Paragon Hard Disk Manager 12 is a utility that can format or partition a disk and, impressively, even split or merge partitions without losing any of the files on the partitions in question.
Hard Disk Manager is a lot more than just a partitioning tool though and includes lots of other features.
There’s a backup tool that can either backup your entire disk, or a specific partition, selected files or particular types of files.
Once you have your initial backup, subsequent backups will only copy files that have changed since the last backup which saves time. Backing up both hard disks and a NAS and then restoring files from those backups worked fine.
With the new boot manager feature, you can easily install a second operating system (OS) on your computer.
Each time you boot your PC you simply select which OS you want to use.
It refused to recognise our Linux installation though. It worked fine with Windows, although bear in mind that not all Windows discs support installation alongside a second operating system.
Even more unimpressively, using the program’s own uninstall option for the boot manager didn’t restore our original master boot record (MBR), leaving the system unable to start.
None of the tools on the included recovery disc was able to fix this problem so we had to repair the MBR manually which less-savvy users won’t be able to do.
The secure deletion tool can wipe sensitive files so they can’t be recovered using data recovery software.
This will satisfy all but the most paranoid who may still want to physically destroy any old hard disks containing sensitive data.
Hard Disk Manager also has a good range of virtualisation features. We created an image of our test PC.
This virtual PC can be then run using virtualization software such VMWare Player.
This can be useful for trying new software, for example, without altering the original PC. Everything worked perfectly.
A new feature in this edition is the ability to mount an image in read-only mode.
This allows you to browse the disk without worrying that you might inadvertently change something.
If your system crashes, Hard Disk Manager automatically resumes whatever it was doing with the virtual disk when you restart it.
Most of what Hard Disk Manager can do isn’t new and the fussy interface takes getting used to, but it is generally easy to use and there are lots of features in one reasonably affordable package.
Paragon‘s biggest competition is itself though – most people won’t need all the features in the Professional version of Hard Disk Manager and can safely opt for the cheaper Suite version instead.
It doesn’t have all the advanced features found in Professional, but it’s more than half the price at £23.