So last week, because of a 50Gb Virtual Machine containing an entire development environment my hard drive icon turned bright red in Explorer as I only had 1Gb of free space left (showing my age here but even that is huge to me, remember I started with a machine with a 8" floppy drive which you could format to a grand total of 80k).

Whilst I'm backup up my laptop with Windows Home Server (not that I can open the backups right now, my machine blue screens every time I try) WHS does not backup non-NTFS partitions; which is a problem as my laptop shipping with two of those, one for the Dell Diagnostics and one for the Dell Media Direct software. Whilst I could have used WHS to restore my main drive (apparently that will work even with blue screens, but really who knows; the crash does not fill me with confidence) I like having a diagnostic partition.

Having had great success with Acronis True Image before, but lacking a Vista version I dropped them an email to see if what I wanted to do was possible; mirror the drive, but expand the NTFS partition in the middle. The response I got was astounding, an email from Alexy Popov landed in my inbox about 4 hours later listing two methods for doing this with step by step instructions and caveats for each. The email even pointed out that True Image Home was perfectly able to cope with what I wanted to do and there was no need to get any of the more expensive versions.

So one install later I clicked a few buttons and attempted to clone the drive. The "inside Windows" instructions didn't work for me; for some reason it stopped after cloning the diagnostic partition; but after building a recovery disk, booting it so we were outside of Windows completely and following the step by step instructions provided I was able to clone the drive, expand the partition manually (this was a little fiddly, True Image resizes the partitions proportionally, but I wanted to keep the two non-NTFS partitions the same size, this took a bit of effort on my part). Two hours later and I have 200Gb free. Wonderful. Vista booted up and the only problem was hibernate was no longer available; but this is to be expected with a new drive; all I had to do was open up an elevated command window and issue powercfg -h on and it was back.

Acronis do engage with the MVP community; with the email they gave me a free license for the latest version; but having previously purchased True Image and having it save my butt before I would have no hesitation in recommending them again and again.

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