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MBR vs. GPT comparison (Windows Vista)

Posted 8 January, 2009 at 12:26am by Michael Chu
(Filed under: Personal Computers)

So, I was bringing up another hard drive for backups on one of my Vista machines and had to decide if I was to format/partition it as a Master Boot Record (MBR) or GUID Partition Table (GPT) disk. I found myself asking what the differences between MBR and GPT are. I knew GPT let me make partitions larger than 2 TB (not a problem with a single drive, but easily a problem on RAIDs), but what else did it (or didn't it do)?

I threw together this quick comparison table (for Windows):

MBR GPT
Partitions < 2 TB Yes Yes
Partitions > 2 TB No Yes
Primary Partitions Per Drive 4 128*
OS Compatibility ALL Windows Vista, Windows Server 2003 SP1, Windows XP x64
Bootable Yes Only Windows for Itanium

*Windows/NTFS restricts number of partitions to 128 and a maximum partition size of 256 TB; GPT allows effectively infinite number of partitions and effectively infinite partition size

Since my drive was smaller than 2 TB, I chose to use MBR.

12 comments to MBR vs. GPT comparison (Windows Vista)

Al, February 12th, 2009 at 5:01 am:

  • I too was considering the same thing. I chose GPT before then after doing some extensive research since its an external hard drive that I have and chances are there are other computers that run Win XP x32 that I might need to transfer files to. Also, I don't use more than one partition period. I actually had to use command prompt to figure out how to convert back to MBR after my early morning rally. Thank God I figured it out.

    One thing I never understood was the size allocation between pcs and macs and how you can't allocate more than 32gigs I believe for macs. Great Table, I'll be saving that!

John, September 11th, 2009 at 1:55 pm:

  • Excellent! Thanks for sharing this..

dan, January 4th, 2010 at 7:20 pm:

  • huge help! thanks for breaking this down

Rob, January 6th, 2010 at 6:45 pm:

  • Thanks for the info! :)

Chuck, March 9th, 2010 at 4:17 am:

  • It takes 36 hours to do a CHKDSK on a 3TB GPT partition. Now you decide.

dan, July 5th, 2010 at 2:32 pm:

  • I thought GPT also had better error recovery with a back up of primary the partition table and CRC32 fields.

hamid, November 9th, 2010 at 1:37 pm:

  • Thanks for this article .

WANKER, July 13th, 2012 at 11:36 am:

  • I STILL DON'T FUCKING KNOW, WHY TH HELL CAN@ ALL COMPUTERS, DVD PLAYERS AND SO ON USE THE SAME FUCKING FORMATS ?????? i GUESS ITS JUST SOME BIG RICH CUNTS CAN MAKE MORE MONEY - SELLING YOU THIS FOR THAT, YOU NEED TO REPLACE THIS TO RUN THAT AND THAT WON'T RUN BECAUSE OF THIS - WELL I GUESS GUESS THESE WANKERS ARE NOT AS GOOD AS THERE THOUGHT THEY WHERE

The Seventh Dwarf, November 2nd, 2012 at 1:29 pm:

  • Wow, Wanker is a super genius!

Michael Chu, November 2nd, 2012 at 3:08 pm:

  • Yeah. I assume he/she just doesn't understand how the progression of technology and development works.

Anonymous, September 6th, 2013 at 7:32 am:

  • In addition to size and more partitions, GPT-disks also offer greater resilience to corruption.

kendrabuswell.weebly.com, May 29th, 2017 at 8:47 pm:

  • An outstanding share! I've just forwarded this onto a coworker who
    has been doing a little homework on this. And he in fact
    ordered me dinner because I discovered it for him… lol.
    So allow me to reword this…. Thanks for the meal!!

    But yeah, thanks for spending the time to discuss
    this subject here on your web page.

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