Take control of your hard drives. Whether you want to edit your partitions, clone an entire drive, check SMART data or otherwise manage the way your computer’s data is organized, Parted Magic is the tool you’ve been looking for. It’s a live CD with lots of tools baked in.
Parted Magic’s name is an obvious nod to Partition Magic – a once-great product that met its demise shortly after being acquired by Symantec. Don’t be fooled by the reference, though. While Parted Magic is a fantastic tool for partitioning hard drives it can do a whole lot more. This Linux-based live CD includes tools for everything from data recover to drive cloning, and thanks to Firefox being built in you can even browse the web while the tools do their job.
Whether you’re an IT professional constantly in need of ways to manage machines or just some guy looking for a simple way to re-partition a hard drive, Parted Magic is simple to use and heavy on features.
Using Parted Magic
Boot Parted Magic and the first thing you’ll see is this list of options:
The default option should work on most computers; if not try another. Like most live CDs booting may take a while, so be patient. When everything does boot you’ll see a Windows-esque desktop:
There are a variety of tools right on the desktop. The file browser is perfect for backing up files from drives you’re about to edit, and you can quickly check the health of your disks using the disk health tool.
If partitioning is what you’re after – and it probably is – you’ll find the gParted icon right on the desktop; it’s called “Partition Editor” for the sake of simplicity. Click it to get started.
We’ve reviewed gParted in the past; and it’s very easy to use. Figure out how you’d like to set up your drive, then click “Apply” if you’re ready.
Windows and Linux partition types are all supported, but the default file format used by OS X is not. As such, gParted isn’t incredibly useful for Mac users.
Clonezilla, Built In
Partitioning is cool, but sometimes you want to move all data from one drive to another – or back an entire drive up before partitioning things. For this reason Want to clone the entirety of one drive to another, or back up a failing drive to an image for safe keeping?
Check out our previous review of Clonezilla to learn more about using this powerful tool, and be careful: if you don’t know what you’re doing you could easily overwrite an entire hard drive worth of data.
Of course partitioning and cloning aren’t the only tools offered by this drive. There’s a lot to find in the menu:
I couldn’t hope to summarize what all of these tools do, sofor more information. You’ll be amazed at how much this little CD can do the more you dig into it.
Get Parted Magic
You’ll find the Parted Magic ISO file at PartedMagic. Most operating systems come with build-in tools for burning ISOs to disks, including Windows 7, OS X and basically every version of Windows. Just right-click the file and click something along the lines of “Burn image to disk“.
If you’re on Windows and can’t find a built-in tool for the job check out IMG Burn. If you’d rather use a flash drive than a CD, no problem: use uNetBootin to write the ISO to the flash drive of your choice.
Booting from a CD or flash drive might take a few extra steps, depending on your computer. When you first turn your machine you probably see instructiosn for entering the boot menu – on an ASUS, for example, it says to press ESC. Do whatever you’re told, and if no instructions show up consult your computer’s documentation.
Parted Magic isn’t just a live CD: it’s an entire toolbox. It’s worth having around just in case, so take note.
What kind of live CDs do you keep around in case things go wrong? Let me know in the comments below, along with anything about Parted Magic you think I’ve missed.