Optimizing storage space is one of many concerns administrators must keep in mind when designing or revamping their systems. In a recent discussion, one TechRepublic member asked whether it’s possible to delete a D partition and combine it with a C partition in an existing NT environment without losing valuable existing data. Other members responded with suggestions for third-party software packages that can safely accomplish this. Here are some of the highlights of the discussion.

Partitioning tools
A number of members have used PowerQuest’s PartitionMagic to manipulate their disk partitions. According to tleffing, PartitionMagic is a great tool for deleting one partition and safely merging it with another. “The 5.0 version would do the job, but 6.0 is now available. I’ve used PQ Magic for years to slice and dice my disks and run multiple OSs. It works like a champ.”

Terrell Kelley also recommended the latest version of PowerQuest’s partitioning utility. “PartitionMagic 6 will allow you to safely ‘merge’ your partitions. It has an integrated suite of tools that will allow you to do just about anything you desire in manipulating partitions.”

Network administrator Will Johnson said PartitionMagic will do the job on workstations, but PowerQuest’s ServerMagic is the package to use when manipulating partitions on servers.
For an in-depth look at PartitionMagic 6.0’s new features and enhancements, check out this recent installment of Erik Eckel’s IT Certification Corner.
Member Stevep recommended StorageSoft’s ImageCast 3. The product allows you “to create an image of your C partition and then reimage your C partition onto your whole drive.”

Cover yourself
Although members have enjoyed positive results from partitioning software packages, these tools aren’t foolproof solutions. Member nikolaus warned that using them with your system is an experiment—especially if partitions are a result of hardware RAID controller configurations.

“Depending on the nature of the RAID controller, the communication between the partitioning tool and controller API may not behave as expected by the programmers of the partitioning tool.”

And because partitioning can be somewhat experimental, nikolaus and others recommended doing a thorough backup before manipulating the hard disk. In fact, NovDragon suggested doing two separate backups and then testing them to make sure that a bad medium wasn’t used.

Preparation is essential. “Make sure you have all the software you’ll need and all the drivers. Document all the configurations you have set….If Exchange is running on this box, make sure you back up all the mailboxes, etc. These are things that will be overlooked if you don’t plan this right and will ultimately cause you great pains,” NovDragon said.

You can’t beat a clean install
Member tommarsh has used PartitionMagic for some time and agreed that it works well. But there’s always the chance for an undetected glitch in the process.

“I prefer to always go with a clean install if it isn’t much trouble. I’m very picky and l like the peace of mind. If a glitch is ever going to surface, it will be when I’d rather be fixing something else.”
Do you agree with the opinions outlined here? Would you recommend alternative methods or products for partitioning hard disks? Join the discussion and share your opinions or advice.