5 Best Hard Drive Management Tools

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harddriveplate 5 Best Hard Drive Management Tools

Hard drives are often only as good as the care and maintenance you put into them.  Here are 5 hard drive management tools you can put to use  to maximize its performance your computer.

1. Best Hard Disk Space Analyzer

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Are you the type that frequently checks on the contents of your hard drive? Maybe you’ve got a beast of a media collection, and want to find out how much space those cat videos are robbing from your enormous iTunes playlist and work documents?

Well, WinDirStat takes the entire contents of your hard drive, digests its files, and regurgitates the unidentified chaos into a colorful tree map which shows you a visual representation of how much space a particular type of file is taking up. It’s pretty speedy too; the entire process took about a minute and a half for my 500 GB partition.

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If you’re not a fan of blocky shapes or you just prefer a more ‘Apple’ solution, Disk Space Fan does an equally good job of representing your system. Or, if you’re a Mac user, DaisyDisk offers more of the same.

2. Best Partition Manager Tool

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All of us have come to know the pain of losing your documents or music collection to viruses, malware or plain system failure, and partitioning your hard drive is one of the best ways to quarantine fatal software failures.

In case you didn’t know, partitioning is the act of dividing the space on your physical HDD into individually recognized disk drives by your computer (i.e. C: drive, E: drive). This not only serves as an effective compartmentalization tool (such as designating space between family members), but also plays a crucial role in restricting the travel of malicious code (viruses, malware etc.) from one partition to another. Think of it as having a moat in between two castles; the enemy might get into one castle, but the treasure in the other castle stays safe.

I’ve tried a number of hard disk partition tools in my days, and by far the most efficient free solution is Windows’ very own Disk Management tool. To access it, just go to Control Panel -> System and Security, and under Administrative Tools look for Create and format hard disk partitions. Here, you can enable or disable partitions, make new partitions from free space, or even format a partition in case you ever want to.

3. Best File Compression Software

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There are many flavors of file compression software out in the wild, but none of them is as popular as the well known WINRAR software. Winrar has been around long since the early days of the Internet, and at the time was the only viable challenger to the king-at-the-time, Winzip. Today, Winrar has claimed the crown from its rival, and boasts the .rar extension as recognizable in nearly every tech community.

The amazing thing about file compression is just how much file space you can save from it. In my daily use, Winrar often reduces file size by 40% – 50%, and it’s been a lifesaver in transferring huge amounts of important data over the internet to my peers. You can also use it to herd multiple files into one group, then send the entire batch over in one fell swoop instead of dragging-and-clicking each file one by one.

4. Best Disk Cleanup & Disk Defragmenter

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Just as dust often collects in an oft-used room, so does waste bits of data and temporary files which get strewn around on your hard drive go unnoticed. In the course of our computing activities, the hard drive frequently writes, removes, and rewrites data hundreds and thousands of times a day, so metaphorically speaking, there’s bound to be junk lying around. Unfortunately, this junk can accumulate to the point where it slows down our computer or disrupts smooth execution of data, and cleaning it up is akin to spring cleaning your room.

For the job, I have to recommend the recommendable CCleaner. It’s a community supported software which has become the McDonalds of the disk cleanup utilities, and it does its job rather well. The free version cleans up all the famous Internet browsers, including IE, Firefox and Chrome, and also does a number on your temporary files and the Recycle Bin. As a bonus, CCleaner is capable of investigating your registry for redundant data, which can potentially speed up your system by miles depending on the clutter.

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When you’re done with cleaning up your system, it’s time to defragment it. What’s disk defragmentation? To use an anology, the hard drive is like a map of the world. When you save a Word document to your hard drive, it can be saved to America as well as Japan. So when it tries to retrieve the file, it has to go back and forth over the Pacific Ocean to retrieve the two parts of the file. Disk defragmentation, hence the name, moves the data next to each other so that retrieving the data is sped up much faster.

Disk Defragmenter is Windows’ built-in software for the function. In my opinion, it works pretty well, so it’s good enough without having to rely on third-party software. From the Start Menu, just navigate to Accessories -> System Tools -> Disk Defragmenter, select Analyze disk, then select Defragment disk.

5. Best Backup and Recovery Tool

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Backing up one’s hard drive is a precious reminder which we should all adhere to, in the event of a catastrophic system failure or a malicious attack from virus-like code. It saves us the hardship of having to restore the system to its original state, and the very real consequences of losing irreplaceable files related to our work or school life.

To accommodate this need, Paragon Backup & Recovery (Advanced) Free accommodates this just nicely. Unlike many of its command-line brethren, its pleasing user interface will hold your hand throughout the entire process. It provides support for more files than the default backup utility on Windows, and makes use of complicated algorithms with fancy names (but which are ultimately useful) to save your backup. You can also image your backup onto removable media, such as a flash drive or a DVD, if you ever feel the need to.

This post was written by Aaron Pek