Fresh Off The Block


Mar
19
2015

[Review] Mini Tool Partition Wizard 9.0

While not a tool that should be used without care, Partitioning Software is something no serious computer user should be without. If you imagine a hard drive as like a pie, partitioning software is the knife and scoop. Traditionally, such tools give you the ability to cut the storage of a hard drive into multiple "slices" (called partitions) so that you can, for example, split one drive into two to keep personal data separate from the rest of Windows, letting you keep ahold of it if you need to reinstall Windows later – or, you can use a slice to install a different system entirely. They also let you move or copy slices from one drive to another, for example for easy backups; and in some cases, even put the slices back together again.

If you feel the need to manage your drives in such ways – and you're mindful of the dangers – then there are a whole number of Partition Management products you can use, many of which work in broadly similar ways and have similar visuals. Today we review one such candidate: Mini Tool Partition Manager 9.0

Features

  • Basic Partition Management:
    • Create / Delete / Format / Hide Partition
    • Change Drive Letter
    • Set Partition Label
    • Convert FAT/FAT32 to NTFS; or NTFS to FAT32
  • Advanced Partition Management:
    • Move/Resize Partition
    • Extend Partition
    • Split Partition
    • Align Partition
    • Wipe Partition
    • Explore Partition
    • Set Partition as Primary
    • Set Partition as Logical
    • Copy Partition Wizard
    • Partition Recovery Wizard
    • Migrate OS to SSD/HD
    • Windows Storage Spaces
  • Basic Disk Management
    • Disk Copy
    • Delete All Partitions
    • Align All Partitions
    • Recover All Partitions
    • Rebuild MBR
    • Wipe Disk
    • Convert MBR Disk to GPT Disk, or vice versa
  • Additional Functions (Not in Free edition)
    • Merge Partition
    • Change Cluster Size
    • Resize/Move/Delete/Format Dynamic Volume
    • Change Dynamic Volume Letter
    • Change Dynamic Volume label
    • Wipe Volume
    • Change Dynamic Volume Cluster Size
    • Convert Dynamic Disk to Basic
    • Copy Volume

Mini Tool Partition Manager 9.0 Website

Full Review

MiniTool Partition Wizard aims to be everyone's one-stop-shop for any Partitioning and many disk management needs with a large number of supported features that cover all the bases for managing partitions, master boot records and basic disk management, all available through a streamlined interface common to most software in this category.

When you open MiniTool Partition Manager, it may sometimes appear at first that nothing is happening. However, after a short delay you should see a splash screen introducing the program; and some time after this, the program itself should appear. The delay in opening and loading the program is to give it time to first ask your computer for information about the disks and partitions currently on the computer; and then process it so that it can show you the correct information and allow you to properly manage everything.

The main interface of MiniTool Partition Manager, before anything has been selected.

The main interface of MiniTool Partition Manager, before anything has been selected.

Mini Tool allows you to select either the entire disk or individual partitions to work with, the options available changing to suit the selection. Selecting what to work with is done either by clicking the name of the partition or the disk on the list; or clicking the box for the partition or the picture of the drive in the upper graph.

The Wizards

Using a Partition Manager can be daunting to those who have never worked with partitions before, or who aren’t very familiar with computers. Thankfully, Mini Tool offers four very friendly Wizards to make it easy to perform a range of common tasks, which are always available at the top of the “Actions and Wizards” pane, to the left. The Migrate OS to SSD/HD option, for example, allows moving your entire Windows install to another disk, which could be useful if you recently installed a larger hard drive or a Solid State Drive and want Windows to be able to take advantage of more space or better performance. The Wizard asks which Drive should hold Windows now, although you will not be able to select a disk that doesn’t have enough space for the move.

An example of the first screen of the Migrate OS to SSD/HD Wizard. Here, the Wizard is not allowing me to move my Windows install to a 15GB SD card because it would not fit.

An example of the first screen of the Migrate OS to SSD/HD Wizard. Here, the Wizard is not allowing me to move my Windows install to a 15GB SD card because it would not fit.

Assuming you have a large enough drive, you’ll then be warned that the drive to be moved to will have any existing data erased; you’ll then have the option of how to set up the new drive with Windows installed. The Wizard offers quick options to either have Windows take up all the space of the new disk (“Fit partition to entire disk”) or keep it the same size, leaving any extra space on the disk unused (“Copy without resize”); but you can also make this adjustment yourself by choosing “Edit the partitions on this disk”.

The next two Wizards are the Copy Partition and Copy Disk Wizards. The first allows you to make an exact copy of one of your partitions into another partition; and the second allows a whole Hard Drive, SD Card, USB Drive or other disk to another; and are the same dialogues shown by clicking “Copy” after selecting a Disk or Partition in the main interface. This is in four steps: First, select what to copy; second, select where to copy to. After clicking Next, you’ll be asked if you want to do any resizing. Finally click Finish, to save the task.

The final Wizard is the Partition Recovery Wizard, which allows you to scan a drive for lost or damaged partitions and potentially recover them. After clicking “Next” to begin, you select the drive to scan, using a window very similar to the “Migrate OS” window shown above. You’ll then be presented with options for how you want to scan the drive – scanning the whole drive, only space without a partition (if there isn’t any, this option will be disabled), or a range you choose.

Partition Recovery Options

Following this screen you’ll be asked if you wish to do a Quick Scan or a Full Scan. Quick Scan skips over a partition once it finds one it deems missing or damaged in order to find others quicker, and is useful if you believe you only have one missing partition or all the missing ones are in one continuous line. Full Scan does a more thorough scan which should give more accurate results, but as a result is also slower. The scan begins after clicking “Next”.

A Recovery scan in progress

A Recovery scan in progress

Other Features

These Wizards offer an easy way to access some of the main features of the product; and make it very simple for an average user to manage their disks in as simple a manner as possible. However, many other features are offered by the software outside of these Wizards, which appear in the “Disk” and “Partition” menus at the top of the screen; or by clicking a partition or disk in the main interface to work with.

Selecting a partition, for example, reveals the bulk of the options offered by the software, with the toolbar at the top offering all the common options: Move/Resize, Merge, Delete, Format, Copy, Label and Properties. These options also appear in the sidebar on the left, where they are joined by a number of other options that represent most of the features offered by the program, such as Aligning the partition to increase performance; a Surface Test to ensure it’s working correctly; Wipe Partition which allows the entire partition to be quickly erased if it isn’t needed any more; and various options to view and alter its properties. These options also appear in the “Partition” Menu, at the very top of the program. Selecting an entire disk reveals a much shorter list of options, focusing on managing the entire disk or all the partitions in bulk. The toolbar offers only a “Copy” option to copy the entire Disk; but the sidebar or opening the “Disk” menu reveal many more features – Aligning all the partitions at once; Deleting all the partitions (not recommended!); Rebuilding the MBR; a whole disk Surface Test; a Disk Wipe for erasing the contents of the disk, keeping its partitions intact; a tool to recover potentially lost partitions; and “Convert MBR to GPT disk”.

Importantly for safety, Mini Tool never performs any of the tasks its asked to do straight away. Rather, for tasks that involve any changes to the disks or partitions themselves – which will be the bulk of the options – the things you ask Mini Tool to do will be added to a queue. The program will only start performing the work – in the order they were added to the queue – by clicking the “Apply” button and confirming you want the program to start work. This allows you to double-check everything you do and offers a safeguard against any mistakes, helping to reduce the potential to leave yourself without a working computer or hard drive.

Conclusion

All in all, Mini Tool offers a good bridge between power and simplicity, allowing both power users and the average computer enthusiast access to a huge range of tools to manage their drives and how they’re split up and utilised. Using Mini Tool is fast and responsive; and very pleasing on the eye. While little may be offered over competing products by other companies in terms of features, look or usability, the existence of a free offering with most of the features unlocked; and the existence of Wizards and well-explained User Guides – available via links on the dialogue windows while using any feature – make it well worth considering if you do not already have a Partition Management software you’re satisfied with.

In a future review, we will look closer into the features of MiniTool Partition Wizard that are not offered by the wizards; as well as look into the performance of creating, deleting and working with partitions; and give a verdict on the performance of each task.

Mini Tool Partition Manager 9.0 Website