Hard Disk Manager 2009 Suite is a hard disk management tool, which lets you create and manage disk images and partitions, and backup your entire computer.
There are also several ancillary tools at your disposal, covering disk defragmentation, migration, secure deletion and disk copying.
Unfortunately, it employs the same bland launch interface as its predecessor. This presents a variety of commonly used tasks under themed headings, most with an associated wizard. Though this is an effective way to execute basic tasks without opening the main application, the interface is unattractive and it’s not always easy to discern which of the vaguely described tools you need. Only one of the 12 options takes you through to the main, and far more comprehensive, application interface.
The main screen provides a useful graphical overview of your hard disks. There’s also tabbed access to scheduled tasks and archives, while the left panel groups tasks under themed headings. It makes rigorous use of wizards to walk you through its myriad tools and routines. This reduces the complexity of the tasks, and lets you focus on what you want to achieve, rather than figuring out how to achieve it.
Backups can cover your entire computer, selected hard disks, specific partitions, or just certain files and folders. You can state either exactly which files, or file types, you want to backup. This means you can create backups of just your music or photos. All backups can be scheduled chronologically, or be triggered by either system start-up or logon. Whole partition backups can be used as the base archive for subsequent differential backups, while file and folder backups can be used as the based for incremental backups.
Backups can be saved to a local hard disk or network drive – directly to CD, DVD or BD-R – or even to a protected Backup Capsule. This is a hidden partition on your hard disk created by, and only accessible to, Hard Disk Manager. This is the most secure local backup option, as it should be impervious to any malware. It’s possible to mount these backup archives, so you can access them just like a normal hard disk.
Creating, editing, merging and deleting partitions can be a tricky and stressful process, but Hard Disk Manager renders these tasks pretty foolproof. You can format partitions in a variety of common file systems, and delete data from old hard disks securely. Hard Disk Manager has both Linux-based and Windows-based recovery environments. Both are easy to use, although novice users will be more comfortable with the Windows version.
Hard Disk Manager 2009 Suite is only a minor update to an already excellent application. There is little reason to upgrade from the previous version, but for first-time buyers it’s an effective and affordable way to protect your computer against disaster. A good alternative is Acronis True Image Home 2009, which has more powerful backup customisation tools, but lacks the range of Hard Disk Manager’s partitioning capabilities.