Drive Partitioning made easy with Easeus Partition Manager Home Edition

EaseuspmThere are a number of programs that will allow for easy creation or resizing of drive partitions. Even Windows XP and Vista will let you do this in its disk management utility. However, these free options are not as easy to use as some of the commercial options, and they lack some fairly important features. Until recent times, I did not know of any free programs that would resize a partition and leave the data intact. Vista will do it now, but it is a bit of a challenge.

For many years I have been using Partition Magic as it was the only program that I could find that would resize partitions without losing data. This feature is very important when adding a partition to a computer that is running well. It could save you from needing to resinstall the whole system. Partition Magic is a commercial program which is hard to justify a purchase of, as you may only use it once or twice each year.

EaseUs Partition Manager Home Edition has been labelled a “free replacement for Partition Magic”, and rightly so. The interface is very similar to the popular Partition Magic, and it contains many of the same features.

Features include:

  • Disk resizing without data loss
  • Disk and partition copying
  • Setting partitions active or hidden
  • Disk Labeling
  • Easy to use interface
  • Everything else most people could ever want

This tool is a long saught after tool for those who do a lot of partitioning. Now the job of trying out Linux, or installing XP on a factory installed Vista machine is a lot less daunting, and dare I say it – even enjoyable.

Important Update: Ensure you turn off hibernation and sleep modes before running this program. If it enters these modes while the program is running, you may find your computer is unbootable. Most other tools of this nature run in DOS mode where sleep or hibernate is not a feature, hence not a problem.

Partition Manager has a commercial version available for people who would like a few extra features, but the home version is free and does everything reported in this article. Grab your copy from Partition-Tool.


Little known BIOS features: Wake up a computer on a schedule

Difficulty: 1

WakeonrtcI wanted to find a way to power on my computer at 7:30am each morning. This was so that my email and various websites I visit can be updated before I sit down at my computer. With mornings being such a rush, I wanted to use some automation to help me out.

There are normally a number of features in the power management component of the BIOS options, which permit all types of triggers to wake a computer up from hibernation or standby modes. However, if the computer is turned off, these will not work.

One of the triggers allows us to set the computer to launch via the real time clock. We can set how frequently the machine will wake up, or what time of the day we want it too wake up.

Every BIOS is a little different so it is impossible to give specific instructions, but it is not too hard to find. Go into the BIOS and find Power Management. In here, ensure S3 is enabled. There should be an option called “Resume by alarm”, or “Wake-up on RTC”. Once this is enabled, you will be able to set the time you want your computer to turn on. That should be all there is to it.

While I had not seen this feature before, I checked the 3 computers I have access to, to see if they also had this option. These machines are of various ages and they all included this feature. Only one time can be set in the BIOS, so using this method will not work if you want it to turn on in the morning and the afternoon. If you want to do this, you will need to use the task scheduler.


Wake on LAN from the command-line with mc-wol

Waking a machine up through a LAN connection can be very useful to turn on a computer if the power button is a pain to get to; say if you have a computer under your desk. It is also handy if you want to turn on a group of computers.

There are a number of Magic Packet senders that will wake a computer up over a LAN connection, but these are usually stand alone programs that need to be opened up and have data entered into them before they work. I wanted a more customizable solution.

Mc-wol is a command line utility that enables you to wake up a machine on your local area network. Being a command line utility, it is easy to utilize in a shortcut on your desktop, place into a batch file, or use it in a scheduled task.

Don’t let the command line scare you. The syntax is really simple. To launch a computer, type mc-wol followed by the mac/ethernet address. i.e.:

mc-wol 91:34:eb:de:45:32

Mcwol

Wake on LAN software only works on computers which are in standby or hibernate modes.

Mc-wol is free and available from Matcode.com. You will also find a bunch of useful information on the page about simple settings you will need to check before WOL will work.


Configure the Windows Vista boot menu easily with EasyBCD

EasybcdI had an extra entry in my Vista boot menu that I no longer wanted, so I went for a search of boot.ini. As it turns out, the Vista boot menu no longer uses a boot.ini file. The boot menu is configured in a program called BCDedit.

BCDedit is configured through the command line. I played around with it for around 5 minutes before deciding that it was too complicated for me with a Christmas hangover. I knew that if I made an error, I may make my machine unbootable. There had to be an easier way.

I came across a utility called EasyBCD. EasyBCD let me change all the settings of my boot menu in a matter of minutes. I was able to add a Windows partition to the boot list, rename the operating systems as they are shown in the menu, and change the wait time.

EasyBCD made this job completely simple. The interface doesn’t allow for much user error as it fills in many of the blanks. EasyBCD can even help you add non Windows operating systems into the mix.

If anything does go wrong with the changes you make, and you find your machine unbootable, put your Vista disk in your computer and boot to it. A quick repair job will bring back the default boot menu.

Grab your free copy from NeoSmart.net.


Windows Software: PC Login Now 2.0

Difficulty: 0.5

Screenshot_selectUserEver been unable to log into Windows due to a lost password? This used to require a reinstall of the operating system to regain access. This often meant some data would be lost, as it could no longer be accessed.

Because of this common need to recover passwords, a few tools have been created to get past this problem. I once heard of a program called Ophcrack, but it looked a bit tricky to use.

A tool called PC Login Now was recently made available as freeware, so I tried it out. The download is an iso file that needs to be burnt to a CD, using just about any CD burning software. The result is a Linux Live CD. Restart your computer and ensure that the computer will boot from your CD drive first (most will by default). Watch the Linux Live CD boot to life.

PC Login Now will work with any Windows install, and it can even handle dual boot machines. The opening screen shows you the operating systems available on the computer. Select the operating system you want to tinker with and press next. You should now be able to see all of the user accounts for that system.

You can then reset the password of any account, as well as enable or disable accounts. You can pretty much perform any of the basic user account options available in Windows. This program does not show you the old password as some tools do, but resetting the password is just as useful in most circumstances.

Once your computer reboots, a disk check will be run. When prompted, try to login leaving the password blank. You should be able to get into the system. PC Login Now claims a 100% success rate, and so far I have had no failures on the 3 machines I have tested. It couldn’t be quicker or easier to use.

This will not work for computers which login to a domain, but there is normally a local user account on these computers, which you can use to gain access.

Take some caution using this in the workplace as many companies don’t like these tools.

PC Login Now 2.0 is available for free from pcloginnow.com.