By Emily / Last Updated November 9, 2021

Should I initialize disk as MBR or GPT?

Before you can partition a hard disk and store data inside, you have to initialize it to a specific partition style: MBR or GPT. However, which one you should choose when initializing disk in Windows 10? It is better to choose the right one for the Windows 10 after you get a further and comprehensive understanding of MBR and GPT. Refer to the following content on MBR VS. GPT.

1. Emergence Time

MBR (Master Boot Record) was introduced with IBM PC DOS 2.0 in March 1983 and it is the most compatible one. GPT (GUID Partition Table) was developed by Intel in the late 1990s as part of what eventually became the Unified Extensible Firmware Interface and it becomes quite pupular nowadays, tending to take the replace of MBR.

2. Max partition numbers and disk size

MBR only supports up to 4 primary partitions. If you need more, you have to make one of the primary partitions an “extended partition” in which you can create unlimited logicial partitions. Besides, the MBR only works with disk up to 2TB. Two major deficiencies of MBR. However, the newer partition style GPT breaks out the MBR’s limits. You can create a nearly unlimited number of primary partitions on GPT-based disk, no need to create an extended partition. Besides, the GPT supports disk up to 9.4ZB in size, allowing you to fully utilize disk that is larger than 2TB.

3. Boot mode

The MBR goes hand in hand with Legacy boot while GPT is with UEFI boot. Namely, if the motherboard of your PC supports Legacy mode only, you can only boot Windows from MBR disk. Similarly, if the motherboard supports UEFI mode only, you can only boot OS from GPT disk. That’s why you receive the error messages “Windows cannot be installed to this disk, The select disk is of the GPT partition style”, or “Windows cannot...The selected disk has an MBR partition table. On EFI systems, Windwos can only be installed to GPT disk” during OS installation.

To fix errors, you need to convert GPT to MBR or MBR to GPT before installing system. Besides, if the motherboard of your PC supports Legacy +UEFI/CMS boot, you can enable the CSM (Compatibility Support Module) in BIOS to boot OS from both MBR and GPT disk.

MBR VS GPT

4. Compatibility

All editions, except Windows XP 32 bit, can read and use GPT for data storage. All 32-bit Windows version are not system compatible with GPT-based disk. Start from Windows Vista 64-bit, all 64-bit Windows versions are system compatible with GPT-based disk. Both all 32bit and 64bit Windows versions are data and system compatible with MBR.

OS Compatibility

5. Structure

MBR consists of 3 parts: master boot code, partition table and disk signature. Partition information on the organization of logical partitions in the hard drive stored in only one place - the MBR. If the MBR gets corrupted, the entire hard drive becomes unreadable. GPT consists of a Protective MBR, a primary GUID partition table header, a primary GUID Partition Entry Array, a backup GUID Partition Entry Array and a backup GUID Partition Table Header. It saves a copy of the partition and boot data so that you can recover related data when it is corrupted in the primary GPT header.

MBR VS GPT Structure

What is better for disk MBR or GPT?

From the comparison in the last section, we can get some rules to choose a correct partitioning scheme between MBR and GPT for initializing a disk.

•To create more than 4 primary partitions, choose GPT;

•To manage disk over 2TB, GPT is better;

•To enhance data security and easy data recovery, go for GPT;

•For the motherboard with UEFI boot mode, employ GPT;

•For the motherboard with BIOS firmware mode, MBR is the correct choice;

•To install a 32-bit Windows or other very old OS, choose MBR as system disk partition style;

How to initialize disk to MBR/GPT in Windows 11/10/8/7?

After you make a final decision between MBR and GPT, you can use Disk Management or CMD to initialize it in Windows 11/10/8/7. In Disk Management, right-click the disk and choose “Initialize Disk”, choose MBR or GPT in the pop-out window and click “OK”.

Initialize New Disk

Choose Partition Style

To initialize disk Windows 10 MBR to GPT via cmd, press Win+R at the same time, input “cmd” and press on “Enter” to open Command Prompt window. Execute the following commands in ture and remember to hit on enter after each one: diskpart>list disk #>convert gpt, or convert mbr.

Initialize Disk Cmd

This is how to initialize disk Windows 10 to MBR or GPT. If you want to convert the partition style from MBR to GPT, or GPT to MBR someday, the Disk Management or Command Prompt can also help. However, the conversion will erase all content on the disk, including the OS and other data. In this case, you should back up data beforehand. Therefore, we recommended you use the professional partition manager: AOMEI Partition Assistant Professional.

This 3rd party partition software can convert both data and system disk to MBR or GPT without deleting all partitions and data on the disk. You can click the demo version for a free trial right now.

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

Step 1. Install and run the program. Right-click on the disk that you want to convert (here it’s Disk 2) and choose the "Convert to MBR Disk" .

Convert to MBR

Step 2. Click on “OK” to confirm what you are doing.

OK

Step 3. Click “Apply” to commit the pending operation.

Apply

Notes:
☛Before converting system disk to MBR or GPT, you need to consider whether your PC motherboard supports the corresponding boot mode (UEFI or Legacy).
☛To convert disk to MBR or GPT without operating system, you can first use the software to create a bootable media, boot computer from it and perform the conversion in WinPE mode.

Summary

This article mainly explains the main differences between MBR and GPT so that you can know which one you should initialize disk to, MBR or GPT in Windows 11/10/8/7. Besides that, you will be able to convert MBR to GPT, or GPT to MBR without losing data via the recommended software. It also comes with many other great functions: clone MBR disk to GPT disk, migrate OS from MBR to GPT or GPT to MBR, recover lost partitions, extend system partition without reboot, and more. For Windows Server users, you can try AOMEI Partition Assistant Server.