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Windows 7: Benefits of GPT vs MBR Primary and MBR Logical Partitions ?


05 Dec 2012   #1

Windows 7 Ultimate 64 bit SP1 x64
 
 
Benefits of GPT vs MBR Primary and MBR Logical Partitions ?

I wish to hold some programs and some data on non-system partitions with no boot requirements.

What are the benefits (performance and otherwise) of using a partition :-
Logical on my MBR style HDD
Primary on my MBR style HDD
Primary on my GPT style HDD

NB
I have adequate unused space on both the HDD,
My system is on an OCZ SSD
My motherboard is not uEFI capable hence cannot boot GPT.

Regards
Alan

My System SpecsSystem Spec
.

06 Dec 2012   #2

Microsoft Community Contributor Award Recipient

Windows 7 64 Bit Home Premium SP1
 
 

From the user's standpoint there really is no perceptible difference in partition type for user data and installed programs. In everyday use the F: drive is the F: drive and neither you or the system give a hoot about it's type.

The main benefits of GPT partitions are compliance with the requirements of UEFI systems, the recognition and use of partitions or hard drives larger than 2.2TB, and the ability to have up to 128 primary partitions.
If none of the partitions on a data hdd are larger than 2.2TB then you do not need GPT to use them.

The main benefit of a MBR primary partition is the ability to boot an OS from it.
Windows creates primary partitions first by default. The reason: "why not?".

The main benefit of a logical drive is that it allows a MBR disk to have more than 4 partitions, since a MBR disk is limited to only 4 primary partitions.
A logical drive does not perform any faster, slower, or differently than a primary partition.

Be careful when creating that 5th partition on a MBR disk. You do not want the system to create a Dynamic Disk. Make sure it is going to create a logical drive.

So you just decide what you have and what you need to do. Don't over-think it.
Hope that helps!
My System SpecsSystem Spec
06 Dec 2012   #3

Windows 7 Ultimate 64 bit SP1 x64
 
 

Thanks.

My MoBo can only boot MBR but can access both programs and data partitions on my GPT HDD.
My largest existing HDD is 1 GB.
Is it probable that my existing 4 year old MoBo and BIOS would fail to deal with a 3 GB partition or even a 3 GB HDD,
regardless of whether it was MBR or GPT style ?

Supplementary Question on (Extended) Partition Tables :-
Are all such tables read from all HDDs upon start-up and the Partition Letters and MFT/Directory etc. locations copied to RAM,
or does the Operating System trawl through these tables on each HDD each time I try to access an item in partition F:\ ?

Regards
Alan
My System SpecsSystem Spec
.


06 Dec 2012   #4

Microsoft Community Contributor Award Recipient

Windows 7 64 Bit Home Premium SP1
 
 

Just a clarification: your motherboard only looks to see if there are drives, and then if there is anything to boot on them.
It is capable of booting MBR, GPT, Linux, Sun, Mac OS, anything compatible with the system. The file format on the drive is of little concern to the BIOS.
It can deal with large drives.

It is the operating system that has the troubles. Windows 7 can startup from GPT and MBR disks. It just can't boot from a partition larger than 2.2GB. For anything larger than that it needs the GPT disk.

A pure UEFI system needs a GPT disk to boot. But a hybrid system can boot from both. And a legacy BIOS system can boot from both. It is important to understand that the BIOS/UEFI system is completely separate from the OS.

Supplementary Question:
Yes and no. When you start your computer, during the OS startup, the OS makes a list of the attached drives, the partitions, and the file table. Once you are on the desktop all of this data has been "recorded".
When you go to access these partitions the OS does, I guess, "trawl" through the tables to access the item you are looking for, but all of this is done so fast it is not worth mentioning. If you can see the file on your screen the work has already been done.
My System SpecsSystem Spec
07 Dec 2012   #5

Windows 7 Ultimate 64 bit SP1 x64
 
 

Many thanks - all my concerns now resolved.

Regards
Alan
My System SpecsSystem Spec
03 Feb 2014   #6

Windows 7 Home Premium x64
 
 

MBR was always a de facto "standard"... A hack if you will. Born in the days of MS-DOS.

GPT is a real, well-designed standard. You should ALWAYS prefer GPT unless you have a reason not to. MBR is one of those ideas that should be (now) confined to history books.
My System SpecsSystem Spec
03 Feb 2014   #7

Windows 7 Ultimate 64 bit SP1 x64
 
 

Quote   Quote: Originally Posted by TVeblen View Post
A pure UEFI system needs a GPT disk to boot. But a hybrid system can boot from both. And a legacy BIOS system can boot from both. It is important to understand that the BIOS/UEFI system is completely separate from the OS.
Ever since I used DOS, long before Windows,
I understood that the O.S. was software that was installed on a Disk,
and that the BIOS was held in non-volatile storage device on the motherboard.

I assume that by"pure UEFI system needs a GPT disk to boot. But a hybrid system can boot from both"
you are referring to capability of motherboard plus its non-volatile storage device.

Exactly what is a legacy BIOS system ?
Do I need to make any changes to my "normal" motherboard and BIOS in order for it to become a legacy BIOS system ?
Are you saying that any Windows XP computer onwards can boot from GPT ?
I understood that was not possible for my hardware + BIOS to boot from a GPT disk.
Are you saying that I was misled ?
About 25 years ago I bought second hand a 1982 vintage Compaq Luggable Computer,
with 5.25" Floppy Disks and DOS 3.3? and an optional 20 MegaByte HDD
Are you saying that the motherboard+BIOS would have supported booting from a 4 TB GPT HDD ?

Quote   Quote: Originally Posted by milindsmart View Post
GPT is a real, well-designed standard. You should ALWAYS prefer GPT unless you have a reason not to. MBR is one of those ideas that should be (now) confined to history books.
The Twelve Times Table was well-designed, and as an infant it helped me with things like 9 * 7 = ?
I no longer get any benefit from the "Well-Designed Twelve Times Table"

Windows is a flawed design with race hazards built in.

Elegant "well-designed standard" Disk standards are worthless to me when Windows can ruin everything,
because Windows numbering of SATA connected Disks is based upon "order of enumeration",
and I once had both secondary Disks given identical Disk ID's due to a race hazard,
with the result that Windows cried FOUL and randomly chose to put one of the disks OFFLINE,
and that Disk which was almost full now has two RAW partitions but the big archives are now UNALLOCATED SPACE.
N.B. Most data recovery tools were useless.
Then I found freeware which did a perfect job :-
Lazesoft Recovery Suite Home Free Download


I am looking for BENEFITS from using GPT.
129+ Partitions and use of 17+ TB drives are to me absolutely worthless "Benefits" of GPT.
Several third party tools such as Partition Managers and Partition Imaging backups are far superior to anything built into Windows,
and the fact that some of these tools disable GPT capability on freeware versions is a PRICELESS benefit of MBR.

Regards
Alan
My System SpecsSystem Spec
03 Feb 2014   #8

Windows 7 Home Premium x64
 
 

Quote   Quote: Originally Posted by alan10 View Post
Ever since I used DOS, long before Windows,
I understood that the O.S. was software that was installed on a Disk,
and that the BIOS was held in non-volatile storage device on the motherboard.

I assume that by"pure UEFI system needs a GPT disk to boot. But a hybrid system can boot from both"
you are referring to capability of motherboard plus its non-volatile storage device.
No... "pure UEFI" system means firmware that only exposes the Extensible Firmware Interface to operating systems.

Also please don't confuse them : GPT is only a section in the UEFI specification... This does NOT mean that GPT disks can be booted in UEFI systems.. In fact, Windows is the ONLY operating system with this limitation... In Linux, for example, all four combinations of firmware and disk partitioning layout are supported.

Quote   Quote: Originally Posted by alan10 View Post
Exactly what is a legacy BIOS system ?
A legacy BIOS system is one whose firmware behaves essentially the same as the IBM PC/AT model... Where the mechanism of interaction with an OS is primarily in the form of interrupts. It also initializes the processor in 16-bit real mode, which is why every x86 processor today STILL starts in real mode : it's a de facto standard, that's very restrictive, considering it was conceived 25 years ago.

Quote   Quote: Originally Posted by alan10 View Post
Do I need to make any changes to my "normal" motherboard and BIOS in order for it to become a legacy BIOS system ?
It's kind of hard these days to say what's "normal" : Most old motherboards are BIOS, most new ones are UEFI-capable. Most motherboards are "hybrid" in the sense they can switched into one or the other mode through a setting in the firmware setup (BIOS screen).

Quote   Quote: Originally Posted by alan10 View Post
Are you saying that any Windows XP computer onwards can boot from GPT ?
No, only Vista x64 SP1 and above can boot from UEFI, which Microsoft has decided will be the criteria for being able to boot from GPT.

Quote   Quote: Originally Posted by alan10 View Post
About 25 years ago I bought second hand a 1982 vintage Compaq Luggable Computer,
with 5.25" Floppy Disks and DOS 3.3? and an optional 20 MegaByte HDD
Are you saying that the motherboard+BIOS would have supported booting from a 4 TB GPT HDD ?
Nope. The motherboard is too old to support anything other than Cylinder Head Sector addressable HDDs, let alone such large disks. GPT doesn't really matter, it's up to the operating system to support.

Quote   Quote: Originally Posted by alan10 View Post
The Twelve Times Table was well-designed, and as an infant it helped me with things like 9 * 7 = ?
I no longer get any benefit from the "Well-Designed Twelve Times Table"
You don't need the twelve tables because you know how to multiply, and also you have calculators and computers. Disk partitioning schemes are like multiplication algorithms : everyone uses and depends on them.

Quote   Quote: Originally Posted by alan10 View Post
Windows is a flawed design with race hazards built in.
Earlier. Not now.

Quote   Quote: Originally Posted by alan10 View Post
Elegant "well-designed standard" Disk standards are worthless to me when Windows can ruin everything,
because Windows numbering of SATA connected Disks is based upon "order of enumeration",
and I once had both secondary Disks given identical Disk ID's due to a race hazard,
with the result that Windows cried FOUL and randomly chose to put one of the disks OFFLINE,
and that Disk which was almost full now has two RAW partitions but the big archives are now UNALLOCATED SPACE.
There are limits to technology, old or new. It tries to give unique IDs as far as possible. Anyway this could not have been Vista +. XP did suck in a few ways.

Quote   Quote: Originally Posted by alan10 View Post
I am looking for BENEFITS from using GPT.
129+ Partitions and use of 17+ TB drives are to me absolutely worthless "Benefits" of GPT.
  1. Robust and fault tolerant partition tables
  2. Well known partition type for bootloaders
  3. No primary-logical nonsense
  4. No clashes in disk type IDs
  5. Clashes are definitively solved with GUIDs
  6. Can even contain other partition tables nested

Quote   Quote: Originally Posted by alan10 View Post
Several third party tools such as Partition Managers and Partition Imaging backups are far superior to anything built into Windows,
Yes I agree... Windows disk management is for basics, not advanced operations. Paragon partition manager and Active@ Disk management have served me well.

Quote   Quote: Originally Posted by alan10 View Post
and the fact that some of these tools disable GPT capability on freeware versions is a PRICELESS benefit of MBR.
Which? Not any more.

Storing data in an MBR partitioned HDD is like carrying knives in a thin polythene bag. GPT is a rucksack. Just because tools have managed to work around some limitations of MBR does NOT mean that it's now a good standard. I have messed a couple of hard drives because I created the 5th primary partition, because one was hidden. It's like 12 x 12 = 0.
My System SpecsSystem Spec
03 Feb 2014   #9

Windows 7 Ultimate 64 bit SP1 x64
 
 

[QUOTE=milindsmart;2679560]
Quote   Quote: Originally Posted by alan10 View Post
Quote   Quote: Originally Posted by alan10 View Post
Exactly what is a legacy BIOS system ?
A legacy BIOS system is one whose firmware behaves essentially the same as the IBM PC/AT model... Where the mechanism of interaction with an OS is primarily in the form of interrupts. It also initializes the processor in 16-bit real mode, which is why every x86 processor today STILL starts in real mode : it's a de facto standard, that's very restrictive, considering it was conceived 25 years ago.
Thanks for clarification.
Quote:
There are limits to technology, old or new. It tries to give unique IDs as far as possible. Anyway this could not have been Vista +. XP did suck in a few ways.
Under XP I discovered that when CMD.EXE invoked REG.EXE to READ (not modify) a key
and piped both STDOUT and STDERR to the same log file,
for keys that had sub-keys that had no access there would be simultaneous answers on both output streams for the same interrogation,
and MOSTLY both streams were logged, but sometimes neither were logged, and at other times only one was logged but not the other.
XP was successful better than 99% of the time when my batch script and the output log file were in partition C:\
When I moved only the log file destination to a partition at the other end of the HDD,
the success rate fell below 90%.
The problem was perfectly cured by disabling the output cache
(I think it may have been called "Enable Safely Remove")
Perfect cure - but Windows started up 3 times slower.
You are right - XP sucks.
Quote:
  1. Robust and fault tolerant partition tables
  2. Well known partition type for bootloaders
  3. No primary-logical nonsense
  4. No clashes in disk type IDs
  5. Clashes are definitively solved with GUIDs
  6. Can even contain other partition tables nested
I have heard previously that GPT partition tables are fault tolerant, but do not see how that is possible.

An MBR has only two tables, I think they are called Primary and Extended
Break the primary and you lose everything.
break the extended and you lose all the Logicals.
BUT you have only two such tables to be broken, and as of 9 months ago the Professional licensed version of Minitool Partition Wizard was NOT capable of REPAIRING a broken GPT Partition Table,
even though it could shrink and extend GPT partitions.

I understand that every GPT partition is preceded by its own 3 MB GPT Table and that one GPT table links to the next GPT Table,
which MIGHT be the complication that Minitool Repair could not cope with.

If you have 128 partitions :-
Using MBR you have only 2 tables that may be broken,
(and 4 or 5 years ago freeware Mintool version 4.? fixed my Laptop which had lost ALL 7 partitions.)

Using GPT you have 128 tables that may be broken, and that loses all the subsequent partitions,
unless of course there are "redundant" backward pointing links to traverse the chain in the reverse direction,
and it is harder to find a tool for repairing GPT partition Tables,
and you have almost 400 MB consumed in GPT tables.

I am very willing to learn how GPT fault tolerance can deal with an accident to GPT Tables.
Quote:
4. No clashes in disk type IDs
5. Clashes are definitively solved with GUIDs
That was NOT my experience under 64 bit Windows 7 Ultimate + SP1,
when normal start-up from cold allocated
Disk 0 W.D.C. 600 GB style GPT
Disk 1 Samsung 930 GB style MBR
Disk 2 OCZ 56 GB style MBR (primary system drive)

After countless visits from power-on into BIOS and then to Windows and a successful launch,
my next attempt resulted in the WDC having its complicated GUID replaced by the same 8 hexdigit ID as the Samsung,
After THAT stupidity Windows compounded its errors by WRONGLY choosing to put the Samsung OFFLINE.
Consequently :-
The WDC drive was useless and out of action because Windows saw an MBR style Disk ID that had no valid partitions,
The Samsung drive was useless because Windows had put it OFFLINE,
and as a result Windows lost access to the partitions that held "Pagefile.sys" and %TEMP%

I have not yet found any tool that will change an MBR ID into a GUID without requiring me to initialize the WDC and losing all the data.
Quote:
Quote   Quote: Originally Posted by alan10 View Post
and the fact that some of these tools disable GPT capability on freeware versions is a PRICELESS benefit of MBR.
Which? Not any more.
Both Minitool and Macrium had freeware versions restricted to MBR Disks a couple of years ago.
I agree those two products have recently removed those restrictions,
but I thought it probable that their competitors might either be in the process of catching up and not yet there,
or their competitors may have "accelerated" development and left the Beta testing for unsuspecting users.
Sorry, but thirty years of working in software and systems development has made me a little cynical.

Regards
Alan
My System SpecsSystem Spec
10 Feb 2014   #10

Windows 7 Home Premium x64
 
 

Quote   Quote: Originally Posted by alan10 View Post
Under XP I discovered that when CMD.EXE invoked REG.EXE to READ (not modify) a key
and piped both STDOUT and STDERR to the same log file,
for keys that had sub-keys that had no access there would be simultaneous answers on both output streams for the same interrogation,
and MOSTLY both streams were logged, but sometimes neither were logged, and at other times only one was logged but not the other.
XP was successful better than 99% of the time when my batch script and the output log file were in partition C:\
When I moved only the log file destination to a partition at the other end of the HDD,
the success rate fell below 90%.
The problem was perfectly cured by disabling the output cache
(I think it may have been called "Enable Safely Remove")
Perfect cure - but Windows started up 3 times slower.
You are right - XP sucks.
Holy crap... I did not know MS were capable of making such mundane stupidities in their software design.

Quote   Quote: Originally Posted by alan10 View Post
An MBR has only two tables, I think they are called Primary and Extended
Break the primary and you lose everything.
break the extended and you lose all the Logicals.
You're right about the MBR... But the extended partition contains logical partitions that are linked in a chain, not kept together in the extended boot record as any sane person would have done... Of course, if the complete disk information was stored in each place, then it would have been very smart I suppose, but this is pretty stupid, as you have said below :

Quote   Quote: Originally Posted by alan10 View Post
BUT you have only two such tables to be broken, and as of 9 months ago the Professional licensed version of Minitool Partition Wizard was NOT capable of REPAIRING a broken GPT Partition Table,
even though it could shrink and extend GPT partitions.

I understand that every GPT partition is preceded by its own 3 MB GPT Table and that one GPT table links to the next GPT Table,
which MIGHT be the complication that Minitool Repair could not cope with.

If you have 128 partitions :-
Using MBR you have only 2 tables that may be broken,
(and 4 or 5 years ago freeware Mintool version 4.? fixed my Laptop which had lost ALL 7 partitions.)

Using GPT you have 128 tables that may be broken, and that loses all the subsequent partitions,
unless of course there are "redundant" backward pointing links to traverse the chain in the reverse direction,
and it is harder to find a tool for repairing GPT partition Tables,
and you have almost 400 MB consumed in GPT tables.
Except that this is NOT how GPT works. At ALL. Wiki. IBM Developer works. This is more like MBR works.

There are ONLY 2 partition tables, one at the beginning, one at the end.

Quote   Quote: Originally Posted by alan10 View Post
I am very willing to learn how GPT fault tolerance can deal with an accident to GPT Tables.
That was NOT my experience under 64 bit Windows 7 Ultimate + SP1,
when normal start-up from cold allocated
Disk 0 W.D.C. 600 GB style GPT
Disk 1 Samsung 930 GB style MBR
Disk 2 OCZ 56 GB style MBR (primary system drive)

After countless visits from power-on into BIOS and then to Windows and a successful launch,
my next attempt resulted in the WDC having its complicated GUID replaced by the same 8 hexdigit ID as the Samsung,
After THAT stupidity Windows compounded its errors by WRONGLY choosing to put the Samsung OFFLINE.
Consequently :-
The WDC drive was useless and out of action because Windows saw an MBR style Disk ID that had no valid partitions,
The Samsung drive was useless because Windows had put it OFFLINE,
and as a result Windows lost access to the partitions that held "Pagefile.sys" and %TEMP%
That's extremely stupid behavior by windows... Now you're giving me doubts nevertheless, it can be fixed.

Quote   Quote: Originally Posted by alan10 View Post
I have not yet found any tool that will change an MBR ID into a GUID without requiring me to initialize the WDC and losing all the data.
Have you tried using the advanced functionality present in gdisk ? I know some little about all this, and I could help you in some of this, but of course, better experts should be around here..

Quote   Quote: Originally Posted by alan10 View Post
Both Minitool and Macrium had freeware versions restricted to MBR Disks a couple of years ago.
I agree those two products have recently removed those restrictions,
but I thought it probable that their competitors might either be in the process of catching up and not yet there,
or their competitors may have "accelerated" development and left the Beta testing for unsuspecting users.
Sorry, but thirty years of working in software and systems development has made me a little cynical.
Yeah well that is possible. And 30 years in software and systems... well, I'm not sure I can say anything at all after reading this, because I have zero... Perhaps my optimism is unwarranted. However, the spec doesn't seem to have any obvious errors. Other than that, I can just say I also try to gather my info from sources that list detailed information, and verifiable testable results, but can't be completely sure... Like for example, never heard of these cases you just said.... what were MS thinking? :-/
My System SpecsSystem Spec
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 Benefits of GPT vs MBR Primary and MBR Logical Partitions ?




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