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The Differences Between MBR and GPT

If you have played a lot of games with your hard disk and the partitions available within, then you must have come across MBR or GPT terms, either both of them, or at least one of them. Out of curiosity or to get a better understanding on how hard disk creates and manages partitions, you need to understand the difference between MBR and GPT.

I am sharing here the same. If you have missed my last post on difference between UEFI and BIOS, then you should read it first. Because, both these articles are interconnected and once you have knowledge of both, you will be able to understand the logic behind and its application in a much clear way.

MBR (Master Boot Record)

MBR stands for Master Boot Record and this mechanism of creating and managing the partitions on a hard disk is used by Windows systems. This is also an older version of partition management schemes in comparison to the other main, which is also its competitive in this comparison here.

MBR creates a primary section where it holds special programs which are required to boot a computer system. It is well-capable of scanning for the executable code in that primary section that helps it to find out the OS boot files which further helps it to start a computer system.

Technically, there are only four primary partitions allowed to be created in an MBR system. Every other partition created other than primary are termed as Logical drives. Also, it uses 32bit architecture to store and access files and folders, which limits its maximum storage size to just 2TB, which is not that huge in modern life.

The picture I have added below will give you a detailed image of how a normal MBR disk looks like.


As every system and computing device has its pros and cons, both, so the cons of MBR system is that if the primary section gets corrupted due to any reason, then the system is failed to read any other part of the hard disk. Once that part gets corrupted, which is very common in Windows systems, then it creates a very annoying situation.

GPT (GUID Partition Table)

Globally Unique Identifiers Partition Table is the full form of this whole GPT term and it is mainly based by UEFI boot systems. That’s because it is the latest way of managing and reading files in a hard drive, in comparison to MBR and it is also more secure than the other one.

Whenever an operating system requires adding a top notch security standard to the boot files, it needs to have GPT rather than MBR. That’s the main reason behind the existence of Secure Boot feature in latest Windows 8 OS.

It uses a 64bit architecture which helps it to offer better security and number of partitions. Technically, unlimited numbers of partitions can be created in a GPT system, and each partition can hold up to 2^64 data blocks (if we count it in length).

GPT also keeps a backup header and a partition table at the end of the disk which makes the data recoverable in case of getting the hard disk corrupted due to any reason. CRC32 checksums are carried out by every typical GPT system in order to scan and fix errors and corrupt header and partition tables.

If a picture can help you get a better idea of how GPT system looks like, then here it is.


Wrap up

A Windows operating system uses MBR system while Mac OS X uses the other one, i.e., the GPT. The OS X can’t be installed on an MBR system because it doesn’t offer required security and latest features which are must to keep the OS X running in its full potential.

So, guys, these were the prime differences between MBR and GPT file management systems. I hope this guide helped you to get a clear image.

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