Master Boot Record (MBR) and GUID Partition Table (GPT) are two partitioning methods for hard drives everywhere, with GPT being the newer standard. For each option, the boot structure and the way data get treated are unique. Speed varies between these two HDD partition options, and requirements are also different. This article explains what they are, what they require, and how they differ.
MBR versus GPT
The main difference between MBR and GPT is that MBR has some limitations for modern usage. Namely, MBR can only handle four primary partitions and 2TB of HDD space. GPT has no partition limit, so you can have ten partitions if you want.
However, versions of Windows earlier than 8 can’t boot from GPT drives. This requirement means Windows 7 must use MBR on its primary/boot hard drives.
Another difference is MBR stores all information in one place, which could get corrupted and fail. GPT writes information in several drive areas and includes a secondary backup GPT Table for recovery if the first one gets corrupted or fails.
Other than the differences between MBR and GPT mentioned above, GPT can use newer device technologies, and it’s compatible with BIOS/MBR functions for backward compatibility of older, non-UEFI devices. Lastly, bootup is usually faster with GPT and UEFI.
When to Use MBR ?
There are some reasons to continue using MBR. If you deal primarily with drives below 2TB or older versions of Windows, you might be better off formatting all your drives to MBR so that you don’t risk breaking compatibility with any of your hardware.
Why Use GPT Partition Scheme?
If you get an external HDD or SSD, and your PC supports MBR and GPT partitioning, you should format the drive with GPT. This option lets you take advantage of the faster speeds, unlimited partitions, and significantly larger storage capacities.
Windows 7 and onward, however, can use GPT. Unfortunately, compatibility gets based on whether the motherboard and CPU support a UEFI BIOS, or else it can only get used on non-boot partitions. If you’re still running XP/Vista, you certainly won’t get GPT to work at all, which leaves you with the MBR option only.