Paragon’s Hard Disk Manager is what Apple’s Disk Utility should be

Paragon Hard Disk Manager for Mac 1.0 for Mac OS X (10.8 and higher) is a new system and data management solution for managing, protecting, backing up, and restoring OS X systems.

It’s a solid release for a version 1.0 app. My favorite feature of Hard Disk Manager is its ability to create recovery media to get your Mac back on track in case of a disaster.

The Bootable Media Builder creates a bootable flash stick or external disk to boot your Mac for maintenance when OS X fails to start up or SIP (more on that in a moment) restricts writing to disks. The native OS X Recovery HD partition is used as a basis for the prepared media. If you don’t have it, the wizard won’t work. Also, the data on the disk you select will be lost. 

The Bootable Media Builder works reasonably well, though the first time I plugged a flash drive into my iMac to use with the app, it informed me that the drive wasn’t Mac compatible even though I’ve been using it for weeks. I removed the drive, re-inserted it, and everything worked fine. Annoying, but not a deal breaker.

Okay, back to SIP (System Integrity Protection). Hard Disk Manger disables it. According to the folks at Paragon, it has to; otherwise the disk management operations that require changes on a system disk would be possible from a bootable media only.

SIP was introduced for the first time in Mac OS X 10.11 and designed as a foolproof to prohibit user operations in Mac OS X under the root privileges (such operations were allowed in all previous versions of Mac OS X). However, Hard Disk Manager and other low level or system applications require root access to have access to hard drives.

In other words, it tinkers with things that Apple doesn’t really want you to tinker with. Also, Hard Disk Manager does install some “auxiliary components,” which offers the possibility of compatibility issues when the next upgrade of OS X arrives.

Apple may not like you tinkering with the “innards” of Mac OS X, but the company dumbed down its Disk Utility with OS X El Capitan. Most OS X-based computers already come with integrated partitioning features, but they’re limited to basic partitioning tasks. 

Mac users have limited options for modifying the partition table after it’s been created, and are unable to resize file systems other than HFS+ or change partition properties. Paragon Hard Disk Manager for Mac allows users to move, resize, undelete partitions (recover deleted volumes) and modify their properties.

The app also provides sector-level backup, which provides speedy back-up and recovery. It supports MBR and GPT disks; NTFS, HFS+, FAT32, and ExtFS file systems. With Hard Disk Manager, you can back up an entire hard disk or separate partitions to pVHD (Paragon Virtual Hard Drive). It provides incremental imaging for minimizing backup image storage footprint.

Hard Disk Manager’s “Snapshot” technology lets you create an exact point-in-time copy of your data and system. You can restore to the same disk or any other location. You can also do a “Selective restore” by mounting a backup image to retrieve individual files without accomplishing a full restore operation.

Also, the app works just fine with Macs with Fusion Drives. Thank you, Paragon.

Hard Disk Manager also reportedly allows you to resize Boot Camp partitions quickly, migrate Windows OS from one Mac computer to another, and corrects boot issues with Windows. I say “reportedly” because I don’t run Windows on my Mac. I simply have no need.

If you need more features that the latest version of Apple’s Disk Manager provides, Paragon Hard Disk Manager is worth a look. It covers all aspects of a Mac life cycle: drive partitioning, file system optimization and repair functions, data backup capabilities, and irreversible data wiping. And unlike Disk Utility, it supports all file systems of OS X, Windows, and Linux. 

Paragon Hard Disk Manager for Mac is available for immediate download as a free 30-day trial. Or it can be purchased directly for $39.95 at the product website.