Server Magic v3.0 - part one

Reviewed by: Jim Huddle, send e-mail

Published by: PowerQuest Corporation, go to the web site
Requires: Novell NetWare 3.12 or higher, 16MB RAM, a CDROM and 8MB of drive space
MSRP: US$495.00

(Ed Note: Reviewed in 2000. The second part of this review can be found here)

This review will be in two parts. The product comes supporting both NetWare and NT Server. This is about the NetWare side of the product.

I don't get too excited anymore about PC and network stuff. I've been fighting hardware and NOSes so long that new stuff inevitably makes me wonder "So what doesn't work with this?" I'm not totally jaded. Linux is interesting and NetWare 5.0 is pretty slick. The last utility that really got me jumping though was Snapback - that is until I received Server Magic.

When the package arrived I thought someone in the Abracadabra Magic Co's shipping department had goofed. There were all these magic tricks in the box. The real magic however, was at the bottom - a CD and two manuals. One manual for NetWare and one for NT. Since I'm more of a Novell geek I started with the red book. I've been grinning ever since.

Power Quest makes a bold statement right on the cover. "Cradle- to- grave control over your server's data storage." After my test runs, I'll give them the benefit of the doubt.

Server Magic allows, no, enables you to perform partition and volume changes quickly that previously required some intensive downtime. Have you ever been short of space on your SYS volume and already used up your eight segments? Ever wanted to add a volume for some task but had no free space left on the partition? Ever wish you could readjust your existing volumes size to accommodate another volume or resize a too small one? Ever wanted to replace your primary drive with a new one but had no time to reinstall the NOS and restore the data? Heh, heh, read on.

Installing Server Magic on a NetWare box is dead simple. If you have 4.x or 3.12, use INSTALL.NLM. Under 5.x use NWCONFIG. I installed it on both a 4.2 and 5.0 box and it took longer to get to the install screen than it did to actually install the product. RAM requirements are fairly modest, and Power Quest includes a formula for estimating required RAM based on volume and block size. There are two caveats about volumes here. One is that Server Magic does not support NSS type volumes. PQ says it's working with Novell to add this functionality. The other has to do with using IDE disks on a NetWare server. PQ makes the suggestion to use ISADISK or NWPA and HAM drivers instead of IDE.DSK.

You start Server Magic by entering SMAGIC at the console prompt. PQ recommends unloading all NLMs and logging off all users before loading the utility. Server Magic must dismount volumes to do it's work and since most operations require a reboot, it just makes sense.

The utility only performs two operations, partition and volume operations. The magic is that each operation has a fine series of tools for manipulating either a partition or volume. With the partition operation you can create, copy, mirror, resize, move, hide and delete NetWare partitions.

The create partition operation allows you to put the new partition at the beginning or end of available free space available on the drive. No volumes are created, use NetWare for that. You can also copy partitions to available free space. As Power Quest points out, NetWare doesn't tolerate duplicate volume names so after a copy you are prompted to hide one or the other dupe partition. This is great for retaining the original until you're sure the copy is OK. It also allows you to have multiple versions of NetWare on the same disk.

The Move partition action can move a partition to free space either on the same disk or on another disk. Talk about a quick HD upgrade. You will probably spend more time resetting SCSI IDs and maybe termination than you will making the move.

The partition operation also includes an information option with nice data on the partition and the physical disk. The last two partition operations are format and delete. The standard caveats apply here, so use common sense. One note on deleting partitions. If the partition contains volume segments that are part of a multi- segment volume located on another drive or partition, the entire volume is deleted. This makes sense, but keep it in mind.

The Volume operations include moving, merging multi-segment volumes, resizing, information and deletion. There are several options to moving a volume, the only requirement is sufficient free space on the target partition. With enough space, you can move a volume to the left or right in a partition and tell Server Magic, in the number of megabytes, how far to move it. If you have other disks and partitions you can also move a volume to one of those.

The Merge option is very handy. Server Magic makes is easy to merge any set of adjacent volume segments. There can be free space between the segments but not another volume's segment. Using the move and merge options, you can probably eliminate most volume segments. Resizing gives you the option of expanding or reducing the size of an existing volume. To reduce, the volume must have unused space and enlarging a volume requires available free space on the partition. You can also change the size to the left or right again dependent on where the free space is.

The delete volume has the same cautions as stated before. Server Magic will also create, copy, move and resize non NetWare partitions. Under NetWare it supports FAT, NTFS and HPFS partitions. The manual includes in Chapter Five nicely detailed instructions on replacing a server hard disk and using Server Magic to assist in upgrading from 4.x to 5. It also has a pretty good trouble shooting section and good documentation on contacting technical support.

This is a great utility for anyone managing NetWare servers. Go get it.

Next time I'll look at the NT side of Server Magic.

Letters to the Editor are welcome and occasionally abused in public. Send e-mail to:




© Copyright 2000-2006 All rights reserved. legal notice
home | previous reviews | forums | about us | search | store | subscribe


Forums Home Previous Reviews About Us Store Subscribe Search