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Best Free Partition Management Software

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Go to details...  Go straight to the Quick Selection Guide
 
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

You are invited to share and discuss your views in our freeware forum.  To post in the forum you need to register first, but that's quick and immediate. Alternatively, anyone can leave a comment at the bottom of this page.

Please help us by rating this review

 
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

 

This software review is copy-edited by Ian Richards. Please help edit and improve this article by clicking here.

Editor

partition manager, free partition manager, freeware, free partition, disk partition, disc partition

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Comments

by crank on 16. December 2010 - 5:25  (62604)

A quick trip to Wiki reveals a murky situation. You may, or may not, have some capability with Mac OS 10.6.5. According to Microsoft, "Both Windows Vista with SP1 or later and Windows Server 2008 support exFAT with removable storage devices." [http://technet.microsoft.com/en-us/library/dd163551.aspx] And Wiki chimes in with "Windows XP and Windows Server 2003 users must have Service Pack 2 or later and install an update to support exFAT". Perfectly clear, eh?

So, you should already have the support, probably, for sure.

by wonder2011 (not verified) on 21. January 2011 - 7:55  (64940)

Yes ,i have met this trouble which made me annoyed. So i just searched for another similar software. I just got the recommendation easeus partition master home edition. This is also a freeware and very popular on the download.cnet. Well, i also think it's good for it has many functions compared with MItool. It can work normally. I recommend this.

by Wololo (not verified) on 6. February 2011 - 13:07  (65926)

Partition Wizard does not have a portable version, but it is enough to just copy over the installation folder to the USB thumb drive. The MiniTool support suggested that to me.

Anyhow I stick with Acronis, as that is the only Partitioner working with encrypted drives using DiskCryptor.

by MidnightCowboy on 11. February 2011 - 16:13  (66194)

Please note that the ongoing discussion between "bill" and crank (so far) about advanced partitioning has been moved to the forum here:

http://www.techsupportalert.com/freeware-forum/system/6404-discussion-ab...

The comments sections are not designed for either on-going discussion or long posts which take up a lot of space and force other comments onto the second page prematurely.

Thank you for you understanding and co-operation.

MC
Site Manager

by Stjepan Brbot (not verified) on 27. March 2011 - 0:49  (68624)

I just installed "EASEUS Partition Master" and "MiniTool Partition Wizard Home Edition". This is the same tool, everything is the same but logos.

by crank on 27. March 2011 - 10:34  (68648)

I don't know the history of these packages, from the previous reviewer's comments, the tests he ran having nearly identical results, and the fact that these two do appear quite similar, I always assumed both developed based on the same, earlier program. But, they are not as similar as you state, they come from very different companies, and do in fact behave differently. For any basic partitioning tasks, you should be fine with either one.

by pranam (not verified) on 13. June 2011 - 3:31  (73693)

Ant free tool available to partition my pc drives? It is running Windows 7...

EASEUS Partition Master (Home Edition) and MiniTool Partition Wizard Home Edition both are free but they dont support Windows 7. It asks me to but a paid version to support Windows .

Can anyone help me out with a free software.

by crank on 14. June 2011 - 6:46  (73767)

Can you please explain what you are trying to do? I use both programs routinely in Win7, 64 bit, so I can't understand why you are having problems.

by Someone (not verified) on 27. July 2011 - 18:57  (76333)

Im using right now Mini Tool Wizard Home Edition in a Windows 7 x86 pc, do you have the latest version?

by woodshed on 8. August 2011 - 18:03  (77213)

Mini tool partition wizard I run on windows 7 with out any problems.
I would also add you now have this program in the correct position FIRST

by crank on 8. August 2011 - 19:50  (77227)

I appreciate the input. I should have revised the position a while back, but I think there was a little too much deference to precedence. Please don't take me out to the woodshed.....

by George.J on 9. August 2011 - 12:31  (77293)

Great pick and my favourite!

by Snowbound (not verified) on 9. August 2011 - 16:51  (77311)

Tried several times to run the "Cnet-CBS Interactive Download Manger" and it prompts me to run it in Win7 and then does nothing. Think I will stick with Easeus at least when I download their exe its actually the program and not some download manager I do not want.

by smoaky on 9. August 2011 - 17:39  (77314)

Funny how Mini Tool almost emulates Easeus???
Why could that be? Stolen code?
Anyway I have always preferred Easeus over all the rest based on sheer simplicity.

by smoaky on 9. August 2011 - 17:44  (77315)

YES!!! Easeus Partition Master Home Edition does support W7
Go to CNET Download.com and search for it. I have been using it on W7 since Oct. 2009

by crank on 9. August 2011 - 21:48  (77329)

This is new, I hadn't seen until the last few days, not too sure what I think about it yet. Paragon, Easeus, and MiniTool all go through CNet/Download.com, but Easeus has opted out of this download manager. Nothing is actually installed on your system, but it's still an imposition. My first thoughts were resentful, but CNet is a good site, and their explanations seem reasonable. Must do some more cogitatin' on this before I decide what I personally think. Thanks for bringing that to my attention.

by Jeepmanjr (not verified) on 17. August 2011 - 13:04  (77797)

I just used Easeus 9 last night to partion a RAID array in a windows server I built. It installed and performed flawlessly and the cheesy English used in installation windows was good entertainment while the software did its job! :-) I've used several partition managers over the years - this competes well with the other highly rated managers in my opinion.

by crank on 17. August 2011 - 16:35  (77818)

The lack of a free recovery medium and questionable support for GPT and advanced format drives are substantial shortcomings. That they claim to support both makes that worse. Plus, MiniTool Partition Wizard can perform numerous operations without requiring a reboot where Easeus requires one.

If you built a server, I imagine you have some large disks, you might want to ensure the partitioning isn't causing you performance issues. Tests on 2 and 3 TB drives recently done show Easeus still assuming 512B sectors, they are 4KB, and starting even GPT partitions off-sector boundaries for an advanced format drive. This can impact performance on some drives. You can see a good well illustrated [and brief] description of this at http://www.anandtech.com/show/2888. Of course, he says belatedly, you have a RAID arrangement, I don't know how RAID controllers interact at such low levels with partitioning tools, it's worth checking out.

by Anonymous-3456576 (not verified) on 17. August 2011 - 22:23  (77839)

when are we going to get some kind of program that makes managing OS'es easy? (and partitions too i guess)...a lot of people using multiple OS'es on the same computer now, would be nice if there were some kind of pre-boot manager that let you install/uninstall an OS as easily as just another program...

by brunetu on 25. August 2011 - 21:30  (78353)

MiniTool Partition Wizard Home Edition
"Recovery media requires separate download" - I can't see any downside to this, in fact, quite the opposite.

by Rob (not verified) on 10. October 2011 - 12:14  (81186)

I believe that one should not be running partitioning software from within Windows.
Shouldn't the reviews/comparisons, be indicting (boldly) which ones provide the ability to be run from a bootable CD

by FirstSpear (not verified) on 17. October 2011 - 21:07  (81619)

Dear Reviewer, please read the entries from FirstSpear. None of these programs work. Can you find one that actually works?

by Anonymouse (not verified) on 17. October 2011 - 21:26  (81622)

1st, i would like to know if "private, noncommercial, home computer use only" as most stipulate, excludes non-profit charity? Some add that so it seems there is a distinction.

Using Paragon, while it recognized and deleted (upon reboot) a 75gb partition on a sata drive, to which i was going to copy XP onto from my pata drive, upon rebooting it would not recognize the sata drive at all in my attempt to do the latter, even though it is clearly there in Windows Explorer.

by Bengt S on 17. October 2011 - 21:45  (81623)

In less than an hour you have installed four programs and almost immediately after installation found that they don't work. You couldn't have spent much time reading the manuals and that maybe is one of the reasons you could not make the programs work. For example, you complain that when using Minitool that "Create Partition" is greyed out. Did you first click on an unallocated space?

I myself have used Minitool without problems many times.

by MidnightCowboy on 18. October 2011 - 5:16  (81642)

All of these programs require a degree of commitment to their respective user manuals as already indicated by Bengt S in order to achieve optimum results. If you require assistance, please post your questions in our forum.

by crank on 18. October 2011 - 17:06  (81666)

Rob,
Sorry for missing your post until now, the reviews attempted to indicate this, but they clearly did not do so adequately for you. I will review the reviews and revise.

Thank you for your input, though I would ask why you have this strong opinion? Admittedly it is not an easy task, since Minitool is the only one that will partition, without reboot into a pre-boot environment, the 'boot' partition, the one with the system on it, or the 'system' partition if different, that's the one with the files needed to boot, ya gotta love those Washington folk. Minitool touts this capability quite often. It is a little scary, but after trying it 4 or 5 times, maybe more, I haven't yet seen a glitch.

by crank on 18. October 2011 - 17:15  (81667)

I can't help you with the non-profit info, I would assume that it is fine, they should say it overtly if not. As to not recognizing that SATA drive, you say Explorer sees it, can you elaborate a bit more please? You deleted a 75 GB partition on it, which Paragon had to reboot for, and then it doesn't see the drive at all? But explorer see's what? And what do you see in drive management?

Do you have any idea why Paragon wanted to reboot to delete that partition? Was it in use already and you were trying to move the system to it? It's possible the MBR or other files used in booting were on that drive, but that should not effect whether the partition is seen by Paragon since you clearly booted into the system. Have you tried any of the recovery media to see what they see?

by Rasselas (not verified) on 23. October 2011 - 5:16  (81970)

I've used both the top two Partition Managers (MiniTools and EASEUS)... I had and kept having difficulties with MiniTools (though it's a much prettier interface). If I tried to move a partition, it would also resize it (just a few megabytes)... If I tried to but two partitions together, it would often keep them 7.68Mb apart... Did I mention it's a very nice interface.

But most distressing of all, was that I told it to size a particular logical drive/partition to 25Gb... it said ok, and so I failed to pay too much attention (as it was a run of the mill operation).

Sometime later I noticed the partition was showing 6Gb in Windows... I open MiniTools, and it also shows 6Gb... where did my other 19Gb go???? It showed the correct size for the disk, but the partition sizes/totals didn't add up (of course).

So I opened up EASEUS, and it not only saw the correct value of 25Gb value (MiniTools did set it correctly, but mis-updated Windows (and thus it's own perception incorrectly, apparently)... but EASEUS was able to convince windows (and thus MiniTools, indirectly) of the correct value. Did I mention it has an ugly interface?

Oh well, there are some benefits to each, and at time MiniTools DID work correctly, and was experiencing those buggy behaviours, but EASEUS imo is the more stable tool, and thus the one I will be going with when it comes to my important data and disks.

As a side-note though... I found no great difficulty in using both partition tools together... though sometimes multiple partition managers don't play nice together (I think... Ranish for example).

by crank on 24. October 2011 - 1:51  (82023)

Thanks you for your comments, you seem to have an appreciation for the MiniTool interface, good eye :). OK, the slight changes in size/position that you are seeing are normal, a consequence of the desire to optimally align the start of partitions, it has to do with the cylinders and heads and sectors which aren't relevant much these days and yet....

I was fretting over it recently as to the new 'advanced format' drives until I did some testing of my own and saw some drives performed better when they were supposedly 'mis-aligned'. A little verbiage from Washington on the subject:
{
Aligns a primary partition that is not cylinder aligned at the beginning of a disk and rounds the offset to the closest alignment boundary, where n is the number of kilobytes (KB) from the beginning of the disk to the closest alignment boundary.
}
etc etc.

Now, as to your disappearing 19GB went, that I am at a loss for. Was this a primary, an extended or logical volume within an extended? There are problems in how those are handled in almost all of the partitioning software, including windows disk management. The inexplicable is part and parcel to working with computers, if you are really curious, feed me more data, but it probably is one of those things contingent on the exact circumstances and can't be repeated.

I'm glad you use more than one of these tools, they are free, disk space is nearly so, so why not? Thanks again for your comments, and please stay tuned.

by Hideehi (not verified) on 26. October 2011 - 12:43  (82157)

Hi
I downloaded Minitool and the free version will not let me merge a partition. Merging two partitions is fundamental to partition managing. If you can't do that, it's not worth having, IMHO.