GPT vs MBR Partition & How Does it Work

During the course of building your PC, you might be asked which partition you want to install your operating system on MBR or GPT?

You can easily tell the difference between an MBR and a GPT partition. In addition, you can learn a lot about each type of partition table and choose one over another by looking at some background information.

We’ll examine what a partition is, the differences between an MBR and GPT partition, whether you should upgrade from one type of partition to another, and more in this article.

How Does a Partition Work?

Hard disk drives (HDDs) and solid-state drives (SSDs) can be partitioned. They can vary in size and serve different purposes.

Windows, for example, typically has a small recovery partition and a large file system partition called C: Most people are familiar with the C: partition since this is where they usually install their programs and store their files.

There are typically three partitions in Linux: the root partition (/), the swap partition that helps manage memory, and the large /home partition. In the same way, the C: partition in Windows is where you install most of your programs and store your data, so is the /home partition.

The manufacturer has already taken care of the partitions of your computer if you bought it from a store with the operating system already installed. So if you want to dual-boot Windows and Linux from the same HDD or SSD, you don’t need to worry about them.

You will usually be prompted to choose the partitions and size for your operating system, even if you are installing it yourself. Typically, no changes need to be made.After learning what a partition is at the highest level, we can now dive into the difference between MBR and GPT partitions.

Overview of MBR and GPT Partitions

MBR stands for Master Boot Record and is a bit of reserved space at the beginning of the drive that contains information about how the partitions are organized. The MBR also has code to launch the operating system, and it’s sometimes called the Boot Loader. GUID Partition Table is an abbreviation of GUID, which stands for a GUID Partition Table, and is a newer standard that’s slowly replacing MBR.

A GPT partition table stores data about how all the partitions are organized, and it stores that data in a very clever way. That way, if one partition is erased or corrupted, it’s still possible to boot and recover some of the data. So if you bought your computer within the last five years or so, it’s very likely that it’s using GPT partition tables rather than the older MBR tables.

Differences Between MBR vs. GPT Partitions

MBR and GPT partitions have a number of differences, but we’ll highlight some of the main ones here.

It is worth noting that MBR partition tables have a maximum capacity of only about two terabytes. MBR allows you to use drives larger than two terabytes, but only the first two terabytes of the drive will be used. What is left over is wasted space on the drive.

The GPT partition table, in contrast, offers a maximum capacity of 9.7 zettabytes. You won’t run out of space anytime soon since a zettabyte is equal to a billion terabytes.

Secondly, MBR partition tables can have up to four partitions. However, an extended partition is a partition that can be divided into an additional 23 partitions. There is an absolute maximum of 26 partitions in an MBR partition table.GT partition tables can handle up to 128 partitions for most real-world applications.

Generally, MBR is associated with legacy BIOS systems, while GPT is typically associated with UEFI. The result is that MBR partitions have better compatibility with software and hardware, although GPT is starting to catch up.

After we take a brief look at UEFI and Legacy BIOS, we’ll take a look at Legacy BIOS as well.

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