Server Magic v3.0 - part two

Reviewed by: Jim Huddle, send e-mail

Published by: PowerQuest Corporation, go to the web site
Requires: Windows NT 4.0 Server with SP4 Installed; 486/DX-33, 16MB RAM & 12MB of disk space
MSRP: US$495.00

(Ed Note: Reviewed in 2000. The first part of this review can be found here)

Part one detailed the NetWare side of ServerMagic. This part is about the Windows NT Server side.

Server Magic allows you to do some nice things with NT and non-NT partitions located on the same box. While NT can't see Fat32, Linux Ext2 or HPFS partitions, Server Magic can. You can manipulate these partitions with Server Magic from within NT. There are some limitations when working with NT partitions you should be aware of. For one thing, any changes to a partition with open files requires that the system reboot. The operation then finishes in what Powerquest calls a boot mode. Similarly, any partition having the swap file will necessitate a reboot to finish the operation. One other point to keep in mind is that NT based software RAID partitions are not supported. It will support hardware based RAID however.

Installation is a breeze. The CD will run automatically if NT is set to do so. If not, you just run the BROWSECD.EXE. Along with installing Server Magic you can also create rescue diskettes or read the online documentation.

The same precautions when running Server Magic for NetWare apply to NT. PowerQuest recommends you back up your hard disk, take the server offline and shut down all running applications. In addition, it's recommended that you backup the boot.ini file and create an NT boot disk.

The program's GUI interface is simple to use. It follows the common Windows conventions for a menu bar, tool bar and status bar. The partition information is located in an interior window. The partition information window carries plenty of useful information. At the top is a partition map. It shows the partitions roughly to scale. The partition list is the real hit. You get the volume name, the type of file system, partition size and used and free space. It also shows the partition's active status and whether the partition is a primary or logical.

Server Magic allows you to resize, move, create, delete, format and copy partitions. Note that PowerQuest states that Server Magic does not support stripe sets, volume sets or mirrors created with NT's Disk Administrator. You can resize a mirror set, but you'll have to break the mirror, resize the master partition and then recreate the mirror with Disk Administrator.

One of the neatest options is Info. When selected, a dialog box displays with four tabs. The first tab shows disk usage both graphically, in pie form, and numerically. The disk usage tab shows this information for FAT, FAT32, NTFS and HPFS file systems. The Cluster Waste tab only shows FAT and FAT32 file systems. The information is shown as data and wasted space, as well as the file system's current cluster size. The dialog also includes a bar graph showing the percentage of wasted space to used space. The Partition Info tab shows the partition type, serial number and physical sector information. The fourth tab shown depends on the file system type. For FAT and FAT32 systems there is a FAT Info screen. If the partition is NTFS the tab displays NTFS Info and HPFS Info for HPFS.

The FAT Info dialog gives information including number of sectors in each FAT and the number of FATs in the partition. It shows the starting sector of the FAT and data sections as well as the root directory capacity. It also shows such information as number of bytes in use by file, the number of files, and the number of hidden files. It also gives this information for the directories in the partition. The bottom of the page gives information on OS/2 Extended Attributes, if any, and the bytes, files and directories with long file names.

The NTFS Info dialog includes the NTFS version, bytes per physical sector, and cluster size. Since NTFS has a different file system organization than FAT, the dialog gives the starting cluster for the Master File Table (MFT) and size of the records in the MFT.

The HPFS Info dialog shows the partition's status, being either Active, Dirty, Corrupt or Not Active. It also includes other information specific to HPFS file systems.

Another nice operation you can perform with Server Magic is the conversion of file formats in a partition. FAT partitions can be converted to FAT32, NTFS or HPFS. Conversion to NTFS or HPFS is a one way move. Once there, they cannot be converted back. A FAT32 partition can however, be converted to FAT if there is appropriate unused disk space on the partition.

The Advanced operations of Server Magic allow you to change a partition's drive letter (under NT only), retest bad sectors, hide and unhide partitions, set an active partition, resize the root directory and resize clusters.

Server Magic for NT is okay, but it doesn't excite me like the NetWare version does. It provides gives good reporting on partitions and makes moving and resizing partitions a snap. The limitations on stripe sets and volumes sets is a problem for me however. It's been my experience that NT admins tend to use these options quite a lot. Whether this is budgetary or poor planning isn't always apparent, but it would have been a nice addition if Server Magic for NT Server could deal with these.

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