ServerMagic simplifies disk management

Need help managing server disk partitions? PowerQuest's ServerMagic 4.0 for Windows NT can help. However, don't look for assistance configuring dynamic Win2K disks. This week's IT Certification Corner has the details.

The name is misleading. Labeled ServerMagic 4.0 for Windows NT, PowerQuest’s new server partitioning software doesn’t immediately strike you as a Windows 2000 utility. Maybe it’s because there’s a “4.0” and an “NT” in the name; I don’t know. ServerMagic does work with Windows 2000. However, its full functionality is limited to the Windows NT 4.0 server platform.

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As I mentioned in last week’s IT Certification Corner, partitioning tools play an important role in configuring test machines and lab environments. Test networks are used, of course, to simulate enterprise environments when studying new software and preparing for certification exams.

Whether you’re trying to deploy servers quickly or manage server disk partitions, ServerMagic will make your life easier.

PartitionMagic for servers
Essentially, ServerMagic operates just like PartitionMagic. The principal difference is that ServerMagic works within server operating systems (a NetWare version is also available).

ServerMagic’s graphical interface mimics PartitionMagic’s console. You’ll find a row of toolbar buttons, an Explorer-like tree for navigating disks, and windows that display disk information, as shown in Figure A.

Figure A
The ServerMagic interface looks like PartitionMagic’s console.

Using ServerMagic’s interface, administrators can view partition information and perform the following actions:
  • Create partitions and Windows NT 4.0 volume sets
  • Format partitions and Windows NT 4.0 volume sets
  • Delete partitions and Windows NT 4.0 volume sets
  • Resize partitions and Windows NT 4.0 volume sets
  • Move partitions and Windows NT 4.0 volume sets
  • Copy partitions and Windows NT 4.0 volume sets

Administrators and support personnel can also create, format, delete, move, and copy server partitions to or from a remote server over a network.

In addition, ServerMagic supports splitting partitions, merging FAT and FAT32 partitions, and undeleting partitions.

As with PartitionMagic, ServerMagic supports the following file systems:
  • FAT
  • FAT32
  • NTFS
  • Linux Ext2
  • Linux Swap
  • HPFS

As a Windows 2000 administrator, it’s important that you note ServerMagic’s Windows NT 4.0 volume limitation. ServerMagic’s support for volume set configuration is limited to the Windows NT Server 4.0 platform. ServerMagic 4.0 for Windows NT does not support Windows 2000 dynamic disks; the partition utility can configure only basic disks on Windows 2000 servers. You also can’t use ServerMagic to administer RAID configurations, other than to resize mirrored partitions.

Despite these shortcomings, you’ll still find ServerMagic boasts significant functionality. The Remote Agent and support for scripting are two examples of additional powerful features the program provides.

Remote Agent
ServerMagic’s Remote Agent, a DOS application that uses TCP/IP to connect to remote servers over a network, enables administrators to perform the following actions:
  • Create and delete partitions on remote servers
  • Copy and move partitions between servers
  • Copy volume sets between servers
  • View partition information on remote servers

Using the Remote Agent is straightforward. First, you must create Remote Agent boot disks using the Boot Disk Builder program, which lives on the Tools menu.

The boot disks are used to boot the remote server. Be prepared to specify the IP address, subnet mask, and default gateway that the Remote Agent should use for the remote server. There’s also the option of obtaining an IP address from a DHCP server. Once you provide the network information, or a DHCP address is obtained, the Windows NT or 2000 server running ServerMagic can connect to the remote server.

Just select Connect Remote Agent from the General menu and provide the IP address of the machine you want to administer. It will then appear in the ServerMagic console’s tree pane.

ServerMagic also provides a tool you can use to create ASCII script files. Using the Scriptbuilder feature, accessed by selecting Scripting from the Tools menu, you can create scripts that collect text statements defining operations you want ServerMagic to perform.

System requirements
What do you need to run ServerMagic? Not much. The minimum system requirements on a Windows NT Server are a 486-MHz processor running a 33-MHz clock speed and 32 MB of RAM. Windows 2000 server platforms push the requirements higher. If you’re running Win2K, make sure your servers possess 133-MHz Pentium chips and 128 MB of RAM.

The amount of disk space you’ll require is negligible: Only 50 MB of free space is needed to load ServerMagic.

Eckel’s take
When all is said and done, ServerMagic is really PartitionMagic for servers. Most of the partitioning functionality found in PartitionMagic is included in ServerMagic, along with scripting capabilities and the services of the Remote Agent.

The one “gotcha” to watch for is ServerMagic’s inability to configure dynamic disks in Windows 2000. While that’s not likely to be a major issue for most administrators, be sure you keep that limitation in mind. It would be an ugly surprise in a time of crisis.

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