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Windows 7: External backup hard drive, should it be MBR or GPT?

14 Mar 2015   #11
jasonsmith

 
 

With MBR, don't you have more risk of a virus getting in the MBR section and sitting there forever compared to GPT? Not sure how well anti-virus scans the MBR section of an external hard drive. I don't believe software that wipes the entire drive touches the MBR section.

I had read GPT eliminates the risk that you have with a virus getting in and replacing the MBR avoiding detection.

I would DOD wipe and slow format hard drives thinking it was wiping the entire disk removing any and all viruses that may be there. Then I learned that it may not be touching the MBR where a virus can hide undetected and reinfect.

That's when I learned of the GPT and thought that may be a safer option to use for external hard drive since I don't need to boot from it. I don't believe you have an MBR to worry about getting infected sitting there with GPT.


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15 Mar 2015   #12
ignatzatsonic

Microsoft Community Contributor Award Recipient

Windows 7 Home Premium SP1, 64-bit
 
 

Quote   Quote: Originally Posted by whs View Post
Now you are opening another bag of worms - UEFI. There you probably need GPT.
Exactly.

Wolfgang: If you were building a PC from the ground up tomorrow and using a smallish SSD for the OS and programs and HDDs for storage, would you use GPT or MBR for the boot drive? Assume you have a motherboard that supports UEFI.

As I understand it, you can use MBR partitions on the boot drive and still have the UEFI "look". You just wouldn't have UEFI boot.

I'm going to face this in 6 months or so and am trying to find out if there is some strong over-riding advantage to GPT and UEFI on a boot SSD drive. I'll use GPT on my large storage drives of course.

So far, it appears that UEFI has some so-called advantages, but I'm perfectly comfortable with BIOS and MBR and I'm not clear on how problem-free UEFI is---the last thing I want is problems or compatibility issues.

Nor am I clear on how avoiding an MBR boot disk might affect certain programs---such as Macrium or other backup apps.
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15 Mar 2015   #13
jumanji

Windows 7 Home Premium 32 bit
 
 

Quote   Quote: Originally Posted by jasonsmith View Post
With MBR, don't you have more risk of a virus getting in the MBR section and sitting there forever compared to GPT? ......

.......That's when I learned of the GPT and thought that may be a safer option to use for external hard drive since I don't need to boot from it. I don't believe you have an MBR to worry about getting infected sitting there with GPT.
Ah............! Your conceptions are baseless.

Even non-bootable GPT drives - internal or external - will have a Protective MBR at sector 0. And if this protective MBR gets corrupted by any means, you will lose access to your GPT drive and Windows will ask you to initialise and format it .:)

Here goes my 750GB Seagate GPT External drive with two partitions each holding some 3.5 GB of data.I zeroed this sector 0 - that is corrupted it. Access lost.

External backup hard drive, should it be MBR or GPT?-a15-03-2015-11-32-11.jpg

Windows Disk Management is asking me to initialise it. Should I?

Nope, I won't, for I have a copy of sector 0, PMBR0.bin backed up and I will simply restore Sector 0 with it.

External backup hard drive, should it be MBR or GPT?-15-03-2015-11-48-06.jpg

Hoila .... I am back in business.

External backup hard drive, should it be MBR or GPT?-15-03-2015-11-57-30.jpg

The restored Protective MBR at sector 0:

External backup hard drive, should it be MBR or GPT?-restored-0.jpg

The moral of the story is, if you have diligently backed up the GPT structure data of your drive and if your drive is afflicted with corrupted structure (partition related) you should be able to restore the drive easily. Even if not - meaning that it may not exclusively be a partition related problem - restoring the GPT structure can greatly ease any data recovery attempt.

In the case of MBR disks, one will need to backup only sector 0, the MBR sector. That also contains the partition table. Restoring Sector 0 will instantly resolve the issue of " My drive has suddenly turned RAW" in most cases.

In the case of GPT drives, if one has four partitions as seen by bootice, save Sector 0 ( the protective MBR), sector 1 ( the GPT Header) sector 2 ( GPT partition table of first four partitions), sector n( the last sector of the drive where the backup of GPT Header resides) and sector n-32 ( where the backup of sector 2, the first four partition table resides)


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15 Mar 2015   #14
whs
Microsoft MVP

Vista, Windows7, Mint Mate, Zorin, Windows 8
 
 

Quote:
Nor am I clear on how avoiding an MBR boot disk might affect certain programs---such as Macrium or other backup apps.
Macrium works on UEFI systems. I have already done images and restored them.
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15 Mar 2015   #15
Lady Fitzgerald

Win 7 Ultimate 64 bit
 
 

Quote   Quote: Originally Posted by whs View Post
Quote:
Nor am I clear on how avoiding an MBR boot disk might affect certain programs---such as Macrium or other backup apps.
Macrium works on UEFI systems. I have already done images and restored them.
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23 Jun 2015   #16
Nemix

Windows 7 Professional
 
 

I see no reason not to use GPT on newly formatted external hard drives for data storage unless you need to use to the same external hard drive on a computer that uses an older version Windows than Vista (XP and older).
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24 Jan 2018   #17
Keithuk

Windows 7 Professional 32bit SP1
 
 

Sorry guys for adding to an old thread but I had a similar problem. My Window XP needed rebuilding so I needed to backup all files before as Windows XP formats the drive before installing.

I bought a Seagate expansion 2TB drive from Curry's

https://www.currys.co.uk/gbuk/comput...27631-pdt.html

My Windows XP was causing problems so I plugged the drive into my Windows 7 laptop to format the drive. I plugged it into Windows XP and the USB icon showed in the task bar but the drive wouldn't autorun. I checked My Computer and the drive wasn't listed.

I Goggled this problem and another forum I use had the same question.

I tried Disk Management showed the drive as GTP. I did a screendump an saved the picture for reference. I plugged the drive in the next day and Disk Management didn't show GPT so I did another screendump.

I decided to remove all files I need to my Windows 7 there was enough free space.

I ran cmd diskpart, list disk, select disk 1

clean, create primary partition, select partition 1, active

I tried format fs=ntfs quick but that didn't do anything

I went back to Disk Management and that showed the drive unallocated. I right-click on the drive which brought up add new hardware. Then is showed format the drive. This time it showed format GTP or format MBR. I formatted it MBR.

Its strange that the normal Windows 7 format doesn't show format GTP or MBR when you format 2TB drives.

Anyway I plugged it into Windows XP and the drive shows. So my problem is now solved.
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24 Jan 2018   #18
mrjimphelps

Linux Mint 18.2 xfce 64-bit (VMWare host) / Windows 8.1 Pro 32-bit (VMWare guest)
 
 

Quote   Quote: Originally Posted by whs View Post
For a Windows 7 system, I would go with MBR for a 2TB or smaller drive.
Agreed. MBR has been around for a long time. You are keeping things simple when you stay with the older technology. But this applies only if your drive is 2TB or smaller.
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 External backup hard drive, should it be MBR or GPT?




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