Windows 11 Partition Scheme: MBR or GPT?

When you clean install or upgrade Windows 10 to Windows 11, you may meet a problem: What is the Windows 11 partition scheme? MBR or GPT? This tutorial will tell you which one you should choose for Windows 11 and teach you how to convert MBR to GPT safely for Windows 11 upgrade.


By Hedy / Updated on May 12, 2023

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What is the best partition scheme for Windows 11?

Windows 11, released by Microsoft on October 5, 2021, brings users a new UI interface and a number of innovative features designed to support the current mixed working environment. Microsoft has announced that Windows 11 pays more attention to user data security and work efficiency, so the requirements of hardware for Windows 11 get stricter, which is challenging for some old computers.


For the merits of Windows 11, many users plan to clean install, or upgrade to Windows 11, but soon, they encountered annoying trouble: What is the Windows 11 partition scheme? Should I choose MBR or GPT partition table for Windows 11? To figure out these questions, you need to know some knowledge about the differences between Windows 11 MBR and GPT.

Differences between MBR and GPT partition scheme

To better know Windows 11 GPT or MBR, it is necessary to get a deeper understanding of MBR and GPT hard disk. They are two different partition styles: MBR, short for Master Boot Record; GPT, short for GUID (Globally Unique Identifiers) Partition Table.

Features of MBR partition scheme

MBR disks only support disks up to 2TB in size. If your hard disk is 3TB, only the first 2TB can be recognized and used by Windows and the remaining space will be wasted.

✬ MBR disk only allows 4 primary partitions at most. If you want to create more partitions, you have to change any one of the four primary partitions into extended partitions, within which you can create plenty of logical drives.

On an MBR disk, the partitioning and boot data are stored in one place. If one of them is damaged or corrupted, you will lose all the data together, which is difficult to recover it.

MBR is more reliable for previous Windows editions like Windows 95/98, Windows XP 32-bit, and Windows 7.

Features of GPT partition scheme

GPT doesn't have a 2TB size limit, it has a greater capacity that is up to 9.4ZB (1ZB is 1 billion terabytes), so you don't have to worry about receiving low disk space warning soon.

GPT also allows for a nearly unlimited number of partitions. Generally, a GPT disk supports up to 128 partitions.

On a GPT disk, a partition has a self-contained backup at the end of the disk. When one of them is destroyed, you can restore it in the backup, which can keep your computer safer.

GPT can be compatible with the newer Windows or other Windows editions with 64-bit.


From the features presented above, we can easily see that the GPT partition style has obvious advantages over MBR. Usually, MBR for BIOS and GPT partition scheme for UEFI are two favorable combinations.

Does Windows 11 require MBR or GPT?

After differing the features of MBR and GPT, we will proceed to the most important part: Does Windows 11 require MBR or GPT? According to Microsoft's official announcement, the biggest difference between Windows 11 and the previous Windows operating system is that Windows 11 only supports booting from UEFI. Since we have known that GPT pairs with UEFI, we can draw the conclusion that Windows 11 requires GPT. That's absolutely right in theory, however, we can break through the rule in practice, which is determined by the installation method of the Windows 11 update.

Case one. Clean install via installation media

As we described above, running Windows 11 normally requires strict system conditions, if your computer doesn't meet the minimum requirements, especially if the motherboard doesn't support UEFI boot mode, you can choose to create a Windows installation media to clean install Windows 11 from scratch like installing other Windows operating systems, which has nothing to do with the disk partition scheme.

However, if your disk size is larger than 2TB, we recommend you use a GPT disk, which can make full use of disk space. Also, if your computer can only boot from Legacy BIOS, an MBR disk is recommended.

Case two. Directly upgrade from the current Windows OS

If you are running on an MBR disk now, but you want to directly upgrade Windows 10, 8, and 7 to Windows 11 via the "Check for Updates" feature, what you must know is that both UEFI and GPT are indispensable. Hence, only if your computer can support booting from UEFI, you can convert Windows 11 MBR to GPT first before you upgrade your Windows and then change Legacy BIOS to UEFI so that Windows 11 can run normally. This is also what the following content will focus on.


How to convert MBR to GPT for Windows 11 upgrade?

It's no doubt that Windows built-in utilities like DiskPart and Disk Management can convert MBR disk to GPT, but there are several notes you need to bear in mind if you want to employ any one of the two:

✪ These two tools require you to delete all the partitions on the disk because they only allow converting empty disks from MBR to GPT as well as from GPT to MBR. So it's easy to cause data loss.

✪ They don't support converting the system disk from MBR to GPT since the system partition cannot be deleted when Windows is running. For example, you will find Convert to GPT Disk Grayed out in Disk Management.

✪ If you still want to use built-in tools, DiskPart allows you to enter WinPE mode to delete the system disk and then perform the conversion.

To bypass these limitations, a popular disk management tool in the market can help you. AOMEI Partition Assistant Professional will provide you with the best experience in converting disk between MBR and GPT without deleting any volumes no matter you want to convert data disk or system disk. Besides, whether you are using Windows 10, 8, 7, Vista, or Windows XP, this software is totally compatible. Now, click the button and download the demo version to see how to convert MBR to GPT:

Free DownloadWin 11/10/8.1/8/7/XP
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Step 1: Install and open AOMEI Partition Assistant Software, right click the MBR disk you want to convert, and select "Convert to GPT".


Step 2: In the pop-out window, you will be asked are you sure to convert the selected disk from MBR to GPT disk. Click "OK" to continue.


Step 3: After a while, you will back to the main console, click "Apply" and you will find your disk style has been changed into GPT.


Change Legacy BIOS to UEFI

As described above, Windows 11 can only run in UEFI boot mode, so after successfully converting the disk from MBR to GPT, don't forget to change Legacy BIOS to UEFI. Here comes the steps:

Step 1: When restarting the computer, press Del for desktops or F2 for laptops to enter the BIOS Setup menu.

Step 2: In the pop-out window, click the Boot tab, change Legacy to UEFI


Step 3: Then save the setting and exit.

After these two conversions, you can go to "Update & Security" in "Settings" and click "Check for Updates" to upgrade to Windows 11 directly.



Now, after a basic understanding of Windows 11 and the differences between MBR and GPT, you must have known that Windows 11 partition scheme depends on which way you use to realize Windows 11 installation: clean install via installation media, or directly upgrade from the current Windows OS. If you want to update in the way recommended by Microsoft, you need to convert MBR to GPT beforehand, and then remember to change Legacy to UEFI.

As a popular and powerful partition manager, AOMEI software can also help manage your partitions well by providing you with various effective functions such as converting file systems between FAT32 and NTFS, cloning HDD to SSD for better performance,  moving applications from one partition to another, converting primary partition to the logical drive, and more.

Hedy · Staff Editor
Hedy is an editor of AOMEI Technology. She is very good at solving problems of partition management, and she wants to share all the problems she had already solved to users who met the same questions.