Which is better for your hard drive, MBR or GPT?

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Which is better for your hard drive, MBR or GPT?

Master Boot Record (MBR) and GUID Partition Table (GPT) are two partitioning techniques used on hard disk drives (HDD) and solid-state drives (SSD) across the world, with GPT being the more recent standard. The boot structure and data handling are distinct for each option (MBR and GPT). The speed of the two division options differs, as do the criteria.

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

This page defines them, explains what they need, and how they vary.

What is an HDD Partition?

Before delving into the specifics of MBR and GPT, you need first grasp what a partition is. Partitions are distinct areas of the SSD or HDD that the operating system requires to boot and operate. Even though they are on the same disk, Windows presents them as drives in File Explorer.

Many laptops, for example, feature a “system” partition that contains everything in the Windows Operating System (OS) (typically the C: disk), as well as a secret “recovery” partition that may be used to restore the system in the event of an accident. Partitions are also useful for installing various operating systems on the same hard drive (Linux, Windows10, Windows 7, etc.) You may also establish a separate partition for storing data like as photographs, music, movies, and so on, so that they stay intact and secure if the operating system dies.

What is MBR?

gptvsmbr-hdd

The Master Boot Record controls how partitions on the SSD or HDD are formed and arranged. MBR employs Bios firmware and stores code in the first sector of the disk with a logical block address (LBA) of 1. The data comprises information on how and where Windows is stored in the PC’s main storage and internal random access memory to control the boot process (RAM).

What Does MBR Contain?

The MBR data recorded in the HDD’s LBA 1 comprises the following:

  • The master partition table, abbreviated as MPT, maintains all partition information contained on each SSD/HDD, including format type, capacity, and other pertinent information. To work properly, the OS and PC need a record of HDD partitions and sizes, as well as a method to identify the bootable, active partitions. The MPT contains all of the necessary information.
  • Master boot code (MBC): This code conducts the operating system launch and maintains the bootup configuration (to validate any changes), such as identifying disks, calculating RAM (external), detecting displays, and other key device and configuration information.
  • Every drive requires a unique identity, which is produced in the form of a signature. This identification guarantees that the right drive and partition is used to read and write data across many drives. It also offers appropriate PC functionality as well as a secure protocol for all read/write data interactions.
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The basic input/output system (BIOS) of the PC/motherboard searches for a device with an MBR and then runs the volume boot code from the partition that contains it, which is usually the “C:” disk. The MBR then activates the boot section of the disk to start the OS.

What is a GPT Partition?

GPT is an abbreviation for GUID Partition Table. It controls the creation and arrangement of partitions on the SSD/HDD in the same way as MBR does. GPT employs UEFI firmware rather than the BIOS used in MBR, and it saves disk information like as partitions, sizes, and other critical data in sector one, exactly like MBR. GPT, on the other hand, utilizes sector two since sector one is designated for MBR and BIOS compatibility. In GPT terminology, MBR sector #1 (LBA 1) becomes LBA 0 when GPT is used, and GPT becomes sector 1. (LBA 1). As a result, on GPT, boot information is kept on LBA 1, whereas LBA 0 is reserved for MBR compatibility.

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MBR Partition SchemeSector #LBA #
MBR1LBA 1

Drive information in the form of a GUID partition table is contained in the GPT header. The GUID contains information about disks, partitions, storage sizes, boot information, and other boot and functionality-related data.

The GUID Partition Table included in LBA 1 of the SSD/HDD contains the following information:

  • MBR data
  • GPT data
  • Partition entries data
  • Secondary (sometimes known as backup) GPT data

MBR Versus GPT

mbrvsgpt-partitions

The fundamental distinction between MBR and GPT is that MBR has several modern-day restrictions. MBR, in particular, can only manage four main partitions and 2TB of disc capacity. GPT has no partition limit, therefore you can have up to 10 partitions and 9400000000 TB of SSD/HDD capacity.

However, Windows versions before to Vista are unable to start on GPT disks. Windows 7 and Vista can boot in GPT, but only on 64-bit computers and by following a special procedure. As long as you utilize a 64-bit machine, Windows 8 and later support GPT by default.

Another distinction is that MBR stores all information in one location, which might get damaged and fail. GPT sends data to several disk locations and contains a backup GPT Table in case the original one becomes damaged.

Aside from the distinctions discussed above, GPT may employ newer device technologies and is compatible with BIOS/MBR functionalities for backward compatibility with older, non-UEFI devices. Finally, booting using GPT and UEFI is generally quicker.

Quick Recap of MBR Versus GPT

MBR Partition SchemeGPT Partition Scheme
Maximum of 4 partitionsUnlimited partitions
2TB max SSD/HDD disk space9400000000 TB max SSD/HDD disk space
32-bit and 64-bit systems64-bit systems only
Works with any Windows version, no support for macOSWindows 7/Vista with 64-bit Windows only, Win 8/10/11 by default, macOS by default
Stores boot details in one placeStores boot details in several places, and it creates a backup
Slower boot processFaster boot process
Works with older devicesWorks with older devices plus new ones, backward compatible with MBR partitions/devices/operating systems

Why Use GPT Partition Scheme?

mbrvsgpt-creation

If you purchase an external HDD or SSD and your PC supports GPT partitioning, format the disk using GPT. GPT may also be used on hard drives. It does not have to be a solid-state drive. Because to their 64-bit design, operating systems such as macOS utilize GPT by default, whereas Windows 8/10 use GPT if the motherboard supports UEFI. You may benefit from faster speeds, limitless partitions, and substantially greater storage capacity with this choice.

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When to Use MBR

There are several good reasons to keep utilizing MBR. If you mostly work with drives under 2TB or earlier versions of Windows, you may be better off formatting all of your SSDs/HDDs to MBR to avoid destroying compatibility with any of your gear.

GPT may, however, be used in Windows 7 and later. Unfortunately, compatibility is dependent on whether the motherboard and CPU support the UEFI BIOS, otherwise it would only operate on non-boot partitions. If you’re still running XP/Vista, GPT will not function, leaving you with just the MBR option.


Now that you understand the difference between MBR and GPT, you may choose the partition table scheme that is ideal for your HDD or SSD size, desired number of partitions, and operating system. While the technical changes may be difficult to grasp and use, keep in mind that MBR works with disks 2TB or less and non-UEFI systems. GPT, on the other hand, enables disks larger than 2TB, newer operating systems, and a greater number of partitions.

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