In an era where SSDs are being ushered in with every computing device, most users are faced with one conflicting question: Which partition table to select for your SSD? Is there one right answer or does it eventually boil down to which operating system you’re using and what you want out of your device? In this article, we take a close look at the MBR vs GPT comparison and answer which partition should you use for your SSD.
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What are MBR and GPT?
Simply put, Master Boot Record (MBR) and GUID Partition Table (GPT) are methods of drive partitioning. Once you install an Operating System, it will require you to partition your hard drive. Partitioning your drive allows your system to store and access the Operating System files in one section. MBR and GPT are two schemes of drive partitioning.
While MBR is the older method of drive partitioning, GPT is a new technique that is used on most modern devices. Both schemes have features unique to themselves, and your choice of drive partitioning method should be based on the system you’re using.
MBR vs GPT: Key differences and which method should you choose
The key difference between MBR and GPT is the number of partitions each method lets you create. MBR lets you create four primary partitions. You can create further logical partitions as well, but these logical partitions cannot be used as boot volumes. Meaning you cannot store the OS files on a logical partition. GPT, on the other hand, lets you create up to 128 disk partitions, not including the logical partitions. If you plan on running multiple operating systems on your device, then clearly GPT should be your choice.
MBR can only handle disks with up to 2TB of storage space. If you’re trying to partition a disk using MBR, any additional space over 2TB will be rendered unusable. GPT, being a newer method, has a storage limit of 9.4ZB. In case you’re wondering, 1ZB (zettabyte) is equivalent to a billion terabytes. So, it is safe to say that GPT can handle the partition of any amount of storage space.
One of the key reasons why disk partitioning is important is being able to recover your data when your operating system gets corrupted and needs to be reinstalled. Since your disk is already partitioned into different sections for system and storage, you only need to rewrite the section allocated to the operating system, leaving your data unharmed. However, if your data get corrupted, recovering it can get tricky. GPT lets you know when your data is at the risk of getting corrupted and creates duplicates for recovery. MBR lacks this option, as it can create a maximum of 4 partitions, and does not come equipped with recovery tools.
While GPT is clearly a better partition technique, your choice could ultimately boil down to the OS and boot interfaces you’re using. BIOS and UEFI are the two major boot interfaces employed by most operating systems. BIOS is an older interface and is used by older operating systems, while newer systems are handled by UEFI. The operating systems from Windows 7 and onward require a UEFI environment to boot, and can only work with GPT. Operating systems older than Windows 7 rely on BIOS and hence require MBR.
These are the major differences between MBR and GPT. While GPT is clearly a better partition method, if you’re using an older operating system, MBR would be the correct choice for you. Disk space will not be an issue for most users, since most SSDs rarely ever exceed the 2TB capacity. However, the option to create more disk partitions makes GPT more favourable. While the details can often get confusing, all you need to remember is to check your drive capacity and the OS you’re using before making a choice.
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