, they apply even more strongly to it.

Roderick Smith can be reached via e-mail at