Best Free Partition Management Software

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Introduction

Having partitions on a hard disk works like, although not exactly the same as, having different hard disks.

If your computer has unallocated space on a hard disk, you can create additional partitions from the unallocated space after logging on as an administrator. If a hard disk space is fully allocated, unallocated space can be generated if the size of a partition is reduced or a partition is deleted.

One of the main objectives of having partitions in a hard disk is for separation of user files from operating system files. By keeping user files in a separate partition from another that hosts the operating system, user files can usually remain intact if the operating system needs to be reinstalled. If you need to prepare for a multi-booting setup from a single disk, it would be ideal to have a separate partition for each system. Other than these purposes, you might also want to refer to other benefits for disk partitioning as described here.

Some users may prefer Windows’ built-in Disk Management utility to manage partitions, but most average users will like third party or standalone partition managers, which are usually equipped with more features and easier to use in general.

 
Discussion

Minitool Partition Wizard ScreenshotMiniTool Partition Wizard Home Edition is a very easy program to use with a solid graphical interface and the power and features to accomplish everything you need done to your disks. From the standards like resizing, creating, moving, deleting, formatting and copying disks and partitions to some fancy tasks like Hot Extend of the system partition without reboot, wiping your disks and partition recovery — Partition Wizard aims to be your one-stop software for all your disk needs.  It supports all hard disks including IDE, SATA, SCSI, USB external disks, Fire wire disks. Now, with the new version 7.0 edition, Minitool has a '7' instead of a '6' in its name.

My testing on modest hardware returned very fast results for most tasks. On the average, a disk resize including reboots clocked in at under 5 minutes. These results are very close to my results for Easeus Partition Master.  In fact, the times for Partition Wizard and Easeus were so close that the differences in completion time are not even worth mentioning. I elaborate on my testing procedures below for anyone interested in the details.

A few notable features - The partition recovery wizard worked great. I was able to see the previous partitions created and deleted, regardless of the tool used, and recover 100% of those partitions complete with data. There is also an enhanced data protection mode that you can optionally select when you are modifying your disks and partitions. The website describes the data protection mode as insurance against corrupting your disks while a partition task is running due to power failures and other electrical disturbances. This sounded like a great safety feature, but not one I was willing to test. Since the overhead of using this feature was a few megabytes of disk space, this is one of those "just use it" features. Recent experience shows this must add capability others can't match - I was able to alter certain partitions without the system needing to reboot, while other online programs required a reboot to complete the operation, probably related to the 'hot-extend' feature. Again, this can cause havoc with dual-booting systems.

EASEUS Partition MasterEASEUS Partition Master (Home Edition) allows you to easily create, delete,  format, convert or explore partitions on your hard drive.  A few clicks and you can also resize, move, hide or unhide existing partitions - all without harming your data. Also included is a Copy Wizard.  Upgrading from smaller disks to larger disks is easily accomplished with the help of the copy wizard.

All of the above functions are accomplished by using an intuitive, user-friendly interface.  Only relevant tasks are enabled when a partition is selected.  This takes much of the guess work out of deciding what you need to do to complete a task.  Since the software is installed onto your hard drive, you work within the familiar Windows environment without the need to boot from a Live CD.

EASEUS Partition Master works with different file systems and supports up to 4.0 TB hard disks. It can handle up to 32 hard disks and works with hardware RAID as well. Supports Windows 7, GPT partitioning and partitioning Linux file systems: delete, create, format, recover EXT2/EXT3 partition, etc..  Now as of version 9.0 supports merging, and wiping unallocated regions of disks.

As of Version 9.1 can merge adjacent partitions and Easeus offers to migrate your system to a larger drive with almost '1-click' ease, us hasn't tried this, the procedure appears little different from cloning to a larger partition.

One significant drawback is that Easeus free edition has no bootable recovery CD, for this kind of applications that can so easily render your machine unbootable, this should not be overlooked (make sure you have a recovery option available to you if you are altering your system partition, or even the system disk). 

Paragon Partition Manager Free EditionParagon Partition Manager Free Edition offers a few basic tasks: create a partition, resize partitions, copy and delete a partition.

This program includes a wizard to create a new partition in the appropriate place of your hard disk, format it to NTFS and make it available in the system by assigning a drive letter. It also has a wizard to increase free space on one partition by up-taking the unused space of an adjacent partition of your hard disk.  The main screen in partition view shows an impressive array of data about all of your disks/partitions, including start/stop sectors, size, label, Partition ID, filesystem.  Now if only they offered a way to export all that great data [MiniTool can export much of these data, but doesn't have a view where you can see it all at once]

A copy wizard is also included with the program, while deleting partitions in a hard disk is supported.

A few drawbacks to this program are that it requires you to register online to get a free serial number for installing the program and more advanced features are only available to the paid version.

GPartedGParted is a GNOME partition editor for resizing, creating, deleting, moving or copying partitions on a hard disk. You can also create a partition table and enable or disable partition flags such as boot and hidden.

This partition editor offers support for journaled file system including ext2, ext3 and ext4 commonly used on Linux, the NTFS file system used on Windows, and FAT file system widely used on most computer systems, memory cards and portable devices. 

GParted runs on the Linux system and can also be used on Windows by booting from a LiveCD called GParted Live.

Lost/Deleted Partition Recovery:

My top two choices both offer partition recovery wizards. Both work as expected. For Partition Wizard, you will need to download the bootable recovery CD from their website and burn to a CD.  Why make a recovery disk?  Well, if the partition that you happen to delete is the main OS partition, your computer will not boot, so a recovery CD will be essential in restoring the partition or fixing the master boot record in order to return your computer to a bootable state.

You might also want to try TestDisk. This is a console application designed for data recovery. The free program can be used to fix partition table, recover deleted partitions or copy files from deleted partitions. Other features include recover or rebuild NTFS or FAT boot sector, fix FAT tables, undelete files from the file systems, etc.

 
Review Procedures

I used modest hardware for my testing. I wanted to simulate test times that were more average than taint the test times by using my primary computer which is a modern high-end workstation. My test box is a Dell Dimension 3000 (circa 2005) with an Intel Celeron 2.4Ghz CPU, 1GB RAM and a 40GB HD. I loaded Windows XP SP3 as the OS of choice simply because it is still the most used OS. Due to the type of software being tested, I used a clean image on a physical machine. No Virtual machines for this test.

With each software program, I ran a very simple set of tests. I started with the drive partitioned as one large 40GB partition. I split the partition into 2 equal sized partitions, formatted the new partition as NTFS, then used Windows explorer to move 10GB of data from the original partition to the new partition. I then reversed the process and combined the two partitions back into a single partition. I timed each task from the time I clicked the apply button to when the computer rebooted when the task was completed. I ran each test 3 times and took the average of the three results. I also tested the delete, recovery and format features using a similar test sequence.

 
Other Partition Managers

These are a number of other free partition managers which were brought up in comments here or noted from other sources. As they are not rated in this review, I am listing them here with brief descriptions and links to their sites for ease of reference.

 

  • Partition Logic allows you to create, delete, format, defragment, resize, move partitions and modify their attributes. It is based on the Visopsys operating system, booting from a CD or floppy disk and running as a standalone system, independent of your regular operating system.
  • Cute Partition Manager is using DOS interface to add, edit, delete and manage the partitions in your computer, but merging or resizing existing partitions is not supported. 
  • Ranish Partition Manager is a hard disk partitioning tool to create, copy, and resize primary and extended partitions. It includes command line interface and simulation mode that works with large files.
 
Notes
  • Number of partitions: A hard disk configured as a basic disk is limited to 4 primary partitions, or 3 primary partitions and 1 extended partition that can contain multiple logical drives.
  • Basic disk: A basic disk is a physical disk that contains primary partitions, extended partitions, or logical drives. Partitions and logical drives on basic disks are also known as basic volumes.
  • Primary partition: A primary partition can be created on a hard drive that can host an operating system and functions as though it were a physically separate hard drive.
  • Extended partition: An extended partition is a container that can hold one or more logical drives, which function like primary partitions except that they cannot be used to start an operating system like Windows.
 
Have Your Say

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Quick Selection Guide

MiniTool Partition Wizard Home Edition 7.0
5
 
Gizmo's Freeware award as the best product in its class!

Runs as a stand-alone program on a user's computer
Fast performance, easy to use graphic interface, supports RAID drives, supports disks over 2 TB, bootable recovery CD available for download, can repairs Master Boot Records (both MBR and GPT formats). Supports Linux ext2 and ext3 files systems. Data Protection mode allows for more non-reboot required editing scenarios, and the recovery media offers much of the functionality of the full, online program. Fully support Win8/UEFI boot.
Recovery media requires separate download
8.1.1
19.8 MB
32 bit but 64 bit compatible
Feature limited freeware
There is no portable version of this product available.
Supports Windows 2000 /XP /Vista /Windows 7 and 8
EASEUS Partition Master (Home Edition)
4
 
Runs as a stand-alone program on a user's computer
Intuitive and user-friendly interface, features include resize, move, copy, create, delete, hide, unhide, convert, explore and format partitions with a single step. Compatible with Windows Operating System based on GPT drive and UEFI/EFI boot, especially for Windows 8.
A wizard is included for copying partitions and hard disks only. No recovery CD.
9.3
20.82MB
32 bit but 64 bit compatible
Feature limited freeware
There is no portable version of this product available.
Windows 2000 - Windows 8
GParted
4
 
Runs as a stand-alone program on a user's computer
Supports for ext2, ext3, ext4, ntfs, fat16, fat32 and many other file systems. Most reliable overall based on my experience, program itself is standard in Linux distribution.
Offline. Partitions need to be unmounted before they are allowed for editing. The linux environment may be a bit intimidating for first-timers.
http://gparted.sourceforge.net/
0.16.2-1b
165.7 MB-live ISO, 1.7MB-linux tarball
32 bit but 64 bit compatible
Unrestricted freeware
All Windows, Linux, ,Intel based Mac OS
Paragon Partition Manager 12 Free Edition
4
 
Runs as a stand-alone program on a user's computer
Wizards to create, format, resize and copy partitions with support for deleting partitions. Informative detailed, customizable layout on main page. Support of Win8/GPT/uEFI configurations and works with Apple HFS+ file system.
Require to register to get a free serial number, more advanced features available only to the paid version.
2014
41.6 MB
32 and 64 bit versions available
Feature limited freeware
There is no portable version of this product available.
Windows 2000 to 7

 

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Comments

by freedog96150 on 27. February 2010 - 19:10  (44671)

very interesting find. I wonder if de-fragmenting the drive first would solve this issue.

I was not planning on testing any aspects of Win7's built-in disk partitioning against any of our recommended offerings. Since I have some extra Win7 licenses thanks to MS MAPS, I can build out a test install and do some comparative testing.

by Anonymous on 3. April 2010 - 7:30  (46839)

Hello,

Your site here is fantastic. Really helpful, especially with my security research.

Anyways, I am wanting to dual boot Windows XP with Ubuntu, on a drive with 1 partion WinXP. So I need to partition the drive, which is 250gb. Im thinking about 50gb for the Ubuntu partition. Just to piddle around with it and learn something new.

So my question is...

Have you anything on Partition Wizard yet? Is it stable and safe? Looks like it will do more with better integration and perhaps much faster than EASUS Partion Master, from my research, but there isnt much information on it out there.

Thanks!

EscapeVelocity

by Anupam on 3. April 2010 - 8:08  (46840)

What all options or software did you try regarding this? What kind of research did you do regarding these software? Did you try any of the software mentioned in the review?

Lately Partition Wizard have been spamming the site and the forum.. and we are now suspicious of every mention of it, because its being mentioned a lot. Unnecessary mentions of the software will be removed. We do not allow spamming of any kind.

by EscapeVelocity on 3. April 2010 - 23:19  (46897)

Anyways, looking forward to your report freedog. I will refrain from partitioning until. Anxiously waiting!

Best

EV

by freedog96150 on 6. April 2010 - 5:36  (47064)

It is stable and safe. Of course, there are always the exceptions, but I have not had a single glitch with it on my test systems. As to how fast it is, I am struggling to find a real difference between it and Easeus Partition Master. I have run test after test trying to cross-compare the two and (at least on my hardware) the time differences between the two running the same tasks is very minor.

If you do download Partition Wizard, you should also grab the recovery disk image as well. Easeus Partition Master does not include a recovery disk in their free version, so this is something that definitely sets Partition Wizard apart.

About the only thing I found that neither Partition Wizard or Easeus Partition Master will do is manage a Mac HFS+ drive. I had to turn to GParted to accomplish any partition tasks on my Mac drives. For 80% of the folks out there, this will be a non-issue.

by Anonymous on 6. April 2010 - 19:18  (47108)

didn't encounter this issue! after awhile windows generally puts files all over the place, and in my case there were files near the 'end' and it still shrunk ok. no defrag before hand. i have w7 64 on the new partition with no probs so far.

by EscapeVelocity on 7. April 2010 - 21:00  (47195)

I went ahead and used EASUS Partition Master, it was very simple to use, and worked well. I went with it because it has a longer history than Partition Wizard. Following the heard with what is known to work well. It was pretty fast, and also I think it has all of the features that Partition Wizard has, its just that the GUI hides some of them in sub menus in EASUS Part. Master.

Hope that helps.

Its so easy even a caveman can do it!

by freedog96150 on 7. April 2010 - 21:25  (47198)

That is great to hear. I am actually posting the new reviews right now. Stay tuned as they will be up and live later this afternoon.

by EscapeVelocity on 9. April 2010 - 5:44  (47284)

Can I try out the Partition Wizard, or do I have to stick with EASUS now that Ive used it to create partitions?

by freedog96150 on 9. April 2010 - 6:23  (47286)

You can use both side by side.

by Anonymous on 14. April 2010 - 5:27  (47609)

partition wizard now is upgraded 5.0 edition ,its function is more enough ,and now added the merge partition feature,also can supports the linux ext2 and ext3.while the eassus partition software only the style was changed ,but the functions and the features are the same as the before ,so here ,I highlight recommed the partion wizard to all software users

Editors Comment: Link removed. It is listed in multiple places in my reviews.

by Anonymous on 15. April 2010 - 11:47  (47683)

I could not find the free version of the business Partition Wizard for download on its site. I think that they may have pulled this offering after your review.

by freedog96150 on 15. April 2010 - 16:13  (47698)

Thanks for the heads up. I checked out their site and they must have stopped offering the Business/Pro license when they released their new version. In the interest of accuracy, I have downloaded the newest version of Home/Free and am retesting and will edit the reviews to reflect the new version.

by Anonymous on 16. April 2010 - 6:08  (47747)

I believe their free Business edition is no longer supported. Partition Wizard has pro edition now which is $19. Which I personally think it is a fair price compare to others. I used PW since 4.2.2, with the new version 5.0, they support linux, merge partition. At least it beat EASEUS for this new version.

I have to agree they've done a better job, for the time being.

by freedog96150 on 16. April 2010 - 6:31  (47748)

Not going to review or discuss the Pro version, even at a steal for $19, since this site only reviews and compares FREEWARE to FREEWARE. Thanks for the info though!

by Anonymous on 16. April 2010 - 17:18  (47787)

To those who use Partition Wizard, I recommend that you use v5.0 or above. There is a serious bug in v4.2.2 (and perhaps earlier versions) as detailed at http://www.wilderssecurity.com/showthread.php?t=265761.

by freedog96150 on 17. April 2010 - 4:48  (47834)

I read the referenced post. There was some confusion as to whether the issue was prevalent in the BOOT CD version or the INSTALLED version. In either case, an upgrade to the newest version should resolve any concerns. I have decided to step up testing on the newest version and post any new results next week.

by Anonymous on 17. April 2010 - 18:09  (47849)

I am the original poster MrBrian from that thread. I tested only the boot cd version of Home Edition v4.2.2 and Home Edition v5.0. I do not know whether the problem occurs in the Windows version also.

by Anonymous on 17. April 2010 - 21:44  (47864)

why would 'average', or 'novice', users prefer third party partitioners when win own disk utility is so easy to use and is effective. for eg shrinking a volume to cater for an install of a second os is so simple. even if installing linux as well as windows, the updated linux installer will/should sort out the boot record for you.

by freedog96150 on 18. April 2010 - 16:20  (47904)

Keep in mind that MS partition manager did not really come into its own until Windows7. The build-in partition manager in Windows XP is NOT intuitive to use and is destructive to disks that have data. For the millions of folks that still have XP installed, these programs are some of the best choices. For those with Windows7, you may want to check out the included disk management utility first.

by Anonymous on 18. April 2010 - 16:41  (47906)

'Keep in mind that MS partition manager did not really come into its own until Windows7'
good point :)

by Anonymous on 19. April 2010 - 11:47  (47958)

Any thoughts on the new version of Partition Wizard (ver 5) versus the 4.2.2 you reported on. Do you still rate EASEUS higher?

Thanks

by freedog96150 on 19. April 2010 - 23:19  (47996)

I have already mentioned further down in the comments that I will re-test this package as time permits this week. Due to the potential error mentioned by one of our commenters, MrBrian, it is advised that users upgrade to the newest version.

As for Top Pick - I am not just comparing Partition Wizard to Easeus Partition Master. There are other players in the field that have excellent products. The Top Pick will always be a selection from the whole field. Please don't make this into a two software package battle.

by Anonymous on 20. April 2010 - 5:09  (48010)

agree, both are good product! both does the job well

by Anonymous on 29. April 2010 - 23:35  (48780)

Are any of these partition managers portable? so that they can be stored on a USB thumbdrive?

by Anonymous on 30. April 2010 - 2:09  (48792)

Did you ever get a chance to retest this version?

by freedog96150 on 30. April 2010 - 2:25  (48795)

I finished testing the update. I will rewrite the article this weekend to reflect the new data.

by Anonymous on 30. April 2010 - 23:47  (48861)

Thanks freedog for your review! I needed to eliminate and repair a faulty partition created by a disk imaging program. Tried Easeus and it worked perfectly the first time. Well Done!

by Beeber on 9. May 2010 - 22:40  (49432)

RE: #3

I made mine (and alot of other apps) portable with Uniextract, which has a portable version. Partition Wizard works well from a thumb drive...even on a PE disc. I installed my Uniextract, but downloaded the portable version to try.

by Anonymous on 27. May 2010 - 16:39  (50470)

Thanks. Your review made a lot of sense to me and I liked the calm objective way in which you covered this comprehensive material.
RussellXPD

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