Drive genius

Drive Genius 1.1.5

Prosoft Engineering - $99
System Requirements: Mac OS 10.3 and up

For hard drive maintenance and repair in OS X, Apple’s Disk Utility is your first stop. Often it’s the only tool you’ll need. But Disk Utility (a part of OS X) only handles certain tasks, such as verifying and repairing disks and disk permissions. If you’re looking for more options, power, and flexibility in a hard drive utility, Prosoft Engineering’s Drive Genius is an excellent choice.

Drive Genius allows users to perform a wide array of hard drive tasks. To perform a task, you first choose the drive you want to work with from the pane on the left side of the Drive Genius window. Two buttons at the bottom of the scrollable window let you choose to work with a drive’s volume or the device.

Once the volume or device has been selected, you then choose the task you’d like to perform from the row of icons at the bottom of the window. Choices for working on volumes include Repair, Defragment, Duplicate, Sector Edit, Shred, Integrity Test, Benchtest and Scan. Choices for working with devices include Initialize, Repartition, Duplicate, Sector Edit, Shred, Integrity Test, Benchtest and Scan. Clicking on the icon for the task you choose brings up new window for that task.

Depending on the task you’ve selected you may need to specify parameters; in the Repair window a pop-up list lets you choose to verify, rebuild, repair, or repair permissions on the selected volume, and a check box enables or disables Journaling. Once you’ve selected your parameters, click the Start button to begin your task, Cancel to stop and Show Help for more information (the Repartition and Sector Edit each have their own sets of task-specific buttons). The Show Help button links to a PDF manual, and in my testing it didn’t work when the Drive Genius CD was the boot disk. For this reason you’d be well advised to print the manual, despite its 109 page size.

Exclusive to Drive Genius is the ability to repartition your drive without reformatting! This is no small feat. It means that you can add, delete or change the size of partitions on your drive without needing to go through the laborious process of transferring all your data to another drive, erasing your hard drive, performing the repartitioning with a drive utility, then reloading your data. Of course, before performing any operation in which data could be affected (in the event of the dreaded power outage, for example) it is imperative to first back up your data.

Device cloning is another highlight of Drive Genius. The software uses device to device copying to create an identical copy of the original drive, including icon locations and bootability. Should you have the need, you can even use Drive Genius to clone Windows or Linux drives.

The Shred function overwrites all the data on a volume or device so that it can’t be accessed, to standards that exceed those of the Department of Defense. If you’re selling your drive or handing it along to another user, shredding makes sure that none of your own data goes along for the ride. Another Shred function overwrites the free space on a disk without erasing the disk, which is ideal for removing all traces of files you’ve deleted. Note that after you use the Shred function, the overwritten data cannot be recovered by any means, so Shred thoughtfully!

Most of Drive Genius’ procedures require you to boot from a drive other than the one you’re working on. To do this you can install Drive Genius on another bootable drive or start up from the Drive Genius CD (the latter requires entering a 32 character alpha-numeric serial number if a registered copy of Drive Genius is not installed on your hard drive). Drive Genius gives experienced Mac users the tools to keep their hard drives humming along happily.

– Elsa Travisano

Copyright ©2005 by Elsa Travisano. This review appeared in the November 2005 issue of Newsbreak, the newsletter of MUG ONE - Macintosh User Group of Oneonta, NY.