When you connect an SSD drive to Windows, you need to choose between the Master Boot Record (MBR) or the GUID Partition Table (GPT). These are methods that contain information about how data is stored on the unit. But how do you know which one to use?
We will analyze the differences between the MBR and the GPT, in addition to assessing which is the best for your SSD. While the GPT is more modern and has more advantages, there are some unique situations in which you may need the MBR.
Parties MBR or GPT?
Briefly, the parties are only sections on the unit that you will store the data on the PC. You will always need at least one partition on a hard drive. Although you can only have one physical drive, you can use parties to divide them and assign a different letter to each partition.
The MBR only allows you to create four primary parties. However, you can work around this limitation using logical partitions. This means that you can create three primary parties, in addition to an extended partition. Within this extended partition, you can have logical parties.
The biggest limitation of the MBR is that you cannot use logical partitions, such as boot volumes, which is a type of partition with Windows operating system files. For example, you can have Windows 10 on one partition and Windows 7 on another. For most people, this will not be an issue, unless you want to install multiple operating systems on the same computer.
GPT does not have the same limitation. You can create up to 128 parties on a single GPT unit, without having to use the logical partition's alternative solution. The limit of 128 dictated by Windows (other operating systems, like Linux, allow more), but you are unlikely to need so many parties.
- The MBR can have four primary parties;
- The GPT can have 128 parties.
Capacity of MBR and GPT parties
An SSD is generally more expensive than an HD, but the price difference is narrowing over time. In addition, the capacity of SSDs increases more and more. If you have a relatively high value to invest in this, you can have a 4TB SSD. The capacity of the unit is what determines your decision between MBR or GPT, as they have different limits.
The technical aspects behind this are quite complex, but the MBR is limited by capacity, and the limited number of its sectors – only 32 bits are available to represent logical sectors. The MBR can only use up to 2 TB of storage space. Anything bigger than that, and the extra disk space, marked as unallocated and unusable.
GPT allows 64 bits, which means that the storage limitation is 9.4ZB. That's a zettabyte, than a sextillion bytes or a gigabyte trail. In practice, what this really means is that GPT has no capacity limit (practical in the real world). You can buy any capacity unit, and with GPT you can use all the space.
- The MBR can support up to 2TB;
- The GPT processes up to 9.4ZB.
MBR and GPT partition recovery
The MBR stores all partition and boot data in a single location. This means that if something is corrupted, you will have a problem. If any data is corrupted with the MBR, you are likely to find out only when the system does not boot. MBR recovery is possible, but not always successful.
The GPT is much superior in this sense, as it stores multiple copies of the initialization data in several parties, at the beginning and at the end of the table headers. If one partition becomes corrupted, it can use the other partitions to recover.
In addition, GPT has an error detection code that will evaluate the partition tables at startup and see if there is anything wrong with them. If it detects errors, the GPT can try to repair itself.
Resume: The most error-resistant GPT.
MBR and GPT partition compatibility
The BIOS and UEFI are interfaces that initialize your machine. While both serve the same purpose, they are different. The oldest BIOS (it has existed since the 1980s) and any new system purchased since 2010 is likely to use UEFI. Your ability to use MBR or GPT depends on which interface your system supports:
- Windows 10, 8 / 8.1, 7 and Vista 64-bit require a UEFI-based system to run a GPT unit.
- Windows 10 and 8 / 8.1 32-bit require a UEFI-based system to run a GPT unit.
- Windows 7 and Windows Vista 32-bit cannot run a GPT drive.
- All mentioned versions of Windows can read and write to a GPT drive.
- The MBR is good for older operating systems;
- The most suitable GPT for modern computers.
MBR vs GPT: Which is better?
To get to the point, GPT is the best. essential if the SSD has more than 2 TB. However, the GPT is more resistant to corruption, and has better partition management. the newest and most reliable standard.
SSDs work differently from an HD, with one of the main advantages being the fact that they can boot Windows very quickly. While MBR and GPT do well, you will need a UEFI-based system to take full advantage of these speeds. As such, GPT makes the most logical choice based on compatibility.
When should you use MBR, then? Really, only if you want to run older operating systems. The standard user is unlikely to want to do this, especially since SSDs are better suited to today's operating systems, such as Windows 10.
Using an SSD in Windows XP, for example, significantly reduces the life and performance of the drive due to the lack of support for a feature called TRIM.
Summary: Use the GPT.
How to check if your disk uses MBR or GPT
If you want to see if your current SSD uses MBR or GPT, it's easy. Press the Windows key + X and click Disk Management. Find the unit on the bottom panel, right-click on it and click Properties.