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Windows 7: Questions about MBR & GPT disks

30 May 2016   #1
Brds7t7

Windows 7 Pro 64-Bit, Windows 7 Ultimate 64-Bit, Windows 8.1 Pro 64-Bit
 
 
Questions about MBR & GPT disks

Hey guys,

I currently have a 250GB Samsung EVO SSD I use as my OS drive. I currently use legacy BIOS and MBR as none of my drives are over 2TB. But I want to start making use of larger storage drives without having to switch my BIOS & OS SSD to GPT.

It is my understanding that I can still use Legacy BIOS and MBR on the OS drive,
I can, however, initialise any secondary/storage drive over 2TB as GPT using Disk Management and it will show the full capacity within Windows, even if using MBR on the Boot/OS drive?

Also, 32-Bit Windows 7 won't see the full capacity of a GPT drive over 2TB, only 64-Bit?

If I were to use UEFI BIOS then all my HDD's/SSD's have to be cleaned/initialised as GPT to fully use all the functionality, e.g. seeing drives over 2TB and use of more partitions? Or could I use a program like Minitool Partition Wizard to convert the OS SSD without needing to clean/initialise?

Just wanted to double check I've got that all correct?

Thanks for any help.


My System SpecsSystem Spec
.
30 May 2016   #2
DavidE

Multi-Boot W7_Pro_x64 W8.1_Pro_x64 W10_Pro_x64
 
 

Quote   Quote: Originally Posted by Brds7t7 View Post
It is my understanding that I can still use Legacy BIOS and MBR on the OS drive,
I can, however, initialise any secondary/storage drive over 2TB as GPT using Disk Management and it will show the full capacity within Windows, even if using MBR on the Boot/OS drive?
I can confirm you can use a drive over 2TB initialized as GPT with a Legacy BIOS / MBR OS drive with Windows 64 Bit.
It can be a single partition and uses the full capacity.
It must be a Primary partition, a Logical partition didn't work for me.

I don't have any 32 Bit OS's anymore, so i can't comment on that.
I don't have UEFI BIOS, so i can't comment on that.
My System SpecsSystem Spec
30 May 2016   #3
Brds7t7

Windows 7 Pro 64-Bit, Windows 7 Ultimate 64-Bit, Windows 8.1 Pro 64-Bit
 
 

Quote   Quote: Originally Posted by DavidE View Post
Quote   Quote: Originally Posted by Brds7t7 View Post
It is my understanding that I can still use Legacy BIOS and MBR on the OS drive,
I can, however, initialise any secondary/storage drive over 2TB as GPT using Disk Management and it will show the full capacity within Windows, even if using MBR on the Boot/OS drive?
I can confirm you can use a drive over 2TB initialized as GPT with a Legacy BIOS / MBR OS drive with Windows 64 Bit.
It can be a single partition and uses the full capacity.
It must be a Primary partition, a Logical partition didn't work for me.

I don't have any 32 Bit OS's anymore, so i can't comment on that.
I don't have UEFI BIOS, so i can't comment on that.
Awesome, thanks David!

It's unlikely I'll use UEFI BIOS anyway, as I don't really see much need for it with the OS drive being under 2TB.
My System SpecsSystem Spec
.

30 May 2016   #4
ignatzatsonic

Microsoft Community Contributor Award Recipient

Windows 7 Home Premium SP1, 64-bit
 
 

Quote   Quote: Originally Posted by Brds7t7 View Post

Also, 32-Bit Windows 7 won't see the full capacity of a GPT drive over 2TB, only 64-Bit?

If I were to use UEFI BIOS then all my HDD's/SSD's have to be cleaned/initialised as GPT to fully use all the functionality, e.g. seeing drives over 2TB and use of more partitions? Or could I use a program like Minitool Partition Wizard to convert the OS SSD without needing to clean/initialise?
I'm not sure about your first question, but I do think that if you want to boot from a drive larger than 2.2 TB, that it must be GPT and you must use UEFI and 64-bit. A BIOS system can't boot a GPT disk.

I rebuilt recently using UEFI on a 128 GB OS SSD, but I also have a 3 TB GPT internal storage drive. I did wipe all drives and start over, but someone on this forum within the last 2 or 3 weeks did mention a program (possibly Partition Wizard) that supposedly will do the conversion to GPT without wiping or risking data. I'd have a hard time trusting it would work and would certainly backup up all data before trying it.

I'm not sure how beneficial it is to have a UEFI installation, but I thought I'd try it.

I did have trouble.

When booting from the USB flash drive installer, I saw a bunch of menu choices, including 2 for the USB flash drive. I had to be sure to choose the one that began with the word "UEFI". Even then, I still had trouble as the Windows installation stalled with an error about the lack of a CD/DVD driver as I recall. I had no idea what that was about, but inserted the motherboard manufacturer (AsRock) driver disk into my DVD burner and was able to get by that error.

And--for unknown reasons----I could NOT use a USB flash drive installer made from a known good official Windows 7 ISO using Rufus. The installation would stop midway through the "Windows is expanding files" stage.

I instead had to use Rufus to make a USB flash drive installer, pointing Rufus to an ISO I personally made from a previously burned Win 7 installation DVD that had SP1 slipstreamed into it. That did not stall at "Windows is expanding files".

I have no idea why one method failed and the other worked.
My System SpecsSystem Spec
30 May 2016   #5
Brds7t7

Windows 7 Pro 64-Bit, Windows 7 Ultimate 64-Bit, Windows 8.1 Pro 64-Bit
 
 

Quote   Quote: Originally Posted by ignatzatsonic View Post
Quote   Quote: Originally Posted by Brds7t7 View Post

Also, 32-Bit Windows 7 won't see the full capacity of a GPT drive over 2TB, only 64-Bit?

If I were to use UEFI BIOS then all my HDD's/SSD's have to be cleaned/initialised as GPT to fully use all the functionality, e.g. seeing drives over 2TB and use of more partitions? Or could I use a program like Minitool Partition Wizard to convert the OS SSD without needing to clean/initialise?
I'm not sure about your first question, but I do think that if you want to boot from a drive larger than 2.2 TB, that it must be GPT and you must use UEFI and 64-bit. A BIOS system can't boot a GPT disk.

I rebuilt recently using UEFI on a 128 GB OS SSD, but I also have a 3 TB GPT internal storage drive. I did wipe all drives and start over, but someone on this forum within the last 2 or 3 weeks did mention a program (possibly Partition Wizard) that supposedly will do the conversion to GPT without wiping or risking data. I'd have a hard time trusting it would work and would certainly backup up all data before trying it.

I'm not sure how beneficial it is to have a UEFI installation, but I thought I'd try it.

I did have trouble.

When booting from the USB flash drive installer, I saw a bunch of menu choices, including 2 for the USB flash drive. I had to be sure to choose the one that began with the word "UEFI". Even then, I still had trouble as the Windows installation stalled with an error about the lack of a CD/DVD driver as I recall. I had no idea what that was about, but inserted the motherboard manufacturer (AsRock) driver disk into my DVD burner and was able to get by that error.

And--for unknown reasons----I could NOT use a USB flash drive installer made from a known good official Windows 7 ISO using Rufus. The installation would stop midway through the "Windows is expanding files" stage.

I instead had to use Rufus to make a USB flash drive installer, pointing Rufus to an ISO I personally made from a previously burned Win 7 installation DVD that had SP1 slipstreamed into it. That did not stall at "Windows is expanding files".

I have no idea why one method failed and the other worked.
Thanks for the info Ignatzatsonic.

I've seen a couple posts saying the install seemed a little temperamental when using UEFI.
My OS SSD is only 250GB anyway so probably wouldn't need to use UEFI. Aside from being able to use an OS drive over 2TB and the increased partition limit, Do you think it provides any other benefit over legacy BIOS/MBR on the OS drive?
My System SpecsSystem Spec
30 May 2016   #6
ignatzatsonic

Microsoft Community Contributor Award Recipient

Windows 7 Home Premium SP1, 64-bit
 
 

Quote   Quote: Originally Posted by Brds7t7 View Post
Do you think it provides any other benefit over legacy BIOS/MBR on the OS drive?
From personal experience?

No.

The only real reason I tried it is that I knew it had supposed benefits and I figured since I rebuild very rarely, I may as well go with the latest and greatest.

All I know is what I read and it still confuses me. My new build has many more choices and sub-menus in the UEFI menus than my old PC (i5-2500 with MBR boot disk). I'm just avoiding most of the choices since I don't understand. I don't want to get in a jam that prevents me from booting or gets me off into unknown territory and it looks like that would be very easy to do, considering the complexity of the menus.

Here's a pretty good read on UEFI; technical but intended for laymen.

https://www.happyassassin.net/2014/0...lly-work-then/
My System SpecsSystem Spec
30 May 2016   #7
Brds7t7

Windows 7 Pro 64-Bit, Windows 7 Ultimate 64-Bit, Windows 8.1 Pro 64-Bit
 
 

Quote   Quote: Originally Posted by ignatzatsonic View Post
Quote   Quote: Originally Posted by Brds7t7 View Post
Do you think it provides any other benefit over legacy BIOS/MBR on the OS drive?
From personal experience?

No.

The only real reason I tried it is that I knew it had supposed benefits and I figured since I rebuild very rarely, I may as well go with the latest and greatest.

All I know is what I read and it still confuses me. My new build has many more choices and sub-menus in the UEFI menus than my old PC (i5-2500 with MBR boot disk). I'm just avoiding most of the choices since I don't understand. I don't want to get in a jam that prevents me from booting or gets me off into unknown territory and it looks like that would be very easy to do, considering the complexity of the menus.

Here's a pretty good 3 or 4 page read on UEFI:

https://www.happyassassin.net/2014/0...lly-work-then/
Thanks, that looks like a great article, I will have a read through that all later this evening.
My System SpecsSystem Spec
30 May 2016   #8
ignatzatsonic

Microsoft Community Contributor Award Recipient

Windows 7 Home Premium SP1, 64-bit
 
 

One major problem with this entire UEFI thing is the lack of consistent terminology and interface design across the motherboard manufacturers.

Each motherboard manufacturer uses its own terms for any random individual specification or configuration choice within the UEFI interface.

The UEFI designers may refer to X. AsRock may refer to that as Y and Gigabyte as Z and Asus as your mama.

So, instructions from someone who is slick on Asus may not help you much if you are on AsRock, MSI, or Gigabyte. The Asus choices don't exist in the Gigabyte board menus.

Leaving aside the decades-old fact that board manufacturers still don't use competent native English speakers to write their English language manuals and documents. They all read like they were translated from Swahili to Hawaiian and then to English via Google. Not pretty.

Why this is tolerated has been a mystery to me for 20 years. All your bytes are now belong to us.
My System SpecsSystem Spec
30 May 2016   #9
Brds7t7

Windows 7 Pro 64-Bit, Windows 7 Ultimate 64-Bit, Windows 8.1 Pro 64-Bit
 
 

Quote   Quote: Originally Posted by ignatzatsonic View Post
Leaving aside the decades-old fact that board manufacturers still don't use competent native English speakers to write their English language manuals and documents. They all read like they were translated from Swahili to Hawaiian and then to English via Google. Not pretty.
I did notice that with a Gigabyte board I bought not long ago. It did seem as though they had used Google Translate, as there seemed to be a lot of silly mistakes.
My System SpecsSystem Spec
30 May 2016   #10
Lady Fitzgerald

Win 7 Ultimate 64 bit
 
 

Quote   Quote: Originally Posted by ignatzatsonic View Post
...The UEFI designers may refer to X. AsRock may refer to that as Y and Gigabyte as Z and Asus as your mama...


Thanks for the belly laugh I got from that; I so needed it! In the case of ASUS, that is SO true!

Quote   Quote: Originally Posted by ignatzatsonic View Post
...Leaving aside the decades-old fact that board manufacturers still don't use competent native English speakers to write their English language manuals and documents. They all read like they were translated from Swahili to Hawaiian and then to English via Google. Not pretty.

Why this is tolerated has been a mystery to me for 20 years. All your bytes are now belong to us.
The Chinese are the absolute worst when it comes to English for pretty much every product that comes from there. I occasionally have to buy items from Chinese vendors because I can't find them here in the SSA (Squabbling States of America, inaccurately known as the USA) and trying to get a straight answer to a question from most of them is like pulling teeth with rusty tweezers because they arrogantly think they can speak and understand English when, in fact, they cannot (most India based call centers aren't much better).
My System SpecsSystem Spec
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