By Cherry / Last Updated September 26, 2021

You cannot access the GPT protected partition

“Recently, I put a hard drive to my computer as an external hard drive. But I cannot open, read or access the hard drive in Windows. When I try to find a way to solve the problem, I found that it is shown as “GPT Protective Partition” in Disk Management, which I do not know why it happens and how to deal with. Is there anyone who can help me get rid of such a problem and use the hard drive properly?”

GPT Protective Partition

For the case above, it is necessary to remove the GPT protective partition, namely, you need to convert GPT protective partition style to MBR and then you will be able to access the GPT protection partition. Before that, it is better to learn what is GPT protection partition is.

What is GPT protected partition?

GPT, the short of GUID Partition table, is a standard for the layout of the partition table on a physical storage device used in a desktop or server PC. Compared with the MBR partition style, the GPT provides a more flexible mechanism for partitioning disks, but it requires your computer motherboard to support UEFI/EFI mode. According to the official news from Microsoft, Windows 11 system will only support UEFI mode to boot.

UEFI is applied on most Windows OSes, but only excluding the Windows 32-bit operating system. The GPT disk is supported by most operating systems including Windows 7, Windows 8, Windows 10, and Windows Server 2003 SP1, Windows 2008, etc. However, the 32-bit Windows XP and Windows 2003 don’t support GPT disk.

So, when you plug in a GPT hard drive on a Windows 32-bit XP computer, it may be in a normally “Healthy” state, but showing you “GPT Protective Partition” in Disk Management. You cannot open, read, or access the GPT Protected Partition. What pissed you off is when you right-click the GPT Protective Partition, you’ll find there is no choice for you in the menu, and you have nothing to deal with it. But don’t worry now since next, we will show you how to solve this by converting GPT protective partition to MBR.

DiskPart to Convert GPT protective partition to MBR 

As we can see, you can do nothing to the GPT protective partition with Windows Disk Management. Well, you can try another Windows built-in disk manager: DiskPart.exe tool to convert this GPT protective partition. Specific steps are listed as following:

To convert GPT protective partition to MBR without data loss, you have to back up necessary files before conversion since DiskPart can only convert an empty disk to MBR/GPT. After conversion, you can restore the backup to the MBR disk.

Step 1. Click Start, type cmd in the search box, right-click the program, and click Run as administrator. It will pop up a command prompt.

Step 2. In the command prompt, type diskpart and press Enter. When the diskpart command prompt opened, you can remove GPT protective partition with a few commands:

▪ list disk. This command will list all drives on your computer.
▪ select disk n (n refers the number of the disk that you want to remove GPT protective partition from), it will show you “Disk n is now the selected disk”.
▪ clean. It will erase all data on the hard drive.
▪ convert mbr. Convert the selected disk to MBR partition style

Convert Mbr

Finally, type “exit” to close the diskpart.exe and type “exit” again to close the command prompt. After that, you can go to Windows Disk Management to see the result after removing GPT protective partition. The question is this method of removing GPT protective partition requires you to delete all partitions on the disk. Well, is there any way that can solve the GPT protective partition error without deleting partitions or losing data?

Freeware to convert GPT protective partition to MBR without data loss

The AOMEI Partition Assistant Standard is a great free hard drive partition manager. It can help you convert disk between GPT and MBR without deleting partitions or even losing data. And it supports Windows XP/Vista/7/8/10, both 32 bit and 64 bit. Before using it to convert GPT protective partition to MBR, you need to do something first:

▸To avoid some accidents like power failure that cause data loss, you can use some data backup software to backup hard drive
▸This free edition only supports converting non-system disk. If you are converting boot disk to MBR or GPT, please upgrade to Professional edition.

Download Freeware Win 11/10/8.1/8/7/XP
Secure Download

Step 1. Download freeware AOMEI Partition Assistant. Install it on your Windows PC. It will show you the basic situation of your hard drives on its main interface. Select the GPT protective partition, right-click it and select Convert to MBR Disk.

Convert To Mbr

Step 2. It will pop up a dialog to confirm the operation. Click OK.

Mbr Ok

Step 3. When the page returned to the main interface, click Apply to execute the operation.

Mbr Apply

When the progress reaches 100%, close the program, and the GPT protective partition has already been changed into MBR without data loss. And you can open, read and use it on your 32 bit Windows normally.

If you are managing a dynamic disk, you can use the AOMEI Partition Assistant Professional. It is featured with AOMEI Dynamic Disk Manager, allowing you to manage dynamic disk and volume safely and easily. After you launch it, you can resize dynamic disk, move dynamic mirrored partition, convert dynamic disk to basic, move volume slice, etc. All of these functions will help you to manage your dynamic disk conveniently.

Launch Dynamic Disk Manager


Here are 2 ways you can use to convert GPT protective partition to MBR for accessing it. Well, if there is no important data on the hard drive, you can use Diskpart to remove GPT protective partition; if you want to convert GPT Protective partition to MBR without data loss, you can use the AOMEI Partition Assistant or Dynamic Disk Manager. Anyway, choose the way you need.