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Symantec Partition Magic 8 – It Still Has Some Magic

written by: •edited by: Bill Fulks•updated: 5/24/2011
4

Symantec Partition Magic 8 is one of those tools that you will come across eventually. It’s been the reference for disk management, recovery, and partitioning for years, but it is in danger of losing its edge the longer Symantec waits to update it for Vista users.

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    Introduction

    I must say that I’m a long-time fan of Partition Magic and have used it for several years. It saved my life more than one time. It was always the reference for disk management and I’ve recommended it to more people and companies than I can count. And even today, if you ask anyone for a partition management or recovery product, Partition Magic will be probably one of the tools recommended.

    PowerQuest was the original creator of this great tool, and later Symantec bought it. However, after its initial release under the Symantec logo, which included a few changes, there were no more updates made to Partition Magic, and the rumor is that there are no plans to release a new version. Full disclosure: I tried to find the source for that rumor but could not, so take the information with a grain of salt.

    The question is, do you think Partition Magic is in need of an update? Perhaps this review will help you decide.
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    Price to Value

    Rating AverageWhat's Hot:&nbsp
    If we consider the price and the time-saving tools included in this package (not to mention the life-saving ones too), it’s a really small investment. The times this tool saved my life on more than one occasion can’t be measured in a few bucks.

    What's Not:&nbsp
    There are more recent and cheaper products that support the new OSes that are coming out, like Vista and Windows Home Server. I believe that Partition Magic 8 is living on its fame and the price is a good example of this. Symantec clearly doesn’t feel the need to drop the price on this product independently of the price of other similar products.
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    User Interface

    Rating AverageWhat's Hot:&nbsp
    When the UI was designed, it was very well thought out, to the point that even if you don’t know the first thing about disk management, finding the right tool for the job is easy. Most of the options are self-explanatory. [Screenshot 3]

    What's Not:&nbsp
    The age of the product is showing in the UI. It’s not "vintage" yet, but would benefit a lot from a facelift. As more tools become available with clean and more attractive interfaces, Partition Magic 8 will be seen more and more as an old timer. And that’s a bad thing, because even if we don’t think it’s that important, a modern look and feel will make a difference for a lot of newer users.
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    Help & Support

    Rating AverageWhat's Hot:&nbsp
    The help file does it job and has detailed step-by-step procedures for some tasks.

    What's Not:&nbsp
    I would prefer a more graphic help file with more screenshots and images to illustrate the scenarios described in text. That would probably save some time while trying to understand how something works and where a certain option is. Less-skilled users would appreciate it.
  • slide 5 of 10

    Installation & Setup

    Rating AverageWhat's Hot:&nbsp
    Setup was as easy as it comes. No reboots, no issues at all. You have the option to select what components to install, input the serial number, and that’s it. [Screenshot 2]

    What's Not:&nbsp
    I didn’t like the large bright orange window during installation. [Screenshot 1]
  • slide 6 of 10

    Product Features

    Rating AverageWhat's Hot:&nbsp

    Partition Magic 8 is used by professionals and home users with or without good disk management skills. It’s been like this for years, and the reason for its success is its ease of use combined with some powerful features.

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    Performance

    Rating AverageWhat's Hot:&nbsp
    Partition Magic does the job well, and that’s enough for most. But not only that, it does the job quickly, in most scenarios. During my years of working with this product, I’ve gotten used to its reliability and speed. Even today, when I test other products, I still use Partition Magic as my reference.

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    Images

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    Suggested Features

    Symantec should add support for the new operating systems: Vista 32, Vista 64, Windows Home Server, and Windows 2008 Server.
  • slide 10 of 10

    Conclusion

    Symantec's Partition Magic 8 needs to become Partition Magic 9 or Partition Magic 2008 real soon. Otherwise it will become obsolete as more and more users adopt Vista. Yes, Microsoft has yet to solve some Vista adoption issues, and Windows XP and earlier versions are still the most widely used operating systems. This will allow Symantec to continue to live and sell under the reputation of Partition Magic 8 for a bit longer. But time is running out, and with a price tag higher than the competition, Symantec really needs to make a choice. Either stop supporting the product and state in a clear manner that there won’t be any more versions, or make an update to support the newer operating systems.

    If a Vista version is released, I won’t mind the old user interface or the orange setup screen. Really! This is how good this tool is. If you are one of many out there for whom Vista is not yet in the plans, or if you work at a company, or need to support companies that have Windows XP or earlier desktops, then Partition Magic is a terrific tool that does its job very well.

    In the end, however, I can’t give Partition Magic a higher score than 3 out of 5. If I had done this review last year, before Vista was released, then Partition Magic would get a 5. And believe me, I don’t give a 5 unless the product is near-perfect.