The types of hard drives that are in the market today are either MBR or GPT. To understand what MBR and GPT are, they must be explained.
MBR vs GPT
The MBR stands for Master Boot Record and it is what was used by computers since the invention of the hard drive. A GPT disk holds a much larger amount of data than an MBR disk, making it more expensive but better equipped to store newer software.
Boot Up Sequence
The most common boot sequence, the Master Boot Record (MBR), is a map of the disk’s partition table with instructions to read specific partitions from the disk. It is typically stored on the first sector of the boot device, which means it is located at the front of all disks. A new technology called GUID Partition Table (GPT) exists that offers more flexibility in relation to disk partitioning and increases security.
What makes Differences
- MBR and GPT are two different types of partition layouts that can be used to create a hard drive. In MBR partitions, the end of each partition is marked with a ‘primary’ flag.
- However, in GPT partitions, this flag is not included.
This means that if you delete a partition from MBR it will be deleted from both sides, whereas GPT will only delete it from one side.
The other difference between these two formats is how they store information about their own structure on the disk itself. For example, when using an MBR format, there is no need for any additional data structures because the primary flag indicates from where the next partition starts.
MBR vs GPT: Which is Better?
There are two different types of partition tables. Master Boot Record (MBR) and GUID Partition Table (GPT).
- MBR is an older format that has been around since the 1980s and as such has some limitations. It can only be used to create four primary partitions with no more than eight logical partitions۔
- The other type, GPT was introduced a bit late and allows you to have up to 128 partitions. This makes it much easier to manage large amounts of storage space. However, if your computer doesn’t support GPT then you will not be able to use all of its features.
A computer’s boot sequence is a process of how it boots up, from the time the power button is pressed to the time it reaches its desktop. The boot sequence will consist of a series of disks and partitions including BIOS, MBR, and GPT.
These disks and partitions contain instructions that tell a CPU what type of operating system is needed to be booted up. This includes where to find files such as drivers, executables, etc., so they can be loaded into memory when the OS starts running.
With the advent of the UEFI BIOS (Unified Extensible Firmware Interface Basic Input/Output System), the term GPT was also introduced, as opposed to the MBR of previous BIOSes. Currently, modern computers with UEFI can support both systems for the hard drive, be it SSDs or HDDs. However, there are notable differences, as well as pros and cons that you should know to choose the right one.
How To Know If My Disk is MBR or GPT
To know if you are using one or another system on your hard drive, you can perform the following steps:
- Microsoft Windows: Run Disk Management, select the drive you want to check, and click Properties. In the Volumes tab, you will see Partition Style, and there it tells you if it is a GPT or an MBR.
- Linux: You can use several programs and commands, one of them is “sudo gdisk -l /dev/sda” without quotes. In this case, it would tell you if /dev/sda is MBR or GPT in the information it shows in the Terminal. If you want to check a different drive, you can use the corresponding storage device name.
- macOS: It will be GPT, you don’t have to bother looking. Older Macs used another format, but newer models used GPT.
Difference between MBR and GPT
Both are types of hard drive partition. But there are some notable differences:
It was a system introduced for the IBM PC with DOS 2.0 in 1983 and system BIOS, and 32-bit. Its name comes from Master Boot Record, and it is a special sector located at the beginning of the hard disk that contains the boot manager and the partition table.
This system has better backward compatibility with older equipment than GPT, but it has limitations.
- It can only handle up to 2TB of disk size
- Only supports up to 4 primary partitions.
If you want to have more partitions, you can mark one of the primary partitions as an extended partition and create logical partitions inside it.
It stands for GUID(globally unique identifiers) Partition Table, a new 64-bit standard created by UEFI to replace the old MBR. This system is much more modern and powerful.
Without the limitations of the MBR, being able to manage storage spaces greater than 2 TB without problems (up to 9.4 ZB, that is, 9.4 billion GB) and without the limit of partitions, being able to create up to 128 without a problem and without the need for an extended one.
- MBR could be easily corrupted since the boot information was only stored in one place.
- GPT is stored in several copies throughout the disk, so it is much more robust, and if one is overwritten or corrupted, others can be used.
Is GPT better for an SSD?
No matter whether it is SSD or HDD, or hybrid, GPT is better than MBR as the above descriptions have shown. Not only because it’s more robust, but because it also removes that partition limit, and will support storage drives that go beyond 2TB in capacity.
If your system supports UEFI, there is no reason to use MBR, except for compatibility reasons, for example, to run an older version of Windows, DOS, etc. Also, when you are using the old system, you should also know that the reliability of your hard drive will be reduced since those systems lack TRIM support.
MBR vs GPT is a hotly debated topic. Some people argue that MBR is easier to set up, while others argue that GPT is better. The understanding of this article made us replace MBR with GPT for an SSD.