GPT Vs MBR, What do they mean and which one is better?

By Gopal Sengar Updated

Initialize a new hard disk to your system and you’ll be asked to choose between a GPT and MBR. Those who are regular in formatting and partitioning drives must be very much familiar with these two terms. For those who don’t, this article is going to explain you everything, from their very basic meaning to one’s superiority reasons over the other.

It is important to partition a drive after initializing it. Partitioning decides the starting and ending point of each drive you are going to need. Operating Systems are needed to provide information about the no. of partitions being done to the hard-disk. GPT and MBR both act differently in providing system this valuable information.

GPT (GUID Partition Table)

GUID stands for Globally Unique Identifiers. GPT is a modern approach of partitioning a hard disk using these unique identifiers. This standard is a part of the UEFI standard which makes it a compulsion on UEFI based systems like Windows 8. You can simply split your hard-disk into any number of parts using GPT (unlike various OSs which allow only 128 partitions) which is an amazing feature it carries. Moreover, you can have partition size upto 9.44ZB in GPT mode while it is just 2TB in MBR.

MBR (Master Boot Record)

It is an old standard of laying partitions in the disk. It allows partition size upto 2TB only. You can have only four primary partitions in the hard disk using MBR. In case if you want more partitions, you can sub-divide the fourth primary partition. The fourth primary partition is that’s why also known as Extended Partition. It contains information about how the partitions are organized and also certain codes to scan these partitions for the operating system.

GPT Vs MBR The Comparison

MBR is an old yet widely used standard of partitioning the disk whereas GPT scheme has been brought into existence to overcome the limitations of MBR. The way these two modes handle partitions is different. While MBR allows partitions of 2TB only, GPT provides more flexibility to the partition size, upto 9.44ZB.

In GPT you can split your hard disk as much as you want  (upto 128 as allowed by most OSs) but in MPT scheme you can have just four primary partitions or we can say three primary and one extended partitions.

GPT sometimes is also integrated with MBR to provide some sort of backup compatibility to older devices or we can say, to old operating systems.
Latest systems like Intel Macs and 64 bit Windows 8 use GPT standard by default whereas, earlier versions of Windows 7 use MBR by default. Linux kernels on the other hand come with a separate provision for enabling GPT standard when required.

GPT Vs MBR The Conclusion

It is obvious that GPT is way much better when compared to MBR. GPT basically came into existence to overcome and eliminate the problems users faced while choosing MBR scheme of splitting hard-disks. The benefits it provides over MBR makes it undoubtedly better. For example the user can have more number of partitions in GPT while it is only 4 in MBR.

Also, partition size allowed in MBR is limited to just 2TB which is more in GPT (in ZB). This creates a problem with MBR-using devices to partition higher memory hard-disks.

All we can say is that it’s all situational. You can use GPT scheme to define more space and no. for the partitions or can stay with the MBR driven hard-disks which comes pre-installed in older versions of certain operating systems. Both serve the same thing but it’s the time that needed a change.

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