Depending on your PC age and specifications, use a Master Boot Record (MBR) or a GUID Partition Table (GPT). If you want to move your drive type to a new and improved format (GPT), you’ll be glad to know that you can do it without losing any data.
There are many reasons why you might want to convert MBR to GPT. However, some of the most popular methods will allow you to move a disk from MBR to GPT and translate from old BIOS to new UEFI, and improved will erase all existing data on disk.
MBR VS GPT
Before you decide to move from MBR to GPT, it is essential to understand the two technologies’ characteristics and why you should choose one of the other two.
MBR (Master Boot Record) is an old structured partition that was first introduced in 1983. The only advantage of using this technology is its compatibility with a vast system – but this is changing. MBR technology was first developed for IBM computers.
The name Master Boot Record comes from the fact that it contains an initial location on the drive that stores the boot loader and other primitive information about the system and drive partition.
The main disadvantage of this technology is that it only works with drives up to 2TB. Even more, a drive using MBR can only be divided into four primary partitions.
GPT (GUID Partition Table) is a newer technology. If you haven’t heard of it, you may have heard of UEFI (Unified Extensible Firmware Interface) – a faster software solution that is slowly replacing the old option, BIOS (Basic Input Output System ).
When comparing it to an MBR drive, a GPT drive has almost no limit. In addition to accommodating much larger drives (up to 256 TB), GPT technology can track up to 128 different partitions without using an extension technique.
Unlike an MBR drive that holds boot data in a single place, a GPT drive will store multiple boot data copies in many different partitions, making the recovery process much more reliable.
While all major PC manufacturers are adopting GPT technology, not all Windows versions can boot from GPT partition, but this system is not based on UEFI.
For example, all recent 64-bit versions of Windows (Windows 10, Windows 8 / 8.1, Windows 7, and Windows Vista) will only boot from a GPT drive as long as UEFI is used (not BIOS).
Check disk partition type
Before you go ahead and follow the methods below to change your disk configuration from master boot record to GUID Partition Table, it’s essential to make sure that the drive that your target is MBR.
Here’s a quick guide to doing this:
- Press Windows key + R to open the Run command. Then, type ” diskmgmt.msc ” and hit Enter to open Disk Management.
- Right-click on Disk 0 and select Properties.
- In the Properties screen, click the Volumes tab and check the partition type under Disk Information.
If the entry says GUID Partition Table (GPT), the methods below will not be applicable because your partition is already GPT.
In case you see the Master Boot Record (MBR) listed next to Disk Information, the methods below will allow you to convert the disk from MBR to GPT with no (or minimal loss of information).
Convert MBR partition to GPT
If you previously set that your current partition is of type MBR and your system is bootable from UEFI, you are ready to convert the drive to the new GPT format.
But remember that once you do this, there is no return. You won’t be able to convert GPT format to MBR without losing all of your data.
Warning: It happened when the drive was damaged during conversion. While the chances of this happening are incredibly slim, we recommend creating a full system backup if you have any important files that you’re afraid of losing.
If you are computer-savvy and confident following a set of instructions that will take you a series of commands into the Command Prompt, follow either Method 1 or Method 2.
If the event you want has a solution that allows you to convert your MBR to GPT drive without too much trouble, follow Method 3, where we use a free third-party tool to get the job done.
Method 1: Use MBR2GPT to convert disk on Windows 10
MBR2GPT is a reasonably new tool introduced with the launch of the Creator’s Update. Until then, there was no way to convert a drive from MBR to GPT without losing data on the drive.
If you have Windows 10 with the Creators Update applied, you can use the original MBR2GPT tool to change your drive’s partition type in minutes. And more importantly, you won’t lose any data in the process.
Note: Keep in mind that this method won’t be applicable if you don’t have Windows 10 or haven’t applied the Creators update yet.
This Microsoft tool adds GUID partition table components to your existing MBR disk without changing the current partition and file system contents. This process is entirely non-destructive and allows your data to remain unchanged.
If you decide to use Microsoft’s MBR2GPT tool to migrate your MBR drive to GPT and avoid data loss, follow the steps below:
- First, we need to get the disk number. This will be used when imputing the MBR2GPT commands, so it’s essential to get this right. To get the disk number, press Windows key + R to open the Run box, type ” diskmgmt.msc ” and press Enter to open Disk Management.
- In Disk Management, locate the disk you want to convert and write down the disk number. In our example, the targeted disk is Disk 0, which means the disk number will be 0.
- Next, press Windows key + R to open the box Tremor. Then type ” cmd ” and press Ctrl + Shift + Enter to open a bookmark Elevated Command Prompt.
Note Tools though MBR2GPT.exe will run fine from within the operating system, you can also insert the below command in an elevated command prompt opened from the Windows Preinstallation Environment. To do this, open the menu Settings and navigate to Update & security> Recovery and click the button Restart now (in Advanced Startup ). Then in Advanced options, Please choose Command Prompt.
- In the Elevated Command Prompt, let’s validate the disk to be converted by typing the following command and pressing Enter:
mbr2gpt / validate / disk: * enter the number of disks noted here * / allowFullOS
Note 1: If you are doing this from the Windows Preinstallation environment, typing “mbr2gpt / validate” is sufficient.
Note 2: This step is done to make sure that the disc meets the conversion requirements. If the disk is not suitable to move to the new GPT format, you will receive a disk error ( Disk layout validation failed for the disk: * your disk number *).
- If disk validation was successful, you could start converting by typing the following command and pressing Enter.
mbr2gpt / validate / disk: * enter previously noted disk number here * / allowFullOS
Note 1: If you are doing this from the Windows Preinstallation environment typing “ mbr2gpt / convert ” should be sufficient.
Note 2: This may take some time but should not exceed one minute.
- Once the transition is successful, you will need to change your firmware to boot from UEFI instead of BIOS. The steps for doing this depend on your motherboard manufacturer, but in general, you’ll need to press the BIOS key just before the boot phase and look for a setting that allows you to change the boot type from Legacy. Mode to UEFI.
That’s it. Once your motherboard’s firmware is configured to boot in UEFI mode, you will be able to enjoy the benefits of using the new GPT format.
Method 2: Convert MBR disk to GPT with Gptgen tool
Another way to convert an MBR disk to GPT without losing any data is to use a command-line utility called Gptgen. Like the MBR2GPT tool, Gptgen can convert hard disks in a non-destructive way.
While the process is relatively quick with the Gptgen tool, the consensus is that the MBR2GPT tool excels in execution and has a higher success rate.
I admit it, the syntax is a bit complicated, but you should figure it out if you follow the instructions below. Here’s a quick guide on how to convert an MBR to a GPT disk using the Gptgen utility in the Advanced Command Prompt:
- Press Windows key + R to open a Run box. Then, type ” cmd ” and press Ctrl + Shift + Enter to open a Command Prompt window.
- In the Advanced Command Prompt, type or paste the following commands in the same order and press Enter after each one:
gptgen.exe . physicaldriveX gptgen.exe .physicaldriveX gptgen.exe -w . physicaldriveX gptgen.exe -w .physicaldriveX
Note: Remember that X is just a placeholder. Replace X with your disk number. To find your disk number, press Windows key + R to open a Run box, type ” diskmgmt.msc ” and press Enter to open Disk Management. In Disk Management, locate which number is assigned to the disk you are trying to convert.
- When all the commands are executed successfully, your drive will be converted to the new GPT format, and your data will remain intact. Just make sure you are using UEFI boot if you don’t change it by entering your motherboard’s firmware settings and changing the boot type from Legacy (or similar) mode to UEFI.
Method 3: Use MiniTool Partition Wizard
If you fancy using a free third-party application that will allow you to convert your drive from MBR to GPT from a graphical interface, you can use the MiniTool Partition Wizard. As well as method 1, converting your drive from MBR to GPT with MiniTool Partition Wizard will allow you to keep your operating system and personal files.
MiniTool Partition Wizard is free and will let you move a drive from MBR to GPT in just a few minutes. However, given the fact that it is a third-party tool, we don’t recommend using it directly on your OS drive if you don’t have a backup in place.
If you decide to use the MiniTool Partition Wizard tool to convert your drive from MBR to GPT, follow the below steps:
- Visit this link ( here ) and download the latest version of MiniTool Partition Wizard Free.
- Once the installer is downloaded, open the executable and follow the on-screen prompts to install MiniTool Partition Wizard on your system.
- Open MiniTool Partition Wizard and click Launch Application.
- Next, right-click on the disk you want to convert and click Convert MBR to GPT disk.
Note: Don’t be confused with the screenshot above. If your drive is MBR, the entry will say, “ Convert MBR to GPT disk . “.
- Then, click Apply at the last prompt to start the conversion process. Once the process is complete, manually restart your computer if you are not automatically prompted to do so.
- If your computer cannot boot at the next boot, access your motherboard’s firmware and change the boot type from Legacy Mode to UEFI.