By Lily / Last Updated October 22, 2019

The difference between GPT disks and MBR disks

GPT (GUID Partition Table) and MBR (Master Boot Record) are two common partition styles in our life, but they may be unfamiliar to computer beginners. Here is the basic information about GPT disks and MBR disks:

  • Partition Table

GPT disks use Unified Extensible Firmware Interface (UEFI) while MBR disks use the standard BIOS partition table.

  • Maximum Primary Partition Number

GPT disks theoretically allow an almost unlimited number of partitions (all of them are primary partitions), but Windows implementation restricts it to 128 partitions while MBR disks allow the maximum number of 4 primary partitions.

  • Disk/Partition Capacity

For starters, MBR only works with disks up to 2 TB in size while GPT disks can grow to a very large size.

  • Compatibility

All current Windows operating systems can use GPT partitioned disks for data, such as Windows 7, Windows 8, Windows 10 and corresponding server versions, but only their 64 bit versions support booting from GPT disk when UEFI boot mode is supported and enabled.

When to convert GPT to MBR?

As we learn from above, you may think GPT disks are superior to MBR disks in many aspects. However, MBR is still the most compatible and is still necessary in some cases. You will need to convert GPT to MBR in following situations:

◉ If your computer is of Windows 95/98/ME, Windows NT4, Windows 2000, Windows 2003 32-bit, or Windows XP 32-bit version, it will not support GPT partitions.
◉ As system disk partition table, MBR applies to both Legacy BIOS and UEFI, but GPT only applies to UEFI boot mode. It means MBR disks are compatible with more operating systems than GPT disks.
◉ When you plug an external hard drive to your computer, it shows as "GPT Protective Partition".

In these situations, what you should do is to find appropriate GPT to MBR converter software and convert GPT to MBR immediately.

How to convert GPT to MBR in Windows 7/8/10 without data loss?

Since you are in a need of converting GPT to MBR, you must want to find out best solutions to convert GPT to MBR without data loss. Here are some solutions I’d like to recommend. You are supposed to backup the disk before converting to guarantee no data loss in the first two solutions while it is unnecessary in the third one.

Solution 1: Convert to MBR Disk via Windows Disk Management

1. Press the Win+R keys to open Run, type diskmgmt.msc in Run, and click on OK to open Disk Management.

2. Find the disk (ex: Disk 1) that you want to convert, right click on each partition (volume) on the disk, and click Delete Volume until the disk shows as unallocated.

Delete Volume

3. Right click on the disk # (ex: Disk 1) box of the GPT disk you want to convert to MBR, and click Convert to MBR Disk.

Convert to MBR Disk

4. You can now create a New Simple Volume on the unallocated MBR disk. You will specify volume size, assign drive letter or path and format partition step by step with the help of New Simple Volume Wizard.

Solution 2: Convert MBR in Windows Command Prompt

1. Click "Start" and type CMD to open the Command Prompt. Right-click "cmd" and select "Run as administrator".

2. Type DISKPART and press Enter.

3. Type LIST DISK and press Enter.

4. Type SELECT DISK # (ex: Disk 1) to select the GPT disk you want to convert to MBR and press Enter.

5. Type CLEAN to clean the partitions or volumes on the disk and press Enter.

6. Type SELECT DISK # (ex: Disk 1) again and press Enter.

7. Type CONVERT MBR to start converting GPT to MBR and press Enter

8. Type EXIT and press Enter twice to exit Diskpart and Command Prompt successively.

Command Prompt

Solution 3: Convert GPT to MBR without Data Loss with Freeware

In the above two solutions, you have to backup the disk in case of losing data and delete all partitions or volumes on the disk before converting GPT to MBR. That sounds complicated. You may look for right GPT to MBR converter software to simplify the conversion process.

Here is GPT to MBR converter software free download: AOMEI Partition Assistant Standard Edition. You can convert GPT data disk to MBR without losing data with AOMEI Partition Assistant Standard Edition in following steps:

Step 1. Launch AOMEI Partition Assistant. Right click on the disk you want to convert and select "Convert to MBR Disk".

Convert to MBR

Step 2. Affirm the operation and click "OK" in the pop-up window.

MBR OK

Step 3. Confirm "Pending Operations" and click "Apply" to execute the operation.

MBR Apply

Tips: to convert system disk from GPT to MBR without data loss, please upgrade to AOMEI Partition Assistant Professional. Find superior GPT to MBR conversion software download here.

Summary:

You can convert GPT to MBR without data loss using Windows Disk Management and Command Prompt. However, it’s simpler to do that with AOMEI Partition Assistant. Besides, AOMEI Partition Assistant owns more practical functions than Windows Disk Management including Convert FAT32 to NTFS, Disk Management Combine Partition, Convert Logical to Primary, etc.