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For people who want to organise their data on the volume or partition level, or who run multiple operating systems on the same computer, partitioning software is simply a necessity. Happily, PowerQuest's PartitionMagic lets you merge, split, resize, relocate and change the type of partitions on your hard drive, non-destructively and at will.

The program's easy-to-use interface runs within Windows, though some operations require rebooting temporarily to DOS (or NT boot mode) - the only reliable way to perform them. In almost a decade of heavy use, I've never seen the program crash or trash a hard drive.

Improvements in PartitionMagic 7 include the ability to run under Windows XP. Previous versions of PartitionMagic support the NTFS partitions that XP and all versions of NT run natively, but those earlier versions don't run under Microsoft's newest OS.

PartitionMagic 7 also adds support for hard drives larger than 40GB, offers the ability to merge NTFS partitions, to split partitions and data at the folder level, and to handle external USB hard drives - even under DOS. PowerQuest also bundles BootMagic, a utility that facilitates booting to different operating systems. It's just one more reason why PartitionMagic is my top pick in partitioning software.

PowerQuest PartitionMagic 7

Price: $149.95; $109.95 (Upgrade); $119.95 (Education)Distributors: Marketing ResultsPhone: (02) 9899 5888ACA PacificPhone: (03) 9674 8188 URL: www.marketingresults.com.au; www.acapacific.com.au; www.powerquest.com

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