MBR vs GPT: Which is Best for Your Hard Drive?

Main boot recording (MBR) and GUID Partition Table (GPT) are two partitioning schemes for hard drives everywhere, GPT being the newer standard. For each option, the startup structure and the way data is handled is unique. The speed varies between the two partition options and the requirements are also different.

This article explains what they are, what they need, and how they differ.

What is a hard disk partition?

To understand both MBR and GPT, you need to understand what a partition is. Partitions are separate sections on a hard drive that the operating system uses to boot and operate. Windows shows them as drives in File Explorer, even if they are on the same Hard disk (Hard disk).

For example, many laptops have a "system" partition where everything in the Windows operating system (OS) goes (often the C: drive), plus a hidden "recovery" partition that can be used to restore the system in the event of an accident. . Another reason to use partitions is to install multiple operating systems on the same hard drive (Linux, Windows10, Windows 7, etc.)

What is MBR?

MBR manages how partitions are created and organized on the Hard disk (Hard disk). MBR uses Bios firmware and stores the code in the first sector of the disk with a logical block address (LBA) 1. The data includes information about how and where Windows manages the startup process in the main storage and internal random access memory (RAM) of the PC, not in external memory such as cards /DDR2 and DDR3 memory sticks.

The MBR data stored in LBA 1 of the hard drive includes the following:

  • Main partition table: Abbreviated as MPT, the table stores all the partition information found on each hard drive, including their format type, capacity and other necessary details. For the operating system and the PC to function properly, they need a record of hard drive partitions and sizes and a way to identify bootable active partitions. The MPT provides all of this essential information.
  • Master Boot Code: sometimes abbreviated as MBC, the code executes the operating system launch and manages the configuration of the boot process (to confirm any changes), such as detecting drives, calculating RAM (external), detecting screens and other essential devices and configurations information.
  • Disc signature: Each reader needs a unique identifier, which is created in the form of a signature. This identifier ensures that the correct drive and partition are reading and writing data when using multiple drives, and it ensures proper PC functionality and security protocol for all read/write data transactions.

The basic input/output system (BIOS) of the PC/motherboard looks for the device with an MBR, then it executes the volume boot code from the partition that has it. Then the MBR activates the boot sector of the drive to launch the operating system.

What is a GPT partition?

Google tag represents gUID Partion Jto be able to. Just like MBR, it also manages the creation and organization of partitions on the hard drive. GPT uses UEFI firmware and also stores disk information such as partitions, sizes, and other essential data, just like MBR does in sector one. However, GPT uses sector two because sector one is reserved for MBR and BIOS compatibility. In GPT technical terms, MBR sector #1 (LBA 1) is LBA 0 for GPT, and GPT is sector 1 (LBA 1).

MBR partition scheme Sector # LBA#
GPT partition scheme Sector # LBA#
MBR (for compatibility) 0 LBA 0
Google tag 1 WHITE 1

The data stored in the GPT header includes drive information in the form of a GUID partition table. The GUID includes details about drives, partitions, storage sizes, boot information, and other essential boot and feature-related data.

The GUID partition table stored in LBA 1 of the hard drive includes information about the following:

  • MBR data
  • GPT data
  • Partition entry data
  • Secondary (i.e. backup) GPT data

MBR versus GPT

The main difference between MBR and GPT is that MBR has certain limitations for modern usage. To know, MBR can only handle four primary partitions and 2TB of hard disk space. GPT has no partition limit, so you can have ten partitions if you want.

However, Windows versions earlier than 8 cannot boot from GPT drives. This requirement means that Windows 7 must use MBR on its primary/startup hard drives.

Another difference is that MBR stores all the information in one place, which could get corrupted and fail. GPT writes information to multiple drive areas and includes a secondary backup GPT table for recovery if the first is corrupted or fails.

Besides the differences between MBR and GPT mentioned above, GPT can use newer device technologies and it is compatible with BIOS/MBR functions for backwards compatibility of older non-UEFI devices. Finally, booting is generally faster with GPT and UEFI.

Why use the GPT partition scheme?

If you get an external hard drive or SSD and your PC supports both MBR and GPT partitioning, you need to format the drive with GPT. This option lets you enjoy faster speeds, unlimited partitions, and significantly larger storage capacities.

When to use MBR

There are a few reasons to continue using MBR. If you primarily use drives under 2TB or earlier versions of Windows, you might be better off formatting all your disks to MBR in order to do not risk breaking compatibility with one of your hardware.

However, Windows 7 and later can use GPT. Unfortunately, compatibility depends on the motherboard and CPU supporting a UEFI BIOS, otherwise it can only be used on non-bootable partitions. If you're still using XP/Vista, you probably won't be running GPT, leaving you with only the MBR option.

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