BEST GUIDE: GPT vs MBR (Partitions)

If you set up a disk under Windows 8.x or higher, you will be confronted with the choice to select MBR or GPT. How do you select between MBR and GPT?  Let’s take a look at both MBR and GPT partition table layouts with their advantages and disadvantages.

Both GPT (GUID Partition Table) and MBR (Master Boot Record) are partition table layouts. These layouts store the information about where a specific partition starts and where it ends. This way, your operating systems shows each partition as a separate drive in your computer, even if you only have one physical drive installed.

GPT and MBR also store some other essential information about your partitions like which partition is the active partitions and will be used to boot your operating system.

They also contain bits of information that tell your computer to load the operating system residing on your disk drive.

Limitations of MBR Partition Layout

MBR is a legacy partition layout. IBM introduced MBR with its Disk Operating System 2.0 (DOS) in 1983. Following are some of the limitations of MBR partition table layout.

MBR can handle partition information for the disks up to 2 Terabyte in size.

MBR can create up to 4 primary partitions. However, there is a way to create more than 4 partitions. To create more than 4 partitions using MBR, you need to create 3 primary partitions and one extended partition. Within this extended partition, you can create further partitions known as “logical partitions”.

Advantages of GPT Partition Layout

GUID Partition Table (GPT) is a new standard for creating partition layout on your disk drives. It is gradually replacing MBR partition layout. It is noteworthy that GPT is suitable for newer systems with UEFI. UEFI is a replacement for Basic Input Output System (BIOS) found in almost all older computers. GUID in GPT means “Globally Unique Identifier”, that is a random string that uniquely identifies your disk partition.

Following are some advantages of GPT over its predecessor MBR.

GPT removes the limitation of 2-terabytes size limit and you can partition disks larger than 2 terabytes.

GPT does not have the limitations in terms of the number of partitions. While you can have only 4 primary partitions in MBR, you can have up to 128 partitions in Windows using GPT partition layout.

GPT partition and boot data is more secure than MBR. MBR stores data in one place only. So, if the data is damaged, MBR has no way to restore the data. On the other hand, GPT stores data in multiple locations across the disk. GPT also keeps Cyclic Redundancy Check (CRC) to check the integrity of the data. If it finds any problem in the integrity of the data, it can recover the damaged data from another location on the disk.

Compatibility of GPT with Older Systems

GPT drives contain a protective MBR drive to safeguard the drive in case it is managed with older MBR compatible disk management utilities. If this protective MBR drive wasn’t there, the older disk management utilities may mistakenly treat the drive as “unpartitioned”. In this case, the disk management utility may overwrite the partition data and damage the disk drive. This protective MBR drive protects the partition data from being overwritten.

All 64-bit versions of Windows Vista, 7, 8.x, 10, and their corresponding server versions can read and use GPT drives. However, to use a GPT disk as a boot drive, Your system must be UEFI-based. It means that if you have a BIOS-based computer, you cannot use a GPT drive as your primary boot drive.

The GPT partition layout is not specific to Windows, however. Newer versions of modern operating systems can also use drives with GPT layout. Apple’s Intel-based Mac systems do not use older Apple Partition Table (APT) anymore. Instead, they also use GPT partition layout.

Using GPT with Linux is even better. While using Linux, you do not need a UEFI-based system to boot from a GPT drive. You can easily use BIOS based system to boot from GPT drive.

The only reason to use older MBR is if you want to use your drive as a bootable drive with older Windows operating systems or with Windows installed on BIOS-based systems. Otherwise, GPT is more flexible and offers considerable protections against data loss.

Conclusion! GPT is better! More Partitions, Secured Data, Larger Partition Sizes! Should you wish to read more about disk structures (click here)

Kevin Arrows
Kevin is a dynamic and self-motivated information technology professional, with a Thorough knowledge of all facets pertaining to network infrastructure design, implementation and administration. Superior record of delivering simultaneous large-scale mission critical projects on time and under budget.

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BEST GUIDE: GPT vs MBR (Partitions)

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