If you’ve been installing Windows 8, or 10, you might get asked whether you want to continue with MBR or the GPT instead. For those who aren’t aware of this subject yet, GPT is gradually replacing MBR as the new standard for partitions.
There are several advantages of GPT. However, MBR still continues to be the most compatible in a lot of cases. One reason why GPT is gaining popularity is because it is cross platform compatible. It isn’t only a Windows-only standard, OS such as Linux, Mac OS X can also use this.
In this article, I’ll break down what GPT and MBR actually do?
MBR Stands for Master Boot Record and GPT stands for GUID partition table. These are the two different ways available for portioning information on a hard drive. They make the information accessible to the operation system so that it knows which one is bootable.
This is precisely why you’ve to choose between GPT and MBR while creating your partitions.
Why People Choose GPT over MBR?
MBR was introduced back in 1983 with the DOS 2.0 PC from IBM. The reason why it is called MBR is because it has a special boot sector which is located at the beginning part of the drive.
This particular sector contains a boot loader for any operating system which might be installed. It also holds information about the logical partitions of the drive. This boot loader is a small piece of code which loads the comparatively bigger boot loader from another partition or drive.
There are several reasons why people don’t prefer using MBR, such as:-
• You can’t manage disks larger than 2TB.
• You can’t manage more than four primary partitions (if you need more, you need to mark one partition as extended and create logical partition inside that partition.)
For years, MBR rose as the industry standard for everyone. Developers figured out tons of hacks for this extended partition thing ever since it came out.
How GPT Solves the Pain?
As I mentioned above, it is new standard and is dramatically replacing MBR. It replaces the old portioning system with something more modern called as the GUID partition table. This is because every partition has a separate unique identifier or a GUID. It is a long and random string so that each and every GPT partition gets its own unique identifier.
GPT also doesn’t put any limit on MBR. Devices can hence be much larger in size, and it depends on file systems and the operating systems. The new system allows you to manage an unlimited amount of partitions. The only limit is your operating system.
As of now, Windows allows users to make up to 128 partitions on GPT. You don’t even need to create any extended partition.
Salient differences between MBR and GPT
On MBR disk, the boot data and partitioning data is stored in one place. If the data gets corrupted or is overwritten, then you are in trouble.
On the other hand, GPT allows you to store multiple copies of the same data on the disk. Hence there is more robustness, and one can recover in case if data is corrupted.
It also stores CRC (Cyclic redundancy check) values so that users can notice if data is corrupted and even attempt to recover the damaged data.
In MBR, there is no way of knowing if data was ever corrupted. The only possible way you are going to know is when boot process fails or some partition vanishes.
Compatibility across Various devices
The GPT drives also include one protective MBR. This means that if you try to manage your GPT disk with some old tool which is only compatible only with MBRs. You will only able to see one single partition which extends in various drives.
To the contrary, MBR ensures that the old tools don’t mistake your GPT drive as an unpartitioned drive and continue to overwrite it. To make it simple, the protective MBR protects the data of GPT from getting overwritten.
Windows OS are only able to boot from GPT and on UEFI based PC that run on 64-bit versions of Win Vista, 7, 8, 8.1 or Windows 10. These versions can also read GPT drives and also use them for data. But, they won’t be able to boot from unless they are UEFI.
Some modern OS also make use of GPT. Linux comes with a built-in support for GPT. Apple’s Macs are no more using APT (Apple partition table) and use GPT instead.