After installing the SSD drive on your PC, you need to choose the right partition table for your hard drive. So, what’s the difference between MBR and GPT? Which of the two partition tables is best for your SSD? Read on to find out.
The Partition Tables
MBR and GPT are the 2 main types of partition tables used on the Windows Operating System. They describe disk partitions on HDD or SSD drives. Moreover, partition tables are used by the OS to locate files from different disk partitions.
Master Boot Record (MBR): Refers to information in the first sector of any hard disk or diskette that contains the operating system’s boot add-ons and logical partition information. MBR identifies the location of the Operating System (OS) on the hard disk thereby determining how it loads into the RAM or computer’s main memory during boot operation.
GUID Partition Table (GPT): This disk architecture builds on the MBR partitioning scheme. It is associated with Unified Extensible Firmware Interface (UEFI) which is expected to eventually replace the old BIOS. Moreover, the GPT architecture links each drive partition with globally unique identifiers (GUID).
MBR and GPT partition tables differ significantly in terms of the supported drive capacities. For instance, MBR supports drives with a maximum capacity of 2TB and are confined to 32 bits logical sectors only.
On the other hand, GPT is a comparatively robust partition scheme that supports 64 bits sectors and has a massive storage capacity of up to 9.4ZB. Note that ZB stands for zettabyte which translates to a trillion gigabytes or sextillion bytes. Simply put, GPT has no practical capacity limit.
Choose either of the two types of partition tables depending on your SSD drive storage space requirements.
Number of Disk Partitions
MBR and GPT disk partition tables support different numbers of partitions. For example, MBR supports up to 4 primary partitions. However, you can bypass this limit by making use of logical partitions. Here’s how that works.
Create 3 primary partitions plus one extended partition. Once you do that, you can then go ahead and create an infinite number of logical partitions inside the extended partition volume. Remember that logical partitions cannot be used as boot volumes. That’s a rather disappointing but noteworthy downside associated with MBR disk partitioning schemes.
The number of disk partitions supported by the GPT scheme is limited only by the operating system’s capability. For instance, on the Windows OS, the upper limit for partitions under the GPT disk partitioning style is set at 128. Other operating systems can support many more partitions.
For routine office or scholarly tasks, MBR’s 4 primary partitions should suffice. However, for persons running multiple operating systems on the same SSD drive, the GPT format is recommended because it allows for the creation of up to 128 primary partitions.
The capacity to recover data from MBR and GPT partition tables is best explained using their partition structure.
The headers section of the MBR partition table drives stores the operating system’s boot loader information.
In other words, in MBR, all boot data and partition information are kept in one place. In the event, the drive header is damaged or the data is corrupted, recovery may be possible but with very little success.
The structure of the GPT header is very similar to that of the MBR. The difference however comes in the manner the boot data is stored in the former. GPT partition tables store multiple copies of boot data at the start and end of the GPT header and this is duplicated across multiple partitions. In the event data from one partition is corrupted or inaccessible for any reason, recovery is very easy from the other partitions.
Another noteworthy aspect of GPT’s superior data recovery has to do with its error retention code and auto-repair function. Meaning, GPT partition tables automatically self-assess during boot and repair any detected errors. As such, GPT is more resilient to errors and is more efficient when it comes to data recovery compared to MBR.
There are two main PC startup modes. These include:
- BIOS boot mode
- UEFI boot mode
The BIOS boot interface is associated with older systems while the UEFI boot interface is for new PC models. The choice of a partition table is determined by the type of boot mode supported by the SSD drive.
Here are some considerations to make when choosing the right boot mood and partition table for the SSD drive:
- For SSD drives with smaller capacity, use BIOS boot mode plus (+) MBR.
- For SSD drives with larger capacity, choose UEFI boot mode plus (+) GPT.
- If the motherboard only supports BIOS boot mode, then it’s better to choose MBR over GPT. For motherboards compatible with both boot modes, BIOS & UEFI, it’s better to go with UEFI considering its superior error detection and auto-correction function, not to mention its unbeatable fault tolerance feature.
- 64-bit Windows 10, 8, 8.1, 7, and Vista support UEFI boot mode plus (+) GPT partition table.
- 32 bit Windows 10, 8, & 8.1 require a UEFI boot mode and GPT drive.
- 32 bit Windows 7 & Vista require BIOS boot mode and MBR drive.
In summary, MBR partition tables are ideally suited for older systems while GPT is built for newer, more modern, systems.
Check out the following table for a quick rundown of different Windows Operating systems and associated disk partition tables.
|Operating System||Data Disk||System Disk|
|Windows 7, 32 bit||Supports GPT||Don’t support GPT|
|Windows7, 64 bit||Supports GPT||Supports GPT|
|Windows 8, 32 bit||Supports GPT||Don’t support GPT|
|Windows 8, 64 bit||Supports GPT||Supports GPT|
|Windows 10, 32 bit||Supports GPT||Don’t support GPT|
|Windows 10, 64 bit||Supports GPT||Supports GPT|
1. Can you convert MBR to GPT without losing data?
Yes, you can convert MBR to GPT format without losing data. You can do that using a third-party tool like AOMEI Partition Assistant professional.
2. Is MBR slower than GPT?
The GPT partition table doesn’t speed up or slow down your PC’s performance. And neither does MBR. However, changing your drive from the traditional hard disk drive (HDD) to a solid-state drive (SSD) will improve the speed and overall performance of your computer.
Choosing the right partition table for your SSD drive isn’t absolute. Instead, it depends on a number of considerations including the disk capacity, number of partitions, and data recoverability. SSD drives with a capacity larger than 240 GB and UEFI-based COPReuters boot mode, the UEFI + GPT combination should suffice.
For SSD disks with different specifications for capacity, boot mode, number of partitions, and OS version, you can choose between GPT and MBR partition styles depending on whether your PC is based on an old or new system.