MBR vs GPT: What's the Difference and Which One Should You Use?

When initializing a hard disk, how to choose MBR vs. GPT? This article will share the difference between MBR and GPT and which one should you choose for SSD. After reading, you can make a safe conversion between MBR and GPT without losing data.

Bryce

By Bryce / Updated on April 29, 2024

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MBR vs GPT: Help! How to choose between MBR and GPT

Many computer users want to know "Should I use MBR or GPT" when initialize a disk for the first time in Windows. Indeed, choosing the right one is beneficial for organizing and managing partitions on storage devices, and it is necessary for each disk in use. If you are hesitating in choosing between them, it is a good idea to read this post. We will offer an elaborate and easy-to understand introduction to MBR vs GPT to help you make a wise final choice, and after reading, you can make a safe conversion between MBR and GPT without losing data if you need.

Choose Partition Style

GPT (GUID Partition Table) is standard for the layout of the partition table on a physical hard disk, using globally unique identifiers (GUID). And MBR (Master Boot Record) is another kind of partition table. Comparatively, the MBR is older than the GPT, thus, it's more compatible with some previous systems. While GPT is more suitable for later and modern systems.

GPT disks have advantages of partition size, the number of partitions, and resilience. If a computer uses UEFI, it will only support GPT as the system disk, especially since Microsoft announced officially that Windows 11 system will only support GPT and UEFI. Thus, the GPT disk becomes one of the essential Windows 11 requirements. If you're considering upgrading your Windows 10 PC to Windows 11, it may be necessary to convert MBR to GPT at first.

What's the difference between MBR and GPT?

An MBR disk can be basic or dynamic, just like a GPT disk can be basic or dynamic. Compared with an MBR disk, a GPT disk performs better in the following aspects:

▶ GPT supports disks larger than 2 TB in size while MBR cannot.

▶ The GPT disk partitioning style supports volumes up to 18 exabytes in size and up to 128 partitions per disk while the MBR disk partitioning style supports volumes up to 2 terabytes in size and up to 4 primary partitions per disk (or three primary partitions, one extended partition, and unlimited logical drives).

Note: If you need more than the maximum number of partitions that MBR allows, you can turn one of your main partitions into an "extended partition" which lets you make smaller "logical partitions" inside it. This is a clunky and unnecessary extra step that really shouldn't be needed at all.

▶ GPT disk provides greater reliability due to replication and cyclical redundancy check (CRC) protection of the partition table. Unlike MBR partitioned disks, data critical to platform operation is located in partitions instead of unpartitioned or hidden sectors.

▶ GPT partitioned disks have redundant primary and backup partition tables for improved partition data structure integrity.

MBR and GPT

For more detailed information about the differences between GPT disk and MBR disk, please go to The Differences between MBR and GPT.

Usually, the boot mode combination is MBR and BIOS (MBR + BIOS), and GPT and UEFI (GPT + UEFI). This is compulsory for some operating systems (eg. Windows), while optional for others (eg. Linux). When it comes to converting a system disk to a GPT disk, make sure that your computer’s motherboard supports UEFI boot mode.

If you want to know how to check if it’s UEFI or BIOS on your PC, you can search for “System Information” and hit the “Result” in the Start menu (Windows 10).

check boot mode

Should I upgrade from MBR to GPT?

Should I use MBR or GPT? If you currently have an MBR partition table on one of your drives, you might be wondering if it's a good idea to upgrade to the newer GPT standard. In most cases, the answer is probably not. As the saying goes, there's no need to tinker with something that's working perfectly fine.

Attempting to modify the MBR sector could easily lead to irreversible damage, rendering your drive unable to boot. In such a scenario, you'll have two options: either create a recovery USB drive containing Windows or Linux to repair the MBR, or perform a complete drive wipe and reinstall the operating system.

Drawing from personal experience, dealing with these complications isn't worth the trouble. Nevertheless, there are specific situations where transitioning from MBR to GPT might be worth considering. For example:

Should you upgrade MBR to GPT?
Upgrade to a drive larger than 2 terabytes.
Your requirements necessitate more than 26 partitions.
Set up a Mac to dual-boot Windows.

Even then, it's crucial to verify that your hardware supports both a GPT partition table and a UEFI BIOS. If you've thoroughly researched the matter and are confident about migrating to GPT, it's essential to create a backup of your drive along with all crucial data. In the worst-case scenario, you can revert to your previous setup without the need for a complete reinstallation and starting from scratch.

Step-by-step: Convert partition style between MBR and GPT

After learning information about MBR VS GPT, you might need to make a conversion for the current partition style, from MBR to GPT, or GPT to MBR. Here on Windows, you have two ways to complete that, Windows built-in tools and third-party software.

Convert to GPT/MBR without data loss via professional software (System Disk data safe)

Since the Windows native tools can only convert an empty disk to MBR and GPT, it is not ideal for users who have stored lots of data on the target disk. Therefore, we’d like to show you a good way to convert MBR to GPT without data loss. That is using the third-party software: AOMEI Partition Assistant Professional. The powerful hard drive manager allows you to convert between MBR and GPT on both system disk and data disk without deleting partitions in simple clicks. Here is a step-by-step guide.

Try Pro Demo Win 11/10/8.1/8/7/XP
Secure Download

In the first place, you can download AOMEI Partition Assistant Professional Edition Demo. Install and run it. Here we will take convert MBR to GPT for example.

Note: to avoid data loss caused by improper human operations and other unexpected issues (power failure...), it is better to back up everything you require.

Step 1. Right-click the MBR disk that you want to convert to GPT and choose Convert to GPT.

Convert System Disk to GPT

Step 2. You'll be asked that "are you sure to convert the selected disk from MBR to GPT disk?". Click OK.

OK to GPT System Disk

Step 3. To commit operation, please click Apply.

Apply to GPT System Disk

Notes:
1. A removable disk is also allowed to convert.
2. Converting system disk to GPT partition style requires 64-bit operating systems. Note that Windows XP 64bit can only use GPT disk for data storage.
3. After converting a system disk from MBR to GPT, or GPT to MBR, you have to change the boot mode from UEFI to BIOS, or Legacy BIOS to UEFI for a smooth boot.

② Convert to GPT/MBR disk via Windows built-in utilities (Data Loss)

With Windows Disk Management and Diskpart tools, you’re allowed to convert an EMPTY hard disk to MBR or GPT with ease. That is to say, you need to delete all existing partitions in the first place. Therefore, back up important data to a safe place in advance and then follow the steps below. Here takes convert to GPT using Diskpart for example.

Step 1. Press "Windows" + "R" simultaneously to lift the "Run" box. Input “diskpart” and press Enter.

Step 2. At the DISKPART prompt, input the following commands successively, and each command follows "Enter" pressing.

▪list disk
▪select disk n (where n is the disk number of target disk)
▪clean (this command will erase the entire disk)
▪convert gpt (or convert mbr)
▪exit

Convert mbr to gpt Diskpart

Note: You may not convert system disk to GPT under Windows environment since the system partition cannot be deleted when Windows is running. To change the system disk, you need to enter WinPE mode and perform the conversion.

Other FAQs about MBR vs GPT

▶ Is Windows 10 GPT or MBR?

From the reliability and CRC protection mentioned before, it is suggested to use the GPT partition style if all other conditions are qualified.

▶ Should my SSD be MBR or GPT?

Usually, SSDs are used to install operating systems. All Windows operating systems can be installed on MBR disks yet some of them cannot be installed on GPT disk. Windows 8 and higher operating systems are required as shown in the first figure.

Windows OS List

▶ Can UEFI boot MBR?

Yes. UEFI supports the traditional master boot record (MBR) of hard drive partition, but you may not use Legacy boot GPT on the contrary.

▶ When need to convert GPT to MBR disk?

Some situations need to convert GPT to MBR. One is like the problem - “the Selected Disk is of the GPT Partition Style” when people install Windows system. People can also convert GPT to MBR disk with the aid of AOMEI Partition Assistant Professional Edition.

Convert System Disk to MBR

Conclusion

Now, you should get an overall understanding of MBR VS GPT and know how to convert MBR to GPT, or GPT to MBR via different methods. All in all, with the AOMEI Partition Assistant software, you can easily and safely make conversions between MBR and GPT without losing anything important. It is a great partition converter, not only between MBR and GPT but also between FAT32 and NTFS, primary partition, and logic partition. It can even rebuild MBR when the master boot record is corrupted and causes boot failure.

 
Bryce
Bryce · Staff Editor
Bryce is an editor of AOMEI Technology, he covers backup & restore, hard disk & partitions management, cloud files transfer, website & database backup and so on for AOMEI. He enjoys helping people find solutions to their problems. He loves traveling, Sleeping, reserching and so on. He enjoys helping people find solutions to their problems. He loves traveling, Sleeping, reserching and so on. He would like to spend all time on reaserching computer problems. He is a very cute boy.