By Teresa / Last Updated October 28, 2019

MBR and GPT in Windows Server 2012

MBR and GPT are different partition styles used on hard drives. Master boot record (MBR) disks use the standard BIOS partition table.GUID partition table (GPT) disks use the unified extensible firmware interface (UEFI). When you plug a new hard drive into Windows for the first time, it will give the option of either initializing the hard drive as MBR or as GPT.

In general, if the hard drive is smaller than 2TB it’s recommended that you initialize it as MBR. GPT is suggested if the drive greater than 2TB. A drawback of the MBR partition table is the 2TB capacity limitation. Here is a handy guide for converting between MBR and GPT.

Another drawback of MBR is the number of partitions you are able to create. With the MBR partition structure you can only create four primary partitions or three primary partitions and one extended partition. GPT essentially has no limit on the number of partitions and Windows will allow you to create up to 128 primary partitions – significantly more than MBR. When their hard drive capacity has been expanded some users may now need to convert from MBR to GPT in order to take advantage of the increased size.

Convert MBR to GPT in Server 2012 with built-in tools

If the need should arise, Windows Server 2012 provides snap-in tools which can assist you with the conversion. These come in two forms, Disk Management which has a graphical user interface and DiskPart which can be accessed via CMD prompt.

Before you proceed, it is important that you realize that both of these tools only support converting an empty disk between MBR and GPT. Disk Management in Windows Server 2012 is unable to convert a running system disk from MBR to GPT. If you prefer to convert the system disk with DiskPart you will require an installation disk.

Convert MBR to GPT in Windows Server 2012 R2 with Disk Management

The quickest way to access Disk Management in Windows Server 2012 is to right click on the bottom left corner of the desktop to open the Quick Access Menu. Disk Management will be listed there. Since Disk Management only supports converting empty basic disk to GPT, you will need to delete all of the partitions or volumes on the disk, or you’ll the “Convert to GPT Disk” option is grayed out.

1. Right click the partition and select “Delete Volume” to delete the existing partition on the hard drive you want to convert to GPT in Windows Server 2012. It is advised that you backup any important data before formatting your disk.

Delete Volume

2. After deleting all of the volumes, right click the disk and select “Convert to GPT Disk”. It will take a few minutes for the conversion to be completed.

Disk Management Convert to GPT

Tips:

  • Before you convert any disks, you should close any running programs.

  • You can’t use GPT on any removable media (such as USB drives).

As we mentioned before, you can’t convert a disk that is running Windows Server 2012 to GPT as Windows will not allow you to delete a system drive before converting. You can use DiskPart combined with an installation disc as a workaround for converting MBR to GPT in Windows Server 2012.

Windows Server 2012 – Converting MBR to GPT with DiskPart.

First, you must backup any files that you require prior to the conversion. If necessary, you should backup the entire hard drive to alternative storage that you will not be converting to GPT.

1. Shut down your Server 2012 and insert the Windows Server installation disc and then boot from the disc.

2. Press Windows+ R, input "diskpart" and hit Enter to open the Diskpart utility. Next, input the below commands into Command Prompt to convert the disk to the GPT partition table.

  • list disk

  • select disk n (n stands for the number of the disk need converting to GPT)

  • clean

  • convert gpt

  • exit

Diskpart Convert GPT


Note: All data will be wiped after this conversion. If you have created any backup images you can use this to restore your data. Diskpart can also be used to convert any non-system drives to GPT in the Windows environment.

Whilst these tools are simple to use, they have the ability to cause permanent data loss if you forget to backup your files. Even if you remember, backing up and restoring your files will increase the time and effort it takes to convert your disks. If you don’t have a Windows Server installation disk handy you will have no way to convert your system disk to GPT. Luckily, there is a solution to all of these common issues in the form of third-party software.

Software to convert MBR to GPT in Server 2012 without data loss

AOMEI Partition Assistant Server allows you to preserve your system files and personal data on your disk while converting to GPT. It offers technology that can assist you in converting MBR to GPT in Server 2012 (R2) without deleting or formatting partitions or volumes.

After converting to GPT, with the help of AOMEI Partition Assistant the unallocated space at the end of the disk can be allocated to any existing partitions. AOMEI Partition Assistant also allows you to convert from GPT to MBR. It has a user-friendly interface that is suitable for both novices and experts. Why don’t you download this software and have a try?

How to convert MBR to GPT in Server 2012 without deleting?


Step 1: Install and start AOMEI Partition Assistant. On the main window, right click on the disk you want to convert to GPT in Server 2012 and select “Convert to GPT Disk” from the drop down menu.

Convert System Disk To Gpt


Step 2: Then click on “OK” and then click “Yes” to confirm the operation.

Ok To Gpt System Disk


Step 3: Finally, click on “Apply” in the top left corner to start the task.

Apply To Gpt System Disk


Helpful Tips:

  • A reboot is required for the conversion.

  • It is important that you backup the files that you care about because data loss could occur in abnormal circumstances.

Conclusion

There are many ways to convert MBR to GPT in Windows Server 2016, 2012, 2008, and 2003, however, the simplest way to convert the system disk to GPT without data loss requires many steps and including backing up and restoring your files.

AOMEI Partition Assistant steps in where the Windows Server 2012 built-in tools fail. Partition Assistant is not just for converting between partition tables but is also great for converting between NTFS and FAT32 file systems.

The AOMEI Partition Assistant Server edition also includes many advanced partition operations such as resizing, deleting, and formatting as well as moving, copying, and wiping partitions.