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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.

11 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.

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