Updated: March 9, 2015
Several weeks back, I reviewed AOMEI Partition Assistant, a pretty decent disk and partition management software. Now, I am going to do it again, test and review another program designed to make the disk handling tasks easier for Windows folks. This one is called MiniTool Partition Wizard.
Much like before, I was contacted by the vendor and asked to check their product. And so here we are. I will try to avoid too many comparisons to AOMEI or GParted, but it is inevitable. Tested, version 8.1.1, professional edition. Let's go.
The installation and setup are trivial. At the end of the process, you will need to provide your key, if you've purchased a non-free version. Pretty simple and straightforward. The GUI is very similar to what Partition Assistant offers. Partition Wizard has a simple, clean interface. Your disks and partitions are shows in the right pane, there's a sidebar with quick-action operations, which change based on the disk/partition type, plus wizards to help you through the tasks, and a very simple application toolbar that gives you the ability to undo and apply them, as well as several links to other resources. The contents of the taskbar change contextually.
To see what this program can do, I connected a 640GB external My Passport disk to the laptop, and refreshed the list of devices. The disk comes with a large extended partition populated with EXT4 and NTFS logical partitions.
As you expect, there are tons of tasks available to the user. You need to be at least a little bit knowledgeable to use the tool to good effect and without causing any harm to your data. Moreover, the abundance of options can be somewhat overwhelming, although the design and logic of the main interface are rather intuitive.
For example, you may be interesting copying disks or partitions. You can do this yourself or use the wizard to guide you through the process. Either way, you need to be careful, because it's very easy to botch and lose data.
Another interesting feature is the ability to convert standard MBR disks to GPT, but it won't let you do that on system disks, to avoid ending up with an unbootable machine. You can also run surface tests and check your disks. Useful before doing any cloning or other sensitive operations. You can also align partitions for improved performance and change cluster sizes. Quite useful.
More trivial tasks include the typical resize/move, merging, splitting, and format. Now, here's a rather interesting thing, and take a look at the sidebar. For NTFS partitions, the available list of operations is much wider. With Linux EXT4 partitions, you have a limited subset of tasks. But the weird thing is, MiniTool Partition Wizard does support creation of EXT4 filesystems, which AOMEI Partition Assistant did not support, however it seems you cannot do many of the post operations afterwards, which AOMEI Partition Assistant did support. So it seems you will mostly have to work with FAT or NTFS, and leave Linux tasks to other tools.
So you have a wider range of formatting options. However, you can only do quick-format for FAT32 and NTFS, not so for Ext2/3/4, and the operations will be relatively slow.
Other things & options
Not all is perfect. For example, if you want recovery options and bootable ISO, the wizard will actually take you to the Internet, for separate downloads, which is clunky. Moreover, professional data recovery costs money, while the bootable edition is free. However, you can try to recover the partition table from within the tool. This is a little bit confusing, and there should be a better way of introducing additional software and features from the vendor, as it can feel like cheap marketing.
There are also a few tiny typos in the wizard menus and prompts. For example, after you've completed an operation, the wording used in the notification is somewhat awkward. Worth considering for the next patch or fix or whatnot.
MiniTool Partition Wizard also recommends turning power saving options in Windows before handling disks, and this is actually not a bad suggestion. Closing programs also makes sense to avoid data corruption, as file handles will necessarily be orphaned.
MiniTool Partition Wizard is a useful tool, overall. I liked the plethora of options and features, especially when working with Windows filesystems. Support for EXT4 is also quite nice, but it seems somewhat incomplete, more sort of an afterthought. And this makes the interface slightly inconsistent, sort of work in progress, as if the developers have not yet fully decided what they want to do with the non-Windows domain.
The program performed well, and there were no errors. Less experienced users will benefit from the rich wizards. The interface is pretty enough, but I did not like the fact you can all too easily click yourself out of the context of the program, to be exposed to more software out there. The focus should be entirely on in-vivo use in your Windows installations, managing Windows disks and partitions. Overall, as a tool for Windows, it has lots of merit, but it cannot replace GParted as the perfect standalone disk management tool, if you have enough skill to boot into a Linux live session. The price difference is not negligible either.
The pro version does offer several benefits over the free edition, like disk type conversions, partition merging and splitting. While I have not tested the zero-money scenario, I believe most users will be better off using the free option first, and switch to the pro upgrade only if they require the extended feature set. All that said, I believe that Partition Wizard deserves something like 8.5/10. Improvements should mostly be focused on reducing clutter, keeping Internet visits to a minimum, and making the non-Windows management more clearly understood. Still, you should download and try. And we're done.