| By Lincoln Spector |
Your hard drive contains your digital life: music, photos, and personal documents, among other things. So you better take care of it!
Here are four key — and free — programs that let you partition hard drives, check their internal health, and find oversized folders.
I’ve tried, as much as possible — though without complete success — to stick to portable programs that you can run off a flash drive. After all, you don’t want to install something on your hard drive when it’s giving you problems.
Organize hard drives via partition management
Separating your hard drive into multiple partitions (which act as virtual drives) allows you to organize the drive more efficiently as well as install multiple operating systems. A good partition manager allows you to resize, move, and create partitions without losing data. You can also delete partitions you no longer need.
Windows Vista and Windows 7 have decent partition tools built in, but these apps have some annoying limitations — for example, they sometimes refuse to shrink a partition as small as that partition’s free space should allow it to be shrunk.
EASEUS Partition Master Home Edition (info) does almost everything a good partition manager should, all through its exceptionally easy-to-use user interface. (If it did everything, no one would buy the $40 Professional version, which adds the ability to manage partitions from a bootable CD.) Just make your changes and click the big check-mark icon to finish the job. (See Figure 1.) Selecting a checkbox shuts the computer down when the utility’s done.
A well-designed user interface makes EASEUS easy to work with.